How Tokyo’s Giant Tunnels Protect City From Floods

How Tokyo's Giant Tunnels Protect City From FloodsOn the outskirts of Tokyo, behind a small government building, underneath a soccer field and skateboard park, sits a remarkable feat of engineering. It’s an example of how Japan’s capital, which lies in a region at high risk from flooding and tropical cyclones, is trying to figure out how to contain the elements to protect its 13 million inhabitants.

‘Underground Parthenon’

Built between 1993 and 2006 at a cost of nearly $3 billion, the Water Discharge Tunnel is far more impressive than its name suggests. Winding down a series of stairs, you soon come upon a massive hall, resembling an underground Parthenon, or a scene out of a science fiction film.

The initial water tank stretches more than 320 feet in length and towers higher than a five-story building. When you add it all up, the complex features five massive shafts, or tanks, that are able to move water along a tunnel that stretches nearly four miles.


‘Incredible drain system’

In this area of Saitama prefecture, heavy rains would often flood the Naka River Basin. But now, that valuable farmland has an incredible drain system sitting below. When the tanks and tunnel fill, engineers are able to turn on the heart of the system, which is a series of four turbines powered by jet engines similar to those used in a Boeing 737 airplane. The turbines are then able to rapidly funnel floodwaters to the nearby Edo River.

The engineers here are the first to point out that their system, while remarkable, is meant to deal with heavy rains — and that it would struggle to cope with a Sandy-type storm surge.

Do you find Tokyo’s Water Discharge Tunnel an amazing engineering feat? Feel free to share your feedback with us!

Source: Alex Zolbert | CNN

Image: Shine Your Light

Kenyan Boy Scares Lions With Ingenuous Invention

Kenyan Boy Scares Lions With Ingenuous InventionLiving on the edge of Nairobi National Park, in Kenya, 13-year-old Richard Turere first became responsible for herding and safeguarding his family’s cattle when he was just nine. But often, his valuable livestock would be raided by the lions roaming the park’s sweet savannah grasses, leaving him to count the losses. So, at the age of 11, Turere decided it was time to find a way of protecting his family’s cows, goats and sheep from falling prey to hungry lions.

‘Simple and low-cost’

His light bulb moment came with one small observation. Turere realized that lions were afraid of venturing near the farm’s stockade when someone was walking around with a flashlight. He put his young mind to work and a few weeks later he’d come up with an innovative, simple and low-cost system to scare the predators away.

He fitted a series of flashing LED bulbs onto poles around the livestock enclosure, facing outward. The lights were wired to a box with switches and to an old car battery powered by a solar panel. They were designed to flicker on and off intermittently, thus tricking the lions into believing that someone was moving around carrying a flashlight.

‘Remarkable ingenuity’

And it worked. Since Turere rigged up his “Lion Lights,” his family has not lost any livestock to the wild beasts, to the great delight of his father and astonishment of his neighbors. What’s even more impressive is that Turere devised and installed the whole system by himself, without ever receiving any training in electronics or engineering.

The 13-year-old’s remarkable ingenuity has been recognized with an invitation to the TED 2013 conference, being held this week in California, where he’ll share the stage with some of the world’s greatest thinkers, innovators and scientists.

Were you impressed with Richard Turere’s invention? Do you think he will someday invent something even more remarkable?

Source: Teo Kermeliotis, CNN

Image: TED Blog