When you think of Hollywood you might not think of maths, but maths can help us to create some pretty neat special effects. If you’ve ever wanted to fake your own moon landing, or film giants, then this is the post for you.
Nearly two years ago the Australian government passed a law banning the “super trawler” FV Abel Tasman from fishing in Australian waters. The ban will expire later this year. The campaign against the FV Abel Tasman was mounted by a coalition of fishing and conservation lobbies, strange bedfellows, but surprisingly effective.
Opposition focused on the size of the vessel, rather than the size of the quota. Politicians and activists ignored work by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority when it didn’t support their argument; the debate was not based on scientific evidence.
Casual disregard for the scientific method was widespread.
I’ve just finished the first year of my PhD! As well as being pretty exciting, this means I got to present some of my work so far at the annual Atmospheric, Oceanic & Planetary Physics retreat.
Read on for a whirlwind tour of what I’ve been up to for the last year.
The distinction has often been made intuitively. For example this quote from Robert Heinlein “Climate is what you expect; weather is what you get”. This makes sense; we know that winter is colder than summer, and that the UK has a terrible climate.
From this we can draw the following relatively simple definition for weather.
Weather is the here and now; it is the current state of the atmosphere. Is it raining? Is it windy? Weather varies on timescales of minutes to days. Storms, rainbows and sunny days are all examples of weather.
Climate is a bit harder to nail down. We speak of one summer being particularly warm. This suggests that our notion of climate is based on more than a single year’s weather. The exact length of time for climate is unhelpfully fuzzy, but a working definition would be:
Climate is the long-term average of the weather for a particular location and time of year.
One of the best aspects of being in Oxford is the calibre of the speakers who pass through. This post is a brief discussion of my favourite talk so far.
On Valentine’s Day my wife and I went to listen to Professor Sir Paul Nurse give a talk entitled “Making Science Work”. An ambitious title, but I think once you’ve won a Nobel prize, been knighted, awarded the Legion d’Honneur, the Copley Medal, and elected as a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, you’ve earned the right to talk about pretty much whatever takes your fancy.
Very recently my first academic paper was published in a peer-reviewed journal. In my excitement I bombarded my Facebook friends with a link and no small amount of enthusiasm. Over the next few days I had the following conversation a number of times.
Friend: Congrats on getting your article published.
Me: Thanks! Did you have a read?
Friend: One of the following:
- I tried…
- Sort of. I think I understood the introduction, but after that I was completely lost.
- A little bit.
- Um… Hey, have you seen the Wiki article about Palladium coins?
- I read the title.
At this point I was never quite sure what to say. These are clever people, but they couldn’t understand what I’d done. Is that my fault? Is this how it will always be? The accessibility of contemporary science is one of my reasons for wanting to write a blog like this, so my first paper seems like a perfect topic.