|Tsunami, 2011 (shot in the studio 3-13, printed 3-15)|
Excerpts from "From a Wave Into a Weapon," by Kenneth Chang
The New York Times, Sunday Opinion Section, March 13, 2011
Water, usually thought of as soothing and caressing, is surprisingly heavy – surprisingly destructive.
A typical bathtub holds 40 gallons or so of water. That is 330 pounds. A cubic yard of it, filling what at first glance seems a modest volume of 3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet, weighs nearly 1,700 pounds, as much as the Smart micro car.
And when water is moving at 30 or 40 miles per hour, like the tsunami that inundated Japan on Friday, the heaviness of water turns deadly. Imagine 1,700 pounds hitting you at speed, and each cubic yard of water as another 1,700 pounds bearing down on you.
Water does not act quite the same way as speeding cars. As a fluid, it can slip around some objects like round columns, while slamming full force when a large wall is in its way. It also gathers debris – dirt, cars, trees – as it flows. Those added projectiles can create more destruction as they crash into other objects. Even if the wave only comes up to the knees, the force is enough to knock a person down.