Karela Fry

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Who is warming the world?

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National per capita contributions to global warming. Colours indicate contributions above and below the world average, where read and orange indicate above, and yellow and gree below the world average of 0.11 Celsius per billion people.

National per capita contributions to global warming. Colours indicate contributions above and below the world average, where read and orange indicate above, and yellow and gree below the world average of 0.11 Celsius per billion people.

The map above shows that the largest contributions to global warming is made by people living in the USA, western Europe, including the UK, Cananda, Russia, Australia and New Zealand, Greenland, Iceland, Brazil, Argentina and many other countries in South America. People from India and China contribute below the global average. The data comes from a paper in Environmental Research Letters, in which the authors put this in a very roundabout way:

We show also that there are vast disparities in both total and per-capita climate contributions among countries, and that across most developed countries, per-capita contributions are not currently consistent with attempts to restrict global temperature change to less than 2 Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures.

In fact, the Candadian authors obfuscate the issue by producing a map which shows that per unit area of the world’s surface India and China are up there with western Europe and USA among the worst offenders, whereas Canada and Australia are clean as a whistle! It seems like the authors went looking for a criterion by which Canada could be shown to be better than China and India.

As is to be expected, western news media has reported this highly biased map. For extremely slanted news, see here, here, here and here.

Time to remind ourselves: land does not burn oil, people burn oil.

Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

January 19, 2014 at 3:56 pm

The Great Inventor

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The Great Inventor

Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

December 20, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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Cat vision

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Nikolay Lamm blogs:

[These photos] hypothesize what human and cat vision looks like. Human vision is up top and cat vision is below.

  • Cats have a visual field of 200 degrees compared to humans 180 degrees.
  • Peripheral vision for humans is 20 degrees each side. This is represented by the blurriness.
  • Peripheral vision for cats is 30 degrees each side. This is represented by the blurriness.
  • Cats can see 6-8 times better in dim light than humans due the high number of rods and because of their elliptical pupil, large cornea and tapetum.
  • Our retinas have many more cones than cats, especially in the area of the fovea (which is all cones and no rods). This gives us fantastic day vision with lots of vibrant colors and excellent, detailed resolution. Dogs and cats have many more rods, which enhances their ability to see in dim light and during the night. They have no fovea, but an “area centralis” that, though has more cones than other areas of the retina, still has more rods than cones. The increase in rods also enhances their “refresh rate”, so that they can pick up movements much faster (very helpful when dealing with small animals that change direction very quickly during a chase). These differences also help them to have great night vision, an excellent ability to pick up and follow quick movements, but at the cost of less vibrant color, with less detailed resolution. Interestingly, this also means that humans have the ability to see very slowly moving objects at speeds 10 times slower than cats (that is to say that we can see very slow things move that would not appear to be moving to a cat).

Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

October 18, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Highway robbery

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NDTV reports:

A group of men allegedly armed with chains, iron rods and hockey sticks assaulted staff and looted nearly two lakh from a toll booth near Delhi on Monday night.

Shortly after 8 pm on Monday, two bikers assaulted workers at the toll plaza for commercial vehicles. Around 30 minutes later, around a dozen men arrived on a bike and in a black Scorpio with a beacon and a politician’s poster on it. They beat up the attendants, ransacked the glass booth, and grabbed Rs. 1.85 lakh in cash and left.

“They were there for a long time, we called the police immediately but they came late. These men had belts, hockey, knuckles, chains and rods,” said Ravi, a worker.

The Gurgaon police, who have been accused of not responding promptly to the SOS from the toll plaza, are yet to comment on the act of brazen lawlessness.

You might begin to wonder where the Indian state has disappeared.

Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

October 17, 2013 at 5:17 am

Posted in crime, police

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The grammar of art

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Nature reviews an exhibition based on a cognitive scientists’ study of dancers:

As with any scientific project, Kirsh began studying Random Dance by characterizing the different phenomena he saw “like a botanist”, he says. “I go out with six or seven high-definition video cameras, I put them around the studio floor and collect everything from the moment he introduces a dancer to the premiere weeks later.” He and a trained team of students then deciphered the different techniques for instruction and practice that they saw in the videos, in much the same way that primatologists characterize behaviour.

One phenomenon that caught Kirsh’s attention was ‘marking’, in which dancers in rehearsal elaborate only the basics of a dance movement. “It’s a lower-energy version; they won’t stretch as far; they won’t have the emotional force in it. It’s a way to avoid injury and because you can’t dance for five hours after two hours of exercises warming up,” Kirsh says.

But as he discovered when conducting a controlled experiment, there is more to it. He showed dancers a new routine, gave them time to learn the moves, and divided them into three groups to practise again. One group performed the full movements, a second marked them, and a third lay down and imagined themselves performing the dance. To Kirsh’s surprise, the dancers who marked the routine executed it most faithfully later. “Nobody predicted this,” he says. “This is the hint at a theory of practising, and now it’s open to study this much more carefully to understand how people focus on aspects of what they’re practising.” The experiment, he feels, is evidence of physical activity influencing thought.

On the basis of his work with Random Dance, Kirsh has published research papers on interaction design, McGregor’s creative process and a phenomenon that he calls distributed memory, in which dancers remember dozens of complicated movements through physical cues from other dancers. McGregor, too, has gained from their collaboration. When he instructs dancers and other young choreographers, he now uses terms that Kirsh devised, such as ‘sonifications’ — sounds that choreographers make to guide how a dancer shapes a move, such as “yah ooh ehh”. Kirsh notes, “Now that the term has been named, the phenomenon is clear.”

This reminded me of the studies by the pioneering Indian computer scientist R. Narasimhan on oral notations in Indian tradition: of the art of Kollam, and of tabla bols. I had heard a detailed exposition by him on the syntax of bols in a colloquium in the mid 1980s. The only surviving printed record seems to be in a booklet called Characterizing Literacy: A Study of Western and Indian Literacy Experiences by R. Narasimhan, published by Sage. His discussion of the usage of bols by players of the tabla seem to be equivalent to the notion of “sonification”, and predates it by a few decades.

Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

October 15, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Apparent sizes

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Wonderful visual thinking from xkcd

Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

October 14, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Posted in entertainment

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2013 Nobel Prize in Economics

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A press release from the Nobel Foundation reads:

There is no way to predict the price of stocks and bonds over the next few days or weeks. But it is quite possible to foresee the broad course of these prices over longer periods, such as the next three to five years. These findings, which might seem both surprising and contradictory, were made and analyzed by this year’s Laureates, Eugene Fama, Lars Peter Hansen and Robert Shiller.

Beginning in the 1960s, Eugene Fama and several collaborators demonstrated that stock prices are extremely difficult to predict in the short run, and that new information is very quickly incorporated into prices. These findings not only had a profound impact on subsequent research but also changed market practice. The emergence of so-called index funds in stock markets all over the world is a prominent example.

If prices are nearly impossible to predict over days or weeks, then shouldn’t they be even harder to predict over several years? The answer is no, as Robert Shiller discovered in the early 1980s. He found that stock prices fluctuate much more than corporate dividends, and that the ratio of prices to dividends tends to fall when it is high, and to increase when it is low. This pattern holds not only for stocks, but also for bonds and other assets.

There is no way to predict the price of stocks and bonds over the next few days or weeks. But it is quite possible to foresee the broad course of these prices over longer periods, such as the next three to five years. These findings, which might seem both surprising and contradictory, were made and analyzed by this year’s Laureates, Eugene Fama, Lars Peter Hansen and Robert Shiller.

Beginning in the 1960s, Eugene Fama and several collaborators demonstrated that stock prices are extremely difficult to predict in the short run, and that new information is very quickly incorporated into prices. These findings not only had a profound impact on subsequent research but also changed market practice. The emergence of so-called index funds in stock markets all over the world is a prominent example.

If prices are nearly impossible to predict over days or weeks, then shouldn’t they be even harder to predict over several years? The answer is no, as Robert Shiller discovered in the early 1980s. He found that stock prices fluctuate much more than corporate dividends, and that the ratio of prices to dividends tends to fall when it is high, and to increase when it is low. This pattern holds not only for stocks, but also for bonds and other assets.

One approach interprets these findings in terms of the response by rational investors to uncertainty in prices. High future returns are then viewed as compensation for holding risky assets during unusually risky times. Lars Peter Hansen developed a statistical method that is particularly well suited to testing rational theories of asset pricing. Using this method, Hansen and other researchers have found that modifications of these theories go a long way toward explaining asset prices.

Prizes in 2013: Physiology and medicine, Physics, Chemistry, literature, Peace, and Economics.

Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

October 14, 2013 at 4:37 pm

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