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Following last week’s story about the scientists on trial following the L'Aquila earthquake in Italy, we look at new research just published in the journal PNAS which challenged scientists to accurately forecast earthquakes in California. Don Turcotte, a professor of Geology from the University of California, Davis, took part in the project and he joins Jon Stewart on the programme.
Volcanic eruptions, on the other hand, are much easier to predict, as they tend to be preceded by increasing seismic activity. That does not mean that we are better at limiting the damage they cause though. The Puyehue volcano in Chile erupted four months ago, and many areas there and in neighbouring countries are still feeling the effects. The ash released is causing severe losses for many businesses, but it has also astonished scientists as it is changing the landscape of many mountains in the area. Vladimir Hernandez reports from Villa La Angostura, in Argentina, a town about 30 miles from the volcano.
Despite the International Whaling Commission's ban on commercial whaling, which came into force 25 years ago this year, thousands of whales are still being killed. However, there is growing concern about the number of whales killed through accidental collisions with ships and entanglement in commercial fishing gear. On the north-east coast of the United States scientists are increasingly alarmed by the number of North Atlantic Right Whales, one of the most endangered species in the world, dying when they become caught up in lobster fishing gear. Jeremy Grange reports for Science in Action.
The idea of a magic carpet has fascinated people for hundreds of years. It was really the only way to travel in Arabian Nights – and now a student at Princeton University in the United States has managed to make one in real life. Noah Jafferis has built the device, and has it tethered in his lab. It is still quite small, 10 cm by 4 cm. It is made of a smart plastic and covered in a piezo-electric material which changes shape when an electric current is applies. It can be made to undulate a bit like a stingray, but at very high speed. That traps pockets of air, pushes them along, and propels it.