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Virgin Oceanic Goes Many Leagues
Under the Sea

After announcing the creation of one of the world’s first commercial spaceflight ventures, Virgin is now moving to explore more uncharted territory.

Virgin Oceanic will be the ultimate undersea expedition: five dives (one in each of the five oceans) over the course of the next two years. 

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Sign Me Up: Tsunami Research Class at Oregon State

Ask most engineers what drew them to the discipline, and crunching equations in the classroom probably doesn’t top any list. Studying explosions, building things, saving the planet—that’s more like it. A growing number of programs now give undergraduates a crack at cutting-edge research—often on socially relevant projects. Want to save lives when tsunamis strike? How about landing a robot on Mars or designing bomb-proof embassies? Check out our continuing series of posts on the country’s coolest engineering classes, which demonstrate that the fundamentals can still be fun.

After Japan’s devastating tsunami, did you wonder about building safer shelters? Students at Oregon State University’s College of Engineering in Corvallis not only get to design such structures; they can test them against the forces of nature in the Tsunami Wave Basin, the world’s largest, most sophisticated facility for studying earthquake-generated monster swells.

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Saving Marine Mammals Through Bioacoustics

In 2000, the U.S. Navy acknowledged that loud blasts of its sonar helped cause a mass stranding of whales in the Bahamas. And in 2005, 37 whales beached themselves and died along the North Carolina shore after Navy vessels used powerful sonar as part of a training exercise.

Thus, the Office of Naval Research has awarded two three-year grants to advance research on the effects of man-made noises on marine life.

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Energy-Generating Waterfall Proposed for 2016 Olympics

Last year we reported on the sustainability efforts of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, which made the games the greenest yet. Vancouver was outfitted with solar panels, green roofs, and mechanisms to collect and recycle rainwater. Award medals were made from re-purposed electronic waste.

Now, Rio de Janeiro is aiming to create the first games with a zero-carbon footprint when it hosts the Summer Olympics in 2016.

To help the city achieve this goal, Swiss-based RAFAA Architecture and Design has proposed a Solar City Tower, which features a visually stunning energy-generating waterfall.

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A Personal Submarine

Drivers often encounter wildlife along the road. But what if instead of the usual birds, deer, and squirrels,  you could cruise alongside fish?

That vision is now a reality with the electric submarine EGO, which literally puts you face-to-face with underwater wildlife.

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