Not Science. Not Engineering.

John Brignell at Numberwatch is not amused at the effluent from the University of Southampton, pretending to be a scientific/engineering paper in the journal Atmospheric Environment. The article titled “Direct carbon dioxide emissions from civil aircraft” (DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2014.06.042) by Matt Grote, Ian Williams and John Preston of the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment at the University of Southampton.

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The Eee-Aws Have It

Preferential voting for the Australian Senate has the option of an official donkey vote where the voter puts a 1 in one box above the line to designate the party they prefer and lets the corresponding party effectively fill in the rest of the ballot for them by the preference tickets published before the election.

Because that is obviously easier, the vast majority of voters take that option; 1.26 million out of the 1.35 million who turned up to vote.
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Determining Intent in Senate Voting

Following up on my previous article, I downloaded the results from the Senate elections held in 2013 and processed the 50,131 below the line (BTL) ballots to determine if my ranking system was valid.

Results were worse than expected. Continue reading

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Senators for States

I’ve had some thoughts on the Australian Senate, how it operates and how it’s elected, following the cascade of debacles that we’ve had recently in Federal elections.

Not only aren’t the Senators seen to be working for the interests of their respective, sovereign States, the method of electing Senators by preferential ballot, with the easy option of voting according to party preference tickets; the distribution of preferences produces elected representatives who’d received fewer than 1000 primary votes; from electorates numbering in the millions. Continue reading

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Nigel Calder, 1931-2014

Nigel CalderThe science writer Nigel Calder has died, aged 82, after a short illness.

(via Tallbloke and the GWPF)

Calder was editor of New Scientist magazine in its early days, and pioneered the popularisation of science through television documentaries. He is survived by his wife, Liz, and their five children and seven grandchildren.

Nigel Calder was born in London on 2 December 1931. He was educated at Merchant Taylors’ School and, after National Service, the University of Cambridge. He became editor of New Scientist in 1962, and later left to write flagship science documentaries for BBC Television. The first, in 1969, was Violent Universe, in which he wrote: “We live in a relatively peaceful suburb of a quiet galaxy of stars, while all around us, far away in space, events of unimaginable violence occur.” The Wall Street Journal review read: “It outstrips all kinds of fictional adventure. It is hard to conceive of a more exciting book.”

A note was added to Nigel’s Calder’s Updates blog by his family.

I’ve gotta be driftin’ along

The Independent newspaper (UK) has published an obituary.

He was a key figure in the creation of a highly successful British weekly science magazine. He was a prolific author who published almost 40 popular books. But most of all he educated, excited and inspired countless millions of television viewers, taking them from the comfort of their living rooms to the exhilarating high frontier of modern science.

During the 1990s much of his work was for the European Space Agency. It was during this decade that Calder became embroiled in climate debate. In The Manic Sun: Weather Theories Confounded, he reported the controversial work of the Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark, who claims that climate responds principally to cloud cover, which he contends is governed by fluctuations in high-energy particles from space known as cosmic rays.

Calder was predisposed to tell such a story because he had seen how, in the case of Wegener and continental drift, one man, despite being right, had been frozen out by the scientific community. He wrote: “When Nazi scientists showed their solidarity against the Jewish doctrine of relativity, in a book called A Hundred Against Einstein, the hairy fellow growled that one would be enough. He meant that adverse evidence from Nature produced by a solitary researcher could destroy theories that no amount of ranting could touch.”

May Nigel’s wit and wisdom live on forever in all of us.

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Another Blogger Signs Off


That’s all folks says the Autonomous Mind. Continue reading

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The Magna Carta – Clauses As Tweets

Bernd Felsche:

An interesting use of Twitter: Education of what was … for the upcoming 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta.

Originally posted on Homo economicus' Weblog:

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One year from today will be the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. But what was this “Great Charter”, what did it say, and what meaning could this historical document have for us now? How well would a document written in 1215, to settle a dispute between a King and his Barons in a feudal Britain, weather the centuries to modern readers?

Beyond people talking about it, I had never read all 63 clauses of the Magna Carta. Reading a tweet by Tom Holland that everyone interpreted it to their own political biases I decided to not only read, to but tweet each clause as I did. Adding humour where 140 characters would allow.

Hours later I finished. Enjoy!

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If you are looking for the full text with a handy side historical context, recommend checking out this site here.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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It’s Models; All the Way Down

Dr Jennifer Marohasy wrote a letter to the Minister for the Environment, The Hon Greg Hunt MP. Excerpts follow.

… careful scrutiny of the Bureau’s methodology shows that recorded temperatures at locations across Australia are submitted to a two-step homogenization process that can have the effect of changing the entire temperature trend at specific locations. …

… all Australians should have a clear understanding of the nature of the data used in the calculation of important and highly publicized temperature statistics. All Australians should also have access to a realistic assessment of current temperature trends. …

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Obama Announces That CO2 Causes Asthma And Heart Attacks, And Threatens National Security

Bernd Felsche:

I shakes my head and mutters.
Apparently the US Pretzel believes that CO2 causes asthma and heart attacks; oblivious to the fact that being unable to afford energy is killing millions every year and causing billions of others to remain relatively poor.

Originally posted on Real Science:

The president believes that an additional 0.0001 mole fraction CO2 causes heart attacks.

Apparently no one told him that people’s lungs already contain levels of CO2 hundreds of times higher than that.

Barack Obama talked up the health benefits of his climate plan on Saturday, saying cuts to carbon pollution would reduce asthma attacks by 100,000 and heart attacks by 2,100 just in the first year.

In the run-up to the announcement, the White House has tried to frame climate change as a personal threat, highlighting the risk to public health and national security.

Obama held a number of climate-themed events, including the visit to an asthma ward at the Children’s National Medical Centre in Washington DC, where he recorded the address.

Scientists have linked a risk in asthma and other respiratory diseases to worsening air pollution under climate change.

Obama heralds health benefits of climate plan to cut power plant emissions…

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IOP: expecting consistency between models and observations is an “error”

Bernd Felsche:

In climate science, one shouldn’t expect observations to correspond with what’s predicted by models.
Remind me again why the output of models is then used to determine policy?

Originally posted on Climate Audit:

The publisher of Environmental Research Letters today took the bizarre position that expecting consistency between models and observations is an “error”.

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