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A Physicist Says He Can Tornado-Proof the Midwest With 1,000-Foot Walls 501

meghan elizabeth writes: Temple physicist Rongjia Tao has a utopian proposal to build three massive, 1,000-foot-high, 165-foot-thick walls around the American Midwest, in order to keep the tornadoes out. Building three unfathomably massive anti-tornado walls would count as the infrastructure project of the decade, if not the century. It would be also be exceedingly expensive. "Building such walls is feasible," Tao says. "They are much easier than constructing a skyscraper. For example, in Philadelphia, the newly completed Comcast building has about 300-meter height. The wall with similar height as the Comcast building should be much easier to be constructed." Update: 06/28 04:14 GMT by T : Note: originally, this story said that Tao was at Drexel rather than Temple -- now corrected
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A Physicist Says He Can Tornado-Proof the Midwest With 1,000-Foot Walls

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  • Re:better idea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gargleblast ( 683147 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @08:53PM (#47320513)
    To keep the guns out of Mexico, eh? Not such a bad idea ...
  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @08:58PM (#47320541)

    Building three unfathomably massive anti-tornado walls would count as the infrastructure project of the decade, if not the century. It would be also be exceedingly expensive.

    If it is not exceedingly expensive, it's not the infrastructure project of the century.

  • by Hussman32 ( 751772 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @09:02PM (#47320569)
    In theory, everything works in practice. In practice, it doesn't.
  • Oh Geeez (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jmd ( 14060 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @09:05PM (#47320579)

    Wouldn't it be cheaper to move all of the people in the midwest to China? That's where all the jobs went anyway

  • by statemachine ( 840641 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @09:14PM (#47320623)

    $160 million per mile, to prevent an average of 50-60 tornado deaths per year?

    1) Build 1000 miles? Only $160 billion? Is that cost of labor alone? What about the cost of land?
    2) Build just for cities? Which cities?
    3) How does a city afford even 1 mile of wall?

    We can drop nukes in tornadoes too for much less, not that I'm advocating that either.

    Just last year, there were 32,850 vehicle fatalities [nhtsa.gov] in the good ol' USofA.

    Driverless cars would've prevented 99% of the crashes. Let's concentrate on rolling those out first and soon.

  • Or (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ArchieBunker ( 132337 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @09:35PM (#47320763) Homepage

    People could stop living in places where a tornado comes through every few years. You hear the same complaints about people living in flood plains

  • Appalachians (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @09:38PM (#47320775) Journal

    I live in the Appalachian mountains. As I watch weather radar, observing weather systems come at us from the west, I've seen dozens if not hundreds of times over the years where very powerful, well-defined weather systems (individual cells as well as frontal systems) totally disintegrate as they cross over from flat regions of North Carolina and Tennessee into Virginia, because they hit a literal 1,000 foot wall of mountains. Tornadoes are extremely rare here. A few years ago we had small one that messed up a couple sheds and the canopy over a gas station, and that was the first in decades. So I do believe this physicist is onto something that would be effective. Whether or not it's practical or acceptable to construct such a thing is another question.

  • by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @11:22PM (#47321395)

    Of course not, because the federal government created this complete lack of respect for the border with its pantywaisted policies and misconstrued cries of 'we're a country of immigrants.' Now mexico's problems, culture, and values are becoming our own, and what do we do? Teach our kids spanish, offer spanish cable tv channels, and politicians want bilingual highway signs. Their government is corrupt to the core, run by drug cartels. Maybe it's time we started shooting invaders again. After all, the mexican authorities would shoot us if we ignored their border en masse the way they do ours.

  • Climate effect? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SecurityGuy ( 217807 ) on Thursday June 26, 2014 @12:12AM (#47321603)

    I didn't see anything about the climate effect, if there would be one. Mucking around with wind flow in the area that makes a lot of our food may turn out to be a bad idea, in which case we'd get to see the biggest demolition project ever, and hope it's reversable.

  • by Jarik C-Bol ( 894741 ) on Thursday June 26, 2014 @12:35AM (#47321689)
    It works in Israel because there is a fraction of the linear border distance to fence and patrol and maintain. Israel has less than 760 kilometers of fence, The USA/Mexico border is around 3,169 km long. It also crosses some of the most inhospitable desert on the content. This adds more than a little difficulty in patrolling and maintaining any sort of 'fence'
  • by kwbauer ( 1677400 ) on Thursday June 26, 2014 @12:49AM (#47321759)

    Yup, we in the US are racist for wanting some form of immigration control (keeping people from crossing the border south-to-north) but the Mexicans are simply exercising their sovereignty when they actual do work to prevent north-to-south movement.

    At least he is currently modded +2 while you are modded -1.

  • Better idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Thursday June 26, 2014 @02:30AM (#47322193)

    Instead of building a giant wall, just require that any new buildings (including replacements for damaged/destroyed ones) built in Tornado Alley MUST be strong enough to withstand a certain amount of force, that way if its hit by a big tornado, it wont collapse. Its been done elsewhere (mostly in areas where cyclones/hurricanes are a problem but the same standards will stop all but the biggest/most extreme tornadoes).

  • by L. J. Beauregard ( 111334 ) on Thursday June 26, 2014 @10:50AM (#47324351)

    "Pantywaisted policies"? Fine. Swarm this land with Homeland "Security" goons to find anyone who looks a little brown, ask them sus papeles, por favor and beat the mierda out of them when they answer in English. Oh, and we want freedom and small government, too. And low taxes.

    "Teach our kids Spanish"? Qué horror, que nuestros hijos aprendan otro idioma.

    "Offer Spanish cable TV channels"? What have you got against the free market?

    "Bilingual highway signs"? Citation needed, but yes, it's so much better to have people on the road who don't understand the signs.

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday June 26, 2014 @12:23PM (#47325295) Homepage Journal

    and success runs on work.

    The best predictor of success in our society is parentage. Hard work is down around #7 someplace.

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford