Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Was he an "enemy of the people?"

Reuters AlertNet: Scientists dismiss prediction of Italy earthquake

The voice in the wilderness narrative isn't holding up.
ROME, April 7 (Reuters) - Earthquakes like the one that killed more than 200 people in Italy this week are still impossible to predict, and a local scientist's claims to have done so should be treated with caution, geophysicists say.

Gioacchino Giuliani is at the centre of a debate about the limits of seismology after Italian officials shrugged off his warnings last month that a devastating earthquake in the central Abruzzo region was imminent.

In fact Giuliani, who works at the National Institute of Physics, was even reported to police for spreading panic. While many Italians are now more than ready to listen to whatever Giuliani has to say, geophysicists in Europe and the United States remain sceptical of his claims to have discovered an effective early-warning system.

Although scientists say it's easy to say where big quakes are likely to happen, pinning down the timing can't be done, at least not yet. "It's a very humbling field to be in ... We cannot predict earthquakes," said Ross Stein, a geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California. "To predict an earthquake, whatever it is that we're using would have to be a reliable indicator ... And no one has gotten close to that."

No comments: