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Hurricane Simulator to Destroy Full Size Building 162

Posted by Hemos
from the ka-whump dept.
Anonymous Coward writes "This is a shameless plug, but I thought Slashdot readers might be interested in the hurricane simulator system the company I work for (Cambridge Consultants) helped develop for the University of Western Ontario. The BBC article is light on the kind of technical details Slashdot readers enjoy, so here are some titbits. The servomotors for the 100+ valves are controlled over an IPv4, gigabit Ethernet network connected to an Athlon dual-core AMD64 PC. The entire real-time control system runs on this machine, utilizing well above 90% of each processor core, and roughly 30% of the network capacity. The sampling frequency of the control system places a huge demand on the machine, with about 70,000 context switches taking place every second. Yes, it runs Linux. "
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Hurricane Simulator to Destroy Full Size Building

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  • by kestasjk (933987) on Monday June 26, 2006 @08:05AM (#15604563) Homepage
    The disturbing thing is that this isn't the first Linux installation on a machine which is designed to destroy buildings..
  • Doubts... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Monday June 26, 2006 @08:06AM (#15604568)
    I have doubts that you can accurately simulate a hurricane without the space around the house. Some damage is done directly by the wind, yes, but there's a LOT of damage that is done by the wind blowing things into other things and weakening them.

    Do you randomly throw in pieces of tin roof and stop signs to simulate that? And trees? I doubt it, since there isn't enough space in your simulator for that.

    As for being "perfectly repeatable", I have doubts for that as well. That assumes that you could build the exact same house over and over. The article even states that the placement of the nails in the house matters, and I can't see anyone being that perfect.

    Overall, I think it's a neat project, but unlikely to really provide more insight than 'yeah, wind fscks shit up.'
  • Re:Doubts... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrSquirrel (976630) on Monday June 26, 2006 @08:14AM (#15604594)
    Yes, flying debris can punch holes in houses and such, but WIND is what will completely tear the house down (remember seing roofs blown off on your t.v. and whole houses collapsing?). The point is, they're NOT going to be able to do a goddamn thing about flying debris (well, they could build all houses out of 10" of tempered steel), what they are trying to do is make houses designed to be as hurricane resistant as possible.
    FTA:"This is relevant because most of the damage to houses occurs in places where there are sudden changes in pressure, such as at the corners and edges of the building.
    "You get swirling and rapid changes from positive to negative pressure," said Mr Wilkinson.
    "If you were going to pull a panel off a roof you wouldn't just heave on it, you'd try to waggle it, and that's the most destructive thing for the wind to do.""
  • by tomknight (190939) on Monday June 26, 2006 @08:19AM (#15604613) Homepage Journal
    To the standard /. reader the only interesting parts are:
    • 90% load
    • Athlon
    • Runs Linux
  • Storm Surge (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NorthWestFLNative (973147) on Monday June 26, 2006 @08:45AM (#15604742) Journal
    They're forgetting the most destructive part of a hurricane. Granted strong winds can and will do a significant amount of damage (I still remember what my parents house looked like after Ivan), but the most damage is done along the coastline where they get hit by storm surge. That's not something that can be replicated by a wind tunnel on a full scale. I drove along the southern Mississippi coast about 3 weeks ago. There is wind damage for miles inland, which I would expect, but it's nothing major. However the coastline is devastated. The first floors of buildings are completely washed out, destroying most of the buildings completely. The ones that were multi-story are collapsing in on themselves because their support is gone. Testing building construction in a simulator is a good place to start, but I hope it doesn't give people a false sense of security.
  • Winds vs. Water (Score:4, Insightful)

    by digitaldc (879047) * on Monday June 26, 2006 @08:54AM (#15604804)
    "As a result, there is great interest in making buildings safer and more resilient to the damaging effects of extreme weather."

    Well the winds could potentially destroy the home, but the mold and rot that comes from the standing water could render it worthless.
  • Re:Doubts... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Smeagel (682550) on Monday June 26, 2006 @09:43AM (#15605105)
    $250,000 in the miami area? They can probably rebiuld their front porch with that money...nice theory though. It's quite a bit more likely that they want a beautiful house that they can show off, rather than a cheap house that they can rebuild. Nothing quite says "waste of beach front" like a cement/brick house without many windows.
  • by m0nstr42 (914269) on Monday June 26, 2006 @09:49AM (#15605145) Homepage Journal
    This experiment misses a couple of things that caused most of the destruction during Hurricane Andrew.

    From the BYLINE of TFA: "A family home in Canada will be deliberately destroyed by scientists to understand how buildings react to hurricane force winds." Not the rain, not the building code, THE WINDS. That's how a controlled experiment works.

    I am skeptical that this experiment will turn up anything we didn't already know.

    I'm sure the researchers didn't do any literature review. At least not a thorough one if they didn't contact you, since you appear to be a leading expert.
  • input (Score:2, Insightful)

    by thinsoldier (937530) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:57PM (#15607535) Homepage
    I really have to ask. You North Americans, why the hell do you build your homes out of toothpicks?

    Look at the photo from the article:
    http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/41805000/jpg /_41805420_001842788_house_getty300.jpg [bbc.co.uk]

    Every hurricane or every news report about tornado alley showing the damaged homes looks like this. This looks like a pile of toothpicks! You really spend thousands of dollars to build and live in these wooden things?

    I'm from the Bahamas. Although I'm the least patriotic person I know, I have to admit that our buildings hold up pretty damned good under hurricanes. A hell of a lot better that the photos we see coming out of florida. We build everything with CINDER BLOCKS reinforced with steel rods. They work, trust me.

    I tried googling for some photos to illustrate but none of them show enough steel rods to be accurate.

    And what is with you people and sheetrock walls? I've heard crooks in ft. lauderdale getting in through people's walls. Try breaking through cinder blocks. Actually I remember something from a guiness book of world records where a karate teacher and his young students totally demolished an entire home by just karate chopping everything. If a dozen 14yr olds can destroy a house built out of the same material as so many american homes, what the hell did you think a hurrican (or tornado) would do!?!

    steel rebar...
    http://www.caed.calpoly.edu/polycanyon/ncbs_galler y/full/Post-Tension-Rebar-Closeup.jpg [calpoly.edu] ...reinforcing cinder blocks...
    http://www.proptek.com/dbfiles/products/17/carrier 15.jpg [proptek.com]

    and held together with cement.

    versus 2x4's, nails, and sheetrock!

    I for one could not get a good nights sleep knowing my home is held up by this crap.
    http://www.yournextbroker.com/uploaded_images/Home %20construction%20for%20web-716493.jpg [yournextbroker.com]

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