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Feature: Tsunami Waves’ Destructive Power

Tsunami Hits MiyakoWater is surprisingly heavy, and, when in motion, it can kill. The tsunami that hit Northern Japan on Friday is an eye-opening example of the power water can have—and the devastation it can bring. “It’s basically like a hundred tanks coming across you,” oceanography professor Philip Froelich says.

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Feature: Engineered for Earthquakes

1960 TsunamiFrom buildings that sway rather than collapse to tsunami seawalls and drills, Japan’s earthquake precautions have made the nation uniquely prepared for disaster. Learn how Japanese construct skyscrapers and other earthquake-resistant engineering in this New York Times feature. Such practices undoubtedly helped save lives, though the toll from last week’s temblor and giant wave continues to mount.

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Feature: Japan’s Approach to Math Learning

Japanese LearningForget graphing calculators. The hottest tool for learning math in this high-tech powerhouse is a relic from Japan’s preindustrial past: the venerable abacus. At a time when ubiquitous digital devices are blamed for making people “dumber,” the world’s original calculating device, known as the soroban, is more essential than ever, advocates contend.

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Feature: Robots to the Rescue

Japan is Cool Robot Central. There are ‘bots that play soccer, dance, climb trees, and swim – not to mention manning assembly lines. Now, the nation that has long dominated industrial robotics is grappling with ways robots can tackle society’s other challenges, like aiding firefighters and an aging population.

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