October 23, 2012

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Scientists Convicted in Earthquake Trial

Guilty of failing to predict a deadly 2009 earthquake

An Italian court has found six scientists and one former government official guilty of manslaughter for failing to predict the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake that killed 286 people. The prosecution accused the seven men, who were, at the time, members of the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks, of giving falsely reassuring statements after tremors struck the area six days before the deadly quake occurred. The defense maintained that earthquake prediction remains a wildly inaccurate and unpredictable science, and that the defendants had found no reason to issue a serious warning.

More than 5,000 scientists have already signed an open letter sent to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, calling the charges “unfair and naïve,” and urging him to put a stop to the proceedings. “To accept more of science at this time is unreasonable,” the letter reads. “It is manifestly unfair for scientists to be criminally charged for failing to act on information that the international scientific community would consider inadequate as a basis for issuing a warning.”

All seven of the defendants are currently appealing the decision.

Via BBC Europe



Snowmaking     Photo: laRuth/Flickr

Loveland Ski Area Opens

Second Colorado resort to open this season

Though it failed to beat out A-Basin this year, Loveland Ski Area did manage to nab the number two spot on Tuesday when it became the second Colorado ski resort to open for the season. “We know there are a lot of really anxious skiers and riders ready to get this season started,” said the ski area's spokesman, John Sellers. “Our snow quality is great and our team has been working really hard to open with these conditions.” A-Basin managed to open one intermediate run last Wednesday and is hoping to open more with the help of vigorous snowmaking. "Starting (Thursday night), all of the snowmaking energy will be focused on Ramrod and the base area," Arapahoe Basin executive Alan Henceroth posted on his blog last week. "Our next major goal is to have two trails accessible from Black Mountain Express." Other Colorado ski areas have planned opening days in Novemeber and December.

Via Denver Post


    Photo: Paul Mannix/Flickr

Indian State Closes Resorts to Protect Tigers

New tiger-protection mandate will change tourism

The southwest Indian state of Karnataka has ordered all resorts within its wildlife sanctuaries to be shut down following the Supreme Court's decision to lift the countrywide ban on tiger tourism and require individual states to present plans to protect their tiger populations. Forest Minister C.P. Yogeeshwara announced that the plan to shutter all commercial resorts and state-run guesthouses located in Karnataka’s forests was in response to a study that indicated a detrimental effect on wildlife. “Our aim is to conserve and preserve forests and protect wildlife and not conduct tourist activity,” said Forest Minister C.P. Yogeeshwara. Karnataka is home to the country’s largest tiger habitat, home to over 300 animals.

Via Times of India


Just so long as it's water.     Photo: Denis Tabler

Report Ties Monster Energy Drinks to Deaths

Lawsuit says caffeine caused arrhythmia

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has confirmed that it has received five reports tying highly caffeinated energy drinks to sudden deaths. The reports came to light when a family filed suit last week against the makers of Monster Energy. Wendy Crossland says her 14-year-old daughter died of heart arrhythmia after drinking two large cans of the beverage on two consecutive days. Under current FDA guidelines, companies are not required to disclose caffeine levels in their beverages. A large can of Monster Energy contains 240 milligrams of caffeine, twice the caffeine of a regular cup of coffee.

Via New York Times