Saturday, December 12, 2009

Interesting quote

I heard a quote and it jumped out at me, partly because I have a similar philosophy basedon seemingly random yet intricate principles. The quote was something like ... 'believe in free-will and destiny'.

Destiny to me can be summed up via mathematics. There are some problems, like integration of a circle or circuit, where no matter which direction you choose, you end up with the same answer leads you to the same place (the assumption being you know how to solve this problem!)

The other concept is that of initial value problems, where the initial state largely determines the outcome given a certain set of physical laws. While the laws may not change, the initial condition can thus influence the outcome. Naturally, destiny can thus be thought of as a positive or a negative, given your initial circumstances.

My view makes this quote more understandable: "There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path". The struggles we have in life can always be boiled down to this. We might know what to do, but we still have to do it. Likewise, it is important to know what your doing when you are doing it (even if we don't understand all choices we made to get here).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Climate change hodgepodge

Lets be clear about a few things:
1. Projection is not the same thing as Prediction. Coupled global climate models used in the IPCC AR4 are used for projections. They start from a climatological state of the "current" climate. They do not initialize the model with the current state of the ocean.

2. From ice core data, CO2 concentrations have varied 100 ppm (from sub 200 to sub 300) over the last 400,000 years! By 2050, in a business as usual scenario the projection is for CO2 to climb to 450, and by 2100 achieve 950 ppm.

3. Temperature responds largely to solar increase in first 800 years and combination of solar/GHG the remaining thousands of years.

4. The anthropogenic forcing change is 1-2 W/m2 and is roughly equal in magnitude to the solar forcing change (solar variability is roughly 1.6 W/m2).

5. If the sun (increase in shortwave forcing) were largely responsible for the recent observed warming, the whole atmosphere should be warming. Tropospheric temperatures aloft have been in decline for the last 35 years while surface temperatures have been warming.

6. GCMs project that GHG forcing is more significant in the currnt climate than solar variability.

7. Even in a warming scenario, it is still possible to have a neutral or negative temperature trend during a decade.

So, let us assume that warming happens. What is the big deal?
A. It is likely that food production area's will shift due to changing temperature and precipitation. This is possible over the Great Plains even if the warming isn't extreme. China could also be potentially vulnerable to this changing climate. We already know that Africa has experienced some changes like this leading to long droughts, shortfalls of food, and revolution.

B. Some other changes could be earlier snow melt combined with either less or more snowfall over the Cascade or Rocky mountains. The snowfall in the west in winter provides water during the summer when it melts. Changing this time of snowmelt may leave these vulnerable areas without water later in the summer.

So, it is for these reasons, these local reasons that scientists communicate the impacts early. It takes time to adapt to these types of changes and mitigation can only help in the short term. Longer term its all about adaptation largely based on economics.

We all have to separate the science and opinion from this issue. There are scientific facts. They are not subject to opinion without evidence via the scientific method. Although it is in the theory stage, Idon't hear much politicized discussion questioning the speed of light

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hurricane Jimena and TS Erika

Quite an interesting week.

Hurricane Jimena rapidly intensified doubling its wind speed in 12 hours and nearly doubling again. Then it underwent eyewall replacement cycles and the intensity fluctuated and the wind field expanded. I have not read up on annular hurricanes, but there was much discussion with Hurricane Bill about this. That there were forces at play that kept the inner eyewall seperate from the harmful effects of dry air on the perimeter until enough shear caused this structure to deteriorate and allow the dry air to get inside the core.

TS Erika had a long pre-tropical storm period, fluctuating in tropical wave strength for many days. finally sunday evening a central dense overcast developed over or around the wave trough. The convection later became distorted and weakened presumably with the diurnal cycle. Then it erupted again today, somewhat displaced from its previous position closer to the center of the surface circulation. However, it was remarkable how the upper level transverse cirrus "fingers" depicted the outflow in all quadrants. There is debate on whether there was some shear present, and the surface circulation was broad, and I presume from the transects at 400 meters, more like a wave than a tropical cyclone.

Another CDO tonight, with good outflow in all quadrants. I wonder, given the scale of the outflow horizontally and its shallowness vertically, if an NWP model would benefit from its inclusion rather than simply the low level vortex insertion.

I see little in the way any "MCS" activity as I have with previous tropical cyclones. Same holds true for Jimena. Thus the asymmetry in the convective clouds appears low. Someone needs to work on that asymmetric appearance and what it means, represents, or signifies about the low level vortex interacting with its environment.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


So I read today that I have pursued an education that is beyond my means.

My degree is worth, on average, 300K over my lifetime. I assume this is representative of a non-teaching lifestyle. I will settle for a lifetime advantage of 150K . This makes my net lifetime profit of 100K once you factor in all of the interest on loans.

But this doesnt help when I start off into my career. The starting salaries are low. The peripheral benefits are either absent (401K), or high (Insurance rates). The interest accumulated during my schooling is roughly 1/3 of my debt at variable and at times obscenely high interest rates. This is the good debt most financial people speak of.

But to say that I spent money beyond my means is ridiculous. I spent what I needed to spend to get a high quality education. Because, a high quality education is what I needed to have a career. Spending less would have resulted in a lower quality education, and thus not much hope of moving up.

Financially, though, didn't I spend beyond MY means. Yes. My parents spent a lot too. I got scholarships, financial aid, and loans. I did what I needed to, and I am paying it all back. Was it worth it?

It is worth it because I have opportunities. And will have opportunities.

My mind naturally goes to this: What if I didnt pursue my maximum potential?
I would still be poor, and I wouldnt have any opportunities. I would have been working longer, harder, for less money (per hour, over a lifetime).

So what should we tell poor kids? Don't seek an expensive degree? Dont maximize your potential? Stay poor? let your kids share in your poorness and pass on the mantra: "You cant afford education!"

The problem isnt education is expensive. Its that jobs pay too little, because companies can't give them a salary without giving them GOOD benefits. I want good benefits, too.

There are other problems too but I am tired.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

energy and the gov

I received an email:

"Does anybody out there have any memory of the reason given for the establishment of the DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY ...... during the Carter Administration?
The Department of Energy was instituted 8-04-1977 TO LESSEN OUR DEPENDENCE ON FOREIGN OIL.
Hey, pretty efficient, huh?????



* Ah yes, good ole bureaucracy.

And NOW we are going to turn the Banking System & the Auto Industry over to them?
* God Help Us !!! "

End of quote.

So my gut reaction was that while "true" we are no less dependent on foreign oil, I had my doubts that DOE was all about oil, and only oil, for the last 32 years.

DOE history is long and convoluted and shrouded in politics. It is a government agency. It has flaws. But DOE's principle mission at conception was to unite all forms of energy under one roof. Nuclear. Solar. Geothermal. Carbon. Nuclear ... weapons. High energy physics. Research and development. Climate change. Efficiency. Nuclear waste cleanup. Sound environmental practice.

DOE does high impact high risk R & D because industry could not or would nut pursue these avenues because of their cost and high risk of failure.

I urge you to read the DOE history. See how Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton modified and changed the Dept.
The best summary I can offer is this:

We need energy conservation and efficiency. We need to diversify our energy portfolio. By and large Republicans have argued for less control of oil and gas, and more drilling and clean coal. Thereby reducing the percentage of imports to domestic production. Democrats have gone for the fuel efficiency, reduced drilling, energy conservation.

What I find funny is that all the presidents have had the same energy plan. Conserve. Make efficient. Invest in new tech. As with all things political, everyone is to blame from the american public [yes you too H2 owner], to the politicians, to the corporations. No one has been holier than though. No one has capitalized on an energy crisis to bring about action [let alone change]. 39 years since this discussion started.

Not too much accomplished.

If you point the finger, use the middle one. if you need to direct it somewhere ... look in the mirror.

We voted them in.we keep them there. we let nothing happen. we buy the gas. we buy the oil. we dont ask for solar on our roof. we dont ask for a wind turbine. we let the market decide whats best for us. and the market obliges by selling us stuff we want because they are not providing us the products/services/technology we NEED.

We need leaders. Leaders who work ALL year. Leaders that work together for the common good.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I still need to read Outliers, and now Nudge, not to mention a few other books.

However, is genius nature vs nuture? Perhaps is genius more an expression of potential, rather than raw intelligence? Its hard to argue against an initial value problem here. If you start out with a high IQ, and do the hard work, master your creative abilities, and harness both your IQ and hard work then you too can be a genius.

But is a high IQ necessary? and is hard work sufficient?

I am sure there is work out there that shows that people gifted musically have brains wired differently. Structurally identical. Just the individual connections would be more focused and/or more active during the displays of genius. We already know the brain responds to repetition - learning. So it shouldn't be surprising that genius involves hard work and problem solving in creative ways. Probably even in discrete jumps - rapid learning in short intervals.

The brain also acts via chemicals to suppress certain responses when it is concentrating. Just like people who shoot at targets. A shaking hand goes absolutely still as the brain zones in, focusing only on the one action - the release of the arrow, for example. The same should apply for rapid learning ... the kind of learning where breakthroughs happen. Einstein was self taught in mathematics. His genius was derived from at least some hardwork, experience, even maturity, and clarity of purpose. His clarity of purpose is best illustrated in his lack of ability to have a meaningful relationship with his wife and children ... he was too focused on his work.

So genetics, environment, IQ, and experience all play a role ... and I'll bet each genius has a unique distribution of those 4 qualities. So given that you dont control any of these, you might as well work hard - the benefits are obvious. Failing to be a genius, you just might make yourself (and the people around you) smarter.

Perhaps the one quality all geniuses have ... a good challenge. Something that compelled them to work hard, stay focused and motivated, and acheive.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


I remember that cold morning in CT. I wanted to watch it, but the family wanted to the hit store (Bradleys, if I recall correctly). We came back to my aunts house, turned on the TV, and there was the explosion being replayed.

I was only 9.5 years old. I dont remember feeling bad about it, though I knew it was obviously tragic. My Dad used to wake me up for those 6am launches every once in a while. So I liked watching the shuttle take off. I knew nothing about it though. But I remember what followed after Challenger.

So I wrote to NASA asking for information. What I got back was an inch thick packet, for free, detailing everything there was to know about the shuttle (in laymens terms, complete with diagrams, and unclassified of course). I wrote reports with that literature. I even wrote after that to get information regarding the SRB O-ring failure, I think.

So, that was my hook to get started in science.

I am not sure if NASA ever truly recovered after that disaster. It took 33 months or so for the next shuttle to launch. An eternity in kid time. But I remembered it was well advertised.
It took a while but I got down tothe Cape to see a shuttle launch. Still cant find that videotape. That would be awesome to show the family. I think I saw it go up in 1992.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Recent EOS article highlights what a little chemistry, meteorology, and billions of dollars in satellite remote sensing can do. Cant link to the article so I searched for this less than perfect article:

The ozone hole will recover in 2068, and signals for this recovery may not be visible until 2018.

This problem is similar to what we see with CO2. Add now, deal with it for decades to centuries.
Remember, we turned off most ozone depleting chemicals, but it will still take another 59 years for recovery. Is it any wonder that most scientists agree that global warming is for real? The time scale may be large and the effects seemingly small for now, but add a hundred years and there will be serious climate changes.