Culture

‘That Was Home’: Residents Rebuild in Wildfire-Prone Areas

Publication: NBC News   Date: April 12, 2014   View Article

The most destructive wildfire in Colorado history swept through the Black Forest community outside of Colorado Springs and destroyed nearly 500 homes last June, and scores of those residents are starting to come back. But so could the fire.

Less than a year after the wildfire, 171 permits for new homes have been issued and the rebuilding process is well underway. There’s always a possibility that another massive fire may sweep through the area, but that’s just part of life in the woods, according to residents.

Among the first homes to burn belonged to Ray and Cindy Miller, who have lived on five acres in the quiet, forested community for 32 years. “When we came back to the property, it was devastating because all of the trees were pretty much gone,” said Cindy Miller, who had fled her home with just two blouses, makeup, and a camera as wind-whipped flames and black smoke engulfed the home. “But I just closed my eyes and listened to the sounds. That was home. I knew that I had to rebuild there.”

Humans on course to triple daily waste by 2100

Publication: NBC News   Date: October 30, 2013   View Article

Humanity may generate more than 11 million tons of solid waste daily by the end of this century, barring significant reductions in population growth and material consumption, according to experts.

That mind-boggling large heap of trash expected by century end represents a three-fold increase in the amount of stuff people throw away today. In 1900, the world’s 220 million urban residents tossed out fewer than 330,000 tons of trash daily, such as broken household items, packaging and food waste.

Students, prompted by massacre, design emergency lock to thwart shooters

Publication: NBC News   Date: October 24, 2013   View Article

The killing spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School in suburban Connecticut last December sent a chill across America. If the unthinkable happened there, it could happen anywhere. The concern prompted a team of high school students in Washington, D.C., to design an inexpensive and effective emergency door-locking mechanism to prevent active shooters from entering their classrooms.

Like many schools around the country, the doors at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School lack classroom-side locks, a building code regulation leftover from a time when fire was the biggest threat to student safety. Unlockable doors mean students can escape a burning classroom quickly. Yet in today’s world, students also worry about intruders coming into their classrooms and firing bullets.

Girl power! 9th grade girls developing electricity-generating desks

Publication: NBC News   Date: October 23, 2013   View Article

A team of 9th grade girls is developing a system of interconnected desks that turns the nervous foot-tapping energy of school kids into electricity to power study lights, laptops and fans. The young students aim to bring the desks to school children in Africa.

“In order to get a good education, one of the basic foundations is electricity,” Rose DelleFave, the team leader at Providence Day School in Charlotte, N.C., told NBC News. “So we decided it would be good to start there and give them that basic tool.”

Teens face down flu viruses, energy crises in winning Google Science Fair entries

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 24, 2013   View Article

Emerging strains of the flu virus are very close to becoming pandemic, bugs capable of killing millions of people. This stark realization prompted a young researcher named Eric Chen to accelerate the development of new antiviral drugs that could save lives. For his efforts he took top prize at the Google Science Fair Monday — he’s just 17 years old.

“I felt like this was a really urgent problem and I thought, well, why can’t I use this new computational power at our fingertips in order to speed up this process and find new anti-flu medicine,” Google Science Fair grand prize winner Eric Chen of San Diego, Calif., told NBC News

How new underwater sonar is helping solve decades-old cold cases

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 19, 2013   View Article

Police officers in southwestern Oklahoma appear to be on their way to solving a pair of decades-old cold cases while learning how to use new sonar imaging equipment on a remote lake. Sonar itself may be decades old, but the imaging system that the cops were using is state of the art — and the technology is finally affordable enough for local police units to give it a try.

Sonar works by sending pulses of sound waves out into the water and recording the waves that bounce back to create an image. A new type of imaging technique, one that works in a similar way to an MRI scanner at a hospital, is finally becoming affordable enough to put into portable devices.

Why Does Friday the 13th Scare Us So Much?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: September 12, 2013   View Article

It’s Friday the 13th, and millions of people are on edge, fearing a calamity with personal or global repercussions-a broken leg, a stock market crash, or the trigger pulled for World War III.

Why all the anxiety? In short, because the fear is ingrained in Western culture, according to experts.

“If nobody bothered to teach us about these negative taboo superstitions like Friday the 13th, we might in fact all be better off,” said Stuart Vyse, a professor of psychology at Connecticut College in New London.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach