Bloomberg Businessweek has just published my story on the science of predicting earthquakes.
Warner Marzocchi remembers waking up well before dawn on Apr. 6, 2009, because the bed underneath him was trembling. Certain it was his wife having a nightmare, Marzocchi, a researcher at Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology, reached out an arm and fell back asleep. It wasn’t until morning, when he saw the messages on his cell phone, that he learned the real cause of the shaking: An earthquake had struck the city of L’Aquila, some 60 miles from his home in Rome.
The powerful tremblor killed more than 300 people and left thousands homeless. Last October seven natural disaster experts were convicted on manslaughter charges for having failed to adequately warn the city’s residents that a quake was imminent, setting off an international controversy. Marzocchi, like other scientists around the world, has criticized the decision; jailing scientists for giving advice will deter others from using their expertise in the service of public safety, he says. Marzocchi also believes that, when it comes to warning the public about the risk of an earthquake like the one at L’Aquila, there’s much that can be improved.
Read the rest.