Seven seismologists have gone on trial in Italy for manslaughter, for failing to predict a devastating earthquake that killed more than 300 people in 2009.
They are accused of giving "inexact, incomplete and contradictory information" about a series of smaller quakes that took place beforehand, and of telling people that a larger quake would not occur.
The outcome of the case will be keenly observed by scientists around the world.
The case is of course absurd. Even if it could be established that scientists knew or should have known that a strong quake was likely, how would the prosecution then be able to establish that many of the victims would still not have perished? The quake was still going to happen.
But if scientists are to be put on trial for failing to predict harmful future events, what precedent might this set?
Could figures of authority who continue to publicly deny the existence of global warming be put on trial in the future after the oceans have risen and engulfed entire communities?
And will leaders of the Catholic Church who continue to claim that condom use is a sin face genocide charges in future years?
My guess is no. This is science on trial. Our sluggish reaction towards the reality of global warming demonstrates that few people listen when scientists predict doom and disaster. But should those scientists fail to give us the warnings we so readily ignore then they risk being prosecuted, at least in some parts of the world.
Who would be a scientist?