Friday, March 11, 2011

Tsunamis and soupbots

If you consume any form of news media, you without a doubt know what happened.  An earthquake of an 8.9 magnitude (CNN at one point was calling it 9.1 this evening, but I've yet to see that repeated elsewhere) struck Japan.  A tsunami soon followed.  There is utter devastation and the death toll is estimated to be at about 1,000.
As if that were not sufficiently horrendous enough, there are now 5 separate nuclear reactors in Japan that are in a state of emergency with one confirmed to be leaking radiation.  Someone asked me why the Japanese would build a nuclear power plant on their coastline if they knew tsunamis to be a probability.  I'm uncertain as to why and all I can offer in response is that nuclear power is really rather safe, far safer than the popular conception would have you believe, so perhaps it seemed worth the risk if safeguards were provided. 

One of the few silver linings in this whole mess is that the people of Japan have drilled time and again in what to do in the event of a tsunami.  Accounts claim that people went into an almost automatic mode and evacuated in the supremely organized manner that Japan is known for.  I wondered how Americans would handle the same circumstances.  If Hurricane Katrina is any indication, we would start out being cooperative and communal, then as time wears on we would turn on each other like rabid animals.  And a tsunami is quite capable of striking our shores.  It did today in California and Oregon, but nowhere near to the extent that struck Japan.  Are we prepared if our turn comes about?  According to The Huffington Post (which I realize can be rather sketchy with the facts), the GOP cut tsunami warning and preparedness in their proposed budget.  Wouldn't surprise me if this were true.  Sounds like typical short-sightedness in the name of temporary fiscal gain.  Do we really need another Katrina or tsunami to teach us a lesson with massive fatalities?  The way that Global Warming continues to disturb the world's weather patterns, we might get our lesson sooner rather than later.  Until then it's politics as usual.  I hope you like rising water levels.  Note: I am not implying that Global Warming had anything to do with today's quake.  It didn't.  I'm merely making a larger point.

I have written in previous posts about the odd connection I feel with Japan and its people.  I don't know if that stems from a lifelong love of daikaiju films, anime, and manga or what, but I do feel great admiration for them.  They will eventually come out of this just fine.  They have survived firebombings and two nuclear detonations, they could probably get through this without our help, but it is best that we give it to them just the same.  Want evidence of this? 
I was going to post this clip earlier in the week but never got around to it.  It's a vidclip about a Ramen noodle restaurant in Japan where the cooking and serving is all done by robots.  Soupbots!  Or Noodlebots, I don't know which sounds better.  Take a look:

Now I'm hungry for Ramen. I would love to go to this place one day.  Hope it's still standing.
Any nation that can create soupbots can do just about anything.  They will survive.  But here's to hoping that the next time I see a Japanese city in flames, it's in a Godzilla movie. 

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1 comment:

  1. I learned why the reactors were placed near coastal areas that were in risk of a tsunami.
    A nuclear reactor needs a large body of water for coolant. The steam that is released needs to be collected back into water again. Here in the U.S., our plants are on large lakes or rivers. Japan's nuke plants were built to withstand tsunamis...just not like the one that hit them last Friday.


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