CLOSE

Tonight on NOVA: "Japan's Killer Quake"

Tonight on NOVA, an in-depth scientific examination of Japan's recent earthquake, the subsequent tsunami, and the continuing nuclear incident. Entitled (perhaps indelicately) Japan's Killer Quake, the program shows plenty of footage that was new to me -- including a particularly surreal clip apparently shot on a mobile phone, showing a crack in the concrete opening and closing, over and over. It's like a movie special effect -- except it's real, and thus really horrifying. The program airs tonight (Wednesday, March 30, 9pm Eastern/8pm Central) on PBS stations across the US. Check your local listings, as NOVA has moved to Wednesday nights.

I've watched the episode twice, but I'm still not sure what to say about it. I'm still in shock, weeks after the earthquake. The scale of the tragedy is so unimaginable that seeing it on film doesn't make it any easier to accept -- though having scientists explain it certainly helps to understand what happened. Throughout the program, I had a feeling that, although scientists were explaining the disaster, and reporters on the ground were showing its effects, I simply could not emotionally process what I was seeing. Near the end of the program, as the nuclear crisis was discussed, things seemed even worse.

Finally, the program forces us to examine the threat of future earthquakes -- apparently there is danger of a similar earthquake much closer to Tokyo, which would be far more deadly. For my part, I live in the Pacific Northwest of the US, where a massive earthquake has long been predicted, based on historical evidence of previous "mega-quakes" along the volatile Cascadia fault. My house is nearly a hundred years old, and is not built to survive a serious earthquake, and certainly not the magnitude 8 or 9 quake we can expect...eventually. "[Japan's earthquake] is really a template for what might occur on the northern coast of Oregon and Washington. We know we are expecting an almost identical-sized earthquake [along the Cascadia fault]," says a scientist in the NOVA episode. Another scientist points out that the US is, at best, decades away from the Japanese in earthquake preparedness -- and we can't predict when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake will occur in my neighborhood. We just know that it will.

Here's a preview of tonight's NOVA episode:

I do recommend this program, particularly if you haven't kept up with the earthquake news. It does not show gory stuff -- this is a program about science, not shock value -- but it does show plenty of tsunami footage, as well as cleanup crews who are searching for bodies. (The bodies aren't visible; they're buried under mud. It's truly horrible.) I would suggest keeping young kids away from this one until you've had a chance to preview it -- unless you're ready to have a sober discussion about disaster preparedness.

After the jump, another clip from tonight's NOVA.

Original image
iStock
arrow
Live Smarter
Here's What You Need to Know Before Getting Inked or Pierced, According to Doctors
Original image
iStock

Getting inked or pierced is a rite of passage for many teens and young adults. But before getting that belly ring or butterfly on your back, experts want you to be aware of the risks, which are reviewed in a new clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). According to NPR, it's the first set of recommendations the professional association has ever released on the practices.

Forthcoming in the October 2017 issue of Pediatrics and available online, the report provides a general assessment of the types and methods used to perform body modifications, along with potential health and social consequences. Here are a few main takeaways:

—It's unclear how often tattoos cause health complications, but they're generally believed to be rare, with the greatest risk being infection. One recent study found that nanoparticles in ink can travel to and linger in lymph nodes for an extended period. That said, you should check with your doctor to make sure all of your immunizations are up to date before getting either a tattoo or piercing, and that you're not taking any immunity-compromising medicines.

—Before shelling out your hard-earned cash on a tattoo, make sure it's something you'll likely still appreciate in five to 10 years, as it costs anywhere from $49 to $300 per square inch to remove a tattoo with lasers. (This might provide all the more incentive to opt for a small design instead of a full sleeve.)

—About half of people 18 to 29 years of age have some kind of piercing or tattoo, according to Dr. Cora Breuner, who is chair of the AAP committee on adolescence. Many individuals don't regret getting one, with some reporting that tattoos make them feel sexier. But while millennials appear to be cool with metal and ink, hiring managers might not be too pleased: In a 2014 survey of 2700 people, 76 percent said they thought a tattoo or piercing had hindered their chances of getting hired, and nearly 40 percent thought tattooed employees reflected poorly on their employers.

—Not all tattoo parlors are created equal, as each state has different regulations. Keep a close eye on whether your artist uses fresh disposable gloves, fresh needles, and unused ink poured into a new container. This helps prevent infection.

—The advice is similar for getting pierced: Make sure the piercer puts on new, disposable gloves and uses new equipment from a sterile container. Tongue piercings can cause tooth chippings, so be careful of that—and remove any piercings before you play contacts sports.

The full report is available online.

[h/t NPR]

Original image
iStock
arrow
The Body
7 Essential Facts About the Pelvis
Original image
iStock

The human body is an amazing thing. For each one of us, it’s the most intimate object we know. And yet most of us don’t know enough about it: its features, functions, quirks, and mysteries. Our series The Body explores human anatomy, part by part. Think of it as a mini digital encyclopedia with a dose of wow.

The pelvis, which crooner Elvis was famous for thrusting around in ways that raised eyebrows, is not actually a single body part but a term that refers to a collection of bones, muscles and organs below the waist. We spoke to Katherine Gillogley, department chair of obstetrics and gynecology with Mercy Medical Group in Sacramento, California, for these seven facts about the pelvis.

1. SO WHAT IS THE PELVIS, EXACTLY?

"The pelvis refers to the lower abdominal area in both men and women," Gillogley says. "An important function of the pelvis region is to protect organs used for digestion and reproduction, though all its functions are crucial," she says. It protects the bladder, both large and small intestines, and male and female reproductive organs. Another key role is to support the hip joints.

2. THE PELVIC BONES FORM A BASIN.

Four bones come together to form a bowl-like shape, or basin: the two hip bones, the sacrum (the triangle-shaped bone at the low back) and the coccyx (also known as the tailbone).

3. YOUR PELVIC FLOOR IS LIKE A TRAMPOLINE.

At the bottom of the pelvis lies your pelvic floor. You don't have to worry about sweeping it, but you might want to do Kegel exercises to keep it strong. The pelvic floor is like a "mini-trampoline made of firm muscle," according the Continence Foundation of Australia. Just like a trampoline, the pelvic floor is flexible and can move up and down. It also creates a surface (floor) for the pelvic organs to lie upon: the bladder, uterus, and bowels. It has holes, too, for vagina, urethra, and anus to pass through.

4. IT PLAYS A KEY PART IN WALKING.

Anyone who has ever broken a pelvic bone or pulled a pelvic muscle will know just how key a role the pelvis plays in such functions as walking and standing. "The pelvis also acts as a solid foundation for the attachment of the spinal column and legs," says Gillogley.

5. THE FEMALE PELVIS STARTS OUT LARGER, BUT NARROWS OVER TIME.

Gillogley says that the female pelvis "tends to be larger and wider" than the male, most likely to accommodate a baby during pregnancy and to make childbirth possible. However, women's pelvises narrow as they age, suggesting that they start out wider to accommodate childbearing and then shift when that is no longer necessary. A shifting pelvis shape is thought to be a key part of our evolutionary history, as it changed as when we began walking upright.    

6. PREGNANCY CHANGES THE PELVIS FOREVER.

During pregnancy the body secretes a hormone known as relaxin to help the body accommodate the growing baby and soften the cervix. However, what happens is, "the joints between the pelvic bones actually loosen and slightly separate during pregnancy and childbirth," Gillogley says. Sometimes, however, relaxin can make the joints too loose, causing a painful syndrome known as symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD), causing the pelvic joint to become unstable, causing pain and weakness in the pelvis, perineum and even upper thighs during walking and other activities. Many women with the condition have to wear a pelvic belt. It usually resolves after pregnancy is over, though physical therapy may be necessary.

7. IT'S ACCIDENT PRONE.

According to the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, about 8 to 9 percent of blunt trauma includes pelvic injury, Gillogley says. "These accidents include falls, motor vehicle crashes, bicycle accidents, and pedestrians being struck by moving vehicles. With these serious injuries, pelvic bones can fracture or dislocate and sometimes bladder injury even occurs." So take care with your pelvis—in worse-case scenarios, breaks of the pelvic bones can require pins, rods, and surgery to fix.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios