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HughPickens.com writes The LA Times reports that Ls Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed the most ambitious seismic safety regulations in California history that would require owners to retrofit thousands of buildings most at risk of collapse during a major earthquake. "The time for retrofit is now," says Garcetti, adding that the retrofits target buildings "that are known killers. Complacency risks lives. One thing we can't afford to do is wait." The mayor's plan calls for thousands of wood buildings to be retrofitted within five years, and hundreds of concrete buildings to be strengthened within 30. The retrofitting requirements must be approved by the City Council, and would have to be paid for by the building owners, with the costs presumably passed on to tenants and renters. The costs could be significant: $5,000 per unit in vulnerable wooden buildings and $15 per square foot for office buildings, Business owners, who have expressed concern in the past that these kinds of programs may be unaffordable, said the cost of retrofitting some buildings could easily exceed $1 million each. "This will cost us billions of dollars in the private and public sector," says Garcetti. "But we cannot afford not to do it."
The last major earthquake in Los Angeles was the 6.7-magnitude Northridge quake, which killed close to 60 people in 1994. But it was not close to the catastrophe that seismologists predict if there is a major shift on the San Andreas fault, and the fact that it has not produced a major quake in recent years has fed a sense of complacency. Seismologists now say a 7.5-magnitude event on the Puente Hills would be "the quake from hell" because it runs right under downtown Los Angeles and have estimated that would kill up to 18,000 people, make several million homeless, and cause up to $250 billion in damage. "We want to keep the city up and running after the earthquake happens," says Lucy Jones aka "The Earthquake Lady," a seismologist with the United States Geological Survey and something of a celebrity in a city that is very aware of the potential danger of its location. "If everything in this report is enacted, I believe that L.A. will not just survive the next earthquake, but will be able to recover quickly."
178 comments | about a week ago
An anonymous reader writes Hundreds of small earthquakes have been gaining in strength in northwestern Nevada. The Nevada region bordering California and Oregon was hit by 18 quakes in less than 24 hours, with magnitudes measuring from 2.7 to 4.5. According to CNN: "This does not necessarily mean a big one will come, state seismologists said, but they added that it's good to be prepared, just in case. Seismologists refer to such quake groupings as swarms, and the U.S. Geological Survey has detected them regularly. They can produce thousands of small tremors."
65 comments | about a month ago
SlappingOysters writes: One of the highlighted games at the PAX AUS expo starting on October 31 is Blowfish Studios' Gunscape, a game described as an FPS construction kit. As well as building and sharing FPS maps for multiplayer gaming sessions across eight different modes, the game will also be able to handle up to nine-player splitscreen on a 4K display. This includes co-op map building.
50 comments | about 1 month ago
An anonymous reader writes "I'm a computer science professor and a group of students want me to help them train for a capture the flag competition. I am interested in this and I'm familiar with security in general, but I've never been involved in one of these competitions. Does anyone know of any resources which would be useful to train for this?"
102 comments | about 2 months ago
An anonymous reader writes: John Romero helped bring us Doom, Quake, and Wolfenstein, but he's also known for Daikatana — an immensely-hyped followup that flopped hard. After remaining on the periphery of game development since then, Romero announced last month that he's coming back to the FPS genre with a new game in development. Today, he spoke with Develop Magazine about his thoughts on the future of shooters. Many players worry that the genre is stagnant, but Romero disagrees that this has to be the case. "Shooters have so many places to go, but people just copy the same thing over and over because they're afraid to try something new. We've barely scratched the surface."
He also thinks the technology underpinning games matters less than ever. Romero says high poly counts and new shaders are a distraction from what's important: good game design. "Look at Minecraft – it's unbelievable that it was made by one person, right? And it shows there's plenty of room for something that will innovate and change the whole industry. If some brilliant designers take the lessons of Minecraft, take the idea of creation and playing with an environment, and try to work out what the next version of that is, and then if other people start refining that, it'll take Minecraft to an area where it will become a real genre, the creation game genre."
266 comments | about 3 months ago
An anonymous reader writes: As id Software aims for a larger, more mainstream audience for its free-to-play shooter Quake Live (based on 1998's Quake III Arena) on Steam, big changes are afoot. A new update was pushed out last week which adds some new, more beginner-friendly features to the game. These include weapon loadouts, which grant players a weapon of their choice when they spawn, timer icons, which indicate when the all-important powerup items will spawn, and an automatic bunny-hop to gain extra speed. The changes have been met with hostility from longtime players who prefer the "purist" rules of old and the duel format. As the writer points out, however, if the update helps attract more elite players to the gamer, it could breathe new life into a very old game.
170 comments | about 3 months ago
New submitter bziolko writes: RAYA is a realtime game audio engine that utilizes beamtracing to provide user with realistic audio auralization. All audio effects are computed based on the actual geometry of a given game level (video) as well as its acoustic properties (acoustic materials, air attenuation). The sound changes dynamically along with movement of the game character and sound sources, so the listener can feel as if they were right there — in the game.
89 comments | about 4 months ago
As numerous sources report, an earthquake of magnitude 6.0 struck California early Sunday morning, with an epicenter about 9 miles south of Napa. According to the San Francisco Chronicle's account, Some power lines down in western Contra Costa County, but Bay Area bridges appeared to be fine, according to the California Highway Patrol. There were widespread reports of power outages, gas leaks and flooding in the North Bay, with at least 15,000 Pacific Gas and Electric Co. customers without power in Vallejo, Napa, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa and Sonoma. Police reminded motorists to stop at darkened intersections. ... In Benicia, several miles from the epicenter, the quake was strong enough to knock pictures off mantles.
Bay Area bridges appear to have survived the quake -- significant, in that the L.A. Times reports that USGS estimates peg it as "the largest earthquake to strike the Bay Area since the Loma Prieta temblor of 1989," and says that injury reports (especially from glass) are streaming in from the area around Napa. The Times also has a larger estimate of customers suffering power outages: "more than 42,000" around the northern Bay Area. Unsurprisingly, social media channels are full of pictures showing some of the damage.
For those in California, did you feel the quake? (And from how far away?) Update: 08/24 13:15 GMT by T : Also in earthquake news: an even stronger quake (magnitude 6.4) on Saturday struck central Chile, shaking Santiago -- nearly 70 miles from the epicenter -- for more than half a minute, but with "no immediate reports of fatalities or serious damage."
135 comments | about 4 months ago
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "Since the 1960s, geophysicists have known that some earthquakes are preceded by ultra-low frequency magnetic pulses that increase in number until the quake takes place. But this process has always puzzled them: how can rocks produce magnetic pulses? Now a group of researchers has worked out what's going on. They say that rocks under pressure can become semiconductors that produce magnetic pulses under certain circumstances.
When igneous rocks form in the presence of water, they contain peroxy bonds with OH groups. Under great temperature and pressure, these bonds break down creating electron-holes pairs. The electrons become trapped at the site of the broken bonds but the holes are free to move through the crystal structure. The natural diffusion of these holes through the rock creates p and n regions just like those in doped semiconductors. And the boundary between these regions behaves like the p-n junction in a diode, allowing current to flow in one direction but not the other. At least not until the potential difference reaches a certain value when the boundary breaks down allowing a sudden increase in current. It is this sudden increase that generates a magnetic field. And the sheer scale of this process over a volume of hundreds of cubic meters ensures that these magnetic pulses have an extremely low frequency that can be detected on the surface. The new theory points to the possibility of predicting imminent earthquakes by triangulating the position of rocks under pressure by searching for the magnetic pulses they produce (although significantly more work needs to be done to characterize the process before then)."
72 comments | about 6 months ago
mdsolar (1045926) writes "Owners of at least two dozen nuclear reactors across the United States, including the operator of Indian Point 2, in Buchanan, N.Y., have told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that they cannot show that their reactors would withstand the most severe earthquake that revised estimates say they might face, according to industry experts. As a result, the reactors' owners will be required to undertake extensive analyses of their structures and components. Those are generally sturdier than assumed in licensing documents, but owners of some plants may be forced to make physical changes, and are likely to spend about $5 million each just for the analysis."
152 comments | about 8 months ago
An 8.2-magnitude earthquake has struck roughly 60km off the cost of Chile. Its depth was approximately 20.1km. A tsunami has been generated, and evacuations have been ordered along the coast near the strike. Tsunami warnings were also issued for Peru and Ecuador. According to the Associated Press, "Coastal residents of northern Chile evacuated calmly as waves measuring almost 2 meters (6 1/2 feet) struck ahead of a tsunami that was expected to come ashore later. ... Chile's emergency service reported some roads blocked by landslides caused by the quake, but said no injuries had been reported so far."
86 comments | about 9 months ago
Daniel_Stuckey writes "The United States is currently gripped in a bout of earthquake mania, following a series of significant tremors in the West. And any time Yellowstone, LA, or San Francisco shakes, people start to wonder if it's a sign of The Big One to come. Yet even after decades of research, earthquake prediction remains notoriously hard, and not every building in quake-prone areas has an earthquake-resistant design. What if, instead of quaking in our boots, we could stop quakes in their tracks? Theoretically, it's not a crazy idea. Earthquakes propagate in waves, and if noise-canceling headphones have taught us anything, it's that waves can be absorbed, reflected, or canceled out. Today, a paper published in Physical Review Letters suggests how that might be done. It's the result of French research into the use of metamaterials—broadly, materials with properties not found in nature—to modify seismic waves, like a seismic cloaking device."
101 comments | about 9 months ago
An anonymous reader writes "A 5.1 earthquake hit Southern California at 9:09PM local time on Friday. It was preceded by a 3.6 earthquake, then followed by 3.4 and 3.6 quakes, as well as 100+ smaller aftershocks. The United States Geological Survey has a map showing the epicenter. There have been no reported deaths, though roughly 50 people have been displaced from their homes. 'The shake caused a rock slide in Carbon Canyon, causing a car to overturn, according to the Brea Police Department. Fullerton police received reports of water main breaks and windows shattering, but primarily had residents calling about burglar alarms being set off by the quake.'"
114 comments | about 9 months ago
AmiMoJo writes "Today Japan marks the third anniversary of the 11th of March 2011 disaster when the country was hit by a magnitude 9 earthquake huge tsunami and severe nuclear accident. More than 18,500 people were killed or went missing. Nearly 3,000 others died while evacuated from their homes, and over a quarter of a million people were still living in temporary housing as of February. Work to build new housing on higher ground is lagging behind schedule.
Three reactors melted down at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following the quake and tsunami, but the exact cause of the accident is still unknown. How massive amounts of radioactive materials from the reactors were dispersed is also unclear. Today was also the day when hundreds of former residents announced that they were suing TEPCO, the plant operator, and the government for additional compensation." Although the nuclear accident was dwarfed by the other devastation, the effects of the meltdown will be felt for much longer. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists published an article today on the reactors that didn't meltdown, and the NRC chair has some comments on the progress at Fukishima.
77 comments | about 9 months ago
One of the few but lingering complaints about the Raspberry Pi is that it relies on a proprietary GPU blob for communication between the graphics drivers and the hardware. Today, Broadcom released the full source for the OpenGL ES 1.1 and 2.0 driver stack for the Broadcom VideoCore IV 3D graphics subsystem running on one of its popular cellphone systems-on-a-chip. It's available under a BSD license, and Broadcom provided documentation for the graphics core as well. The SoC in question is similar to the one used on the Raspberry Pi, and Eben Upton says making a port should be 'relatively straightforward.' The Raspberry Pi Foundation has offered a $10,000 bounty for the first person who can demonstrate a functional port. (The test for functionality is, of course, being able to run Quake III Arena.) Upton says, 'This isn't the end of the road for us: there are still significant parts of the multimedia hardware on BCM2835 which are only accessible via the blob. But we're incredibly proud that VideoCore IV is the first publicly documented mobile graphics core, and hope this is the first step towards a blob-free future for Raspberry Pi.' Side note: the RPi is now two years old, and has sold 2.5 million units.
77 comments | about 10 months ago
SlappingOysters writes "I thought those veteran gamers amongst you might like this one. Quake III Arena by legendary developer id Software isn't available on the App Store, but there is a way that you can get it to work on your iPad all the same. You can also get Open Arena and Quake III Shareware to work on Apple's tablet. The process is reasonably straightforward for anyone who wants to give it a ago, and Grab It Magazine has provided a step-by step guide, with pictures and necessary links, to help the interested through it."
54 comments | about a year ago
A new study has been published in Nature Geoscience (abstract) detailing how scientists correctly anticipated the location and strength of an earthquake earlier this year. On September 5th, a 7.6 earthquake rocked Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula. That region had seen earthquakes of (roughly) magnitude 7 in 1853, 1900, and 1950, so "geoscientists had forecast that a magnitude 7.7 to 7.8 quake should occur around the year 2000, plus or minus 20 years." "The Nicoya Peninsula is prone to earthquakes because it's an area of subduction, where the Cocos Plate is pushing underneath the Caribbean Plate, moving at a rate of about 8.5 centimeters per year. When regions such as this suddenly slip, they produce a megathrust earthquake. Most of the world's largest earthquakes — including the magnitude 9.0 Tohoku-Oki quake in Japan in 2011 and the magnitude 9.15 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake in 2004, both of which produced devastating tsunamis — fall into this category. .. The close study of this region allowed scientists to calculate how much strain was building in the fault and in May 2012 they published a study in which they identified two locked spots capable of producing an earthquake similar to the one in 1950. In September of that year, the landward patch ruptured and produced the earthquake. The offshore one is still locked and capable of producing a substantial but smaller earthquake, an aftershock with a magnitude as high as 6.9, the researchers say."
44 comments | about a year ago
sciencehabit writes "A simple model of forest fires could help explain the distribution of the sizes of earthquakes and their aftershocks, a theoretical physicist says. In the so-called Drössel-Schwabl model, trees sprout at random on a square grid like a vast checkerboard. Once the forest gets dense enough, lightning sets a random tree on fire, and fire spreads instantaneously among trees that occupy adjacent squares. The conflagration continues until there are no more neighbors to jump to. Then, the process starts all over again. In the team's model, the 'forest' is the plane of a fault cutting through Earth's crust, divided into a 10,000-by-10,000 grid. Sprouting trees correspond to the buildup of stress along the fault; burning areas, to the part of the fault that moves during a quake."
26 comments | 1 year,10 days
Lasrick sends this report from Nature News: "The devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan shocked researchers who did not expect that the seismic fault involved could release so much energy. Now the world's deepest-drilling oceanographic ship has been able to pin down the odd geology that made this disaster so horrific. The fault turns out to be unusually thin and weak, the researchers report in Science this week1–3. The results will help to pin down whether other offshore faults around the world are capable of triggering the same scale of disaster. ... The coring revealed a very thin clay layer, about 5 meters thick, separating the two sliding tectonic plates (abstract). 'That’s just weird,' says Emily Brodsky of the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), who is an author on all three Science papers this week. 'Usually it’s tens of meters or more.' Lab tests confirmed that this wet clay layer is extremely slippery, and gets even more so under stress (abstract). As sliding creates friction and heat, water in the clay gets pressurized and pushes up against the impermeable rock around it. That 'jacks open the fault” says Brodsky, allowing it to slip even more. The temperature sensors found that more than a year after the quake, the fault was still up to 0.31 C warmer than its surroundings (abstract). From this they could extrapolate how much heat was generated from friction during the sliding event. Their calculations confirmed the very low friction of the 5-meter-thick clay layer."
58 comments | 1 year,11 days
mdsolar writes in with news about a new wind-energy project off the coast of Fukushima. "A project to harness the power of the wind about 20 kilometers (12 miles) off the coast of Fukushima, site of the March 2011 nuclear disaster, began generating power on an operational basis today. The project, funded by the government and led by Marubeni Corp. (8002), is a symbol of Japan's ambition to commercialize the unproven technology of floating offshore wind power and its plan to turn quake-ravaged Fukushima into a clean energy hub. 'Fukushima is making a stride toward the future step by step,' Yuhei Sato, governor of Fukushima, said today at a ceremony in Fukushima marking the project's initiation. 'Floating offshore wind is a symbol of such a future.'"
181 comments | about a year ago