OMG!!! Radiation!!!

In all the “Russia, Russia, Russia!” insanity leading up to March, I completely missed the anniversary of Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011. It was March 11, 2011, and of course the thing that people remember today is the damage done to the Fukushima Diiaichi power plant.

But not to worry, the media are still fear-mongering. Radioactive contamination from Fukushima has drifted as far north as a remote Alaskan island, scientists discover.

That’s a scary headline! Let’s all go hide in our fallout shelters. Or maybe not.

Cesium-137 levels some 3,000-times higher than those found in the Bering Sea are considered safe for human consumption under U.S. Environmental Protection Agency drinking water standards, officials said.

Say it again. Levels would need to be 3000 times HIGHER than they are to cause a health concern.

Now this is the Daily Mail, and that is as close to any real information that they want to get. Report the ACTUAL levels of radiation detected? Why would they do that? You might figure out there is nothing to be alarmed over.

Luckily there are more detail oriented media sources, like The Anchorage Daily News.

The tell-tale sample contained 2.4 becquerels per cubic meter, an “extremely low” amount that is thousands of times lower than what the EPA considers unsafe for drinking, Sea Grant’s statement said.

A becquerel is a unit of radioactivity in which 1 atom decays per second. The background radiation for Cesium-137 in that part of the world is ≤ 2.0 becquerels per cubic meter. (Which isn’t in the Anchorage article but in the scientific paper they link to.)

So before you jump head first into the “Radiation!!!” insanity – instigated by the linear no-threshold dose theory – consider that we can detect stupidly small amounts of radiation.

Some other links for your consideration.

That last one is telling.

1600 people died as a result of the panic. And the stress it induced. Panic on the part of the government. On the part of the people. And on the part of Americans and Europeans. Because it is easier to cave into fear than convince you that you don’t know squat about radiation.

Hospital ICUs were evacuated, and people died. Not from radiation. From the evacuation, which was panic driven, because people don’t understand the least little thing about radiation, and they don’t want to. In part, because talking about radiation involves math. It is easier to be afraid. It is easier for the media to try and make you afraid than it is for them to do anything useful.

Radiation is a matter of degree. A little or a lot makes a difference.

We live in a nuanced world of degree. Eating a scoop of ice cream is fine, eating a gallon at one time is bad. Jumping off a chair is no big deal; jumping off a cliff is really stupid. The numbers matter. It’s the dose that makes the poison. There is a threshold to everything.

But then most of the reporting, and most of the government actions surrounding Fukushima Diiaichi have been stupid.

If you don’t look at anything else, you should look at the chart put together by Randall Munroe of XKCD. He published that shortly after the earthquake and tsunami, in the middle of the media insanity. It points out the stupidly small amounts of radiation we can detect, the naturally occurring sources (like the granite counters in your kitchen) and relative size of exposure from Fukushima Diiaichi.

Aside from the links in the list above there are also The Radioactive Tuna, which sounds like a good name for a rock and roll band, The never-ending mission to scare you to death, and to convince you that water is unsafe. There is more, but they get repetitive (and I wrote them.)

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Einstein’s Birthday and Pi Day

It is 3.14, after all.

First, Einstein’s birthday: March 14, 1879. Do you ever use a GPS? Then you are indebtted to Einstein for the Relativistic Time Dilation equation.

Because an observer on the ground sees the satellites in motion relative to them, Special Relativity predicts that we should see their clocks ticking more slowly (see the Special Relativity lecture). Special Relativity predicts that the on-board atomic clocks on the satellites should fall behind clocks on the ground by about 7 microseconds per day because of the slower ticking rate due to the time dilation effect of their relative motion [2].

I won’t include the equation, since it won’t add anything. You can find it in many places on the web.

And it is Pi day. π = 3.1415926535… (That is 10 digits, and enough for most applications.)

The video is “A Brief History of Pi.” It is a bit long at just over 16 minutes, but the videos either are just short and entertaining but don’t really explain anything, or they jump into some fairly stiff mathematics and would lose everyone. Go get some pie, and coffee, and enjoy learning a bit of history, and maybe even a bit of math. It won’t hurt, I promise. (Well, maybe for a minute.)

Electric Vehicles Don’t Like Cold Weather

Or perhaps I should say that lithium-ion batteries don’t do well in the cold. AAA confirms what Tesla, BMW, Nissan electric car owners suspected — cold weather saps EV range. Even turning on the car drains power. But then I don’t much like cold weather either.

The reporter is shocked to discover that all manufacturers have the same problem, as if chemistry would work differently for BMW and Tesla than it does for Chevy.

Different factors can affect the loss of range, he and other experts have noted. Simply turning on the electric vehicles, or EVs, AAA studied in 20 degree weather revealed a 12 percent loss in range.

And that is BEFORE you turn on the cabin heat or heated seats.

Using climate control revealed an even bigger surprise, according to Brannon, as range dipped by an average 41 percent — which would bring an EV like the Bolt down to just 140 miles of range.

Again, I have no idea why this should be a “surprise.” (Or why they only list the bad numbers relative to the Chevy, and not relative to say Tesla.) Apparently reporters live in a world where energy – like heat – appears out of nowhere. The author of the piece seems to be genuinely surprised that internal combustion engines have waste heat that they can use, while electric motors don’t, (or don’t have enough for this use) and have to use electric heating elements whose energy comes out of the battery. The proposed mitigation, BTW is stupid.

Grewe has experienced sharp reductions in the range of his own Chevy Bolt, but he also said there are ways to limit the impact of cold weather. That includes storing a battery car in a garage, preferably one that’s heated. And wherever it is parked, it helps to keep the EV plugged in.

Of all the homes I’ve owned in the past 30 years, all but 1 have had a garage. None of the garages has been heated. Indeed, it is a standard to make sure that in an attached garage, fumes from the garage CANNOT enter the house. (This may actually be a part of the building code.) So no vents, heating ducts, etc. and an effort should be made to keep the drywall intact and sealed. Otherwise you risk asphyxiation. So you would need a separate furnace for the garage. And probably a new garage door, and extra insulation, etc. So where did all that energy saving go now? And 20 degrees F? That would have been like a heatwave coming through here last week, the mercury hit minus 14 degrees Fahrenheit. That is BEFORE windchill, so yes, you would need to use ‘climate control.’ (Otherwise the windshield would fog up.)

As for keeping the car plugged in all the time… contact your employer, the local cinema, your favorite Mexican restaurant, Walmart, Starbucks, and anywhere else you might ever go to ensure that every parking space has an outlet. Oh, and don’t ever plan on leaving your car at the airport in long-term-parking, unless that is heated and/or has an outlet.

Electric vehicles also lose range in hot weather, even before you turn on the air-conditioning. (Hat tip to Pirate’s Cove and Not a Lot of People Know That.)

Note: I put this in the “Math is Hard” category, but I should probably make a “Science is Hard” category for it.

Why is it that people have the memory of gnats?

Forget that they don’t remember the drubbing that the Democratic Party took in the 2010 mid-term elections, but they don’t remember the really important stuff – stuff that has to do with money. I just don’t get that.

Of course it probably doesn’t help that the media doesn’t so much report on the financial markets, as use them as a weapon to beat up anyone they don’t like. Mostly because they too have the memories of gnats, and they don’t understand enough math to balance their check books, let alone explain the derivatives market.

So along about the 2nd or 3rd week in December, the media, and the sheep that follow them looked at the Dow Jones Industrial Average – it is the only measure of the markets they know without looking – and saw this big dip. Why was this happening? “It’s all Trump’s fault!” (Pay no attention to what the Fed is doing to interest rates. The Fed really is “the man behind the curtain.”) They don’t know what a correction is. They don’t know what tax selling is – because they don’t do it. (If all your investments are in mutual funds, you have no control over your taxes.)

Click the image for a larger view, and you can find up to the minute info on the Dow 30 at this link. (Well, it is probably actually delayed 15 minutes when the markets are open.)

But people who actually manage portfolios – their own, or other peoples – looked at what was happening, considered the lessons of history, and decided to cut losses and save on taxes. From the view of those ignorant of history (or at least of the history of financial markets), the last week of December must have looked like the end of the world. It wasn’t the end of the world. By selling anything you had at a loss, you can impact your taxes. (While I’m not a tax person or an investment advisor, my understanding is that an uninsured loss – like a capital loss – can be carried forward as much as 3 years. I do know you can write it off in the year in question.) So cutting your losses in a down year, can make sense. I think – though am not sure – there is a minimum time you have to wait before buying the stock back, but I usually sell stock that have lost faith in.

So if the end of December looked like the end of the world, what does the middle of January look like? Sure, we are still in a correction, and maybe it is the start of a bull market, but if you only look at the Year-to-Date numbers, the markets look pretty damn good.

‡ A Quiz on the history of markets and investing after the break.

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2018: The Year With No Violent Tornadoes?

Violent Tornadoes in the US since 1950So they keep telling me that Global Warming (or is it Climate Change?) will create more severe weather, like more tornadoes. 2018 will be the first year with no violent tornadoes in the United States. In fairness, the year isn’t (quite) over yet.

Clicking on the image will take you to the article, where you can find a larger view of the image… You need to page down.

We’re now days away from this becoming the first year in the modern record with no violent tornadoes touching down in the United States. Violent tornadoes are the strongest on a 0 to 5 scale, or those ranked EF4 or EF5.

It could also be a year where we see a record low number of tornado-related deaths.

Hat tip to 90 Miles From Tyranny who asks, How Will Climate Alarmists Explain US Having Fewest ‘Violent’ Tornadoes Ever in 2018?

In August, The New York Times — “All the News That’s Fit to Print” — reported that “Tornadoes on the East Coast May Be a Sign of Things to Come.” And why, you may ask? Well, you probably needn’t have asked.

Go look at the image (linked above) and at the regression lines fit to the data.

Triggered SJWs Screaming in Three, Two, One…

Who wants to take bets on which side of the political spectrum suddenly is not interested in science? Women really are more empathetic and men more analytical, biggest ever study shows.

In the biggest ever study examining differences between the sexes, scientists have concluded that women really are more empathetic while men are more analytical and logical.

Most of that article is behind a pay wall, and like all elements of the Mainstream Media – even the part that isn’t to the Left of Chairman Mao – the are interested in clicks, and sales, and revenue. So it is a little provocative. (But they got me to click!) An article that is not behind a paywall, is perhaps not so over-the-top. Largest ever study of psychological sex differences and autistic traits.

The Empathizing-Systemizing theory predicts that women, on average, will score higher than men on tests of empathy, the ability to recognize what another person is thinking or feeling, and to respond to their state of mind with an appropriate emotion. Similarly, it predicts that men, on average, will score higher on tests of systemizing, the drive to analyse or build rule-based systems.

People working in STEM fields were also found to have a higher “autistic-traits scores” while non-STEM types, on average, had higher empathy scores.

The authors of the original study bent over backwards to try and preemptively defuse the kerfuffle that is about to hit – assuming that the MSM doesn’t just bury this study, since it goes against the current narrative. (They vilified the president of some university for daring to suggest that maybe women, on average, don’t like STEM. Was that Harvard?)

Just Because They Say They Have Security…

Doesn’t mean that you can believe them. Police decrypt 258,000 messages after breaking pricey IronChat crypto app.

“Criminals thought they could safely communicate with so-called crypto phones which used the application IronChat,” Tuesday’s statement said. “Police experts in the east of the Netherlands have succeeded in gaining access to this communication. As a result, the police have been able to watch live the communication between criminals for some time.”

Snowden’s name came up, but he says he never endorsed this product. He endorsed Signal, from Whisper Systems and Moxie Marlinspike. (Actually it looks as if Open Whisper Systems is now just signal…) Signal makes secure communication easy. Messages are encrypted and decrypted by the phones, not stored on servers.

IronChat phones weren’t cheap. On the order of €1500. You don’t always get what you pay for.

IronChat isn’t the only chat system to ever have problems of course. Apple originally did the encryption for Messenger itself. They got it wrong. So they implemented the Signal protocols in the past few years. (Hat Tip to Claire Wolfe)