Forecasting: The Quake Watcher: CAN HE PREDICT THE NEXT BIG ONE?

CAN SCIENTISTS FORECAST MAJOR EARTH-quakes months before they happen? Most experts are dubious, but that hasn't stopped Vladimir Keilis-Borok from trying. And for a while the mathematical geophysicist, 83, seemed to be on a roll. In September 2003, within a time frame Keilis-Borok and colleagues had stipulated in advance, a pair of powerful earthquakes struck northern Japan, setting off tsunamis and injuring several hundred people. In December, another anticipated temblor rattled central California, killing two and damaging dozens of buildings. Then, in July, yet another quake, near the border of Austria, Italy and Slovenia, came close to fulfilling a third prediction...

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