June 3, 2017
Amelia is 2 at Doors Open Ottawa

We celebrated Amelia's second birthday with timbits for breakfast in the morning, Doors Open Ottawa in the afternoon and cake for supper. Amelia picked Swiss Chalet as "her" restaurant choice. I'm sure Elizabeth and Matthew's lobbying for a particular location had nothing to do with it (hahaha).

 

We decided to go to the NRC where they study shoreline protection, floods and the forces of water and ice on various structures. According to the scientist who led our tour, they mostly work with private industries all over the world so this particular part of the NRC is a profit generator rather than "a net drain on taxes". I have to say I was tempted to tell him that even science that doesn't appear to directly contribute to the bottom line can be both useful and valuable in the long term, but I bit my tongue.

 

Basically they have giant tanks of water that they control by software invented at the NRC to simulate different wave conditions. They build scale models of various cruise ships etc and then figure out if they are strong enough without being overbuilt.

 

There's 5 million gallons of water stored in the facility and another 3 million gallons outside. It's super green because they don't chlorinate it.

 

Another part of the facility looks primarily at beach erosion so they build shorelines and then see what happens when they throw weather at it. This particular model is from a beach study commissioned by a Barbados resort who wanted to change their beach but needed to check that the frequent hurricanes in the area wouldn't just wash away all of their changes. The stands are wave gauges and it's all built at a 1/25 scale.

 

They also do modeling of structures designed to reduce flooding. For instance, this facility created a model of the Bow river in Calgary that flooded badly in 2013 and figured out what measures could be taken to help reduce damage in the event of a repeat event.

 

The models are all done with freshwater, and then the calculations are adjusted to take into account the real world salinity. If they need to do a model with actual real world water samples (eg a beach study with salt water), they do this in the ice tank instead.

 

The ice tank is a super cold room where they can run experiments using sea water and frazzle ice. They actually have several different kinds of ice they generate, some of which freezes more evenly than others for different conditions. They don't just lower the temperature, but they spray the water in a fine mist so that they get a even coating of ice. It takes them 12 hours to build 1cm worth of ice, and 24 hours to build 2cm. After that it goes more slowly as the ice acts as a thermal barrier. There's a heater too - somehow they have to get rid of all that ice afterwards! The kids ignored our instructions to bring sweaters, so we were not sympathetic when they found the tour a little on the chilly side :)

 

They also have a turbine simulator to run currents which helps them determine the most efficient placement of power generators in water.

 

Matthew's favourite part was the waves, especially the wave sound.

Elizabeth's favourite part was the ice part, even though it was cold.

Amelia's favourite part was the swag they gave out at the end.



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