Material World - 25/10/2012
Tremors were felt in seismology departments around the world, as members of Italy's Civil Protection Department are sentenced to six years each for bad advice about an earthquake.
Seven members of a panel convened by Italy's Civil Protection Department in the days prior to the L'Aquila earthquake of 2009 have this week been sentenced to six years each in prison. The trial has been watched eagerly around the world by seismologists and earthquake specialists around the world.
The men - fours scientists, two engineers and a government official - were found guilty of manslaughter for downplaying the risks of a big earthquake happening, after months of weaker tremors. But did the scientists get too close to a political role in those confused days? Will the verdict deter other scientists from offering their advice in future?
Prof Tom Jordan, who chaired an International Committee formed at the request of the Italian government to look into risk communication gives his thoughts on the verdict, and Dr Roger Mussen and Prof Robert Holdsworth give a UK view on the consequences for science.
Dr Jacob Dahl is trying to decrypt one of the oldest known written languages, proto-Elamite. He's putting hi-tech images of over 1000 clay tablets online, and hopes that with international cooperation he'll have cracked the code in the next two years.
And Dr Leonel Dupuy describes his breakthrough in the development of a see-through soil which will revolutionise crop studies, enabling extraordinarily highly detailed images of root systems in vivo.