Hah! My friends make fun of me for insisting that pogo sticks would be good in earthquakes. Same damn principle!

A Japanese company called Air Danshin Systems can make houses fly. Not all the time, and not for particularly long. But when it counts — during an earthquake — the company’s technology canlevitate a house more than an inch off its foundation. That means that while the earth shakes, the house stays safe.

Here’s how it works: an alarm registers an earthquake and turns on the system, which blasts compressed air between the house and its foundation. The air suspends the house for those endless seconds that the earth is quaking. And then the house settles back onto the earthquake-resistant and presumably still-intact foundation.

4 Responses to Levitate

  1. Izquierdo March 2, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    Doesn’t sound very feasible, especially in a big quake.
    Right now, the standard best practice is to bolt the house down to make sure it doesn’t separate from its foundation.

    How much does a house weigh, and how much compressed air (at what pressure?) would it take to lift it and keep it up for several seconds?
    How much does the ground move vertically in a big quake?

  2. susie March 2, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    You mean I’m NOT a genius? :<

  3. quixote March 2, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    “Levitate” is the wrong word for it, unless you’d also say that an airbag “levitates” the driver away from the steering wheel. It’s a cushion of air under as much pressure as it takes to keep the building cushioned from the vibrations.

    Unlike an airbag though, which only has to cushion the moment of impact, the house cushion has to work as long as the quake goes on. The Chilean 9.0 (9.3?) a while back lasted for some eight or ten minutes. That’s a lot of compressed air to store on site, ready for use, and giga-batteries to act as uninterruptible power supplies for when the electricity goes in the middle of a quake.

    Theoretically, though, sure it would work. I wonder what happens once a bad quake is over and the house settles back on its foundations which turn out to have cracked.

  4. quixote March 2, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    PS. Of course you’re a genius!

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