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Underground Disaster Prevention

Natural Disaster & Woodcut, graphite, digital media

From the Artist:

“For this piece, I wanted to depict the stabilization of chaos. I imagined the destructive elements of debris to be happening far off in the distance - almost suspended in space. Ultimately, the houses go undisturbed and the potential of disaster is contained, thanks to the buried masks and sensors in the students’ design.”

—Jing Wei

The Science

Chinese scientists Zhuoli Feng, Yuan Tian, and Jingjing Peng researched debris flows due to the fact they are among the most dangerous natural disasters in regions with mountainous terrain. The traditional sensors used in this process are large in size and cost. To solve this problem, they experimented with various materials that undergo physical changes in differing moisture levels, and finally settled with a material that is low-cost, environmentally friendly, and readily available: used disposable facial masks. In its final design, the sensor is composed of a self-resonance inductor and a hydrophilic membrane extracted from KE-1300T silicone. The dielectric constant of the membrane changes with the soil moisture, which changes the resonant frequency of the inductor. The sensor is small in size, low in cost, reliable, accurate and can be easily deployed. Experimental results showed that the proposed method can provide more accurate debris flow prediction.

The Artist

Jing Wei is a woodcutter and printmaker practicing in Brooklyn, NY. She has been practicing professionally for about 4 years, since receiving a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design. Wei’s work has been featured in Print Magazine’s 20 Under 30 for 2012.