News of the week

Some news and views from the world of geoscience this last fortnight.

Open source GIS on a thumb drive

If you ever wanted to get into open source geospatial software but didn't know where to start, check this out. Last month OSGeo, the open source geospatial foundation, released version 5 of their OSGeo-Live project. This is a bootable disk image containing 47 pieces of free software, including several full GIS, world maps, and quick-start guides. Amazing!

Probability and panic

The L'Aquila earthquake of April 2009 killed 308 people. Six seismologists are now on trial for manslaughter, not so much because they failed to predict the quake, but because they allegedly downplayed the risk of a severe event. Most geoscientists believe that we cannot predict earthquakes today; these seismologists are effectively accused of trying to predict a non-earthquake. We don't know, but suspect their intent was misinterpreted—always a danger when specialists communicate with non-specialists. There is no daily coverage of the trial that we are aware of, but there are occasional reports in the press. In this short video, Giustino Parisse explains why he is one of the plaintiffs.

Magical geobloggery

If you're new to blogs—maybe you got a tablet recently and are discovering how easy it is to read the web these days—you might not be aware that there's a lot of geology in the blogosphere. Finding writers you want to read isn't easy though. You could scroll down this page and look for our BLOGROLL for some leads, or head over to Highly Allochthonous and read the latest Accretionary Wedge, a regular meta-post. This month: practical advice for the lifelong learner. 

Communicating rocks

We recently learned of this terrific new book from University of Houston professor Peter Copeland (thanks to his colleague, Rob Stewart, for the tip!). We haven't actually got our hands on it yet, but the Amazon preview has whet our appetites for geo-communication tips galore. The publisher, Prentice Hall, has kept the price to a reasonable amount, close to $35. Get your copy now!

This regular news feature is for information only. We aren't connected with any of these organizations, and don't necessarily endorse their products or services. Public domain map image from the USGS.