Picking up the pieces
Science is all about seeking to understand the world around us, studying
the way things work so that we can work with them. When something goes wrong in
our world, we often turn to science and technology to help us fix it.
In the June editorial, I discussed the ways in which photonics
technologies were being deployed to assess and monitor the Deepwater Horizon oil
spill in the Gulf of Mexico. As we produce this issue, the oil has been gushing
for 12 weeks, and more sensor and camera systems are being called into service.
The US Navy’s MZ-3A airship was deployed recently to observe the area, supporting
skimming operations and notifying responders of the presence of wildlife in need
The January 2010 earthquake in Haiti left behind devastation that
will take years to fix. Lidar is one of the photonics technologies being used to
help in the efforts. Image courtesy of the US Geological Survey.
At press time, BP is preparing to test a new cap that could stop
the flow of oil, and photonics technologies such as cameras and sensors will be
heavily used to monitor the success or failure of this latest attempt.
Photonics can play an important role in recovering from natural
disasters as well as man-made ones such as the oil spill. Earthquakes, for example,
can be widely destructive, and those who live in quake-prone regions need to know
whether – and where – an aftershock is expected to occur, how likely
another temblor may be and which areas of their country stand the biggest chance
of being hit.
Airborne and satellite lidar systems can help answer those questions.
In this issue, contributing editor Marie Freebody looks at the role lidar has played
following the January earthquake in Haiti as well as in assessing the threat of
earthquakes and flooding in other areas. “Lidar Reveals Hidden Aftershock Hazard in Haiti” may be found on page 46.
These are just a few examples of ways in which photonics has been
employed to help victims of any type of disaster. If you would like to share some
more examples, please e-mail them to our managing editor, Laura Marshall, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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