DarkStarZumaBeach points out a frequently updated page from the International Atomic Energy Agency with updates on the situation at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant, which reports in terse but readable form details of the dangers and progress there. The most recent update says that the plant's Unit 2 has been re-wired for power, and engineers 'plan to reconnect power to unit 2 once the spraying of water on the unit 3 reactor building is completed.' Read on for more on the tsunami aftermath.Reader srwellman writes "A large plume of radioactive smoke is heading from Japan to the West Coast of the US. Officials claim the plume is not dangerous."
dooms13 suggests (by way of The Register) that the disaster in Fukushima is nonetheless a demonstrated triumph for nuclear safety: "If nuclear powerplants were merely as safe as they are advertised to be, there should have been a major failure right then. As the hot cores ceased to be cooled by the water which is used to extract power from them, control rods would have remained withdrawn and a runaway chain reaction could have ensued – probably resulting in the worst thing that can happen to a properly designed nuclear reactor: a core meltdown in which the superhot fuel rods actually melt and slag down the whole core into a blob of molten metal. In this case the only thing to do is seal up the containment and wait: no radiation disaster will take place, but the reactor is a total writeoff and cooling the core off will be difficult and take a long time. Eventual cleanup will be protracted and expensive."
Something to contemplate while the rescue effort continues: imscarr writes "The coastline of Japan has drastically changed since the earthquake & tsunami. New bays have formed and many areas are completely flooded. These interactive before-and-after images show you the magnitude of devastation. Other photos here."
Adds reader madcarrots: "The Laboratory of Applied Bioacoustics (LAB), a unit of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), directed by Professor Michel Andre, has recorded the sound of the earthquake that shook Japan on Friday, March 11. The recording, now available online, was provided by a network of underwater observatories belonging to the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) and located on either side of the earthquake epicenter, close to the Japanese island of Hatsushima."