The Year in Math

Okay, I usually hate “year in review” type stuff, but this is offbeat enough to appeal. Political Calculations: The Biggest Math Story of 2019. And my degree is in Mathematics, even if it was a geologic age ago…

I have a difference of opinion with Political Calculations on what is the biggest story, but we will start with the one they selected, on Long Division.

Suppose that you need to multiply two really, really big numbers together using the long multiplication method you learned back in grade school. The one where you systematically multiply each individual digit in one number by every digit in another, keeping a rolling tally where you carry numbers to be added to the next digit as you work your way from right to left in performing, pardon the pun, a multitude of multiplications. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get to the product with less work?

David Harvey and Joris van der Hoeven have developed a method using multidimensional Fast Fourier Transforms, which have practical application in the digital signal processing used to support modern telecommunications, including the compression methods used for digital images, audio, and video files that make it possible for millions to enjoy the millions of cat videos on the Internet.

Click the link above for more details and links to the source material.

Now the story that caught my attention…

Perhaps the most extraordinary math story of the year came when a team of particle physicists, Stephen Parke, Xining Zhang, and Peter Denton, had a question about linear algebra they asked on Reddit roughly five months ago, after they found a simple relationship between eigenvalues and eigenvectors that seemed to allow them to use relatively easy-to-work-with eigenvalues in place of eigenvectors in their analysis of neutrino behavior, which they were looking to validate.

Linear transformations were once the bane of my existence. (Or why a topologist can’t tell the difference between a doughnut and a cup-of-coffee.) Anything that makes that easier would be a beautiful thing.

For a more in-depth article on the discovery of the relationship between eigenvectors and eigenvalues in Hermitian matrices, see Neutrinos Lead to Unexpected Discovery in Basic Math

Alconétar Viaduct

Alconétar ViaductSo when I started looking into infrastructure, I was finding a lot on the failures of the same. But that is mostly in the US – where I’ve been looking. It turns out a lot of the world (including the US) is continuing to build and maintain infrastructure. Today we have The Alconétar Viaduct, which is an arch bridge in Spain that carries a motorway.

[The image is from WikiMedia Commons, by Chemasanco. Click on the image for a larger view and more info.]

This photo gallery is fascinating. The images are great, but they allow no use. (And while this might be “fair use” …) The first few photos are of the completed structure, but if you scroll down, you can see some images taken during construction. All the fins welded to the span of the bridge (visible above and in the first few photos at the link) are there to disrupt the wind, and eliminate wind resonance. A problem that should have been fixed in the 1940s, and not been an issue in the 21st Century. (So this probably counts as a “near miss” in terms of infrastructure failure.)

Next up is a video of “wind resonance” and this bridge (while under construction). This is the same effect that destroyed the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington State. That disaster was supposed to inform the design of all follow on bridges. Apparently something was missed. Alconétar Arc Bridge Wind Resonance Effect. It is a short video of less than 4 minutes. At least they found the problem during construction, and were able to take measures to mitigate it.

And finally, to understand what those construction photos in the Gallery linked the top are telling you, the video below is 15 minutes of incredibly dry information on how this bridge was built. Alconétar Viaduct Construction. It is all animation, but still has some decent info. And you can see why this style of bridge can be used to cross very deep caverns. (Where building temporary supports in the center of the structure are not practical.) At a guess, I would say that this animation was produced when the bridge was initially proposed, to explain to the powers-that-be how it would be built. And the photos from the gallery back it up.

Statistics Are Racist

Which I suppose means that reality itself is racist and will need to be outlawed. Or something. Wrong Questions/Conclusions: Second City Cop.

Every time we see the ACLU start to spout this nonsense, we always ask:

  • Why are 80-to-85% of the homicides committed by black offenders?

After all, if we’re only supposed to stop black people based on their population, then it only follows that crime numbers should be exactly proportional, too. Right? But they aren’t. Imagine that.

And you have a dozen black aldercreatures DEMANDING increased police presence where 85% of the homicides and shootings are happening. What are the cops supposed to do? You get angry when CPD stops people (and folks), you get angry when we tell everyone to stay fetal.

You can ask similar questions about victims. But then as I said, statistics are racist. And you can find the best Chicago statistics at HeyJackass! And Chicago hits the magic 500 number for 2019 homicides, not counting police and justifiable self-defense.

The Collapse of the Silver Bridge – December 15th, 1967

A series on the failure of various bits of infrastructure, must include the failure that changed the way we inspect bridges. Silver Bridge Collapse.

On December 15, 1967, the Silver Bridge collapsed while it was full of rush-hour traffic, resulting in the deaths of 46 people. Two of the victims were never found. Investigation of the wreckage pointed to the cause of the collapse being the failure of a single eyebar in a suspension chain, due to a small defect 0.1 inch (2.5 mm) deep. Analysis showed that the bridge was carrying much heavier loads than it had originally been designed for and was poorly maintained.

National Bridge Inspection Standards were a result of that collapse. Real inspections are supposed to be carried out at least every 2 years, and things should be (and usually are) addressed. Following the 1967 collapse many bridges were retrofitted or dismantled.

OK so this is also the bridge that gave rise (in part) to the Mothman stories. That is all I have to say about that. If you’re interested in that kind of thing, the links, sites, even a movie, are easy enough to find.

This first documentary is 8 minutes. Actually it is less than that because it starts to repeat. (You are not imagining it.) It covers the highlights of construction and how the failure was analyzed. It isn’t the greatest, but it is short (for those 21st Century attention spans). And yes, this documentary gets the date wrong. It was December 15th, not the 16th.

This second documentary, from the Open University, is complete, and well done, but the problem is that it’s 25 minutes long. It covers design, and how the design was not sufficient over time, as loads increased. It covers maintenance, and the lack thereof. It covers the complete lack of (reasonable) inspections. And it is complete if you have the time.

The Strange Units of Measure Used by the Media

So I’ve been watching a fair number of videos about the strange machines that make modern life possible. The heavy presses developed by Germany after WWI. Various bits of earth-moving equipment for mining. And more.

The video on the Bagger 293 compared the overall weight of the largest land-bound machine ever built to the number of “full grown elephants” it compared to. Another video (on a new aircraft carrier, I think) talked about weight in terms of “blue whale” equivalents. And since a fair few of the videos are from the UK, they tend to compare things to the British double-decker bus. The last video I watched on tunneling machines uses double-decker buses as both a size and weight measurement. For size, they also use either a football stadium, with end-zones (in the US), or the number of soccer fields (In the UK they call them “football pitches.”) The NFL stadium size came up in a video on the Oroville Dam. They also used the family car and “jumbo jets” as a measure of weight.

But the thing that made me laugh, was material moved by one machine was compared to the number of pint glasses it could fill. 400 cubic meters is apparently equivalent to 700,000 pint glasses.

That’s a big round.

I’ve said before that comparing things to the human hair, or the thickness of a sheet of paper are meaningless. So are these. Does the average Brit know how much a typical bus weighs? Does it matter if they do? Do these ridiculous units of measure add anything to the story at hand? Are these ridiculous unites of weight more understandable than millions of pounds, or thousands of tonnes, or some actual measurement of weight? What is the wieght of the standard Blue Whale? Who defined the reference adult elephant. They may sound like interesting ways to describe something, but in the end they are so much gibberish.

The Oroville Dam Near-disaster: The Cost of Ignoring Infrastructure

When I started looking into the dam failures called out in the post, Our Aging Infrastructure, I never dreamed I would find so much information of bureaucratic ineptitude putting people at serious risk, because reasons. Mostly the reasons are around “We don’t want to ask those people for more money,” or “We don’t want to spend money on what the engineers say we should spend money on.” Case in point, the Oroville Dam spillway (near) disaster of February 2017.

Why is all this important? Forget about building new infrastructure, we are not even maintaining the infrastructure we inherited. Members of previous generations now seem like giants — When did we become so small?

When the Oroville Dam spillway failed in early 2017, I didn’t hear too much about it, or I didn’t pay too much attention. The media was mostly in a frenzy about the 2016 election, and the early part of the “Russia, Russia, Russia!” insanity. But it was a bigger deal than I knew at the time. Like the Space Shuttle disasters, it was an engineering problem, compounded by management’s unwillingness to listen to reason. It was also a failure in multiple modes, and the root causes of the failures were known to management. They just didn’t want to believe the engineers.

Bob Bea Takes Us on a Deep Dive Through His Dire Oroville Report.

Bob Bea was a professor of engineering at Cal Berkley. Before he retired he was part of the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management. As outside experts, not hired by or associated with California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) or The Division of Safety of Dams (DSOD), he and Tony Johnson examined all of the publicly available documents on the incident in Oroville from February of 2017.

A Review: On 7 February 2017 a portion of the main spillway at Oroville Dam failed. Specifically station 3300 failed. The spillway gates were closed. This being in the middle of the wettest winter on record for northern California, the lake levels rose to 900 ft above sea-level, and then the water began to pour over the emergency spillway. It was the first time that had ever happened. Within 24 hours erosion of the emergency spillway threatened to undermine the 30 foot weir, threatening folks living downstream. 180,000 people were ordered to evacuate, and the main spillway was reopened. The resulting destruction of the main spillway and erosion of the surrounding land dumped 1.7 million cubic yards (or so) of debris into the tailrace of the hydroelectric plant at Oroville Dam, The Hyatt Power Station, threatening to flood and destroy the power station.

There is way too much information on the initial emergency to include here. There are hours of video from DWR, and more from Blancliro. Even the link at the top, barely scratches the surface of the report. The main report, can be found at the following link. Root Causes Analyses of the Oroville Dam: Gated Spillway Failures and Other Developments.

That report details several problems going back to the construction of the dam in the 1960s.

Continue reading

The First Lady of Naval Cryptology

[UPDATE: Some folks seem to think I spelled Cryptography incorrectly in the title to this post. But that isn’t how Agnes Meyer-Driscoll was known. See Remembering the First Lady of Naval Cryptology. I originally referenced the NSA’s site, because why not. Maybe I should have used the Navy’s site.]

Agnes Meyer Driscoll sounds like an extraordinary woman. She was born July 24, 1889 and passed away on September 16, 1971.

In June 1918, about one year after America entered World War I, Agnes Meyer enlisted in the United States Navy. She was recruited at the highest possible rank of chief yeoman and was assigned to the Code and Signal section of the Director of Naval Communications. Except for a two-year hiatus, when she worked for a private firm, Agnes Meyer Driscoll (she married in 1924) would remain a leading cryptanalyst for the U.S. Navy until 1949.

She worked to break the Japanese naval codes of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. She worked to break the cipher of the Orange Machine, which wasn’t quite the Japanese Enigma. And she did work on Enigma, though that code was broken by the British.

In 1949 she transferred to the Armed Forces Security Agency, which became the National Security Agency in 1952. She retired in 1959.

Hat tip to Coffee or Die (which is becoming one of my favorite reads). 7 Badasses in the U.S. Navy — Who Aren’t SEALs! Which is worth your time in its own right. (Beach Jumpers, the USS Seahorse, and more.)

What Makes It Likely You Will Live Past 100?

In a word, fraud. That is, lying about your age. Supercentenarians and the oldest-old are concentrated into regions with no birth certificates and short lifespans. (That’s a preview version, not peer-reviewed.)

The introduction of state-wide birth certification coincides with a sharp reduction in the number of supercentenarians. In total, 82% of supercentenarian records from the USA (N=536) predate state-wide birth certification. Forty-two states achieved complete birth certificate coverage during the survey period. When these states transition to state-wide birth registration, the number of supercentenarians falls by 80% per year (Fig 1a), or approximately 69% per capita (Fig 1b).

The sound of settled science.

If no birth certificate was issued when you were born, then minus a notation in the family bible (or whatever) you are as old as you say you are. And there’s less status to being 91 than to being 101. And that doesn’t even count things like pension fraud. Is it better to be 62, or 68 if being 68 (on paper anyway) means you can collect your pension this year instead of in 3 years?

Hat tip to SiGraybeard with. The Secret of the People Living Past 100, who notes…

Sorry, but this literally made me laugh out loud. They’re not measuring longevity, they’re measuring fraud. This is the quality of science we get out the medical junk science world. This is what diet advice is being based on.

People study these populations and make pronouncements about diet and culture. The Mediterranean diet was popularized because apparently of a bunch of long-life effects. But they didn’t control for this birth-record situation. The Japanese diet was likewise praised based on the longevity of people in Okinawa. Same deal. And these diets were pushed, books were written. People were lectured about their bad eating habits because they didn’t follow this advice.

You might also be interested in The King of Junk Food Science is Out, also from SiGraybeard. (That’s food-science that is junk, not the science of Junk-food.) Things like the Mediterranean Diet were foisted on the public by bad statistical studies. Because it is easier to do bad statistics than be diligent, and in a world where you need to publish stuff you can. As long as you aren’t worried about things like the validity of your conclusions, or the repeatability of your findings. You just need to overlook things like systematic fraud that has creeped into your underlying data.

SJW’s Screeching That Insurance is Unfair in 3, 2,…

After the Camp Fire, it seems some insurance companies are revisiting their actuarial tables. ‘Sticker shock’ for California wildfire areas: Insurance rates doubled, policies dropped.

Here’s a hint: If Lloyd’s of London won’t insure you, you are screwed, because they traditionally are the insurer of last resort. They will make you pay, but they will take your bet. Only not in this case.

Jennifer Burt knows she lives in a fire-prone community. That’s why she’s done everything she can to fire-proof her home in Meadow Vista, in the bushy, densely wooded Placer County foothills, even installing a sprinkler system on the roof.

Yet a few weeks ago, her insurance carrier — Lloyd’s of London, known for insuring high-risk properties — told her it was declining to renew her homeowners’ policy. Lloyd’s also dropped coverage on two rental properties Burt owns in Graeagle, a heavily forested community northwest of Truckee.

As I mentioned earlier, people are re-building homes in Paradise, California with no thought to improving the fire resistance of the structures. OK then, no one will want to insure them. Or any of the existing homes in other areas prone to wildfire.

“It’s really sticker shock for people to see their homeowners’ (premium) go from $1,200 to $3,600,” said Richard Harris of Harris Insurance Services, an independent agency in Grass Valley. “They can’t afford these increases, and they leave crying. We can’t help them. You can only have so many people leaving your office crying.”

If you read the fine print of your mortgage (I know, it’s crazy to assume people actually READ the contracts they sign) you will find that one of the requirements is that you have to maintain minimum insurance coverage. If you pay escrow every month, it’s because your lender doesn’t trust you. They collect the fees (taxes and insurance) every month and pay them on your behalf. Because something you did (credit score or small down payment) made it so that they don’t trust you.

Cal Fire – and probably a few other organizations – is trying to get enhanced forest management through the California legislature. Any bets on whether they will succeed? Or will the environmentalists claim, as they have for the past decade and more, that cutting down the dead and dying trees would be wrong. Or something.

The screeching. It’s there in the article linked at the top of this post. As for the reality…

Insurers have complaints of their own. Homeowners’ coverage, an $8 billion-a-year business in California, has become an unmitigated disaster for carriers: For every $1 they collected in premiums from Californians last year, they paid $1.70 in claims, according to data collected by the Department of Insurance.

California lawmakers are probably going to ignore the reality of economics. But however you slice it, the amount of money paid for insurance premiums needs to pretty much double. And then you have to ask, is it fair for people in non-fire-prone areas to subsidize those who live in the forest?

Epic Fail at Teaching Math

They would love to outlaw math. TRENDING: Educators work to combat racism, whiteness in math.

Do you remember the pedestrian bridge in Florida that collapsed a few years back? Get ready for more of that, because engineering is all about physics and math. How much social justice was delivered to the people who died that day?

“Teaching math for social justice – this paper shares the process of analyzing school math curriculum as an entryway to engage elementary age students’ awareness around the hidden curriculum, transphobia, and genderism,” Yeh has shared.

Delta-epsilon proofs do not depend on anything except your understanding of everything that leads up to delta-epsilon proofs. The same of group theory, ring theory, fields, vector-spaces, complex analysis, differential equations (engineering again), etc. The real key to math is you can’t cram the night before the test. You need to know everything you learned, from this year, and last year, and high-school algebra.

Hat tip to Clayton Cramer who notes

What did Winston confront in 1984? 1+1 = whatever the Party says it does.

The Energy Density of Various Things

This post is mostly for reference, as the subject of “what can we do with lithium-ion batteries?” is a question on everyone’s mind.

The article is from 2015, but the associated graph is interesting. New lithium-air battery could drive huge performance gains.

Click the image for a larger view. Lithium-ion batteries are in the lower left-hand corner. Near zero, on each axis. Hydrogen is way off on the lower right, which is why I think using solar power to create hydrogen from water might be our best long-term solution. Gasoline, diesel and kerosene are sort of in the middle of the graph.

The graph shows the relative energy density in Megajoules per liter, and Megajoules per kilogram. Usually you see stuff in Kilowatt-hours per liter, etc. (Conversion is straight multiplication where 1 megajoule = 0.27778 kilowatt-hours, and 1 kilowatt-hour = 3.6 Mj.) The graph includes Lithium-ion batteries, gasoline, diesel fuel and kerosene, Natural gas, hydrogen, and a bunch of other stuff.

Lithium-ion batteries score about 0, compared to everything else on the chart.

The article from 2015 talks about some “new battery technology” that is going to revolutionize everything. But it isn’t the only article of that nature I’ve read in the past 30 years. When I was in college, fusion power was just a few improvements away. Pretty much where it is right now. Does anyone remember bubble memory? And look up super-capacitors. They’re another, “just around the corner” technology. Eventually one of those technologies will arrive, but they are not here right now.

Consider, when you are doing your calculations around batteries and use in aircraft, that a Boeing 777-200LR burns about 6.66 tons of fuel per hour. That is 8,297 liters/hr of jet fuel. (Jet fuel isn’t listed on that graph, but for the purposes of commercial airliners it is essentially kerosene.) A 747 burns more fuel, and an Airbus 350 burns less. All of that is going to depend on weight of the passengers and cargo, and the fuel.

The Insanity That Passes for Research

Call attention to the insanity in “research” that is loved by the Left, and lose your job. Because, “How dare you question anything on the Left!” Boghossian/Pluckrose/Lindsay Hoax: How Corrupt Is Higher Education?.

Just how corrupt is higher education? Let’s return to October of 2018 and Grieving Grievance Studies: The Continuing Scam. There, I introduced readers to Peter Boghossian, Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay, academics all, who had an interesting idea: Write parodies of academic writing, so outlandish, so obviously jokes, no rational editor of an academic journal could possibly buy them, submit them to various academic journals, and see what happened. They wrote more than 20. Seven were accepted to fulsome acclamation, seven were rejected, and the rest were still being considering when they went public, as they always intended. In that article, I also reminded readers of the gold standard, the Sokal Hoax:

As they say, go read the whole thing, and then when some talking head on CNN or elsewhere says something like, “Studies show…” or “Research says…” remember this insanity.

The Economy Under Obama

He was either batting 0 or 1000, depending on what the goal was. MEASURING PERFORMANCE: New Data Shows Absolute Economic Destruction During Obama Years.

His eight years did more to destroy America than any of past presidents, be they Democrat or Republican.

Look and study these few charts:

Yes, click thru and study the charts. Student loans, workforce participation, government debt, food stamps, and more.

While the graphs are fascinating, there isn’t much detail in that post. I’m not the only one who feels that way. Obamanomics, Revisited (Updated). Where Hondo, at This Ain’t Hell…, does a deep dive into the data. (There are links to the source, at St. Louis Fed’s Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) site.

So, what’s my take overall? The original GP article is a mixed bag. Its charts are all over the board – some are spot on, while others are accurate as far as they go but fail to tell the whole story. Some are misleading, and one may be flat-out inaccurate. And none cover the entire prior Administration; some cover barely half of it.

Nonetheless, many if not most of the conclusions implied in the GP article are IMO valid. That’s true even though there’s nowhere near enough data presented in the GP article to support its claims.

Anyway, if you’re interested in hardcore economic statistics (isn’t everyone?) I can recommend the second article. The first is good to, but rigor is the word of the day. I am sick to death of the 21st Century’s focus on FEELINGS.

General Relativity: 100 Years of Confusing People

It was 100 years ago today that there was an eclipse that was used to test Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. The Eclipse That Made Einstein Famous.

Specifically that part of General Relativity that said starlight would be deflected by the gravity of the sun (any star) even though a photon has zero mass.

Einstein first received word of their preliminary results in September, and wrote his mother with the “happy news.” The confirmation was officially announced in November at the Royal Astronomical Society in London, triggering headlines about the ensuing excitement. (“Men of Science More or Less Agog Over Results of Eclipse Observations,” one headline in The Times noted.) Einstein bought himself a congratulatory violin.

You can think about it like this. Gravity of a star affects the geometry of space-time, and light is impacted by that changing geometry.

And this is important for several reasons, not the least is…

“His equations allowed cosmology to become a science,” John Barrow, the cosmologist, wrote in an email. “Before him, cosmology was like a branch of art history. You could imagine any type, shape or form of universe you liked.”

Einstein published the theory of General Relativity in 1915. It generalizes the work he started with Special Relativity, which was published in 1905. And you use the results of his work every time you turn on (or consult) the GPS in your phone.

I would include some of the math, as it has been described as being “beautiful.” But it starts in the deep end of the pool as it is. Riemann manifolds, tensors, and lots of “strange” mathematical notations. If you have an interest there is a lot of info available all over the place. (A warning: I find the Wiki to be strangely organized. Best try something else.)

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.)

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?)