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Welcome to MATH Magazine’s Numbers in the News! Each week we'll post a math question based on a current news story. Read and solve the question.

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Tragedy In Japan

On Friday, Japan was hit by one of the strongest earthquakes in history. The earthquake had a magnitude of 8.9. (For more on magnitude scale, see pages 6–7 in our January 10 issue, or click here for our recent question about the earthquake in New Zealand). The earthquake created giant waves, called a tsunami, in the ocean off of Japan's east coast. The waves were so large that some entire towns were washed away. Thousands of people are dead or missing, and about 450,000 people are living in shelters. Organizations (such as the American Red Cross) and countries around the world are pitching in to help with relief efforts.

The earthquake was so powerful that it also moved certain areas of Japan 3.9624 meters closer to the United States. And the Earth's figure axis (the imaginary line the planet's mass is balanced around) shifted by about 16.51 centimeters. Knowing that 1 foot equals .3048 meters, and that 1 inch equals 2.54 centimeters: How many feet closer to the U.S. did parts of Japan move, and how many inches did Earth's figure axis shift?

1.)Japan moved 1.20773952 ft closer to the United States
2.) The Earth's figure axis shifted 6.5 in

Congrats to Sayreville Middle School for getting the second half of the question correct (the Earth's figure axis shifted by about 6.5 inches). The answer to the first part of the question--how many feet closer to the U.S. did parts of Japan move--is about 13 feet.

The caption contest for this photo is closed.