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  1. Scientists in Italy Have Been Cleared of Guilt in an Earthquake Case, Are Not Witches

    Though I assume they've retreated to their lair in the base of a volcano.

    Because scientists are not actually witches as people may have assumed hundreds of years ago, they can't always know with 100% certainty whether future-predicting calculations are correct. In fact, scientists rarely know anything with 100% certainty, which is why it was kind of crazy that some Italian scientists were convicted of manslaughter for not predicting an earthquake.

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  2. Italian Scientists Found Guilty of Failing to Predict Earthquake, Given Sentence of Six Years in Prison

    In general, scientists tend to gather as much data as they can before making their predictions. Often as not, these include caveats. When predicting natural phenomenon and disasters, this is pretty much how the system operates. No prediction is ever really certain when it comes to nature, as everyone's local weather forecaster showcases on a regular basis. We continue to improve our forecasting and prediction abilities, but nature will be nature, and we do the best we can. Italy apparently doesn't agree with this assertion. Six scientists and a former government official have been sentenced to six years in prison for failing to accurately predict a 2009 earthquake in L'Aquila, Italy.

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  3. A Shocking Visualization of Every Earthquake Around Japan in 2011

    For those of us observing at a distance, the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan last year seemed like a singular, horrible event. However, this visualization created by StoryMonoroch shows that it was, rather, a shocking surge in geologic activity. Using red circles and sound effects to indicate the magnitude and depth of each earthquake, this video is a sobering reminder of the powerful forces at work on our planet. See the video, after the break.

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  4. Report: Natural Gas Fracking Triggered Earthquakes in the UK

    A report released by Cuadrilla Resources confirms that hydraulic fracturing, called "fracking," triggered a series of minor earthquakes in northwest England. The report found that the earthquakes set off by the fracking, which is used to extract natural gas from shale, were between 1.5 and 2.3 on the Richter scale. This would place the seismic events in the category where they would be large enough to be recorded, but unlikely to be felt.

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  5. The 5.8 East Coast Earthquake Restored a Man's Hearing

    The recent East Coast earthquake that originated in Virginia, the rumblings of which were felt all the way up in New York City, not only cracked some stone in Washington D.C. and knocked some groceries from carefully decorated displays, but it also restored the hearing of Robert Valderzak, a cancer patient at D.C.'s Veteran Affairs Hospital, by unclogging fluid that was blocking his middle ear. Valderzak said:

    "It shook me terrible -- right out of the bed. But after that it stopped. And my son talked to me, and I could hear his voice."

    Tests confirmed that Valderzak gained a significant hearing improvement after going months with the hearing loss, and doctors at the hospital believe that a combination of medicine Valderzak was taking and the earthquake helped clear the fluid and restore his hearing. Valderzak adjusted to the hearing loss with a combination of special microphone and  learning to read lips, and before the earthquake hit, his doctors ordered new high-powered hearing aids for him to wear, which are now turned to the lowest setting possible. Head on past the jump to watch the news segment.

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  6. 5.9 Virginia Quake Felt All Over East Coast

    If you're anywhere on the East Coast, you may have felt a little shaking. We did too. A 5.9 magnitude quake in Virginia was felt all up and down the east coast around 2:00pm EST today. According to early Twitter and social media accounts, the shaking was felt everywhere from Virginia up to New York City. It's worth noting that the last time NYC experienced anything that could even be loosely considered an earthquake was way back in August of 1884, so even just a little wobble is pretty weird. I figured I was just a little dizzy, and then that maybe everyone was just a little dizzy, and then that there was some kind of earthquake going on.

    Following the strongest Colorado earthquake in a century, it kind of makes you wonder what kind of party is going on in our earthy basement. Maybe that 2012 date was a little off. Or if you're from the West Coast, maybe it makes you wonder if New Yorkers will freak out about anything.

    The graph below puts the magnitude into perspective.

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  7. Italian Scientists Indicted on Manslaughter Charges for Not Predicting Earthquake

    After a 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit L'Aquila, Italy in April of 2009, ravaging the city and killing 308 people, local authorities took the questionable step of prosecuting researchers on a scientific committee for failing to predict the earthquake. In March of 2009, after smaller quakes had hit the region, the committee president had concluded that "just because a small series of quakes has been observed" did not mean that a large quake would necessarily occur, and that the near occurrence of one was "improbable, although not impossible." Infamously, the one government official on the committee appeared on television and said that "The scientific community tells me there is no danger, because there is an ongoing discharge of energy. The situation looks favorable," and some residents "quoted those statements as the reason they did not take precautionary measures, such as fleeing their homes." After the earthquake struck, prosecutors took these statements to mean that the committee had been downplaying the risk of a seismic occurrence, and charged the six seismologists and one government official on the committee with manslaughter.

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  8. Dozens of (Tiny) Earthquakes Strike Maine

    During the first week of May, something very unusual happened in coastal Maine. Normally seismically boring, Maine experienced about a dozen tiny earthquakes that rippled across the region. In their wake, the cracking earth sounded like explosions or gunshots in the distance. Far from being the precursor to an impending disaster, these pint-sized earthquakes (all under 2 on the Richter scale) are the result of the massive Laurentide ice sheet that once covered huge swathes of North America during the last ice age. Under the weight of all that ice, over a mile thick,  the crust of the earth was squished down. Some places, as much as 500 feet. Since the ice sheet receded some 14, 000 years ago, the ground has been springing back up. Earthquakes and other seismic fallout from eons of icey repression are not uncommon in Maine, but a cluster of a dozen is rather unusual for the region. It's a surprising reminder that although we may think of the landscape as unchanging and eternal, it is constantly in flux and responding to forces that stretch far beyond our lifetimes. (image and story via Wired)

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  9. Yakuza Are Aiding in Japan Earthquake Relief

    It's common to refer to the Yakuza as the "Japanese mafia," though the comparison is fraught: For instance, unlike their secretive Italian counterpart, Yakuza openly broadcast their affiliation with signs and tattoos. Nevertheless, the Yakuza represent Japan's most powerful organized crime interest, which is why it may come as a surprise that they are actively aiding in the Japanese relief effort following the devastating earthquake and tsunami, providing food, supplies, and even shelter for the affected. Reporting for The Daily Beast, veteran Yakuza watcher Jake Adelstein documents this unexpected trend:

    The day after the earthquake the Inagawa-kai (the third largest organized crime group in Japan which was founded in 1948) sent twenty-five four-ton trucks filled with paper diapers, instant ramen, batteries, flashlights, drinks, and the essentials of daily life to the Tohoku region. An executive in Sumiyoshi-kai, the second-largest crime group, even offered refuge to members of the foreign community—something unheard of in a still slightly xenophobic nation, especially amongst the right-wing yakuza. The Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest crime group, under the leadership of Tadashi Irie, has also opened its offices across the country to the public and been sending truckloads of supplies, but very quietly and without any fanfare.
    Why aren't you hearing more about this? For one, , Adelstein says that "right now [the Yakuza] care more about getting the job done than getting credit for it": Moreover, they don't want their donations rejected out of hand due to their origins. (The Daily Beast via Neatorama)

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  10. Japan Earthquake Shortened Length of 24-Hour Day

    The 8.9 earthquake that hit Japan last week caused a lot of destruction, spawned many rumors of celebrity deaths, and now, it turns out, has actually shortened the length of the 24-hour day. According to Richard Gross, a geophysicist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the earthquake actually accelerated Earth's spin (by rearranging enough mass), which shortened the length of the day by 1.8 microseconds. To put that into perspective a bit, a microsecond is one millionth of a second, so we won't have to reinvent the clock anytime soon.

    The initial data regarding the earthquake Friday suggests that on top of shortening the length of the 24-hour day, the earthquake also moved the island of Japan by about eight feet. This earthquake isn't one of the first to have a (relatively) noticeable impact on the length of the day, as an 8.8 earthquake in Chile last year shortened the day by around 1.26 microseconds, and a 9.1 earthquake that hit Sumatra in 2004 shortened the day by 6.8 microseconds.

    (via The Manila Bulletin Newspaper Online)

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  11. Videos From The Sendai Earthquake

    We live in a highly connected age, with millions of cameras and an extremely vibrant news industry, that is able to put eyes on even the most harrowing events and bring them to the world. That was especially apparent today when after a record-setting earthquake struck Japan, videos and news coverage poured out of the country. For those of us far away from today's events, these images are likely to be the indelible images that we remember. This first video, from the BBC, shows a terrifying and amazing scene, taken not long after the tsunami hit the coast of Japan this morning, showing a boat caught in a huge whirlpool. Commentators on the video and other sources say that this was likely caused by the interaction between the forward rushing water and the sea floor. There's no word, as of yet, as to whether the boat was occupied or not.

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  12. The Japan Earthquake Was Not Caused by the “Supermoon”

    Not to be disdainful, but it's surprising that this is even a thing to be debunked: Since March 19th marks the moon's perigee, or closest point to earth, and since some astrologer [not astronomer] said that scary things would happen during this so called "supermoon," some folks -- with the egging on of major media outlets [see above] -- are asking if the 8.9 magnitude earthquake that hit off the coast of Japan today was caused by said supermoon. Their argument would be that when the moon is unusually close to Earth, its gravity affects Earthly happenings more and causes natural disasters.

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  13. Live Coverage of Japan’s Earthquake and Its Aftermath from Across the Web

    At 2:46pm local time, there was an 8.9 magnitude earthquake off the northeast coast of Japan, the biggest to hit Japan in 140 years and the fifth largest earthquake detected worldwide since 1900. The earthquake has triggered tsunamis, first hitting cities on Japan's coast, but as of posting, tsunami waves have hit the shore of Hawaii, and evacuations of coastal cities in California, The Phillipines, and Chile remain a possibility. Japan has declared a nuclear emergency, as the cooling system of a nuclear plant in Onagawa failed following the earthquake. At least 60 people have died in the aftermath of the quake, and the death toll is expected to rise. Our sister site Mediaite has gathered up a few videos of the earthquake as captured by CCTV. In times like these, the ability of journalists and observers on the ground to do anything to impact the situation is frustratingly limited, but up-to-the-minute information is at least available to people in areas bracing for possible tsunamis later today and to concerned observers worldwide. Here are a few of the news sources we're following: *If you use Twitter and follow a diverse set of news sources, you'll likely be getting a lot of information as it happens; thus far this morning BreakingNews and NPR's Andy Carvin have provided some of the best live coverage. Hashtags like #HItsunami allow you to filter information about news from a given region, in that case, Hawaii. *Reddit remains a good source of crowdsourced news: If you're just catching up on what has happened, this thread contains a lot of news, particularly these two posts; the /r/worldnews subreddit also has (slightly slower) information. *Liveblogs and livestreams from news organizations: The New York Times' liveblog Al-Jazeera's liveblog CNN's liveblog Washington Post liveblog Guardian liveblog (title pic via Jefferson Santos via Ryan LeFevre)

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  14. Italian Scientists Could Be Charged with Manslaughter for not Predicting Earthquake

    Last year, L'Aquila, Italy was hit with a 6.3 magnitude earthquake that killed 308 people and devastated the city. (The Big Picture has a gallery from last year which shows just how bad the damage was.) It was a tragic event, and one year later, the town hasn't yet fully recovered. But Italian authorities have taken a baffling approach in the aftermath of the quake: Prosecuting seismologists for not predicting the quake.

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  15. Hackers Exploit Chile Earthquake, Tsunamis to Spread Malware

    We could have seen this coming based on past tragedies like the Haiti earthquake last month, but that doesn't make it any less wrong: hackers are already exploiting the widespread concern over the earthquake in Chile and the threat of tsunamis to infect people's computers with malware and viruses.

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