Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Italian Geologists Convicted Of Manslaughter Acquitted

In a trial that shocked the scientific world, several Italian geologists were convicted by the Italian court of 'downplaying the potential for damage of an earthquake in the L'Aquila region' in 2009. This conviction was the first precedent set to actually convict scientists for failing to do something that nobody in the world can do - predict when, where, and how strong an earthquake will be. It all started in 2009 when the L'Aquila Italy quake, a magnitude 6.3 quake, damaged historical buildings, and modern infrastructure. The damage was widespread, and during a time of economic turmoil, this exacerbated public outrage and people demanded 'someone be held responsible'.

Many in the world and media considered their convictions as precedent for forcing scientists to 'predict earthquakes'. They have now been acquitted of manslaughter charges, and released from prison after five years.

The convictions of these scientists prompted a mass-exodus of geological professionals from Italy to other countries. The fact that this ever happened damaged Italy's scientific community, seemingly irreparably. It is unclear whether the scientists acquittal will reverse the damage to the trust the scientific community had with the Italian government.


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