Predicting the Unpredictable: The Tumultuous Science of Earthquake Prediction

Predicting the Unpredictable: The Tumultuous Science of Earthquake Prediction

by Susan Hough
     
 

"Sue Hough, in fine style, has written a fascinating history of one of the most vexing problems in science. Anyone who has ever wondered why geophysicists can't predict earthquakes should read this book."—Thomas H. Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center

"Irresistible optimism, exciting drama, scientific puzzles, risky

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Overview

"Sue Hough, in fine style, has written a fascinating history of one of the most vexing problems in science. Anyone who has ever wondered why geophysicists can't predict earthquakes should read this book."—Thomas H. Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center

"Irresistible optimism, exciting drama, scientific puzzles, risky investments, outright fraud, wise and wacky characters. Why does earthquake prediction attract them like no other science? And what about triumphant success? Susan Hough tells the story in this balanced, well-crafted, readable, and compelling book. I recommend it for anyone, especially those bold enough to enter the field."—David D. Jackson, University of California, Los Angeles

"A new book on earthquake prediction written by an accomplished seismologist is long overdue. There is something in Hough's book for everyone—from the nonspecialist with a general interest in the topic to the earthquake scientist looking for new perspectives and a bit of insider history. This is a book that is, quite literally, hard to put down."—Greg Beroza, Stanford University

"In this well-written account, Hough examines the elusive and controversial question of short-term earthquake prediction. Those living in quake-prone areas simply want to know when scientists will be able to predict the next (big) one. Hough's excellent account provides context and insight into why this seemingly straightforward question has both fascinated and frustrated researchers for so many decades."—Mark Zoback, Stanford University

"A highly entertaining and accurate book. As Predicting the Unpredictable makes clear, cutting-edge science is often untestable in the short term because the data have been pushed as far as possible and beyond, and because the research is often conducted by scientists guided by intuition."—John Vidale, University of Washington

"This book is significant and new. Hough's research into the history of earthquake prediction—its difficulties, efforts made, and errors committed—is well done. I don't think there are any competing books on the market."—Max Wyss, director of the World Agency of Planetary Monitoring and Earthquake Risk Reduction

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691138169
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
11/16/2009
Pages:
260
Sales rank:
1,197,493
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author


Susan Hough is a seismologist with the Southern California Earthquake Center and a fellow of the American Geophysical Union. Her books include "Richter's Scale: Measure of an Earthquake, Measure of a Man" and "Earthshaking Science: What We Know (and Don't Know) about Earthquakes" (both Princeton).

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Ready to Rumble 1

Chapter 2: Ready to Explode 12

Chapter 3: Irregular Clocks 29

Chapter 4: The Hayward Fault 39

Chapter 5: Predicting the Unpredictable 47

Chapter 6: The Road to Haicheng 58

Chapter 7: Percolation 86

Chapter 8: The Heyday 96

Chapter 9: The Hangover 108

Chapter 10: Highly Charged Debates 125

Chapter 11: Reading the Tea Leaves 141

Chapter 12: Accelerating Moment Release 150

Chapter 13: On the Fringe 158

Chapter 14: Complicity 171

Chapter 15: Measles 191

Chapter 16: We All Have Our Faults 196

Chapter 17: The Bad One 206

Chapter 18: Whither Earthquake Prediction? 222

Acknowledgments 231

Notes 233

General Index 255

Index of Earthquakes by Year 261

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