Taxicab data helps ease traffic

Publication:   Date: September 29, 2011   View Article

Traffic blows. It’s unhealthy and a waste of time. It is also a fact of life in almost every major city around the world, especially in fast-developing China whereas many as 20 million rural farmers migrate to the cities each year looking for jobs and a better life.

To help urban planners determine where to build new roads, subways, skyscrapers and shopping malls to absorb their new residents, researchers are turning to data collected by GPS systems in taxicabs.

Sensors to avert ‘carmageddons’

Publication:   Date: August 1, 2011   View Article

The much-hyped carmageddon predicted last month for Los Angeles never materialized when a stretch of highway was closed to allow a bridge demolition, but commuters may not be so lucky if one of the nation’s thousands of deteriorating spans suddenly collapses.

That’s the sort of scenario that Medhi Kalantari hopes to avoid with the deployment of wireless sensors on the nation’s — and world’s — aging bridges. One in four U.S. highway bridges is either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, according to a 2009 estimate by the U.S. Society of Civil Engineers.

Pictures: 12 Ancient Landmarks on Verge of Vanishing

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 23, 2010   View Article

Damaged frescoes in the Church of St. Gregory of Tigran Honents tell a story of neglect in the medieval city of Ani, now part of Turkey.

Sitting in a militarized zone near the current Turkish-Armenian border, the city is one of 12 cultural sites on the verge of collapse, according to a report released this week by the San Francisco, California-based Global Heritage Fund.

Flying Dogs and Amorous Anteaters

Publication: MSN/SwitchYard Media   Date: May 11, 2010   View Article

It is just like man’s vanity and impertinence to call an animal dumb because it is dumb to his dull perceptions.” — Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)

Is a speedy caterpillar that can accurately forecast the winter weather lacking in smarts? Is a dog that surfs stupid?< ?p>

The protagonist in Mark Twain’s 1906 essay “What is Man” might be pleased to know that thousands of Americans routinely sharpen their perceptions at shows and festivals around the country that showcase the beauty, intellect, and physical prowess that abounds in nature.

Geeking Out and About

Publication: MSN/SwitchYard Media   Date: April 20, 2010   View Article

Why hide your dorky self behind a bland exterior of cool when there are so many interesting places where weirdos (and we mean that in the best sense) roam free?

Tech nerds who need a transistor fix flock to the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley. News junkies visit the Newseum in the nation’s capital, where they rifle through archives and watch old clips. And grown men who play with dolls? Well, there’s a place for them at the Toy and Action Figure Museum in Pauls Valley, Okla.

Whether you’re a closet disco dweeb, a Vulcan-eared Trekkie or just have an obsession with all things Bond James Bond, there’s a museum somewhere in this vast land with your name on it. We surveyed a few of the strange, exciting places you should visit.

Revolving Restaurants: A Throwback to the Future

Publication: SwitchYard Media/MSN   Date: February 26, 2010   View Article

Itching for a revolution? Then visit a restaurant perched up high and watch the world go around.

Revolving restaurants sprouted atop towers and boxy buildings across the U.S. in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s as symbols of modernity, progress and a space-age future, according to Chad Randl, author of “Revolving Architecture: A History of Buildings that Rotate, Swivel and Pivot.”

“They were really the thing to have,” he said. Once the novelty of spinning around over a meal ran its course, however, most revolving restaurants fell into disrepair. Some were converted into conference rooms; many were toppled.

But don’t despair, those that still spin tend to have a charm worthy of their kitschy revolution – a spectacular view, for example, or a menu that claims to make the world stand still.

Statue of Liberty Facts: July 4th Reopening and More

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 2, 2009   View Article

This Fourth of July visitors will once again be free to visit the Statue of Liberty’s crown for the first time since 9/11.

The New York City landmark’s upper reaches are set to reopen after being closed for safety reasons after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. The move follows the reopening of Liberty Island in late 2001 and of the statue in 2004.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach