Cooling America

What if we wanted to use temperature data for the good old USA to show some good old American cooling? What data would we use?

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Teaching Online

Thanks to all who gave feedback on my idea about offering online instruction, in an online live classroom setting.

The bottom line seems to be this: that the cost (to enroll), although modest, was too much for most people. But what I’m considering is real education, and would take a lot of time away from other projects, so it’s a real drain on me.

I want to do it anyway; there are things I want to share. One of them is my knowledge and experience with time series analysis. Another is to teach Fourier analysis as a subject itself, rather than the “piecemeal” approach by which most people are introduced to it. Yet another is basic statistics, a subject which is too often neglected by youngsters who are headed for a career in science. I feel an obligation to the next generation, and I believe this is a way I can really help them. After all, if we want to save the world from the chaos of man-made climate change we need the next generation to be well-prepared; they are our best hope.

So, I’ve decided on a different course of action. Instead of having a “live” classroom experience (via streaming), I’ll develop an online course website (not this blog) with classes a combination of video lectures and blog posts, very much like “edX” courses. The advantage is that I can accomodate many more people, there’s no limit really, and the courses will be free for all who want to learn. The “comments” section will be for students to ask questions and “discuss among themselves.” And yes, there’ll be “homework” assignments.

Doing this is a big effort and will take time, so when it happens depends on how much funding I can get from donations. I got the idea when Hank Roberts very generously offered to donate to a “scholarship fund” for those who wanted to enroll in the “live” course but couldn’t affort it. The more generosity I get, the sooner it will come to pass. I’m hoping I can get the first course going before the end of this month.

If you think this is a worthwhile effort, please donate. That means it’s up to you when it starts, and which course comes first; donors can vote for which subject they want me to start with. You can make your donation at Peaseblossom’s Closet, and then email me your vote for your course selection. Send an email to the address “teachingfuturescientists”, followed by the ubiquitous “at” sign, followed by the domain which happens to be “”. You vote with your dollars, whichever offering gets the most comes first.

I’ll also emulate public TV by offering rewards for donations. Those who donate at the $50 level will receive a free pdf-file copy (not hard copy) of one of my books — you can choose either “Understanding Statistics” or “Analyzing Light Curves: a Practical Guide.” The stats book has recently been re-formatted for easy reading on electronic devices, including e-readers (so if you’ve got a nook or kindle, the pdf will still be easy to read). When you email your vote for which course, be sure to let me know which book you’d like. Those who donate at the $100 level will receive free pdf-file copies of both my books. Do be aware, these works are copyrighted, so don’t distribute them or post them online.

Those who donate any amount, however small, and those who donate more than needed for a free gift, will get the satisfaction of doing something worthwhile. Those who object that such is no reward at all, fit Oscar Wilde’s definition of a “cynic” — someone who knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing.

I’ll announce when the first course begins, and I hope it’ll be soon. If it does happen to be basic stats, I hope readers here will help spread the word to everyone interested, especially those future scientists, the high school and junior high students who will be the backbone of scientific research in the decades to come.

Worry not, I won’t stop blogging here about global warming. That too is something worth doing.

Lucky d20

What with talk of killer heat waves, droughts, floods, etc. etc., this blog tends to get pretty serious. When it does, we don’t deal with happy prospects, but with the danger of worldwide catastrophe. But every now and then we need to “lighten up,” so let’s have a little fun.

Recently a reader comment pointed to a website reporting the results of testing dice for fairness. Specifically, it tested the “d20” or 20-sided die. It’s a die often used in tabletop games, especially D&D (Dungeons & Dragons). That site links to yet another site which tests dice (specifically, the d20). They make enough of their data available for us to take a close look.

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Girl Power

Agnodice (in ancient Greek, Aγνοδίκη) came from a wealthy family in ancient Athens. She wanted to be a doctor because she saw so many women suffering and even dying from childbirth. But Athenian law gave the death penalty to a woman who dared to be a doctor.

She cut off her hair and dressed as a man, then went to Egypt to study medicine. When she returned to Athens, she continued to pretend to be a man so she could help the women of Athens.

One day, she heard a woman crying in pain during a difficult childbirth. She went to help, but the woman refused, not wanting to be treated by a man. Agnodice revealed that she wasn’t a man, the woman accepted her help, and the treatment was successful.

Word spread among the women of Athens, who began to seek out Agnodice’s help. Before long the male doctors were put to shame. So they brought Agnodice to trial, accusing her (thinking she was a man) of actually seducing women, including their wives, who were only pretending to be sick so they could have sex with the doctor.

At the trial, Agnodice revealed that she was not a man but a woman, that she was not seducing their wives, that she was only helping them. They responded by insisting she be put to death for the crime of being a woman doctor. But by this time a large crowd of women had gathered, supporting Agnodice and pointing out that it was only because of her that so many of their children, and their wives, were still alive.

Truly shamed, they acquitted Agnodice. The law was changed.

Data Science

I got another couple of subscriptions to the Climate Data Service (see the end of the post if you want to sign up), and one of them included an interesting question:

I’d also like to ask a question. I’m thinking of making a career change to data science, but am not really sure where to start. I currently work as an analyst for the Department of Defense, so I’m interested in the national security aspects of climate change as well as the human and economic changes coming. (my background is in physics so I’m not new to quantitative analysis)

How did you get your start and what would you recommend as a good path to get there? Thanks!

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Regular readers know that I love to work with data. It’s what I call fun.

But this blog is about more than playing data games. It’s about global warming/climate change, and that is a serious problem, a severe threat to our future, our security, our stability, our survival. What should we do about it? By “we” I mean ordinary citizens, of the world, but especially of the U.S. I think I know the answer.

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Surely some of you noticed that the area around Houston Texas suffered extreme flooding recently. At least 8 people were killed and damages ran into the billions of dollars. It was a major disaster.

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