The main story is well established. At 14:46 local time on 11 March 2011, a magnitude 9 earthquake struck off Japan's north-east coast.
Visiting a college in Tennessee, I was poised to complete a week of speeches at a national forensics event on the U.S. urgent need to pursue more advanced nuclear energy options. I was stuck – needing to change the tone and tenor of my speech – without the benefit of the details yet to unfold. Ultimately, it was a lesson in patience and reliance on facts. In science, as in life, “facts are friends.” I finished the week successfully, but sobered, along with the world, at the utter devastation from the natural disaster.