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tv   Tech Know  Al Jazeera  May 23, 2014 1:30pm-2:01pm EDT

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wa -- watching al jazeera america. "techknow" is next. you can check us out on the website, websialjazeera.com. a show about innovations that can change lives. we're going to explore the intersection of hardware and humanity, and we're doing it in a unique way. this is a show about science by scientists. let's check out our team of hard core nerds. i'm phil torres, i'm an entomologist. tonight the frozen zoo. in a deep freeze, cells from the most endangered specious on the planet, like the white rhino.
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brick e-bringing back ex tint types. dr. shini somara is a mechanical engineer. tonight she's inside a tornado. find out what scientists are doing to help us survive these killer storms. marita davidson is a biologist, specializing in ecology and evolution. that's our team. now let's do some science. ♪ ♪ ♪. >> hey guys, welcome to "techknow." i'm phil torres. joining us today are dr. shini somara and marita davidson. guys when i'm in the field doing my research, one of my big issues i'm working on is how to conserve our wildlife. i got to go down to the san diego zoo.
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sme they are prerving dozens of -- they are preserving dozens of different species. this zoo is frozen! so let's take a look. at the famous san diego zoo safari park, lies a zoo within a zoo, replaced by liquid nitrogen and cell cultures. this is san diego's frozen zoo. that's right, zoo. not the one you grew up visiting but one in which there are living cells from over a thousand expertise, preserved species , preserved and frozen, all to help protect future generations of animals currently facing extinction. what was the genesis for creating the frozen zoo? >> the possibility to save sells -- cells allowed us to undertake, each cell of an individual is capable of producing the entire individual. >> take me through the process of freezing cells. >> we get a biopsy,
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a small slice of that fest >> we can take those cells and treat them so they can be frozen and put in suspended animation. >> tell me about that. >> you can freeze it to a very low temperature like the temperature of liquid nitrogen. all life stops. their state of suspended animation can be that youd and thawed and in 20 minutes be growing again. >> we gained a clearer perspective. >> this is a frozen zoo. the cells are in racks, in towers, in an inventory system here, and they are in the vapor of liquid nitrogen, 250° below zero. you can look down now because we've clarified it and see the towers that hold the cells of the frozen zoo. they are the cells of over 10,000 individual animals. >> this isn't exactly your
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traditional zoo. would you say the definition of zoo have changed with this type of technique? >> zoos have greatly expanded from menageries. they are now conservation organizations. the zoos of the future will have activities like preserving these samples as part of their mission. >> the cells of many endangered species, like the panda, none closer to the heart than the northern white rhino. >> they are amazing. as big as they are, i think they are more like ballerinas than anything else. they are exquisite products of nature. what an amazing creature a rhino is. there may be seven white rhinos left but how many productive individuals are there? those are four and very highly related. inbred cannot survive as well as
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those with higher genetic diversity. that's the goal of genetickic rescue comes in. >> the goal of genetic rescue is to restore the species to full genetic health. the cells at the frozen zoo. could be used to reproduce healthy offspring. remarkable new and easy way of creating stem cells from mice. stem cells are capable of becoming any cell type in the body and this new discovery is promising. >> well, it's huge. fob knows whether it's possible in the rhino. fus but if it could be done in the mouse, why not in the rhino? >> the hope is to transform stem cells from egg and sperm to form a northern white
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rhino. >> we would have to embryo transfer it to a southern white rhino. here at san diego zoo safari park. >> that is 1800 acres of san diego zoo safari park. half of which are protected or worse, endangered. rhinos everywhere have been hunted down because of the mistaken belief in the medicinal effect of the powers of the rhino horn. >> what do you think is going to happen? >> without change from the current trajectory, they're doomed. >> the film jurassic park the technological process, help the viewing public imagine the possibilities of de-extinction science. but the science and research of reviving long-gone species is very real and very controversial, often raising more questions than answers.
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to enter that debate we visited the paleogenetic lab of dr. beth shapiro of university of california santa cruz. >> ancient dna is a technique to be used to get dna from animals and plants that live in the past of. >> de-extinction. do you think it's doable in the foreseeable future? >> i don't think making 100% genome of this can be possible. this is why people who are interested in deextinction of the mammoth for example, used genome editing techniques, to make specific changes in the genomes of an animal that is still alive to make it look more like the genome of the animal you want to try to deextinct. away you would need to know are the places in the genome, the elephant genome, the places in the elephant
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genome that differed from the mammoth genome, and you would be able to have an elephant that has some of characteristics of a mammoth, for example, tolerance to cold or longer hair. >> tell me more about that genome editing. is that possible? >> that is possible today. and the technology to do multiple changes at once is being developed as we speak. there are some people in science that say if a species has gone extinct, there is a reason for it. let it be. our do you feel about that? >> then and only then can we begin to think about what the other consequences of bringing that species back would be. >> the plight of the passenger pigeon is both a dramatic story of extinction but a popular topic for dee-extinction. in the 1700s their numbers were estimated at 3 billion. but because their flocks were huge, they were easily hunted and by the 1920s, they were extinct. >> i think the passenger pigeon is extinct for so long, the
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habitat it lived in is probably gone. in a case where something is very recently extinct or in the verge of extinction, it might that be the niche is still vacant and by filling that vacated niche we might stabilize the community and in doing so actually save other specious that may go extinct had that niche not been vacant. >> why should we revive extinct species from around the world? >> we have inherited earth from our ancestors. it is our responsibility to pass it on to our descendants. >> so what did you guys think? >> you know this has been a hot topic in the ecological community for a while and really controversial. in some ways it's a seed bank for security. but there's a lot of concern if you are going to bring something back and if there's no proper habitat for that animal to live in, what's the ethical boundary of that? that's a major issue. >> people think of it, can we bring this back to life?
quote
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but there is so much more to it. because they need a place to live after all. if we put them back in a zoo, that is a show and tell. but it is not really doing anything for the world. but if there is habitat restored, and there's no poaching, we can put things back in place. >> that all sounds like jurassic park. or something. >> it does. you but i think a lot of us scientists were disappointed, when we realize dna debraids over time. we can't do it the way they do it there. where they take the blood out of the mosquito and put it into the other animal, probably not going to happen. i like to document along the way, i'm sure you do the same. i posted on my instagram and where above, you can see that is the black rhino vial . those are cells that are growing, they are going to freeze those and maybe turn them into an entire rhino.
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you guys could be looking at the beginning of a black whine owe, right there. you guys are looking at a real rhino, definitely worth posting. if you want to check out our behind the scenes photos from the field, be sure to follow us on instagram. now shini, after the break you are going to be firing a or the fade owe cannon? >> yes, lovingly called a boomer. >> we'll check that out after
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>> start with one issue ad guests on all sides of the debate. and a host willing to ask the tough questions and you'll get... the inside story ray suarez hosts inside story weekdays at 5pm et / 2pm pt only on al jazeera america
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>> i'm joe berlinger this is the system i'd like to think of this show as a watch dog about the system... to make sure justice is being served. with our personal liberties taken away from us, it better be done the right way.
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is justice really for all? >> hey guys, welcome back to "techknow." shini, you went to tornado alley. and it's a place where from tragedy came innovation. >> it has prompted the need for research to find exactly how to make above-ground shelters safe in a tornado. >> let's check it out. >> west side of burton we have a major tornado coming down. >> oh my god! >> may 20th, 2013, one of the worst tornadoes in record was captured on time lapse video that went viral. >> large scale, tornado, here it
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is, right in front of me. people in west moore ought to be underground. we have large large debris. >> the tornado took a direct hit on the elementary school. dlaimg lives of seven children. >> by the time i got to the school i still hadn't heard any word on kyle and by the looks of the school it wasn't looking good. >> winds recorded over 210 miles per hour, ripped through the school fogging down walls and turning the playground into a pile of rubble. >> i think if you live in tornado alley it needs to be a priority. you need to have a shelter. >> 300 miles from moore in a lab in texas tech university, engineers work to make micky davidson's goal for storm shelters a reality. >> what we have here is an air cannon. it's call boomer. virtual potato-launcher on steroids. >> you launch things straight at
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walls, right? >> that's right, yes. >> professor larry tanner does research on destruction from tornadoes. tornado is all about impact. >> where wind really becomes an issue is the debris opens up the building envelope, the walls, the roof. once you have that envelope opened, now you've got double the trouble. the most predominant projectile that we see in these storms is normally something like a two by four. >> so what you tend to see coming out of this cannon is what you tend to see flying around when a tornado is centered? >> absolutely. we did a shelter research for the national science foundation back in maize after the moore
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tornado. specifically just to look for shelters in the storm path. >> the question now is: not whether to rebuild, but how. >> we're smart engineers. we know how to design for the wind speeds. and now, we know how to design for impact resistance. >> research performed tests on a variety of building materials. some of them failed. through trial and error, innovation came in the form of reinforcement and engineering. >> should we -- load the cannon? >> load the cannon. okay, let's do it. >> wow! >> 103 miles per hour. >> 103. it is completely fine. >> this particular wall is what we call a double wide brick. in other words you have one wall of brick here and another wall of brick here and then there's a four inch cavity that's full of
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concrete and reinforcing steel. the efi missile. >> this shows can you have a -- that you can have a safe place above ground. >> the beautiful thing about an above ground shelter is it's a dual-use space. >> is this what would you advise a school like plaza towers -- >> absolutely. >> oakdale elementary was hit twice. >> we're relying on texas tech to tell us what kind of structures will withstand. >> we have to adapt to them. >> it has to withstand not only the pressure of a 250 mile per hour wind. efi 5 tornado. >> these walls were thickened. to become a safe room. they are like 12 inches thick. >> another important thing in a safe room are the connections, where the wall and the room intersect. we have to make these connections because obviously
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you don't want those to come apart. the roof can come off and these walls fall and all those terrible things can happen. >> two forces, the force pulling the walls apart and keeping projectiles from coming through. we can be confident that it's not going to fall in on these kids. >> how do you feel about this? >> i feel like we have a safer place to come than we had before. and in those times when we might have to have a safer place to bring our students, we have it. >> that's the hope for folks in oakdale and plaza towers by using innovative building techniques, they can keep their children and community safe. >> so comfort aside, are the above-ground shelters really more effective and functional?
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>> they are more effective because you don't know where a tornado is going to hit. so it's very expensive to develop an above-ground shelter. but after spending all that money, you may not necessarily be protected because the tornado goes in a completely different direction. so it is important to build these shelters anyway because you're building schools. and so to reinforce them with this kind of technology seems really effective. >> and it's a multipurpose place. >> that's why it's needed, 66% of schools in oklahoma don't have shelters yet it sits in tornado alley. >> that is crazy. now you're about to get up close and personal with the tornado and i understand you actually get in one. >> yes. i got into the vortek, which is a simulator of winds. ef 3, it was absolute heaven, i loved it. >> all right. we'll check that up coming up
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real reporting from around the world. this is what we do.
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al jazeera america. photos ♪ ♪ >> and welcome back to "techknow." i'm phil torres and i'm here with marita davidson and dr. shini somara. shini, you went inside a tornado. >> i got in the vortek, to experience force 3 winds. and trust me, to people that force of nature on my skin, it was just unreal. let's take a look. >> thank you very much. >> oh my goodness! coming down right now, major tornado. >> coming down another tornado. >> a deadly tornado rushes towards the u.s. community of
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oklahoma city. a two mile wide wind tunnel ripped through the capitol on monday. >> oh my god! >> that was the tragedy in the ground but new innovations are developed in the lab to protect against future disasters. >> we create tornado like vortexes. mimicking tornado wind speeds. >> i'm at the national wind institute at texas tech university where they can actually recreate tornadoes. harold janes professor of mechanical engineering designed and built the tornado simulator called vortek. >> in a controlled situation, to understand what happens to structures. >> tornado winds are rated on an
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ef scale which is an indicator of the severity of the storm based on wind speed and debris impact. >> this is ef 3e, 150 miles or less. >> have you ever been in this? >> oh, absolutely. would you like to go? >> this is what i've been waiting for. >> i'm going to build up the speed. >> so you're going to leave me here? >> you're good. >> at this point i was wondering just how powerful an ef3 would be. >> wow! >> now i can just about imagine how terrifying a tornado can be. >> to your research you're hoping to be able to recommend
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how to reinforce building codes. >> that's correct. what we really want to do is be able to recommend building codes and practices that people should consider when building in areas that are prone to tornadoes. we had no way of knowing how severe a tornado can be. we heard that it was on the ground. it looked like it was going to be a bad one. >> jimmy fleming, public information officer for moore public schools. >> meteorologists that we have are doing a great job of being on the cutting edge of technology that lets us predict the storms. >> in the reconstruction of plaza towers, how much innovation is implemented to ensure safety? >> the main thing is the actual storm shelter itself. these particular shelter walls are solid concrete, enforced in to the foundation in through the ceiling. if a tornado were to hit the building the shelter is going to stand.
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>> do you think this is going to save lives? >> i hope we never find out. >> mickey davis is the mother of kyle davis. one of the seven children who lost their lives at plaza towers. >> it was just something i've never experienced. we got around to the school. and it was very hard to look at the school that day. because i had just taken -- sorry -- i had just taken him to school. and the school didn't look like what it did when i dropped him off on friday. there were seven families searching for kids. i didn't find out until the next morning. it was 18 hours later. >> so mickey, it's very soon after may 20th. so what do you want to do next? >> i want a shelter in every school! my goal is to protect every
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child in oklahoma. not just moore. >> do you think you will achieve shelters in the schools? >> some days you know are harder to get up and fight for it. but kyle wouldn't want that. >> we need shelters in every oklahoma school. >> kyle would want me to get up and fight and do all that i possibly can, so that kids are protected in the future. >> we can't prevent tornadoes from hitting the ground. but innovation is helping us predict their movement and protect against their impact. in a town like moore, technology resilience of the community and will help them rebuild. >> how expensive is it to implement these changes? >> it's pretty costly. i mean you're reinforcing walls
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and then reinforcing them again. i mean, these are really safe houses. so that costs money. >> you can imagine the difference between the cost of, if that school got destroyed and they had to build it up again, or lives lost, obviously there's quite an emotional cost of that. >> once they establish the building codes it will be a standard way of building. that's not there but this technology will certainly allow that to happen in the future. so watch the space. >> thank you for sharing that shini. we're both in some interesting labs and met some very passionate researchers this week. and we'll be certain to bring you more stories like that on "techknow" next time. >> go behind the scenes at aljazeera.com/techknow. follow our expert contributors
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