Tuesday, 23 February 2010


If anybody still reads this blog then they will know that I fall into the skeptic camp when it comes to the issue of anthropogenic global warming. If you feel the same then you might be interested in signing this petition.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Could you be a Primary School Matematics Teacher?

Here are four questions from a test comprising "27 straightforward maths questions" which were presented to 155 ­primary school teachers for the Channel 4 documentary series Dispatches. The number in brackets at the end of each question is the percentage of the tested teachers who answered the question correctly.

Q1: The mean height of a group of four people is 2m. One more person joins the group and then the mean height is 1·9m. What is the height of the new person? (14)

Q2: ABCDE is a pentagon. Name all its diagonals. (25)

Q3: Assume 5 miles = 8 km. If I travel at 40mph, how long will I take to cover 32km? (32)

Q4: 112 x 22 = 2,464. What is the value of 1.12 x 2.2? (54)

See here for the story in the Guardian complete with the answers and here for the Despatches web page on the topic. Note that the second episode will be shown tonight at 8.00 pm.

The source for this entry is the redoutable Frank Chalk.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Blowing hot and cold

Time magazine has an article titled "Another Blizzard: What Happened to Global Warming?" which is an example of a weather-is-not-climate article. I have no argument with people pointing out that today's weather in X neither proves nor disproves global warming/anthropogenic global warming/climate change*. What worries me is that it doesn't make sense. The beginning of the fifth paragraph says:

But as far as winter storms go, shouldn't climate change make it too warm for snow to fall? Eventually that is likely to happen — but probably not for a while. In the meantime, warmer air could be supercharged with moisture and, as long as the temperature remains below 32°F, it will result in blizzards rather than drenching winter rainstorms.

So, warm air becomes supercharged with moisture as long as it is below 32°F? As far as I know, air at less than 32°F will hold as much moisture as air at less than 32°F has always done. Warm air must surely mean air above 32°F in which case it is not below 32°F. In which case this snippet is nonsensical.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1962294,00.html?xid=rss-topstories#ixzz0fETxKg1Z

* delete the terms you don't like.