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WATCH: ‘Ice Tsunami’ Slams New York Prompting Evacuations

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The recent extreme weather events sweeping across the United States have been a spectacle, if nothing else: from the sight of Chicago plunged into a sub-arctic freeze by the polar vortex to the once-in-a-lifetime snowfall that hit Southern California last week, the wintry conditions sweeping across the country have been totally extraordinary.

And now we have “ice tsunamis” popping up across the northeast.

Such was the case over the weekend on the shores of Lake Erie at the border that separates Ontario from Buffalo, New York. As captured in the video below, ice being swept through the Niagara River was literally lifting the lake onshore in a massive 40-foot wall of ice known as an “ice shove.”

The ice shove pushed inland about 150 feet and began “to bulldoze trees and street lamps,” according to storm chaser David Piano, who told CNN that the event was “one of the craziest things I’ve ever witnessed.”

As the tsunami of broken-up ice encroached on the town of Hamburg, New York, authorities issued a voluntary evacuation order for residents at Hoover Beach. According to local NBC station WGRZ, the ice shove reached a height of about 30 feet in the area.

https://twitter.com/WGRZ/status/1099756950890389504

Longtime local Jack Schultz told Buffalo News:

“This is the first time in my entire life I’ve seen it come this high and this close to the house … It came up in sheets. It just layered it up to the wall. Then, when the (ice) boom broke, it took all the pressure out of here.”

National Geographic magazine describes ice shoves as a phenomenon that signals early spring as ice begins to loosen and break up, becoming susceptible to strong winds that push the ice onto beaches with gentle slopes. The more shallow the incline, the further inland the ice can be pushed.

In 1822, a naturalist in the U.S. wrote about an ice shove in graphic terms, describing how he saw  “rocks, on level ground, taking up a gradual line of march [along a lakebed] and overcoming every obstacle in … escaping the dominion of Neptune.”

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Awesome New Infrared Goggles Could Help Blind People ‘See’ Surroundings

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People who are blind or deal with low vision face a unique number of challenges in their daily lives, ranging from accessing published material to holding a job or living on one’s own.

However, emerging infrared technology under research could help the blind and visually impaired navigate the world around them using a pair of innovative goggles.

In new research recently published and yet to be peer-reviewed, Manuel Zahn and Armaghan Ahmad Khan at Germany’s Technical University of Munich explored how their 3D camera and haptic feedback armband can assist people with low vision.

“Even in the present era, visually impaired people face a constant challenge of navigation,” the pair wrote. “The most common tool available to them is the cane. Although the cane allows good detection of objects in the user’s immediate vicinity, it lacks the ability to detect obstacles further away.”

The two students’ design deploys two infrared cameras placed in a 3D-printed goggles prototype to get a stereoscopic view that is transformed by a small computer into a map of the user’s surroundings. The infrared gear also works in the dark. The armband then uses 25 actuators arranged in a grid that vibrates when users come close to objects while also assisting them in their orientation. As users walk near obstacles, the vibration intensity of the actuators increases.

In tests, subjects enjoyed roughly 98 percent accuracy while getting through obstacle pathways, with all five participants completing the course in their first run. After two additional runs, the volunteers were able to navigate the obstacles more rapidly.

Zahn and Khan frequently cited Microsoft’s Kinect motion detection system for the Xbox in their study, but the pair are confident that their own setup will be far smaller, cheaper and less conspicuous than the gaming device.

The new headset could offer an interesting opportunity for blind and partially sighted people to clear the myriad obstacles they face when performing regular tasks or navigating the world around them.

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Toddler Goes On $2000 Furniture-Shopping Spree On Mom’s Phone

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A New Jersey mom learned that keeping your browser open may not be the best idea as children, and even infants, become increasingly tech savvy.

Madhu Kumar was browsing Walmart’s furniture selection on their website and had added some items to her shopping cart but never checked out. She was shocked and confused when she started to receive a steady stream of packages from the big-box retailer.

Madhu immediately turned to her husband and two older children to find out who ordered the packages.

“I need one or two, why would we need four?” Madhu asked.

As it turned out, her toddler Ayaansh Kumar – who, at 22 months old, was barely learning to count – had gone on a $2,000 shopping spree while playing on his mother’s phone.

“It is really hard to believe that he has done this, but that’s what happened,” Ayaansh’s dad, Pramod Kumar, told NBC New York.

Among the packages were some that could barely be squeezed through the family’s front door at their home in Monmouth Junction.

Purchases included accent chairs, flower stands and a range of other household items that arrived throughout the week.

“He’s so little, he’s so cute, we were laughing that he ordered all this stuff,” his mom remarked.

From birth, young Ayaansh had observantly watched his family members engage in a range of activities from home – including shopping, attending classes, and going to school. And as it the case for many kids of his generation, he knows the basics of operating a smartphone.

The parents are still waiting for all of the boxes to arrive so that they can return them to their local Walmart. The retailer has already told the Kumars that they are eligible for a refund, but the parents plan to save at least a few items to remind them of their son’s first e-commerce adventure.

“Moving forward, we will put tough passcodes or face recognition so when he picks up the phone he finds it in locked condition,” his father said.

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