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Predicting the Unpredictable:
The Tumultuous Science of Earthquake Prediction
Susan Elizabeth Hough
With a new preface by the author

Paperback | 2016 | $19.95 | £14.95 | ISBN: 9780691173306
280 pp. | 6 x 9 | 36 halftones. 4 line illus. 4 maps.
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400883547 |
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An earthquake can strike without warning and wreak horrific destruction and death, whether it's the catastrophic 2010 quake that took a devastating toll on the island nation of Haiti or a future great earthquake on the San Andreas Fault in California, which scientists know is inevitable. Yet despite rapid advances in earthquake science, seismologists still can’t predict when the Big One will hit. Predicting the Unpredictable explains why, exploring the fact and fiction behind the science—and pseudoscience—of earthquake prediction.

Susan Hough traces the continuing quest by seismologists to forecast the time, location, and magnitude of future quakes. She brings readers into the laboratory and out into the field—describing attempts that have raised hopes only to collapse under scrutiny, as well as approaches that seem to hold future promise. She also ventures to the fringes of pseudoscience to consider ideas outside the scientific mainstream. An entertaining and accessible foray into the world of earthquake prediction, Predicting the Unpredictable illuminates the unique challenges of predicting earthquakes.

Susan Elizabeth Hough is a seismologist with the Southern California Earthquake Center and a fellow of the American Geophysical Union. Her books include Richter's Scale and Earthshaking Science (both Princeton).

Reviews:

"Susan Hough's book about earthquake prediction reminds us that many respectable scientists and numerous nutcases have tried--and failed. Predicting the Unpredictable tells us what has been tested and abandoned and why. It follows the winding path taken by this potentially useful discipline in the past four decades, from the shadows to centre stage and back again. . . . Famous moments in earthquake prediction are dissected for the reader through Hough's diligent research in obscure archives; history will thank her for these abandoned threads."--Roger Bilham, Nature

"Hough's book, however, is not frustrating at all; it offers an enlightening, fair and insightful look at how one science has dealt with the intersection of an extremely hard problem with legitimate public demands for results. Those of us in other fields who read it may find ourselves profiting from the example someday."--Cosma Shalizi, American Scientist

"In this forensic and engaging overview, Susan Hough presents a frank, entertaining and personal review of the history of ideas, practice, personalities and experience in the science of earthquake prediction. Although Hough is a respected scientist, she takes a journalist's viewpoint here, not shying away from legitimate criticism of those she regards as friends, and taking on the credulous at the edge of, or even beyond, the mainstream scientific."--Ian Main, Times Higher Education

"Susan Hough is all about solid science, and her examples of accepted research that turned out to be dead wrong will resonate with readers suspicious of anybody who predicts the future."--Stephen Matchett, Australian

More reviews

Table of Contents:

1. Ready to Rumble 1
2. Ready to Explode 12
3. Irregular Clocks 29
4. The Hayward Fault 39
5. Predicting the Unpredictable 47
6. The Road to Haicheng 58
7. Percolation 86
8. The Heyday 96
9. The Hangover 108
10. Highly Charged Debates 125
11. Reading the Tea Leaves 141
12. Accelerating Moment Release 150
13. On the Fringe 158
14. Complicity 171
15. Measles 191
16. We All Have Our Faults 196
17. The Bad One 206
18. Whither Earthquake Prediction? 222
Acknowledgments 231
Notes 233
General Index 255
Index of Earthquakes by Year 261
Preface to the Paperback Edition vii

Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Susan Elizabeth Hough:

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