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Engineers Respond to Disaster in Japan

An aerial view of damage to Wakuya, Japan, after March 11 earthquake and tsunami

Last Friday, Japan was hit with a devastating earthquake of 9.0 magnitude. In combination with the following tsunami, the earthquake caused immense damage to northeastern regions of Japan and severely compromised six nuclear power-plant reactors. Recent reports estimate the death toll at over 5,000, with another 9,000 people missing and 2,500 injured. Over 4 million households were left without electricity, and 1.5 million without running water.

Since the tragedy stuck, scientists and engineers have been working around the clock to find and help survivors, as well as to avert potential nuclear meltdowns.

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Broadcom Masters Competition

The Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars) is a competition for 6th, 7th and 8th grade students who participate in an SSP-affiliated fair with their science, engineering or math project, and are nominated to compete in the national competition.

Middle school students will be nominated to compete in the Broadcom MASTERS at SSP-affiliated science fairs held in the 2010-2011 school year.  Nominees will enter the competition by completing an online application where they will explain their science project and demonstrate their use of STEM principles – science, technology, engineering and math – in the development and presentation of their project.

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New TV Series Celebrates Women in Science and Engineering

March is National Women’s History Month, which means it’s a great time to celebrate the many contributions women have made in the fields of science and engineering.

This month, the Smithsonian Channel is running a special television and webcomics series called Women in Science, which chronicles the  adventures and discoveries of some of today’s top female scientists.

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Crazy Skyscraper Uses Lightning to Make Hydrogen Gas

The structure may resemble a postmodern radio tower or perhaps the lair of a James Bond supervillain, but it’s actually designed to be a hydrogen power plant.

Hydra, named after a tubular freshwater creature, is listed as an honorable mention in this year’s eVolo Magazine Skyscraper Competition (see more winning designs here). Its creators hail from Serbia, and include Milos Vlastic, Vuk Djordjevic, Ana Lazovic, and Milica Stankovic.

The most remarkable aspect of this structure is its ability to harvest energy from lightning bolts, which is then stored in several huge batteries at the base.

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Up, Up and Away

Here’s an uplifting story for today: a team of engineers from National Geographic has created a real, flying model of the balloon-powered house from Pixar’s movie Up.

The crew worked overnight in a chilly desert near Los Angeles to pull off the stunt, which included filling 300 giant balloons with helium, and custom building a 16’x16’x18′ lightweight house.More pictures and a video after the jump.

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