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Inside the World's Largest Hurricane Simulator

There’s a category 5 hurricane brewing in Florida, but it won’t be making landfall on any of the beaches or sweeping away any buildings. This hurricane is man-made, and contained in a 75 foot-long acrylic tank at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. This Surge-Structure-Atmosphere Interaction Facility (SUSTAIN for short) is the world’s largest hurricane simulator—six times the size of its closest rival—and after years of planning, it’s up and running

The simulator is one part of a new $50 million Marine Technology and Life Sciences Seawater Complex at the university. It is “the size of a small house,” as Brian Lam at Popular Science put it, and can hold 38,000 gallons of saltwater. A series of paddles create ripples and waves of different sizes and velocity, and with the flip of a switch, a 1700 horsepower fan (“originally suited for things like ventilating mine shafts”) sends 150mph winds whipping across the water, transforming the tank into a roiling tempest. 

By studying conditions inside the SUSTAIN simulator, researchers hope to make more accurate predictions about how strong a hurricane will be, where exactly it will land, and what it will do to buildings. "Over the last 20 years our track forecasts have been getting better and better,” Brian Haus, chair of the Division of Applied Marine Physics at Miami University told Phys.org. “But the thing that hasn't gotten any better over the past 20 years is hurricane intensity forecasts." 

Haus, a self-proclaimed “wave-junkie,” wants to know how, at a molecular level, hurricanes gain strength over warm water, without having to actually put himself or anyone else in the middle of a real storm. “At sea, you have to deal with the real beast, but in the lab, we have the opportunity to create the hurricane when and how we want it,” he says. The sheer size of the tank lets researchers recreate realistic oceanic conditions, and because the tank has see-through walls (made of 3-inch thick acrylic), they can get a good look at what’s happening inside the storm they’ve created. They’ll be using cameras and lasers to measure the changes in the water and atmosphere. 

According to the NOAA National Hurricane Center, a category 5 hurricane will destroy most of the framed homes in its path. But Haus says “most of our building codes and models for how we build in coastal areas are not based on any real information about what happens in these conditions. At one end of the giant tank sits a miniature house, which will be rigged with sensors and put to the test to help researchers get a better understanding of how man-made structures fare in large storms.

The complex has been open for a few months and has already yielded interesting information about improving hurricane forecasting. 

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The Most Searched Shows on Netflix in 2017, By State

Orange is the New Black is the new black, at least as far as Netflix viewers are concerned. The women-in-prison dramedy may have premiered in 2013, but it’s still got viewers hooked. Just as they did in 2017, HighSpeedInternet.com took a deep dive into Netflix analytics using Google Trends to find out which shows people in each state were searching Netflix for throughout the year. While there was a little bit of crossover between 2016 and 2017, new series like American Vandal and Mindhunter gave viewers a host of new content. But that didn’t stop Orange is the New Black from dominating the map; it was the most searched show in 15 states.

Coming in at a faraway second place was American Vandal, a new true crime satire that captured the attention of five states (Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin). Even more impressive is the fact that the series premiered in mid-September, meaning that it found a large and rabid audience in a very short amount of time.

Folks in Alaska, Colorado, and Oregon were all destined to be disappointed; Star Trek: Discovery was the most searched-for series in each of these states, but it’s not yet available on Netflix in America (you’ve got to get CBS All Access for that, folks). Fourteen states broke the mold a bit with shows that were unique to their state only; this included Big Mouth in Delaware, The Keepers in Maryland, The OA in Pennsylvania, GLOW in Rhode Island, and Black Mirror in Hawaii.

Check out the map above to see if your favorite Netflix binge-watch matches up with your neighbors'. For more detailed findings, visit HighSpeedInternet.com.

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Monthly Internet Costs in Every Country

Thanks to the internet, people around the world can conduct global research, trade tips, and find faraway friends without ever leaving their couch. Not everyone pays the same price for these digital privileges, though, according to new data visualizations spotted by Thrillist.

To compare internet user prices in each country, cost information site HowMuch.net created a series of maps. The data comes courtesy of English market research consultancy BDRC and Cable.co.uk, which teamed up to analyze 3351 broadband packages in 196 nations between August 18, 2017 and October 12, 2017.

In the U.S., for example, the average cost for internet service is $66 per month. That’s substantially more than what browsers pay in neighboring Mexico ($27) and Canada ($55). Still, we don’t have it bad compared to either Namibia or Burkina Faso, where users shell out a staggering $464 and $924, respectively, for monthly broadband access. In fact, internet in the U.S. is far cheaper than what residents in 113 countries pay, including those in Saudi Arabia ($84), Indonesia ($72), and Greenland ($84).

On average, internet costs in Asia and Russia tend to be among the lowest, while access is prohibitively expensive in sub-Saharan Africa and in certain parts of Oceania. As for the world’s cheapest internet, you’ll find it in Ukraine and Iran.

Check out the maps below for more broadband insights, or view HowMuch.net’s full findings here.

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

[h/t Thrillist]

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