Heroes

This simulator might make weathering large storms a whole lot easier.

A storm's a-brewin', but there's one man in its way.

This simulator might make weathering large storms a whole lot easier.

So, here's the thing about hurricanes...

They're massive.


Photo by Scott Kelly/NASA via Getty Images.

They're destructive.


Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

They're hard to predict, and they keep getting stronger.

While we can't stop hurricanes from forming, how we prepare for them may be in for a big change thanks to exciting new technology.

Last year, Florida's University of Miami opened the world's largest hurricane simulator with the power to create a controlled Category 5 storm over water. With a single 1,700 horsepower fan, the nearly 40,000-gallon seawater tank can face winds reaching 157 miles per hour.


Underneath the simulator. Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

The focus of the simulator is to study storm surge, the deadliest aspect of a hurricane.

Believe it or not, most hurricane-related deaths aren't a result of the storm's winds, but actually the water that gets pushed on shore as a result. That water is what's called "storm surge," and how it forms (and what we can do to protect our coasts from it) has remained somewhat of a mystery.


GIF from "CBS This Morning."

When combined with high storm tides, storm surge can add 20 feet of water to the shoreline, putting buildings and people in great danger.

During 2005's Hurricane Katrina, more than 15,000 people lost their lives. It's believed that the vast majority of these deaths were either directly or indirectly the result of storm surge.


Inside the simulator, storm surge pushes water on shore. Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Brian Haus, an ocean sciences professor in the school's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science heads up the simulator program — and he's got big plans.

Haus hopes that in being able to answer questions about storm surge and landfall predictions, he can create a safer world.

GIF from "CBS This Morning."

"Over the last 20 years our track forecasts have been getting better and better. But the thing that hasn’t gotten any better over the past 20 years is hurricane intensity forecasts," he said last year. "That is the thing that really scares forecasters because it makes it hard for them to do their job."

His research is aimed at solving the question of intensity. If successful, his work will save untold lives.

Haus queues up another indoor storm. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

June 1 marks the start of hurricane season. Here's hoping the research being done by Haus helps us understand a bit more about these storms and save some lives.

Haus looks out upon the simulated storm he's created. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

To see the simulator in action, check out this video from CBS News.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less