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How to Master a Seismic Disaster

When the next big earthquake hits tokyo, engineers bet even a few seconds can save lives

10 min read
How to Master a Seismic Disaster
All Fall Down: Emergency workers in Machida, just west of downtown Tokyo, practice rescue efforts as part of Disaster Prevention Day drills.
Photo: YurIko Nakao/Reuters

September in Japan always begins the same way: Disaster Prevention Day. Across the country, schoolchildren don protective headgear and take cover under sturdy desks, the better to avoid falling debris; public-safety workers conduct mock searches and rescues for victims stuck under rubble; and medical ­personnel attend to the faux injured.

The annual ritual underscores a simple fact of life for the Japanese: earthquakes happen. Tokyo, the gleaming megalopolis of 35 million, lies in a particularly vulnerable area. Three tectonic plates converge 300 kilometers east of the city, while a chain of active volcanoes stretches 100 km to the west. Tokyoites experience the odd tremor every other week on average, and the city has been rocked by five major quakes in the past three centuries.

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IEEE President’s Note: Looking to 2050 and Beyond

The importance of future-proofing IEEE

4 min read
Photo of K. J. Ray Liu
IEEE

What will the future of the world look like? Everything in the world evolves. Therefore, IEEE also must evolve, not only to survive but to thrive.

How will people build communities and engage with one another and with IEEE in the future? How will knowledge be acquired? How will content be curated, shared, and accessed? What issues will influence the development of technical standards? How should IEEE be organized to be most impactful?

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The Device That Changed Everything

Transistors are civilization’s invisible infrastructure

2 min read
A triangle of material suspended above a base

This replica of the original point-contact transistor is on display outside IEEE Spectrum’s conference rooms.

Randi Klett

I was roaming around the IEEE Spectrum office a couple of months ago, looking at the display cases the IEEE History Center has installed in the corridor that runs along the conference rooms at 3 Park. They feature photos of illustrious engineers, plaques for IEEE milestones, and a handful of vintage electronics and memorabilia including an original Sony Walkman, an Edison Mazda lightbulb, and an RCA Radiotron vacuum tube. And, to my utter surprise and delight, a replica of the first point-contact transistor invented by John Bardeen, Walter Brittain, and William Shockley 75 years ago this month.

I dashed over to our photography director, Randi Klett, and startled her with my excitement, which, when she saw my discovery, she understood: We needed a picture of that replica, which she expertly shot and now accompanies this column.

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Designing Fuel Cell Systems Using System-Level Design

Modeling and simulation in Simulink and Simscape

1 min read
Designing Fuel Cell Systems Using System-Level Design

Design and simulate a fuel cell system for electric mobility. See by example how Simulink® and Simscape™ support multidomain physical modeling and simulation of fuel cell systems including thermal, gas, and liquid systems. Learn how to select levels of modeling fidelities to meet your needs at different development stages.