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Swiss Geologist On Trial For Causing Earthquakes

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the should-have-called-dig-safe dept.

Earth 258

Hugh Pickens writes "BBC reports that Markus Haering's company had been working with the authorities in Basel, Switzerland to try to convert the heat in deep-seated rocks into electricity, but the project was suspended in 2006 when drilling triggered earthquakes, one of them with a magnitude of 3.4, leading Haering's company to pay out $9M in damages. Haering's team planned to drill a series of holes penetrating up to 3 miles (4.8 km) underground with water being pumped onto rocks with a temperature of more than 195C. Basel's location on top of a fault line – the upper Rhine trench – had been deliberately chosen because the heat was closer to the Earth's surface. A risk assessment has since shown that the prospect of further quakes is too high to continue drilling in the city. Haering faces up to five years in prison if the judge finds he intentionally damaged property. Haering has admitted the 3.4 magnitude earthquake was stronger than he had expected and that his team 'had very little knowledge of seismicity' before starting to drill, but called the quakes 'a learning process for everyone involved.' Despite Haering's trial, the Swiss appetite for geothermal projects has not diminished. Engineers are beginning preliminary drilling in Zurich to see whether that area was suitable for a similar scheme, and St. Gallen, in eastern Switzerland, plans to start work on its own geothermal project next year. Drilling efforts are being closely watched in the US, where the energy department is sponsoring more than 120 geothermal energy projects in several states."

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Blahgh (3, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449656)

Hey, gotta break a few eggs (and dishes) to make an omelet.

Re:Blahgh (3, Insightful)

ccarson (562931) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449702)

Agreed. We're all human and can't expect to be perfect. A pessimist would view this as wreckless where as an alternative approach view is to acknowledge this a constructive step toward an alternative energy source.

Re:Blahgh (2, Funny)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449824)

I try not to be pedantic, but slipping and using "wreckless" in the case of earthquake damage is ironic.

Re:Blahgh (1)

dumuzi (1497471) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450238)

Aren't you being pedantic by saying that you hate to be pedantic. And then by continuing in your sentance to be pedantic you are now culpable of pedantism squared. You sir commit pedantary redundantly.

Re:Blahgh (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30450272)

continuing in your sentance to be pedantic

Clever! But I will not be so easily lured into your trap.

Re:Blahgh (2, Funny)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450606)

Pedantic nitpick: That isn't being pedantic, that's being redundant.

Re:Blahgh (4, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450014)

Basel is EGS's "Altamont Pass". Altamont Pass was a wind farm that gave wind turbines their (undeserved) reputation as being bird killers. They built a wind farm right in the middle of a bird flyway, using low, fast-spinning turbines. It was a learning experience; nobody would be stupid enough to do that again.

It's the same thing with EGS and earthquakes. In Basel, they deliberately fractured an active fault that had previously destroyed the city. Nobody is going to be dumb enough to do that again.

Re:Blahgh (4, Funny)

pileated (53605) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450354)

When it comes to being dumb, never say never!

Re:Blahgh (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450802)

Wasn't there a fairly big (but crappy) movie about 15 years ago where the bad guy drills into a fault line and then pumps in a bunch of water to cause an earthquake?

Re:Blahgh (5, Funny)

svtdragon (917476) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450372)

Nobody is going to be dumb enough to do that again.

I bet somebody once said that about people rebuilding cities on top of active faults.

Re:Blahgh (4, Insightful)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450456)

I respectfully disagree. After living in the pacific northwest and experiencing numerous earthquakes firsthand, I can say with some authority that any structure built in a tectonically active region that cannot safely handle a 3.4 magnitude earthquake was built improperly.

There were several 3.5ish earthquakes in Oregon where I lived over the last 20 years and as far as I know, broken picture frames were the extent of the damage. Geothermal energy production only makes sense in places where volcanic or tectonic activity is likely. It's not without risk either.

It seems obvious that there was no intentional earthquake caused, but that was the natural result of fracturing the fault and 3.4 hardly sounds noteworthy. However, more detailed seismic study seems warranted before moving forward with any such project in the future.

Re:Blahgh (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450068)

You mean: "You can't make an omelet without killing some people..."

Re:Blahgh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30450512)

Said the chicken?

Re:Blahgh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30450900)

if by omelet you mean one made with human foetuses.

Re:Blahgh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30450084)

There's no sense crying when you make a mistake; you just keep on trying till you run out of cake.

Re:Blahgh (3, Interesting)

nschubach (922175) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450096)

I makes me wonder... I'm no geologist by any measure, but there's obviously pressure built up in that area. Wouldn't drilling holes to break holds and release some of that plate pressure by causing smaller quakes be a preferred course of action? Would it either be that or waiting for one giant major natural shift that could cause even more damage?

Re:Blahgh (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450380)

This is a neat idea. You could even schedule the things so they are the most convenient. Like inducing labor!

Re:Blahgh (3, Insightful)

Applekid (993327) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450390)

Would it either be that or waiting for one giant major natural shift that could cause even more damage?

No good deed goes unpunished?

If you leave it alone and a natural disaster happens, you can't really sue God. If you drill and make mini-quakes and someone's windows break, you can definitely sue the driller.

Re:Blahgh (2)

contrapunctus (907549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450210)

So if the government wants them to make an omelet and company breaks some eggs, is it all the company's fault or does the government bear some responsibility?

lol (2, Interesting)

Weezul (52464) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450738)

Yes, I agree, indeed this is the whole point of an LLC. LLCs are horribly abused quite routinely. I often observe that chemical companies should really be charged with manslaughter for some of their pollutants. *But* a serious research project that happens to "break a few eggs" should really be let slide.

A reasonable compromise might be awarding shares in this company to the damaged cities and the Swiss national science funding body, so the company current backers face dilution as punishment, but no immediate funds change hands, and any IP becomes closer to public property.

Here we go... (5, Funny)

Philotic (957984) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449674)

I doubt the geologist is at fault. However, his defense rests on really shaky ground.

Re:Here we go... (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449948)

They obviously forgot to employ sheep's bladders for earthquake prevention. Quite an oversite as this technique has been around at least since the 6th Century A.D.

Re:Here we go... (3, Funny)

Jophish (1489121) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449968)

He isn't really at fault here.

Re:Here we go... (1)

momerath2003 (606823) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450016)

whoosh...

Re:Here we go... (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450122)

Fault: (geology) a crack in the earth's crust resulting from the displacement of one side with respect to the other; "they built it right over a geological fault"; "he studied the faulting of the earth's crust"

/sigh

Re:Here we go... (1)

hashax (1190057) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450460)

There should have been a preliminary Haering as there isnt enough evidence against him.

Re:Here we go... (0, Troll)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450584)

I doubt the geologist is at fault. However, his defense rests on really shaky ground.

Yep. Now he's feeling the heat, and has got to be quaking in his boots.

Re:Here we go... (0, Troll)

steelfood (895457) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450592)

I doubt the geologist is at fault.

Yeah, but he one the one who caused a rift in the community.

*ducks*

Learning process? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30449682)

We learned that causing earthquakes costs 9 million dollars and a 5 year stretch. I had always wondered.

No, me! ME! (4, Funny)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449686)

Blast it, I failed the broadcast take over announcing my intentions for world domination! It was my demostration of my earthquake machine! me, me ME!

Re:No, me! ME! (1)

mujadaddy (1238164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450160)

On a related note, this guy is going to be looking for...less-than-legitimate... geological employment if things go wrong for him. Just sayin'.

Damages? (5, Insightful)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449696)

These villagers were scamming the poor guy. $9 million in damages from a *3.4* quake? Cripes, a bus crossing in front of my house is close to 3.4... either their houses are made from eggshells, or this is the scam of the century.

I'd feel terrible if useful research was suspended because of profiteering townsfolk.

Re:Damages? (1)

borrible (888869) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449844)

Village? Basel city has a population of about 170'000 (close to a million with the surrounding area) and is home to some of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world (Ciba, Novartis)

Re:Damages? (1)

fracai (796392) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449918)

Village? Basel city has a population of about 170,000 [...]

There, fixed that for you. Damn commas, always jumping around and hanging upside-down.

Re:Damages? (1)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450750)

In most European countries, 170,000 means 170.000. ' is a perfectly valid delimiter.

Eggshell defense (3, Informative)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449872)

These villagers were scamming the poor guy. $9 million in damages from a *3.4* quake? Cripes, a bus crossing in front of my house is close to 3.4... either their houses are made from eggshells, or this is the scam of the century.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eggshell_skull

Translation/application: if you demonstrate negligence and cause an earthquake, even if everyone's houses are made of chewing gum and paper- you're responsible for the damage, because had you not done what you did, the damage wouldn't have happened.

Re:Eggshell defense (1, Interesting)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450104)

You forgot, that if you did not know that the houses were made of eggshells, and it is generally assumed that houses are not made of eggshells, that this would rather be a nasty trap, and that the lawsuit would in that case be a scam tactic.

Re:Eggshell defense (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450116)

Translation/application: if you demonstrate negligence and cause an earthquake, even if everyone's houses are made of chewing gum and paper

FWIW, I'd bet a well-designed chewing-gum-and-paper house is more earthquake resistant than some of the concrete-steel-and-wood houses. At the very least, it'd be cheaper to build, assuming a a very large army of gum chewers, thus resulting in reduced liability for damages.

Re:Eggshell defense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30450538)

Chewing-gum-and-paper? MacGyver could rebuild the World Trade Center with chewing-gum-and-paper.

Re:Eggshell defense (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450192)

Actually I think a better legal principle might be the inherently dangerous activity one. Like if you're using dynamite, and it causes damage, even though you weren't negligent, you are still liable for the damage.

Re:Eggshell defense (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450224)

either their houses are made from eggshells, or this is the scam of the century.

I don't think GP meant that the guy shouldn't pay, just that it seems highly suspect that there is so much damage to be paid for.

I have no experience with quakes, so I'm just going by what GP said as to what a 3.4 quake would do.

Re:Eggshell defense (1)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450536)

3.4 magnitude is really small. Any significant structural damage is likely the fault of the design of those structures. Any building, whether in a tectonically active region or not should be designed and built to meet a minimum standard for safety. I don't know where that line should be, but in this case I would say the engineer shouldn't be culpable. $9M is a lot of damages for such a tiny earthquake.

Re:Damages? (2, Informative)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449876)

I wonder if they had anyone from Iceland consulting on this. They have lots of geothermal heating and power generation there on a geologically active land mass, but AFAIK, they've avoided triggering earthquakes.

Re:Damages? (2, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450106)

This is a different tech than most of Iceland's geothermal: EGS. Most of Iceland's geothermal is from natural reservoirs (although Iceland is starting to move in the direction of EGS, too).

Re:Damages? (1)

HolyCoitus (658601) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449878)

Seismic scale for Europe? [wikipedia.org]

I know nothing about Europe or Seismic Scales... But, if that is correct, then WTF?

Re:Damages? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30450118)

IV. Largely observed: The earthquake is felt indoors by many people, outdoors by very few. A few people are awakened. The level of vibration is not frightening. Windows, doors and dishes rattle. Hanging objects swing.

I am sorry but I have a hard time seeing how you get $9 million worth of damage from something less than this, seriously, did $9 million worth of fine china rattle together and chip?

Re:Damages? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30449900)

I'd feel terrible if useful research was suspended because of profiteering townsfolk.

I'd take that over profiteering governments any day.

Re:Damages? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30450030)

I'd feel terrible if useful research was suspended because of profiteering townsfolk.

I agree, but thats exactly the situation we have nowadays.

I myself live near St.Gallen, and I really hope they aren't going to stop doing science just because some people are afraid of it. But unfortunately, science is extremely unpopular in todays consumer society, and our government doesn't care enough to make any real progress.

Re:Damages? (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450080)

Not to mention that we can't predict when an earthquake will strike or what magnitude it will be. Yet here they are, claiming that he willfully damaged property? I can't even fathom reckless disregard for safety in this context, but willful destruction? Can I sue palmreaders for willful damage of my self-esteem?

Re:Damages? (1)

scratchpaper (1175477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450408)

Not to nitpick, but structurally, eggshells are incredibly strong. Ok, that was totally to nitpick.

A Learning Experience - (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30449708)

How often do you get to cause an earthquake and call it a learning experience?

How often do you GET TO CAUSE AN EARTHQUAKE?

Re:A Learning Experience - (5, Funny)

Quantos (1327889) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449778)

Just imagine the other inmates, 'So, what are you in for?'

Re:A Learning Experience - (3, Funny)

six11 (579) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449894)

I imagine he would be seen as an evil supervillain like Lex Luthor or something, and emerge from jail with a small army to do his geological bidding.

Re:A Learning Experience - (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30449928)

"Oh yeah? Well, I caused a tornado."

Re:A Learning Experience - (2, Funny)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450200)

Is your name Louis Michaud [newscientist.com] ?

Re:A Learning Experience - (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450256)

They had let him off the first time.

US project shut down (4, Informative)

Rufus211 (221883) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449764)

Thankfully a project by the same company just north of San Francisco has been shut down. The last thing CA needs is more earthquakes.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/12/science/earth/12quake.html [nytimes.com]

Re:US project shut down (1)

Raptor851 (1557585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450598)

however...nobody here would even notice a 3.4

The first... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30449768)

...and only government subsidised earthquake I know of.

Profit! (1)

Logical Zebra (1423045) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449802)

1. Drill and Cause Earthquakes

2. ????

3. Profit!

Re:Profit! (1)

Firemouth (1360899) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449848)

2. Hold city for ransom by threatening crushing earth quakes if they don't pay!

Re:Profit! (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450628)

How did you find the entire screenplay for "Under Siege 2?!?"

In other news... (2, Funny)

Z1NG (953122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449804)

In other news, Swiss marine biologist accused of attaching lasers to the heads of sharks.
Seriously, if this guy changes his name to Dr. Quake or some other reasonable mad scientist name his only punishment should be a lecture from the super hero of his choice.
__________
On a more serious note, this is pretty scary. His excuse that the result was stronger than he expected is lame - when dealing with things of this magnitude you should try to be as certain as possible. Calling such a damaging incident "a learning process" seems a little asinine. I hope no one was hurt.

Re:In other news... (1)

Z1NG (953122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449916)

After looking at the Richter Scale [wikipedia.org] , I think my earlier comments were a tad hasty. A rating of 3.4 on the scale is relatively minor and usually doesn't result in damage. I still think the fact that the magnitude was higher than expected shows that they were acting irresponsibly, but taking this into consideration it doesn't seem quite as egregious.

I hear... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30449818)

...yellowstone's got lot of potential for geothermal energy.

Re:I hear... (1)

JDeane (1402533) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450624)

I heard the same thing lol

The article linked in the summery already had some interesting bits in it about just that.

"Currently, 144 new geothermal plants are under development in the United States. The accelerating growth of geothermal projects could bring the nation 7,000 MW of new baseload geothermal power in the next few years, raising the prospects of 10 GW of geothermal power in coming years. At that level, geothermal power will satisfy the needs of over 10 million people and still have tremendous growth potential in the United States."

Looks like they want to ramp things up a bit.

Or as Tolkien would say it; (1)

Servaas (1050156) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449854)

"Swiss! Oh Swiss! Wonder of the Western world! Too deep we delved there, and woke the shameless trail." Free interpretation of course.

I know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30449866)

I know it's serious and nothing to laugh at, but could you imagine the story your kids could tell..

"My dad is tough."

"Oh yeah, my dad got sued for causing earthquakes."

the first... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30449888)

...and only government subsidised earth quake I know of.

Intentionally? (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449902)

Forgive my lack of knowledge of Swiss law but I'm going to assume proving he intentionally damaged property would require proving intent. I'm extraordinarily skeptical that there was any.

Re:Intentionally? (3, Interesting)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450076)

I'm not familiar with Swiss law either. This may be a lost-in-translation issue. If he knew his actions would cause damage, and continued in those actions anyway, then likely he has committed some crime. The specific word "intent" may not be the right one here... "willful" may be a better translation/interpretation.

What about progress? (1)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449904)

I'm pretty skeptical about many of the miraculous so-called "green energy" projects that abound. But if you don't even try them, then how will you know whether or not they'll work? This seems like a message to innovators and inventors; yeah, we want your new technologies, but if you screw up, you go to jail.

Re:What about progress? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450142)

If "screwing up" involves widespread damage to other people's property and/or person, that is pretty much how it goes.

The "You can't do that, because science hurts my precious tender feelings!" crowd are idiots, and ought not to be listened to; but the notion that you can cavalierly take risks with other people's lives and property(Your own? knock yourself out.) because they are working for "progress" is pretty broken.

Hey, it's a good way to get rid of... (5, Funny)

mrami (664567) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449910)

those pesky minarets! Yeppers!

Earthquake a coincidence? (1)

PeterM from Berkeley (15510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449950)

Is there any real evidence that the earthquake wasn't a coincidence and not due to the drilling? The article was rather thin.

can we go after natural gas companies, too? (3, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449952)

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/08/business/energy-environment/08fracking.html

The drilling boom is raising concern in many parts of the country, and the reaction is creating political obstacles for the gas industry. Hazards like methane contamination of drinking water wells, long known in regions where gas production was common, are spreading to populous areas that have little history of coping with such risks, but happen to sit atop shale beds.

And a more worrisome possibility has come to light. A string of incidents in places like Wyoming and Pennsylvania in recent years has pointed to a possible link between hydraulic fracturing and pollution of groundwater supplies. In the worst case, such pollution could damage crucial supplies of water used for drinking and agriculture

It isn't going to be climate change that kills us. We won't have any clean water to drink. Fun fact: the "safe water drinking act" isn't being enforced by the EPA [nytimes.com] , and even water that has very unhealthy level of arsenic is "safe". Does a 1-in-600 chance of getting bladder cancer sound "safe" to you?

Obviously not an expert, maybe ex pert? (2, Interesting)

Roskolnikov (68772) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449962)

This has all happened before and apparently will happen again:

http://www.springerlink.com/content/lr247770l2272741/ [springerlink.com]

I recall these earthquakes were triggered by chemical weapon disposal, same plot though, dig a big deep hole and put liquid in.....
]

Is he a transformer? (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450070)

Unless his name is 'Rumble,' and he popped out of a walkman I don't see how this is possible.

Whattaya in for? (1)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450078)

Since they mentioned criminal charges, I just imagined him being placed in a cell with other suspects...

Cellmate: "What are you in for?"

Haering: "Causing earthquakes."

Re:Whattaya in for? (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450334)

or --
Cellmate: "What are you in for?"

Haering: 'i made the earth move in thousands of houses'

I thought algore said (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450088)

the temperature was in the millions of degrees? What's with this 195C sissy stuff?

most earth scientists knew this since 1960s (2, Interesting)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450130)

The big eye-opener was the injection of fluid at Rocky Mountain Arsenal near denver causing medium size quakes in 1965. This is called induced seismicity [nyx.net] . Its been seen around new dams (possibility in last years large Sichuan quake), geothermal drilling, irrigation fluid disposal, water table drops, etc.

Teh question really is political. Was the possibility of I.S. included in the pre-project environmental study? Did they ignore signs of it starting? Was it really caused by their activities.

Trials to be proud of (1)

Captain Spam (66120) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450150)

On the bright side, if it legitimately were my fault and/or plan, that IS one of the top things I'd be proud to be on trial for. Rates right up there with "attempted destruction of the moon" and "triggered volcanoes to, as the defendant put it, 'show all those fools who is mad'".

Where's the kaboom? (1)

kungfugleek (1314949) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450182)

There was supposed to be an earth-shattering kaboom!

Well, at least they didn't try this in Yellowstone...

It had to happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30450190)

Swiss guy making holes were there shouldn't be any holes. Typical.

Re:It had to happen (1)

pwfffff (1517213) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450916)

First they came for the cheese...

Lex Luther (1)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450228)

I hear Lex Luther is hiring.

Re:Lex Luther (1)

Kozz (7764) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450300)

Lex Luthor: "Everyone's got their faults. Mine's in California."

James Bond Villian (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450234)

Switzerland: The Bond Villain of the European Union...

No wonder they have all of the Gold there.....

"Pay us one Beeellion dollars or your cities get shaken, not stirred..."

Jurisprudence (1)

Korbeau (913903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450290)

I'm eager to see how this trial's decisions will impact the trial against the LHC physicists team in a few months for causing rapid gravitational earth implosion. At 9M$ for a few km of earth, this could get quite expensive!

Re:Jurisprudence (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450508)

But collecting the settlement will be tricky, when all the world's assets, fiat currencies, kittens, and collectible figurines have been scrunched into a point mass...

Drying clothes and linen on rope in sun and wind (3, Insightful)

Max_W (812974) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450346)

All this to produce electricity to dry clothing in the electric dryers. Just let people dry clothing and linen on the ropes in the sun and wind.

Billions and billions of such drying wet items will cool the planet. Because it will be daily, and it will be in billions.

We are trying to solve by engineering means a problem which is not a technical problem. It is a problem in our heads.

In Iceland.... (2, Informative)

jonfr (888673) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450366)

Here in Iceland they have been pumping down Co2 for testing. That is down with water, but the result is the same, it has created earthquakes. The largest one was about ML2.0 before they stopped the experiment.

I don't know why it was stopped. But it is quite oblivious that pressure changes create earthquakes faster then one might think.

However, in Iceland they where pumping down that water within a active volcano with a lot of fault lines.

Re:In Iceland.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30450806)

it has created earthquakes.

Iceland is basically an active volcano. You guys don't even have dirt. How can you possibly tell what is causing any given earthquake?

Tesla... (1)

PhantomHarlock (189617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450452)

Eh, Tesla did it 100 years ago, if the stories and his autobiography are to be believed :)

well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30450504)

Who would have thought that Basel was faulty. Still 3.4 magnitude doesn't seem a lot (assuming Richter scale) so if they had damage it must have been Faulty Towers.

Haering's company was actually ... (2, Funny)

Brad Eleven (165911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450580)

... trying to selectively topple minarets [wikipedia.org] .

Unintentional effects (1)

gznork26 (1195943) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450684)

In this case, they were actually attempting to accomplish something when the unexpected happened. What about all of the places in the world where there's a chain of events just waiting to be triggered? The more the infrastructure is neglected, the less stable it becomes, and the more prone it is to failure. But when that failure triggers something else, and a cascade of events starts to unfold, who's to say whether the person who triggered the initial event, whether intentional or not, is responsible for the indirect results?

I explored this possibility in a short story called "Cascade". It starts like this...

+ - - - + - - - +

It had all come down to Irwin's own testimony. Five nightmarish months of a high-profile court case in which his life was laid bare like a laboratory exhibit and washed with stain that allowed only one interpretation: terrorist. And all because he'd suggested a use for some cash left over at the end of a tech conference.

He looked up from the bible beneath his hand, and then over at the judge. His throat was dry from sitting for so long beside his court-appointed lawyer, agape at the fabricated version of his life that had been reeled out by the prosecution. "I do."

"You may take the stand."

+ - - - + - - - +

Read the whole story at http://klurgsheld.wordpress.com/2008/05/14/short-story-cascade/ [wordpress.com]

Should have used protection (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 4 years ago | (#30450822)

He should have employed sheep's bladders.

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