Haiti, Chile, Turkey, Chile (again). There've been a lot of earthquakes lately. But scientists say there haven't been more earthquakes lately. Tremors are, and have always been, common. On average, per year, you can expect one 8.0 or above quake, 17 quakes between 7 and 7.9, and 130-odd quakes between 6.0 and 6.9. One thing that has risen: Death tolls. But scientists say that increase has more to do with economic conditions that drive people to pack into mega-cities and live in cheaply built (and quick-to-collapse) homes.
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.