Brocken Home. Thousands of broken homes. How would you feel if that happened to you, your family?
Two years ago Japan experienced the most violent earthquake in its recorded history.
There is no words to express enough condoleances. 2 years after. More than 300’000 people are still displaced, many in prefab refugee camps. 21’000 people are currently involved in mitigating the aftermaths on the site of the Fukushima nuclear power plant. We were in Japan recently and made measurements in the exclusion zone on land and underwater. I have the deepest admiration for those who stayed and are relentlessly reconstructing this part of Japan now. My prayers are with them. I feel privileged my family is safe in Niigata (about 100km from Fukushima).
More earthquakes, more tsunamis, more nuclear accidents will happen in the future. We need to learn from this. If “nature has no rules“, can we ever be prepared enough? Many Japanese believe in Kamis (nature spirits) and some feel betrayed. I feel differently. I feel we have been taking inconsiderate risks. We have decided that we can afford to loose the lives of many for fast technology and economic growth. We have ignored, and we continue to ignore the warnings. We constantly re-define what is acceptable in order to continue our march towards our grand visions. Irony.
Our officials share their sorrow and have made the promise to do whatever they can to repair the damage. One of my first blog post was a repost of Joi Ito’s interview in Technology Review. He says :
“One hundred years from now, the role of science and technology will be about becoming part of nature rather than trying to control it.”
I argue that we cannot wait a hundred years. We must do this right now. The anniversary of the great Tohoku Earthquake is a good way to be reminded that and work relentlessly in this direction.
This terrifying documentary (about an hour long) explains what happened, with some interesting science facts. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kA9t9Hiz5C8. The following video gathers more recent concerning press cuts :
We’re in WIRED Japan ! http://wired.jp/2013/03/11/definition-of-success/2/
Cesar Harada | セザール原田（右）
Gabriella Levine | ガブリエラ・レヴァイン（左）
Last winter, thanks to the help of my dear friend Hiroshi Nomura and his family, Mako Mochizuki, the bicycle of Tom Nagashima and the dosimeter from Greenpeace Japan, I cycled from Tokyo to Sendai measuring radioactivity, looking for the best location to deploy a fleet of Protei from the shoreline. This map below is my journey last year ending in TEDxTohoku.
View Tokyo -> Sendai. Radioactivity measures + pictures in a larger map. http://g.co/maps/xfkz4
I based my trip on the first estimate of radiation dispersion, and the most recent Safecast map. I failed at working with Safecast, even if I was lucky to bump into Kalin on the road last year who instructed me of how to use the dosimeter and the geiger counter.
A year ago, I saw devastation on hundreds of kilometers of coastline. I met fishermen at the refugee camp that told me terrifying stories of earthquake, tsunami and radioactivity. To remind you a few facts : on 11 March 2011, a magnitude 9.03 (Mw) undersea megathrust earthquake about 70km off the coast of Japan that occurred at 14:46 JST (05:46 UTC). Tsunami waves reached heights of up to 40.5 metres (133 ft) in Miyako in Tōhoku’s Iwate Prefecture and which, in the Sendai area, travelled up to 10 km (6 mi) inland. 15,878 deaths, 6,126 injured and 2,713 people missing from the earthquake and tsunami alone. The tsunami caused nuclear accidents, primarily the level 7 meltdowns at three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex, and the associated evacuation zones affecting hundreds of thousands of residents. The World Bank’s estimated economic cost was US$235 billion, making it the costliest natural disaster in world history.
According to the Woods Hole Institute, the Fukushima Nuclear plant accident “resulted in the largest accidental release of radiation to the environment in history” – if you want to understand how it compares to Chernobyl, please have a read at this informative poster.
I found several sites that would be good to launch a fleet of Protei from, and potentially sail around Fukushima to measure radioactivity. So I had to come back. This time with Gabriella Levine, and a Protei to test in the water, more prepared. We arranged a meeting with Joe Moross of Safecast.
After a brief discussion we came to the conclusion that making underwater measurements was a research worth attempting. The other information was that water generally acts as “a shield”, and being many times denser than air, radioactivity tends to get “diluted” in the “mass of water”. So we decided to attempt measuring radioactivity on the seafloor. That would mean getting our sensor underwater, very close to the seafloor.
We ran to Akihabara with Prof Alvaro Cassineli of Tokyo University and spent most of our night hacking at the Safecast headquarters in Shibuya (picture above).
After a few hours of sleep, and before hitting the road, we stocked up some cute radioactive cake. Please have a slice :)
In the car, the co-pilot would get near-real time radioactivity informations and guide instructions to the driver from Tokyo to Fukushima, and later down from Fukushima to Kyoto trying to take yet unmapped / un-measured routes. We encountered snowy or icy road in the mountains that slowed down our progression.
I knew we would come across brocken houses, but I can never get used to it…
We were everywhere reminded that nothing can resist the power of nature. “Tsunami Barrier” is an oxymoron. No matter how hard we try.
We tested Protei v10.4 in the water. The electro-mechanics are working well but it lacked ballast (weight at the bottom of the keel) : the wind flattened it on the water and careless transport later broke the mast. We’ll work on the build again soon. Because we were in Fukushima, we focused not on Protei itself but on the radioactivity sensing part.
- the grey box “ninja” : Freakduino Chibi with a built-in radio (datasheet) + LED Display
- the red box : the Freakduino Chibi with a built-in radio + GPS + SD card reader
- the real of cable : 4 multi-threaded copper lines, shielded (we use only 3 lines, power : signal, ground 3.3V)
- the watertight box : Takashi drybox, contains a large Geiger counter “pancake” (LND. Inc 7317, USA made, 11-42) that requires 500V provided by our Medcom board. A ~5kg lead ring weight is attached at the back of the box to compensate the buoyancy of the box.
What we measured the 2013 01 30, at Hisanohama port (XY = 37.1480, 141.0029) :
- 0.224μSv in the air in HisanoHama
- 0.002μSv midwater (3m depth)
- 0.09μSv at the sea bed (3cm from sensor to sea bed) (6m depth)
other measurements we made, for indication :
- 0.128μSv in Tokyo
- 0.254μSv low measurement in the airplane (Shanghai – Shenzhen flight)
- 1.019μSv highest measurement in the airplane (Shanghai – Shenzhen flight)
Experimental set up
And below is a very rough draft of what Protei could provide : autonomous sensor deployment for surface, “mid-water” and seabed radioactivity measurements.
Proposition for future work
We haven’t done enough background research about how radioactivity in the ocean is currently studied, but we feel that the difference in values between
- land surface
- water surface
are significant enough to make us want to investigate the topic further in partnership with Safecast.
Hundreds of thousands of people have suffered the earthquake, tsunami and on-going nuclear crisis. We feel such research is extremely valuable for the life of people, the future of Japan and other countries equipped with nuclear equipments and waste facilities. We don’t know yet what would be the value of a map of seafloor radioactivity similar to the one the Woods Hole researchers have been developing for surface water (below). I believe these would be 2 very complementary data sets and would help us understand much better radioactivity in the oceans in general. Such Protei deployment could also be used in other “Radioactive waters” which are not necessarily consequent to nuclear accidents in Africa and the Middle east (must read article).
As we are sailing around the world, we are making radioactivity measurement everywhere we go. Maps will come :)
A million thanks to Safecast and Tokyo University Department of Applied Physics.
We’ll be back !!!
The Protei team took the opportunity to explore the strange and incredible creations at the FURO robotics technology center, and to see how the FURO team could collaborate on the processors built into their Protei sailing drones.
Flying Tokyo #11
In the very last minute Gabriella Levine and myself were lucky enough to be invited to present Protei at Flying Tokyo, a small but high-profile event for New Media art. The artists below : Zachary Lieberman, Memo Atken and Daito Manabe all spoke for about 30 minutes each. I found a video for each but they are all very prolific artists with impressive portfolios, so please check their websites for more.
Memo Akten : memo.tv
Zack Lieberman : thesystemis.com
Daito Manabe : daito.ws
At this event it was also moving to see Kenichi OKADA and Tomoaki YANAGISAWA, we’re all three fron the same department of Design Interactions at the Royal College of Art, London UK, from different years.
I am big fan of Kenichi Okada’s work, so I had to add one video of his work above :) (With Chris Woebken).
Next stop after Flying Tokyo was diving in Akihabara electronic-crowded shops with dear friend and Assistant Professor Alvaro Cassinelli of the University of Tokyo. There is no end in how much one can explore the maze of Akihabara, not that it is vast, but it is dense.
Tour by Ian of Dangerous Prototypes of Akihabara the Geek Mecca.
We met some very special women outside of Akihabara… Tokyo is crazy and it reminds us where Protei comes from : the intersection of art and science. We must come back soon !
In this episode the team from Guru-G explores how their innovative teaching platform can be utilized in Japan’s education system. Guru-G is a gamified teaching, teacher training & open certification software platform that’s been adopted in 10 states across India, and they’ve also established partnerships with foundations & companies that directly support over 3,000 schools and reach over 2.5 million students. Find out if their software platform will be a good fit for the progressive Tokyo International School.
Please play the little video above, it’s a slow start, but well worth it! Protei is in Japan!!! The Beatles in London, Protei in Tokyo!
So good meeting with Protei network member Nae Morita! Photo : Nae, Patrick, Gabriella, Cesar. We met Nae in the Netherland years go when she was working at the V2_ Institute for the Unstable Media in Rotterdam where we built Protei_006. Nae helped us so much and has now moved back to Tokyo and works at the Miraikan (the museum of the future – science, art and technology) – another place we love! Nae also runs her own smaller company called Maart that you can hire to produce cutting edge media art in Japan :)
We had the most amazing meeting with FuRo researchers Dr Yu Okumura, Dr Kengo Toda and Midori Nomura, facilitated by Nae Morita. Academic papers by these brilliant individuals here.
They presented and gave us many parts of the F-Palette micro-controller and boards to put inside Protei. A few days ago we have bought a Lenovo PC in Shenzhen, China (post coming soon!) to start coding and building using F-Palette. We hope to document our trials and errors in English with F-Palette from Vietnam :)
We had the immense privilege to play with this “one-of-a-kind toy : F-Palette-Janssens Beast !” [that's the name I call it - I don't know it's official name].
F-Palette meets Theo Janssens. Absolutely amazing. The most spectacular terrestrial robot I have ever seen. Theo Janssens would be so pleased to see this. So far I have only seen “Beasts” that are moving only in a straight line with all synchronised legs ; FuRo’s one has left and right channels that can be controlled separately, and it is so surprisingly agile and fast. We congratulate the genius of FuRo members for this!
The way how each leg works is very well explained here by Molybden.
We than commuted to Tokyo Skytree (634m / 2080ft), near which FuRo has a permanent exhibition. Thanks to Midori Nomura who was instrumental in the making of this exhibition, we arrived after closing hours but still were allowed to have a guided tour of the marvels that FuRo makes.
As you would expect, FuRo also makes the most agile small anthropomorphic robots. Here 2 versions of the same robot. Improving!
But the robot that captured our attention in particular is Quince. Quince is a FuRo robot that has been deployed by TEPCO INSIDE the damaged Fukushima Daichi Power plant. It will soon be deployed again inside the power plant. We dream of deploying Protei outside of the Fukushima power plant, in the nearing water.
We are extremely excited to work with FuRo since they are already so active in contributing to Fukushima Power Plant diasater relief.
Just a few days ago, TEPCO has released the pictures of the inside of the Fukushima power plant. Frightening. Shivers. Official TEPCO page here.
Thanks to the amazing Midori Nomura, we could even test “Mars-rover-like” simulator. Such immersive piloting system is also very inspiring for how people could use Protei at sea. We fell in love with FuRo and now we have many F-Palette parts we will play and document our experiments in English. Thanks again to Nae Morita and all the FuRo staff for their hospitality. We’ll come back!
In Tokyo we had the luck of meeting with Japanese translator Midori Katagiri ! How amazing was it to meet the one that shares our adventures to so many friends and family members ! Midori is one of my closest friend in Japan, the daughter of my father’s best friend. So close I call Midori my cousin :) Midori is a talented painter that lives in Niigata, in the north of Japan, but she studied in London and worked in Paris for some time at the Cite Internationale des Arts.
We went for diner at her little sister Azusa near Yoyogi, had delicious gyoza only to remind me this moment last summer : in TechShop in San Francisco (photo above). The mother of Midori, Naomi had sent me a box full of Japanese snacks and delicacies. My big table at TechShop was covered with Japanese food, jealous eyes all around ;p
THANK YOU SO MUCH MIDORI-SAN FOR TRAVELLING WITH US !!!
Gabriella Levine and Cesar Harada have been selected to participate to the Unreasonable at sea for the Protei project.
Please watch the video above and you will understand why we are excited to be part of this great adventure. For several months on the sea, we will be in the company of some of the world most forward thinking entrepreneurs that will be our mentors. This is an immense honor for me and for the Protei Project and we will document this journey as well as possible to share this incredible privilege with the greatest number. You can see our dates of the travels and where we will stop on my time line.
View Unreasonnable at Sea in a larger map
|SAN DIEGO, CA, UNITED STATES|
|HILO, HAWAII, UNITED STATES|
|HONG KONG, CHINA|
|HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM|
|PORT LOUIS, MAURITIUS|
|CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA|
|TEMA (ACCRA), GHANA|