Police are investigating an act of vandalism involving an inflatable dam in Fremont, California committed on the morning of May 21. The dam on the Alameda Creek was destroyed, allowing 50 million gallons of water to be released into the San Francisco Bay. That is enough water to supply 500 families for a year.
The dam was designed to divert water to the Quarry Lakes, which are located nearby. The water normally settled and replenished groundwater in the Niles Cone Groundwater Basin.
The inflatable dam was constructed with thick, heavy-duty rubber. The vandal or vandals gained access to a restricted area early Thursday. Police and officials with the Alameda County Water District believe whoever vandalized the inflatable dam acted with deliberate and malicious intent. It will cost $3 million to replace the dam.
Crime scene investigators from the Fremont Police Department were at the site of the destroyed inflatable dam on Friday to gather evidence. They are not saying publicly what evidence they have recovered because they do not want to compromise the investigation. The Alameda County Water District is providing information and assisting with the investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact the police.
The loss of water would be significant under any circumstances, but it is even more serious since the area is in the midst of drought conditions. However, water authorities do not believe the loss of the 50 million gallons of water will have a long-term effect on the ability to supply water to the 81,000 homes and businesses in Fremont, Newark, and Union City.
The inflatable dam was installed in 1971. Due to its age, the district was already working on building a replacement. It also has a second dam on the creek that can expand and keep water from going downstream or deflate to allow storm run-off to flow freely.
Scientific missions to explore Venus face unique challenges due to the planet’s hot and hostile environment. Aerospace company Northrop Grumman conducted a feasibility study in 2012 of an inflatable aircraft powered by propellers called the Venus Atmospheric Maneuverable Platform (VAMP).
Northrop Grumman plans to enter the VAMP design in NASA’s next New Frontiers, which will begin on October 1. New Frontiers is NASA’s series of space exploration missions that aim to study several planets in the solar system. Companies are competing for $1 billion in funding for their projects. The winning mission will have to be prepared to launch around 2021.
An orbiting spacecraft would deliver VAMP to Venus and would later act as a communications link between VAMP and Earth. VAMP would inflate before it reached the planet’s atmosphere. Its large surface area would help it withstand the heat of atmospheric entry.
VAMP would have a wingspan of about 150 feet and a payload capacity of 440 pounds. It would be able to stay airborne for almost a year while it used a combination of powered flight and passive floating to study Venus. VAMP would be able to travel at a top speed of 135 miles per hour.
The aircraft could fly at an altitude of 31 to 44 miles over the surface of Venus. In the area where VAMP would fly, the atmospheric pressure is comparable to that on Earth and the temperature is about 15 degrees Celsius. These are much better conditions than the high pressure and extremely high temperatures on the planet’s surface.
VAMP would be the first application of Northrop Grumman’s Lifting Entry/Atmospheric Flight (LEAF) aircraft. The aircraft could fly over any planetary body with an atmosphere, including Venus, Earth, Mars, and Saturn’s moon Titan.
Northrop Grumman has formed a science advisory board to define scientific goals and measurement requirements and to identify possible instruments for future VAMP missions. It will also analyze existing data on Venus that might be helpful in planning VAMP’s mission.
A magnitude 7.8 earthquake recently struck in Nepal, claiming over 7,700 lives and causing thousands more injuries and widespread destruction. After the earthquake, hospitals were overwhelmed with patients seeking care.
Doctors without Borders, the international nonprofit that provides medical care to people in areas affected by disasters, sent teams of physicians and surgeons to Nepal to help. The organization has also opened inflatable hospitals to treat patients.
Doctors in disaster areas often have to carry out their work in makeshift tent hospitals that have problems with sanitation. Doctors without Borders began using inflatable hospitals after seeing them developed for the Italian army in 2004. The organization has used them on relief missions in Pakistan, Haiti, South Sudan, and other countries.
Three 1,076-square-foot inflatable tents were dropped off in the capital, Kathmandu, on April 30, along with 38.5 tons of medical supplies. The hospital in the capital has 56 beds. Another hospital was set up in Gorkha, near the epicenter of the quake, with an operating room, emergency room, and recovery room. Other areas might be added. A 20-bed hospital was set up in the town of Arughat, which is located about 80 miles northwest of Kathmandu. The hospital includes an operating room, obstetrics unit, and maternity ward. Doctors without Borders plans to set up more inflatable hospitals.
The inflatable hospitals have polyvinyl chloride walls to create a sealed, sterile environment. Sheets of rubber are sewn between large tubes that work like ribs to provide support. The long rectangular panels have grommets that are used to hang up partitions.
The inflatable hospitals are delivered deflated in bags that weigh 2,600 pounds. They are set up on a solid asphalt floor or a set of platforms and can be set up in one to two days and hooked up to electricity and water.
Inflatable life jackets are designed to be comfortable and to allow you to move freely about your boat, cast a fishing line, or raise a sail. Before you head out onto the water this season, take some time to inspect your inflatable life jacket and make sure it is in proper working order. A little preparation now might save your life.
Open your life jacket by pulling apart the Velcro covers or flaps and unfolding it. Inspect the bladder for any tears or abrasions. Be sure the waist strap and buckles are in good condition.
Remove the carbon dioxide cartridge to be sure it has not been discharged. You can tell that it has been discharged if there is a small puncture in the center of the threaded end. Look for signs of corrosion on the cartridge and inflator mechanism. Some inflatable life jackets have a “pill” or “bobbin” that dissolves in water to allow the life jacket to inflate. Be sure that it is in good condition. If it is not, buy a rearming kit. Some inflatable mechanisms have a green indicator that means the mechanism is in working order.
Use your mouth to blow up the life jacket with the manual inflator tube located on the upper front left side. You can use this tube as a backup way to inflate the life jacket if the inflator mechanism should fail.
Leave the life jacket inflated and do not touch it for 24 hours. Check it and be sure that it is still inflated. If it is, you can deflate and repack it. Follow the instructions located on an inside flap. You are now ready for boating season.