The wave that washed over the eastern coast of Japan was more than 130 feet high.
You would expect that a disaster of the magnitude of the Tohoku tsunami and earthquake, which killed 15,000 people and caused about $210 billion in property damage, would have people feeling more apt to evacuate when another killer wave approaches. But, strikingly, scientists who interviewed Japanese people a year before the event and afterwards found that the size of the waves they would think dangerous enough to flee had grown. As Adam Mann writes at Wired, people had stopped recognizing the height at which a wave becomes dangerous:
The Toyota Prius is one of the cars targeted by the new regulations.
Late last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that it will now begin assessing new regulations for green cars, whose quiet engines may pose a danger to unaware pedestrians. This is the agency’s first major step towards implementing the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, which requires automobile manufactures to equip new electric and hybrid vehicles with sound systems that alert pedestrians of the approaching machines.
But the move has come under fire by some green car advocates, who stress a lack of studies showing that such warning systems would actually make the streets safer for pedestrians:
The difficulty is that there’s simply not enough data on actual pedestrian injuries and deaths attributable to quieter cars. Part of that reflects a lack of categories to reflect such a problem, and the low incidence of pedestrian injuries in general.
[A] 2009 NHTSA report highlighted its own weaknesses: It was based on data from only 12 states (the ones that record Vehicle Identification Numbers) and limited to injuries from 2000, when hybrids first entered the U.S. market. The result: a small, possibly non-representative sample set.
Image: Flickr/M 93
Powerful bug repellant DEET may do more than keep mosquitoes and other biting critters at bay–it might cause neurological damage in mammals, according to a study published in BioMed Central Biology.
Developed in 1946 by the U.S. Army, DEET has been used by the public for more than half a century to repel bugs like mosquitoes, along with the diseases they can carry. The new study, however, shows that DEET—aka N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide—may be harmful for a variety of animal cells. In lab tests, it caused damage to mosquitoes, cockroach nerves, mouse muscles, and enzymes purified from fruit flies and humans. Applications of DEET slowed or halted the actions of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. This enzyme hangs out between nerve and muscle cells, breaking down a messenger molecule after it has passed information from one cell to another. If this messenger isn’t properly recycled, it can build up and lead to paralysis [Science News].