When Hurricane Sandy struck New York City a few weeks ago, seven of the 14 under-river subway tunnels flooded as a result of the storm surge, halting operation of some subway lines for more than a week. One possible future safeguard for this kind of disaster: huge, inflatable tunnel plugs. At the University of West Virginia, researchers working with the Department of Homeland Security are testing a massive balloon made of high strength material that could potentially be used to plug subway tunnels during future calamities--be they weather- or terrorism-related--keeping water out and important infrastructure functional. Catch a video of this technology inflating over at the NYT.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.