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"Next Wave" -- The Discovery Files

The Discovery Files
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An NSF-funded wave research laboratory sets the stage to study the structural integrity of buildings under severe weather conditions, which could help engineers devise better building codes and standards to protect future coastal structures.

Credit: NSF/Karson Productions

Audio Transcript:

Testing the waters.

I'm Bob Karson with the Discovery Files, from the National Science Foundation.

(Sound effect: distant waves) Best thing about living on the beach -- the ocean's right there. (wind, storm surge, heavy waves buffet) Worst thing is when there's no beach because the ocean's right here. (Sound effect: wave) Scientists at Oregon State University, Notre Dame and USC are studying what happens during a severe coastal event when you raise a structure up on stilts as opposed to building it at ground level. (Sound effect: hurricane warning siren)

Sounds like we're in for some heavy weather but don't worry, (Sound effect: sound of wave research lab) these turbulent seas are being created in the safe enclosure of the OSU Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory like a giant wave pool containing two scaled-down structures -- identical, except one is up on stilts. Each structure is packed with pressure sensors and cameras ready to be pelted with various levels of simulated wave and surge forces -- based on data from genuine coastal hurricane conditions.

Spoiler alert! (Sound effect: ding ding ding!) The building at ground level eventually (Sound effect: wave) (Sound effect: wood collapsing) ripped from its moorings and became nothing more than floating debris. The stilted structure held. (Sound effect: quiet surf, building in intensity) Construction along the East and Gulf Coasts has improved storm by storm, but data generated from the OSU experiments can provide engineers with better building codes and standards (Sound effect: waves, wind intensify) (Sound effect: almost shouting) to help future coastal structures withstand some of the most unpredictable and destructive forces of nature! (Sound effect: intense waves quit abruptly)

(Sound effect: normal voice) And I don't mean Spring Breakers. (Sound effect: woooo!)

"The discovery files" covers projects funded by the government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you, by you! Learn more at nsf.gov or on our podcast.

 
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