Tag: science crimes

Earthquake-Rocked Italian City to Seismologists: "This Is Your Fault."

By Joseph Calamia | June 8, 2010 3:12 pm

italy-earthquakeWhat if an unknown researcher predicts an earthquake using a disfavored technique? If an earthquake then happens and hundreds die, should naysayer scientists go to jail?

Some in the city of L’Aquila, Italy answered that odd question with a resounding yes. An April 6, 2009 earthquake that was predicted by Giampaolo Giuliani killed 308 people. Now the city’s prosecutors are considering charging seven researchers at the National Geophysics and Vulcanology Institute (INGV) and members of the city’s Major Risks Committee with manslaughter.

The prosecutors say the committee could be considered criminally negligent for telling the townspeople that there was no need to evacuate. A formal investigation has been opened, but charges haven’t yet been filed.

As reported in Life in Italy:

“Those involved were highly qualified individuals who should have provided the public with different answers,” said L’Aquila’s chief prosecutor, Alfredo Rossini. “It was not the case that we received no warning, because there had already been tremors. However, the advice given was that there was no need for people to leave their homes”.

Giuliani, the man who predicted the quake, works at the National Laboratories at Gran Sasso, though he has been misreported in both Italian and American media outlets as a physicist, seismologist, and a collaborator with the National Institute of Nuclear Physics.  According to Science Insider, Giuliani’s work on earthquakes is a “hobby” and seismologists do not use the radon tests he cited, since  statistically they have failed to accurately predict quakes.

Related content:
80beats: Scientist Smackdown: Did a Seismologist Accurately Predict the Italian Quake?
80beats: Toads—Yes, Toads—May Know When an Earthquake Is Coming
80beats: Science Via Twitter: Post-Earthquake Tweets Can Provide Seismic Data
Bad Astronomy: Do rainbow clouds foretell earthquakes?

Image: United States Geological Survey

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Crime & Punishment

Weird Science Roundup: Dinosaur Thieves, Eco-Friendly Surfing, and Atkins Genes

By Rachel Cernansky | March 20, 2009 2:10 pm

Yee-haw! It’s the blog roundup.• An undersea volcano that erupted for days near Tonga in the South Pacific led to a short-lived tsunami alert for surrounding areas.

• Surfing may become a more earth-friendly sport, with boards made from at least 50 percent renewable materials reducing the use of petroleum, traditionally the primary component in surfboards.

• By discovering the gene that helps convert carbohydrate into fat in the liver, researchers may have inched closer to developing a genetic equivalent of the Atkins diet.

• In good news for endangered species, conservationists have developed a way to use 3-D imaging to track tiger populations—and then, in bad news for an already-extinct species, a celebrated paleontologist who discovered the  world’s best-preserved dinosaur will now plead guilty for stealing dinosaur bones from federal land.


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