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Science  08 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6295, pp. 129
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf8465

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Traditionally, when scientists discuss earthquakes, we talk about geology and seismology, infrastructure and engineering, as well as management strategies for minimizing human and material losses. Nevertheless, the study of an earthquake's effect on the social and cultural elements of a community can help us understand how different societies have evolved and adapted over time and how cities have built up their relative capacity to withstand future large seismic events. In fact, as Andrew Robinson describes in his new book, Earth-Shattering Events, the effects of an earthquake can reverberate throughout a society's identity. In some cases, they have played a catalyzing role in the evolution of urban and architectural style and have irrevocably altered the communities in question.