Chris McKitterick (mckitterick) wrote,
Chris McKitterick

Japan before and after its 8.9-magnitude earthquake.

The huge earthquake that struck two days ago moved the main island of Japan 13 feet to the east, sped up the Earth's daily rotation by 1.6 microseconds, and shifted the Earth 4 inches on its axis. On a less-global but more horrifying scale, here's what the tsunamis did to Japan. This photo shows the area around the port city of Sendai before and after the quake and its attendant tsunami:

Click the image to see more and bigger before-and-after photos of Japan.

Here's a collection of raw video footage of the tsunami from several affected areas.

I feel so anxious about the people in those buildings and boats and automobiles; it's impossible to imagine the horror of a six-meter-tall wave thrust across the land with the force of the ocean behind it, crushing everything in its path, erasing everything humans made as if our works are but sketches upon the surface of a chalboard. And then the debris catches fire. A wall of mud and flaming debris. Just holy crap. What a horror. It's a wonderful testament to the power of good engineering that the death toll wasn't astronomical.

Earthquakes contain energy beyond imagining - any destructive force humans have ever unleashed upon one another or can unleash with modern technology is nothing compared to the power of this magnitude quake. And an earthquake is only a small thing by the measure of an entire world, which is again a small thing compared to the power a star tosses around every moment. Once in a while, we are reminded just how small we are.

If you know people affected by the quake, I hope they are well. If you live in Japan, I'm so glad you can read this.


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