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NOVA: Japan’s Killer Quake

Airs Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

Callum Macrae stands amid destruction and debris in Ofunato, Japan.

Credit: Courtesy of Callum Macrae/ WGBH

Above: Callum Macrae stands amid destruction and debris in Ofunato, Japan.

Nuclear After Japan

Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute addresses what Japan's crisis may mean for the future of nuclear energy.

Anatomy of a Tsunami

Launch this interactive to see how the tsunami of 2004 developed, from its birth at the seafloor to its impact on coasts around the Indian Ocean.

In its worst crisis since World War II, Japan faces disaster on an epic scale: a rising death toll in the tens of thousands, massive destruction of homes and businesses, shortages of water and power, and the specter of nuclear-reactor meltdowns.

The facts and figures are astonishing. The March 11th earthquake was the world's fourth-largest earthquake since record keeping began in 1900 and the worst ever to shake Japan.

The seismic shock wave released more than 4,000 times the energy of the largest nuclear test ever conducted; it shifted the earth's axis by six inches and shortened the day by a few millionths of a second.

The tsunami slammed Japan's coast with 30-feet-high waves that traveled six miles inland, obliterating entire towns in a matter of minutes.

“Japan’s Killer Quake” combines authoritative on-the-spot reporting, personal stories of tragedy and survival, compelling eyewitness videos, explanatory graphics and exclusive helicopter footage for a unique look at the science behind the catastrophe.

This program originally aired in 2011.

NOVA is on Facebook, and you can follow @novapbs on Twitter.

Full Episode: NOVA: Japan's Killer Quake

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Watch Japan's Killer Quake on PBS. See more from NOVA.

In its worst crisis since World War II, Japan faces disaster on an epic scale: a death toll likely in the tens of thousands, massive destruction of homes and businesses, shortages of water and power, and the specter of nuclear meltdown. With exclusive footage, NOVA captures the unfolding human drama and offers a clear-headed investigation of what triggered the earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear crisis. Can science and technology ever prevent devastation in the face of overwhelmingly powerful forces of nature?

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