Images and movies from the Sendai earthquake flood the web like a tsunami, sweeping everything off the face of the front page.
Here are four images I culled from the debris:
This image makes me think, just for a second, of the Desktop Wallpaper genre of images, or perhaps of the container yards in the industrial areas of nearby Mississauga and Brampton.
This image makes me think of the back corner of a suburban garden late Saturday night when the toys are swept into a pile near the sandbox as the toddler is led inside for the evening bath.
And this reminds me of the recycling wheelie-bins outside my apartment building, crammed full of plastic bottles which someone, somewhere, has to sort through.
Take another look at the fourth image.
Not the largest ship in the world, but bigger than anything you’ve ever sat in.
The ship sits on its keel inland I’d guess at least a kilometer from the sea or deep river, maybe farther. It looks like a residential area of town to me
How would you go about removing it?
You can’t float it out; there’ll not be another wall of water like that heading in the opposite direction. It’s entropy, time-travel. The greatest energy is available at the start, and then the energy available to do work diminishes over time, so that at the end, when the ship is stranded, the energy is all but gone.
You just can’t get that initial burst of energy (remember that the energy of a moving body of fluid is proportional to the CUBE of the velocity) coming from inland. It will never happen.
The energy to re-move (literally) the ship will have to come piecemeal. Chunks the size that can be loaded onto a truck by a crane will have to be carved and chipped away one at a time.
And you can’t put a decent crane and truck close enough to a ship that size without first bracing the ship.
And you can’t bring the truck, crane and bracing in until the roads are clear and rebuilt. And even then you need to wait for the timber baulks to be cut and fetched from the forest along the roads which, nearby, have ceased to exists.
The bridges must be checked before heavy loads are allowed.
And no, you can’t just cart the pieces of ship back to the ocean and dump them in. You must cart them to a scrap yard, recycling plant or steelworks, none of which are operational right now.
Then there’s the labor. Who is interested in working when their family has been swept away? Bring in workers from elsewhere? Sure. No emotional ties there. But where will you house them, and how will you feed them?
Multiply all this by every large vessel swept inland from the coast and coastal rivers (image #2).
Re-examine Image #1 and try not to think of the childhood game of spillikins (or “pickup sticks”). Think of 5-ton pickup sticks, wedged together, often crumpled together, locked together by the forces of flowing water.
It’s not just a matter of a crane lifting them off one by one, PacMan-like gnawing away at the edges. Someone has to inspect each container and determine the most suitable sequence, and stand back! These things might topple.
And those tanks? What is in them?
Think only of how to move them.
It’s not about technology.
It’s about mental processes.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Then this morning I find that The Telegraph has assembled a gallery of 30 photos of stranded ships and boats; lest you think this is a minor problem.
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