We’re going to check on some engineers listening to the wind. We’ll see why, today on Engineering Works!
One of the things that the people who plan for disasters and terrorist attacks worry about most is what’ll happen if a cloud of germs or noxious gases gets loose, either by accident or on purpose. You have to know whom to warn about it and to know that you have to know where it’s going.
In open country, this isn’t a problem. Check which way the wind is blowing and you know where the germs or gases are headed. But in a big city, it’s a big problem. All those tall buildings funnel the wind and the gases or germs they carry in complicated directions. That makes it hard to know whom to warn and what to tell them.
A team of engineers is figuring out what germs or gases will do in the complicated airways of New York City. First, they scattered sensitive sensors around Manhattan – some on rooftops, some strapped to streetlights and some worn by volunteers on the street. Then they let loose a cloud of harmless gas and checked where it went and how long it took to get there.
Now they’re putting together a computer model of what happened. They say that if they can figure out how gas moves in New York City’s complicated air flows, they can figure it out for anywhere.
Someone just let our air out. See you later.