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Andrew Alden

A Quake Prediction Update

By January 7, 2013

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Every year I run into science reporter (and SF writer) Richard Lovett at the big annual AGU meeting. He does good work. So I recommend the article he just published at the National Geographic site on earthquake prediction research presented at AGU. (As usual, the headline poses a question—"Could magnetic waves be the trustworthy tool that saves lives?"—that the text answers "No". Take your cue from the filename instead, which reads "earthquakes defy prediction efforts.") His article focuses on the p-hole line of research (which I first reported on in relation to earthquake lights in 2006) and its possibilities for earthquake prediction.

Lovett deftly explains the infrared signals that are sometimes recorded by satellites before earthquakes, which is no mean feat because it is universally misunderstood by the press. His quote from quake expert Michael Blanpied sums up things nicely: "It is a field that is very much alive. . . . The field contains people who are working at a very highly professional level, people who come from other professional fields, and people who don't have a scientific background but think they have something to contribute." And right on cue, the "sensers," who rely on their subjective experience to predict quakes, have shown up to dominate the comments to the story.

Related:
Earthquake prediction basics
The p-hole theory of earthquake lights
The terrible temptation of eyeballing

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