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Machine versus manhole

Computer scientists take on a classic New York hazard

By
9:23am, July 7, 2010

Every so often in New York City, a disk of cast iron weighing up to 300 pounds will burst out of the street and fly as high as several stories before clattering back to the blacktop. Flames, smoke or both may issue from the breach, as if somebody had pulled hell’s own pop-top.

Manhole explosions aren’t just spectacular; they’re dangerous. As one firefighter observed after a manhole exploded near Times Square in May: “It’s not Disneyland, people. Get the hell out of the way.”

Ever

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