Torn at the seams; Japan surveys damage.

A widely spread photo of the devastation in Japan shows an incredible and rare scene of how we, as humans, have constructed our world. No this isn't a natural phenomena that just happened to find its way down the center of the road in a fluke. To understand this photo you must first realize that this road is built on a slope. Due to the slope the engineers used a compacted fill to create a level surface on which to pave...

Because roads are constructed in two parts, usually a lane is left open while the other is paved and vice versa, there is symmetry. So any given road is usually constructed, even if not obviously visible, in two halves. When the earthquake in Japan caused some compression of the earth and moved things around, the weak point was obviously that middle joint. Thus, the crack down the center. 

From this picture we can see just how much energy is really involved in even the most outpost areas of an earthquake. The land here is shifted and compressed and enough energy has been expended to cause asphalt to bend like tin. 

Cheers to the incredible physics of this world, and the surreal photography we will certainly see in the coming weeks.

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