Thursday, June 25, 2015

Wha daur say mass in ma lug?

All this fawning over the pope leaves me rather depressed. So, maybe he happened to say something that was not completely stupid and backward. I suppose perhaps if you are feeling particularly optimistic, that's something to be mildy positive about. But that hardly outweighs the downside of having some cult-leader wielding such authority. It would be far better to not listen to him at all.

(sits back and anticipates first comment about living in glass houses...though it's more stone than glass)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

[jules' pics] Lovely James

awww, i'n't 'ee sweeet?


James
In photos on the internets, James makes most things look smaller than they are, because he is larger than you think, but maybe the little hill behind James was once a big mountain, before the glaciers scraped most of it away. It is fun to ride by bicycle as the track starts at a gentle slope and gets gradually steeper and steeper almost all the way up. 


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Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 6/17/2015 04:21:00 PM

Sunday, June 14, 2015

[jules' pics] Englefield v Myohoji

Englefield seems to date from the mid 1500s, and Myohoji goes back to the 1200s. How much of which buildings may be "original" is another question, of course...

Anyway... in 2010, I blogged the Deva gate and famous moss steps at Myohoji

Both places have a large number of trees, but at Englefield I found no red gate with protective angry monsters - there was just a little metal gate with an "honesty box", into which you are expected to put 6 quid. In November I expect you'd feel more moved to put in about tuppence, and with no red monsters to chase you down, why not? However, to make up for this lack of impressive gate-ness, the main building is very grand and the landscaped garden very large. 


Englefield
Oh look - a Japanese maple!
 
But the thing that really caused me to think of Myohoji was, of course, the daisy staircase.
daisy steps

Myohoji's moss steps repeated for those who can't click links back as far as 2010
Myohoji moss stairs
 
Clearly Englefield need to grow more steps to make it proper zen, but there is potential, for example with  the correct ferniness at bottom right hand side.


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Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 6/14/2015 05:20:00 PM

Which Hunt?

So the Tim Hunt thing rumbles on and on... the story for anyone who missed it, is that an old entitled and successful Nobellist said some stupid and sexist and unfunny things in a public lecture at a meeting on science journalism. Unsurprisingly, some of the journalists reported this, which led to a deluge of twittering and Guardian articles. Old entitled and successful Nobellist clumsily attempted an apology but said that he meant it really. UCL rapidly removes him from his honorary post, ditto European Research Council. Now there's the latest woe is me apologia.

On one side, we have his defenders saying that he's a great scientist and has supported many female scientists through his career. On the other, his detractors point out that his comments add to the hostile environment that many women have to put up with on a regular basis, and have no place in modern research culture. I have to say I come down pretty firmly on the latter side. It's not like UCL or ERC are short of old white men to fill up honorary positions and committees.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

[jules' pics] Parking!

I've been missing Starbucks Parking on Sundays. In fact I've been missing all the colourful, shiny, expensive and overpowered cars of Kamakura and Yokohama. Here it is mostly Land Rovers with dogs in the back, Quad Bikes with dogs on the steering wheel, and Caravans full of dogs and holiday makers. But then last Sunday there appeared, just down the road at Falcon Manor... 


woo hoo!


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Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 6/10/2015 02:04:00 PM

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

That hiatus thing

The hiatus is no more, apparently. Or rather, it never was. “Nature Hiatus” might have to change its name, or at least its main focus of publication.

I never really understood why the “hiatus” was such a thing. Whether or not the warming trend since some carefully chosen date is positive, negative, and “significantly” so or not, is mostly an exercise in cherry-picking and the abuse of significance testing (The Difference Between “Significant” and “Not Significant” is not Itself Statistically Significant), not to mention the sort of “gotcha” that belongs in the political domain if anywhere. What matters is how well the obs agree with model projections, and there is no particular threshold of zero trend that has any special importance in that respect. Furthermore, whether or not there is an interval with zero or negative trend, no-one with any clue would dispute that we will continue to see warming in the long term, with some natural variability overlaid on top of that.

Lots of people have blogged this in some detail. RC, Doug MacNeall (Doug can you please change your name to a sensible spelling?) and Stoat, to name but three. I am still somewhat unconvinced by some of the model-data comparisons which smack rather too much of move-along-nothing-to-see-ism for my taste. The models do generally overestimate the trend over quite a long period, it is pretty marginal to claim that they agree with the data, and we've been waiting for the long-promised acceleration in warming for some time. As recently as 2006 or so, many prominent scientists were proclaiming an expected warming of 0.72C over the inerval 2000-2030. That's not looking too likely right now. Even with the multiply-promised El Ninos (and 2015 looks set for being another record year), the recent warming is no more than steady.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

[jules' pics] Our garden

Almost everything in our garden is doing flowering at the moment. It is the British way, to bloom in May and June and hibernate the rest of the year.
garden-1
garden-3
garden-2
garden-4


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Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 6/04/2015 07:20:00 PM

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

25th Anniversary of the Most Important Event Ever, Part 2; the morning after the night before.

jules: University College's boathouse, the balcony of which was where many of the photos from Part 1 were taken, looks like no other, as it burned down only a few years ago and was recently rebuilt. And at 7am on the Sunday after the Eights party the night before it was very quiet; only people about were a slightly apprehensive boat club president, 8 unfeasibly tall men in their mid to late 40s, someone who used to be a little cox, a grisly old coach, and an insignificantly female photographer.


Rowing-14

James continues: The night (and whole day) before had been lots of fun, a sunny Saturday afternoon at the river catching up with the old crew while the current Univ women's first eight collected their 4th bump and therefore blades before the men had a solid row-over. Then followed a rather good dinner and speeches that should quickly be passed over (if only the speakers, or rather one particular speaker, had done the same...). Of course us oldies were just a minor sideshow to what was really the annual UCBC dinner, but I can hardly continue without posting this picture from 1990, because this is what it was all about for us:



Univ bumping Oriel, Friday 25 May 1990

Anyway, I was rather surprised to see the full crew turn up at the river at 7am, as this was only finally arranged in the bar around 11pm the night before, at which time were were also reminded that the river was closed from 8am. But this did at least ensure that we had just enough of a paddle to work up an appetite for breakfast, and not enough to worry our cardiologists.
 
Rowing-15
Rowing-16

The crew, almost exactly as on the blade and the pic above, though some weights (and many hairstyles) might have changed:

From bow:
Miles Eddowes (89-90)
Rob Leland (87-90)
Nick Screaton (88-90)
Rob Martin (86-91, Isis 90, OUBC 91)
Justin Cheatle (86-89, Isis 88-89, subbing in for Don Miller 90, OUBC 90)
James Annan (89-93, Isis 93)
Dan Johnson (89-90, Isis 89-90)
cox
Mark Ross (90-91)

I might not have got all the rowing details quite right, but I think I'm quite close. Actually the thing I'm probably shakiest on is my last two summers when we were no longer head but assume I would have rowed both times.

Rowing-18

Mission completed with no serious mishaps:

Rowing-19


On the right is Ali Cigari, boat club president who perhaps most amazingly of all got up to let us in to the boat house and let us use one of his boats! And coach Cliff Smedley is in the natty red shorts.

Last but not least a bit of video, I thought it wasn't bad for a 7am scratch crew most of whom hadn't rowed at all, let alone together, in over 20 years:


 

Here's to a repeat performance in 2040 (or possibly sooner)!

By the way, I haven't completely forgotten about climate science, we've got a paper in press which will be blogged about when it eventually comes out (scheduled for August, last I heard).

25th Anniversary of the Most Important Event Ever, Part 1

Went down to Oxford to watch Eights - which is college bumps racing.

This is how it works. In each division, a string of 12 boats is lined up, each boat a length and a half apart. Then there is a loud bang,
Rowing-7
after which each boat rows as hard as possible and tries to hit the one in front before they get hit by the one behind.

A lot of the action happens in the first couple of minutes. St Hughs demonstrate how to do it to Osler House.
Rowing-5

At the top of the top divisions (men and women row in different races) the boats are often quite good and, being more evenly matched, are unable to catch each other in the 5 minute race. Here are the top wimmins boats, near the end of the race with Pembroke gaining on but unable to catch Wadham. So, getting to be the top boat is quite difficult.
Rowing-12

But, if, at the end of the 4 days of doing all this, your boat is top of the first division then you are "Head of the River" and entitled to a great sense of entitlement. woo hoo. 

For some the rowing is not the primary goal of the week.
Rowing-9


We were there because of this:

Yes - 25 years since James and friends went Head of the River (woo hoo).

There were free drinks at University College boathouse with a lot of lovely tall men only some of whom elbowed me in the eyes.
Rowing-1-2

You see, in rowing, size does matter (well, more specifically, length). The current Univ crew are still in the first division, but are very little; about the size of the cox of the boat that James rowed in. Parties aside, they have no chance of regaining the headship until the admissions tutor agrees to once again include height as one of the entrance requirements for the college. Meanwhile, my college, Queen's, over the road from Univ, was always more interested in kick ball and seems to have remained true to that cause. They are somewhere in the Nth division, but actually they didn't look too bad, and although also rather little went up quite a lot this year. Here they are:
Rowing-8

The real advantage of Queen's relative disinterest in rowing is that guest rooms in college are available during Eights week, 
Rowing-20
which enabled James to attend the boat club dinner, for me to join him for after dinner Pimms, and for us both to stagger over the road to Queen's before we turned into pumpkins at midnight.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Impact factors

As chief executive editor of a journal (Geoscientific Model Development), I've learned how the "impact factor" is calculated. Basically it counts the number of citations a paper gets in the 2 years after it is published. When I first learned this I was really surprised that the timescale is so short. I think 2 years isn't really long enough for someone else to pick up your ideas and run with them, so publish something really new without many co-authors and you are likely to not score well on this metric. Nevertheless, I think that papers in GMD, which is all about publishing model descriptions, really ought to get cited - otherwise it seems no one is using the models!

In Nature this week, there are some articles for us all to take comfort from. They are about "Sleeping Beauty Papers". 

They say, 
"Scientific papers typically accrue citations steadily, peak and then decline. Those that at first lie dormant, before being discovered and enjoying a late surge, are dubbed sleeping beauties. In many cases, the awakening comes when the published research finds applications in a different field, such as when statistical methods acquire a use in biology. Some papers were ahead of their time, and described techniques that could not be exploited properly until the creation and curation of large modern databases." 

They quote famous examples, with zillions of citations. Maybe they are just weird outliers, and all they prove is that this will never happen to us - our zero citation papers are zero citation papers for ever? But we have a more normal example, right in our very family. My very own Uncle-John-In-Law published a paper in 1978:

MONTE-CARLO METHODS FOR INDEX COMPUTATION (MOD P)
By:POLLARD, JM (POLLARD, JM)
MATHEMATICS OF COMPUTATION
Volume: 32  Issue: 143  Pages: 918-924
DOI: 10.2307/2006496
Published: 1978

Here's the citation chart:




Published in 1978, there are only 4 citations in the first decade (none in the first two years, which means it contributed two zeros to the journal's impact factor), and 253 thereafter, peaking in 2010!

It is maths, so not so much the "application in a different field", as "application in any field". In this case, it is something to do with interwebs security.