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DR GRAHAM PHILLIPS: Ahead on Catalyst, the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake.

There have been more than 10,000 aftershocks.

Floating cameras into the stratosphere. And jogging with flying robots.

Christchurch Earthquake

Christchurch Earthquake

Mark Horstman heads to earthquake-ravaged Christchurch and meets the seismologists who are
investigating the fault line that caused the damage.

TRANSCRIPT

Comments

NARRATION

Wherever you look in New Zealand, there's evidence of the shifting foundations under the shaky
isles. This old volcanic crater in the heart of Auckland is a reminder of a fundamental reality.

Mark Horstman

New Zealand is torn between two tectonic plates. Stretching along the spine of the country is the
Alpine Fault. As one plate grinds past the other at four centimetres a year, stresses build up in
the landscape like a tensioning spring.

NARRATION

The country is peppered by tremors and quakes from the North to the South Island and these are just
from the last ten years.

Mark Horstman

When it comes to earthquakes, cities here need to be on constant alert.

NARRATION

The city of Christchurch wasn't a place where the seismic hazard was thought to be severe. But in
less than two years, Christchurch has twice hit the world news with earthquakes stronger than
magnitude six and suffered terrible loss of life. I've come here to learn what it means for New
Zealand's second-largest city to find that it's built on a seismic hotspot.

Mark Horstman

Earthquakes have become part of everyday life here. Over the last eighteen months, in and around
Christchurch, there have been more than ten thousand aftershocks, twenty-three in the last week,
several every day. In fact, there could be another one at any moment. Now while most of those
aren't strong enough to be felt, the impact of the strongest ones mean that entire suburbs have
been abandoned.

NARRATION

Tectonic geologist, Mark Quigley once lived here. His house is one of more than five thousand
bought by the government to be pulled down and returned to parkland.

Mark Horstman

This is yours?

Dr Mark Quigley

Yep.

Mark Horstman

How long has your house got now?

Dr Mark Quigley

Well it's scheduled to be demolished in about a month or so.

Mark Horstman

Oh.

Dr Mark Quigley

So not long. It's been here since 1910, but it's near the end of its life.

NARRATION

One morning he woke to a different world.

Dr Mark Quigley

We had this gentle rolling which then just in seconds, just turned into this incredibly violent
shaking. And the bed was moving around on the floor, and things were falling and crashing. And then
it sort of subsided.

Mark Horstman

What was going on that day, out in the backyard?

Dr Mark Quigley

Well I mean, right when we came out, we could see the liquefaction process in action. So basically,
this fine sand and silt was coming out of vents in a variety of places. In this case, the vents
were all lined up, so there was an array of all these bubbling vents. Sand coming out, cascading
over the sides of these, almost like a volcano erupting.

Mark Horstman

Oh.

Dr Mark Quigley

And the water just surging up over the top.

NARRATION

Liquefaction happens when loose, waterlogged soil is shaken strongly enough to be compacted. As the
ground level drops, a slurry of muddy water is pushed to the surface and the damage flows far
beyond a few backyards. This is the area of Christchurch city, and this is the area affected by
liquefaction.

Dr Mark Quigley

Every time there's an earthquake, in this case above about um, point one-seven G's, or you know,
seventeen per cent of the acceleration of gravity, that is enough to trigger liquefaction in these
properties. In this case we've had eight instances of liquefaction, where the ground shaking has
been of sufficient intensity and duration to cause a sort of liquefaction process.

NARRATION

Unless the water table is pumped out, or the soil stamped down and injected with denser gravel,
each earthquake will refloat suburbs on a sea of mud. Houses are left twisted and broken. Streets
once level with bridges have sunk so close to river level, they face a new threat of flooding.
Forty kilometres west of Christchurch, the lush rural landscape of the Canterbury Plains is quicker
to heal. Even though this was ground zero for everything that's hit the city. On the fourth of
September, 2010, a fault nobody even knew was there generated a magnitude seven-point-one
earthquake, which spawned a swarm of smaller tremors.

Dr Mark Quigley

This really large fault, we call the Greendale Fault. That thing unzipped in this direction here
and it actually dropped this part of the river down about a metre.

NARRATION

Seen from space, satellite radar shows how the forty-kilometre long Greendale Fault shifted the
landscape. One side in blue moved west, the other in red moved east.

Mark Horstman

Has this fence changed any, since the day of the quake?

Dr Mark Quigley

Yeah, well it was straight before, and ...

Mark Horstman

Bit of a dog-leg now.

Dr Mark Quigley

Yeah, as a result of that, you know, there's been about three metres or so of right lateral
displacement. But it's also been, been thrust towards itself, and uplifted about a metre or so here
in this area.

Mark Horstman

Three metres one way, one metre up?

Dr Mark Quigley

Yeah, yeah. This was one of the areas that had the, the maximum amount of vertical offset because
of the orientation of the fault and the way that the rupture occurred.

Mark Horstman

So this little hill here, that's new?

Dr Mark Quigley

Yeah. This was all perfectly flat.

Mark Horstman

Oh yeah, right.

Dr Mark Quigley

All these sort of features have been broken apart by the earthquake.

NARRATION

To discover how dangerous this fault could be in the future, Mark's team looks for evidence from
the past.

Dr Mark Quigley

Because the instrumental record of recording earthquakes in New Zealand is so short, you know, we
have to rely on the geological record to tell us about the return times of major earthquakes on
given faults.

NARRATION

Ground penetrating radar on this sled scans the layers of gravel and sand beneath, to read their
earthquake history.

Sharon Hornblow

Which would in turn tell us that this is an active faultline, that you know, you need to watch out
for in the future. It wasn't a one-off event.

NARRATION

Even if big earthquakes happen here only once every few millennia, this one triggered a rolling
sequence of aftershocks that will last for years to come.

Dr Mark Quigley

In a matter of seconds, ah, probably about forty seconds in total, this network of faults ruptured
here and sent that seismic energy into Christchurch and beyond.

NARRATION

Repeated strong aftershocks literally shake down the suburbs and liquefy their natural soils. But
the problem doesn't end there. Built on reclaimed land at the edge of the city is the Port of
Lyttelton, one of the busiest in New Zealand. The safety of the port's foundations worries seismic
engineer, Brendon Bradley.

Dr Brendon Bradley

We're always taught as engineers to expect the unexpected, but I think from that point of view, it
was highly unlikely that we were going to have an earthquake directly below us.

NARRATION

But that's exactly what happened in February 2011, an aftershock of magnitude six-point-three.

Dr Brendon Bradley

Well the earthquake epicentre was about one or two kilometres north of here, directly under the
hills.

Mark Horstman

That close?

Dr Brendon Bradley

That close. And so basically the ground-shaking here at the port was extremely strong, and
essentially all of the ground has moved out towards the sea here, and you can see where we're
standing here on the wharf, we're actually about one-and-a-half metres higher than the ground just
on the other side. So that's the level that the ground has sunk during these multiple earthquakes.

Mark Horstman

That's tremendous damage for anywhere, let alone a port.

Dr Brendon Bradley

Absolutely.

NARRATION

Despite the damage, the port continues to operate while it undergoes repairs. But the risk remains
that strong ground-shaking will collapse the soil under the wharf again.

Mark Horstman

There are two hundred or so of these seismographs dotted around New Zealand, and three of them just
at this port. Now the country's wired for earthquakes - this is transmitting any strong motions it
picks up in real time. I can see it here on the laptop, and it's telling me the last earthquake
recorded was just a few hours ago, just offshore here, magnitude three-point-six.

NARRATION

The good news for Christchurch is that the aftershocks are becoming less frequent as the focus of
seismic activity moves east.

Dr Mark Quigley

It's continued to migrate offshore, and for us that's a, a good sign because it's moving away from
the main urban centre.

NARRATION

Essentially, Christchurch is built on soft, muddy swamplands surrounded by a large rocky bowl. It's
this geology that can amplify an earthquake.

Dr Brendon Bradley

The waves get stuck in this top layer, and that causes shaking which is a lot stronger, and which
lasts a lot longer. And that's really what we mean when we talk about this idea of a bowl of jelly.
That this basin of sediments wobbles a lot more than the underlying rock which it sits on.

NARRATION

And when shallow aftershocks are amplified by the bowl of jelly, the shaking far exceeds what the
city was built to withstand. The ruined CBD is testament to that.

Dr Brendon Bradley

The strength of the ground motion here in the Darfield earthquake and in particular in the February
earthquake was larger than that which we designed these buildings for.

NARRATION

Even after eighteen months, much of the city is still closed off as the demolition crews finish
what the earthquake started.

Dr Brendon Bradley

If we look here where we are in the centre of the city, then actually this building over here has
to be demolished, this building here, this building over here, this building over here, this
building, and also this building over here.

Mark Horstman

There's a long way to go.

Dr Brendon Bradley

There is. It's going to be a completely new city.

NARRATION

A quarter of the buildings in the CBD were made of unreinforced masonry. Now none remain standing.
For engineers like Brendon, it's an opportunity to rebuild a safer city from the ground up.

Dr Brendon Bradley

The technology has improved so significantly over the last twenty or thirty years, you can now
design buildings for a fraction of the cost more, even less than five per cent more cost, that can
survive these type of earthquake events with essentially no damage. Technology such as base
isolation ...

Mark Horstman

Base isolation, what's that?

Dr Brendon Bradley

So base isolation is essentially where we isolate the structure. We lift it up off the ground, and
we place a material which is largely lead rubber, and when the earthquake shakes and the ground
moves, the structure stays still.

NARRATION

Their hometown may be changed forever, but it still offers these two young scientists reason for
optimism.

Dr Mark Quigley

We have been given an opportunity to make ourselves the world's most resilient earthquake city. Um,
and we, we have some drawbacks, we have some setbacks in the sense of where we're located,
geologically, is not ideal. You know, we know that. We have, we have challenges to deal with.

Dr Brendon Bradley

We shouldn't just be thinking about in ten years, let's get back to where we were before 2010, we
should be aiming for 2100 and saying, you know, let's make something really good. Let's use this
chance to do things that before we weren't bold enough to do.

Project Aether

Project Aether

Physics guru, Derek Muller travels to Alaska with students and scientists to track and film the
Aurora Borealis.

TRANSCRIPT

Comments

NARRATION

This is the most spectacular natural light show on earth. These images, filmed from the
International Space Station, capture what has drawn people from around the world for centuries. I
have come all the way from Australia to see it for myself.

Dr Derek Muller

Welcome to Alaska. I'm just outside of Fairbanks, and I'm trying to find the Northern Lights, the
Aurora Borealis. As the sun enters the peak of its eleven-year sunspot cycle, it ejects high speed
electrons and protons into space. Deflected by the earth's magnetic field, they collide with the
upper atmosphere near the poles, producing the Aurora. But with spectacular lights also comes the
threat of disruption to our technological infrastructure. Charges streaming in from the sun can
damage satellites, cause extensive power outages and disrupt the flight paths of planes around the
poles. Scientists warn that unless we find out more about solar storms, we are extremely vulnerable
to a geomagnetic catastrophe.

Pilot

That's fed by the glaciers of the Alaskan mountain range, as you can see ...

NARRATION

To further this research, I'm joining a team of scientists, teachers and students. Today we're
flying over the snow-covered mountains of Denali National Park, to test out our gear in spectacular
surrounds.

Dr Derek Muller

So what sort of research are you doing?

Dr Ben Longmier

Yeah, well ah, we typically do high altitude balloon launchers, that's sort of the gist of Project
Aether, for students especially that don't have access to the near-space environment, you know, we
try to open that up. We're trying to further the science of Auroral research and looking at the
details of how sort of the global electrical circuit connects, and how the Aurora plays into that,
and causes this, you know, beautiful aurora and, sort of the physics involved there.

Research Team

Light her up.

NARRATION

Using a full tank of helium, the team inflates a latex weather balloon to two metres in diameter.
This provides enough lift for a six to seven kilogram payload.

Dr Ben Longmier

So we're going to send this up, well about twenty-five kilometres or so.

NARRATION

This will help us assess wind conditions in the upper atmosphere, in preparation for tonight's
launch into the Aurora.

Research Team

One, lift-off!

Dr Ben Longmier

Whoo! That's actually really good buoyancy, just a little bit of lift. When it goes up, this latex
is flexible and so it keeps expanding and expanding and expanding. You go from about six or eight
feet up to about thirty feet diameter. So you know, ten metres, so you're the size of a small house
at that point, you know. Eventually you reach some limit where it just can't keep expanding, and
then it pops. And then you fall back down, and we fall by parachute.

Dr Derek Muller

The recovered footage provides a stunning view from the edge of space. But the real challenge is
launching a weather balloon into the aurora at night. The conditions haven't been ideal because
tonight it's a bit cloudy, a bit hazy. And we've got a moon out which is nearly full, so it makes
it very difficult to spot these northern lights.

Research Team

Three, two, one. Lift-off!

NARRATION

The balloon must rise into the stratosphere at just the right moment to catch the intermittent
Aurora in action. The next morning, we're on the hunt for the payload. From thirty balloons, only
one caught sight of the Aurora. This is the first shot of the Aurora from a weather balloon at
nearly eye-level.

Dr Ben Longmier

For them to build some sort of rig, put a camera on it, touch it, lick it, smell it, send it up a
hundred thousand feet to the edge of space and get it back, um, you know, that's really awesome to
see those pictures, and to see that you know, your device went up there.

NARRATION

With young scientists taking up the challenge, these images and the data gathered provide just a
glimpse into the future of research on the Aurora, and how solar emissions affect our lives.

Joggobot

Joggobot

Could your future jogging partner be a robot? Graham Phillips dons his trainers and hits the track
with the help of a flying machine called Joggobot.

TRANSCRIPT

Comments

Dr Graham Phillips

It can be hard sometimes, to find the motivation to go for the morning run. What I need is a
personal trainer. Or a robot.

NARRATION

This is Joggobot, a flying robot. It's one of the projects being developed in the Exertion Games
Lab at Melbourne's RMIT.

Dr Florian 'Floyd' Mueller

So what we are interested in the lab is the intersection between the body, play and technology. And
sports exercise is a form of play for us. And we believe the way to explore this is by actually
creating these type of experiences that we see can happen in ten years time. So that's why we
designed Joggobot in order to understand how it would be to interact with an embodied flying
system.

NARRATION

Joggobot is based on a commercially available quadrocopter.

Dr Florian 'Floyd' Mueller

What we've done is now we've kind of repurposed it for being a jogging companion. So we change the
software around and what it does now, it's got a little camera. And with the camera we track the
jogger, in fact the jogger's t-shirt, that we put a special marker on, and program the software so
that it stays, it always knows where the jogger is, and stays at a certain distance. And then we
modify the distance to understand how people react to the Joggobot when they're exercising.

Dr Graham Phillips

Okay, so the camera, that's the, the camera there?

Dr Florian 'Floyd' Mueller

That's the camera there. Yes.

Dr Graham Phillips

So can we have a look under the bonnet?

Dr Florian 'Floyd' Mueller

Sure, yeah. So there's a sensor that measures the altitude, and ...

Dr Graham Phillips

Oh, so you can choose say whether it flies at say this height or this height?

Dr Florian 'Floyd' Mueller

So yeah, we do the software that does that. Because we want to figure out what does it actually
mean if the Joggobot flies like on chest level, what happens if it flies higher? Right, you know,
if this takes on the role of a coach, if the coach looks down to you, what does it do to you?

Dr Graham Phillips

Yeah, yeah.

Dr Florian 'Floyd' Mueller

What if it changes if it flies lower? Is it more like a dog when it is actually much lower? So
these are the kind of questions we really want to explore.

Dr Graham Phillips

So I guess if you're looking up to it, there might be a chance that you know, you're feeling
slightly inferior to it, and you'll do what it says. Where if you're looking down on it, you'll
say, 'No, I'm not going to run faster.'

Dr Florian 'Floyd' Mueller

Exactly, yeah.

NARRATION

Well, I can't put it off any longer. It's time to do some jogging.

Dr Florian 'Floyd' Mueller

You have to put the t-shirt on, it's got the marker.

Dr Graham Phillips

Okay, okay that's the marker that the camera locks on?

Dr Florian 'Floyd' Mueller

Exactly, yeah. And then it tracks you, and off you go.

Dr Graham Phillips

Okay. Give it a go.

NARRATION

I must say, I'm not entirely sure which of us is the trainer. So if you get sick of this Joggobot
telling you how to jog, can you do a runner? Can you hide?

Dr Florian 'Floyd' Mueller

Good question. (LAUGHS)

NARRATION

What, you can't get away from this robot?

Dr Florian 'Floyd' Mueller

Actually, the Joggobot might get away from you, because so far we set it up so it flies in front of
you, so it goes a certain path. But you might choose to go a different path. And we thought, 'Hm,
maybe that can actually be something that you expect from social companions. They go off
somewhere.'

NARRATION

So you might still be, as you do with a dog, chasing after the Joggobot?

Dr Florian 'Floyd' Mueller

Exactly.

Dr Graham Phillips

Get back here!

Dr Florian 'Floyd' Mueller

Yeah.

NARRATION

Robots have been mainly designed to do things humans don't want to, like the vacuuming, or can't do
- like exploring the surface of Mars.

Dr Florian 'Floyd' Mueller

They've always been replacing your work tasks, but here's a new view on robotic technology, it's
the view as a social companion. And people haven't really explored that yet, and we think there's
huge potential for seeing robots as a social companion for exercise.

Dr Graham Phillips

I'm sure robotic personal trainers have a big future. But in the meantime, it's pretty hard to beat
the personal touch.

Trainer

You ready?

Dr Graham Phillips

Alright, let's go.

Dr Lynne Milne

Dr Lynne Milne

Forensic Palynologist, Lynne Milne, reveals how pollens can help the police to solve serious crime.

TRANSCRIPT

Comments

Dr Lynne Milne

I don't think people understand that that yellow stuff that's in the centre of flowers and that
bees collect is just so pretty and diverse. Everybody thinks of it as just, it's yellow dust. But
in actual fact, they're beautiful - lots of different shapes and sizes.

I started studying old pollen, about forty-five million years old pollen. But you know, you can get
pollen that's over a hundred million years old. Palynology is really important in the petroleum
industry and also in mining and water exploration. It helps to date the rocks, when they're
drilling a well. This will help them to know where, where to stop and where to keep going.

Years ago, when I was very pregnant with my second daughter, I got a phone call at three in the
morning from the Chief Geologist asking me if I had got my dates right. And I was fairly certain I
did have it right. And he said, 'Well if you're wrong, it's going to cost us another couple of
million dollars.' And so I went back to bed, and my husband said, 'Baby, if you want to play with
the big boys, you've got to take the heat.'

It was really surprising to end up doing forensic work. My kids were worried that what I was
working on was not going to be useful to mankind, that it was just something airy-fairy. And so
this, this came up and I was involved in a murder case. They asked me to help out. And suddenly I
was useful.

There was one case in 1999 in Perth that I worked on, and a young woman went missing. And the
police had a car that they thought may have been involved in her disappearance. And so they found
her handbag with her belongings scattered in the banksia woodland just on the outskirts of the
city.

And so from the car, they took the air cleaner, and they took tape lifts from under the wheel
arches of this car. So then I took control samples from the site where the bag was found, and then
was able to match up the soil from there, the pollen assemblage in the soil with some of the stuff
that I found in the air cleaner.

Well it told me that the car had been driving over dirt that was in a banksia woodland. The other
thing that was strange, particularly on the tape lifts from the wheel arch, there was lots of pine
pollen. And so I said to the police, 'I think it's a bit strange, all this pine pollen, because I
wouldn't expect that much there.' And two years later, a young woman's body was actually found in
bushland opposite a pine forest.

What you have in a soil sample is pollen from the trees that are surrounding that site. Also stuff
that's blown in and also from weeds and things that have been growing there over the years. So you
get a profile of pollen. The profile is all the pollen types that are in there, and their relative
abundance. We can even tell if somebody's been in a particular part of a garden.

My masters student Louise did a project on pollen retention on clothing. And what we wanted to see
was how, if you treated the clothing in different ways after a rape, then how much of the pollen
remained there. Some of the clothing that we used was worn for three days around the city. Others
were washed after they'd been in the garden, and we still found the same pollen profile as the
garden. Thousands of pollen grains still in the clothing.

It's very difficult to get across to people how pollen can tell a story, can tell where somebody
has been. I love solving puzzles and that's really what it's about. And yes, I'm passionate about
pollen, it can tell us so many different stories and tell where people have been. It can tell us
when the climate changed. It can tell what people ate a thousand years ago, from the artefacts that
the archaeologists find. And aside from that it's just really beautiful, and it's fascinating.

Sudoku

Sudoku

Mathematician and comedian, Simon Pampena, reveals the number of clues needed to make a Sudoku
truly unique.

TRANSCRIPT

Comments

Simon Pampena

If you're a Sudoku devotee like me you may have been stumped by a puzzle once or twice, and let fly
with. 'There's not enough clues, this Sudoku must be unsolvable.' But who's wrong? You or the
Sudoku? Well new research has uncovered the minimum number of clues a Sudoku player needs to have
any chance of solving a puzzle. And the technique they use might just improve your mobile phone
reception. But we'll get to that later. First, here's how a Sudoku works. Starting with nine, three
by three boxes, your challenge is to fill empty squares with only the numbers one through to nine.
Now you're always given clues to start with, and from those clues you must deduce every other
number in the grid. But you can only ever put a number once in every row, once in every column and
once in every three-by-three box. Now, the less clues you're given, the more difficult your Sudoku
is likely to be. But there are limits. And that's because every Sudoku needs to be unique - only
one solution. If you were to try doing a Sudoku just with one clue, you could end up with enough
solutions to cover half the surface area of the sun.

NARRATION

So what's the minimum number of clues that can offer up just one solution? Well a team from
University College Dublin recently applied their mathematical wizardry to solving the problem. And
the magic number is seventeen.

Simon Pampena

Now while Sudoku lovers were obviously overjoyed to hear this news, there are parallels for modern
communication. Every time you use a mobile phone, you're reliant on Sudoku-type error checking and
correction to help you get the message.

NARRATION

It works like this. When you make a call, software encodes your voice into a digital signal of
zeroes and ones. This binary stream is sent to the person you're calling. Their phone transforms
the signal back into analogue, and you should hear the person's voice on the other side.
Theoretically. In practice ...

Simon Pampena

Hello? Hello?

NARRATION

... bits of the digital information are lost in transmission. So you end up with a problem similar to
a scratched CD - unreadable data.

Simon Pampena

Oh, hello? Hello? The way around this is to send the original information in bigger blocks.

NARRATION

A piece of information is transmitted essentially as a completed Sudoku grid. Then while the signal
is flying through the air, bits are knocked out randomly, and your phone receives an incomplete
Sudoku. But there's a chip in your phone that can quickly fill in the Sudoku, and thus retrieve the
missing data that is your voice. Obviously there are still limits.

Simon Pampena

But these limitations are being improved all the time, and just like the discovery of the minimum
Sudoku, mathematicians can figure out how much data you can lose before you lose your connection.

Hello? Hello? Hello?