Tuesday, 29 September 2015
Wannabe working class
Monday, 28 September 2015
The joy of cynicism
Sunday, 27 September 2015
Happy birthday to me
Saturday, 26 September 2015
A counterfeit of right
Friday, 25 September 2015
The VW debacle – does it matter?
There is a long and detailed WHO review here and a UK Defra summary here.The whole issue is exceedingly complex and it is not clear what health effects atmospheric NO2 may cause nor how permanent nor how severe long-term effects may be.
Annual mean concentrations in urban areas throughout the world are generally in the range of 20–90 μg/m3(15). In the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS II) covering 21 European cities, annual ambient nitrogen dioxide concentrations ranged from 4.9 μg/m3 in Reykjavik to 72 μg/m3 in Turin (16). The maximum hourly mean value may be several times higher than the annual mean. For example, a range of 179–688 μg/m3 nitrogen dioxide has been reported inside a car in a road tunnel during the rush hour (15).
Nevertheless, if atmospheric NO2 can be reduced to a minimum it probably should be, but not at any cost and in any event it could take a lifetime to nail down what that minimum should be. This is one of the attractions of environmental science, the problems are interesting and likely to last for an entire career.
Maximum levels associated with the use of gas appliances (gas cooking and heating) in European homes are in the range 180–2500 μg/m3.
So quite high levels. As for the effects:-
Several types of animal study have indicated that nitrogen dioxide increases susceptibility to respiratory infections (60,61,88–90). An extensive set of data was collected using the infectivity model, which measures the total antibacterial defences of the lungs of mice. For long-term exposures, the lowest concentration tested that increased mortality when challenged with Klebsiella pneumoniae was 940 μg/m3 (0.5 ppm) for 3 months of exposure (91). After a 3-hour exposure, the lowest concentration tested that affected resistance to Streptococcus pneumoniae was 3760 μg/m3 (2 ppm) (92).
Wednesday, 23 September 2015
The VW debacle
Briefly, VW appears to have admitted that engine management software used various clues such as wheel alignment to detect when emissions tests were being run as opposed to normal road driving.
Tuesday, 22 September 2015
Monday, 21 September 2015
Sunday, 20 September 2015
Eccles cake power
Saturday, 19 September 2015
Brain power II
In the previous video post, world chess champion Magnus Carlsen says he knows which move to make almost immediately - he just knows. He goes on to say that further analysis merely tends to confirm that he hasn’t made a mistake and from that point of view is useless. The move he "knew" to be right turns out to be right.
For the rest of us it is much the same in daily life. Pattern recognition based on experience rather than analysis. A kind of instinct, a firing of memories, matching similar situations. Goes on all the time. Too often we insert our prejudices instead, but when we don’t we often turn out to be right, especially when it comes to spotting a false note, a bad move or a weak point.
Thursday, 17 September 2015
Wednesday, 16 September 2015
A new global crisis
Tuesday, 15 September 2015
celebrity brands such as Mercedes, Coca Cola and Versace, celebrity causes such as the environment, poverty and AIDS, celebrity sports stars, celebrity politicians, celebrity royals, celebrity singers, celebrity pundits, celebrity scientists, celebrity architects, celebrity fashion gurus, celebrity cooks and even celebrity celebrities.
Monday, 14 September 2015
Sunday, 13 September 2015
Now Jeremy has to play the game
Saturday, 12 September 2015
Chilcot - the search goes on
Thursday, 10 September 2015
Wednesday, 9 September 2015
Broad-minded is no escape
Family life perhaps, the traditional work, comforts and pleasures of building a home. Pubs, clubs, a quiet smoke and a game of skittles. A Sunday walk in the park. A stroll by rivers unpolluted by factories. A traditional glass of lemonade rather than some fizzy, concoction made in a rich man’s vats, forced on the unwary by another of Chesterton’s bêtes noires - advertising.
Chesterton may have been a reactionary, even a professional reactionary but one is left with a strong temptation to raise a glass in his memory. Before all the good pubs close down.
Monday, 7 September 2015
A man who knew how to make chairs
Sunday, 6 September 2015
Electric car spotting
Saturday, 5 September 2015
Thursday, 3 September 2015
The headline game
2006: Evidence is mounting: the next solar cycle is going to be a big one. Solar cycle 24, due to peak in 2010 or 2011 "looks like its going to be one of the most intense cycles since record-keeping began almost 400 years ago," says solar physicist David Hathaway of the Marshall Space Flight Center.
2013 “Not only is this the smallest cycle we’ve seen in the space age, it’s the smallest cycle in 100 years,” NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center research scientist David Hathaway said during a recent press teleconference conducted by the Marshall Space Flight Center.
This an old screw up which doesn't necessarily reflect badly on NASA or Dr Hathaway. Scientists make mistakes and admitting them is the best way forward. Betting on natural or political events seems to be a popular way of hitting the headlines though. If the headline makes more of an impact than subsequent failure then it's a winning strategy.
In this case, the failure became another minor headline. I don't know if that was the intention or not, but pumping up a story into headline material then quietly dropping it later seems to be an extremely common tactic by the publicity people who seem to control everything these days. The headline is remembered while subsequent caveats or retractions are not. It's a bet but the dice are loaded and they know it.
Wednesday, 2 September 2015