Archive for 'Research News'

Improving Weather and Climate Predictions by Training of Supermodels

Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

The authors of this weather-and-climate study did not resist the allure of shiny words:

Improving Weather and Climate Predictions by Training of Supermodels,” Francine Schevenhoven, Frank Selten, Alberto Carrassi, and Noel Keenlyside, Earth System Dynamics, epub 2019. (Thanks to Tom Gill for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at the University of Bergen, Norway, Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, and Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center, Bergen, Norway, report:

“Recent studies demonstrate that weather and climate predictions potentially improve by dynamically combining different models into a so called “supermodel”. Here we focus on the weighted supermodel – the supermodel’s time derivative is a weighted superposition of the time-derivatives of the imperfect models, referred to as weighted supermodeling….  Here we apply two different training methods to a supermodel of up to four different versions of the global atmosphere-ocean-land model SPEEDO.”

Innovative Scientists Talk About Their Childhood (5): Suzana Herculano-Houzel’s Ink-in-Water

Friday, June 21st, 2019

Here’s Suzana Herculano-Houzel, talking about the ink in water that, when she was a child, excited Suzana in a way that led to her eventual unusual career. Suzana studies how brains do some of the astounding things brains do.

ABOUT THIS LITTLE VIDEO SERIES—This is part of a series of sessions we (David Hu and I, and a film crew) recorded at Georgia Tech. We assembled a little group of scientists (including David) who are renowned for looking at questions others might overlook, and doing research in inventive, clever ways.

The question we asked them: “What happened when you were a kid that somehow led—much later—to your doing unusual science?

The scientists: David Hu, Suzana Herculano-Houzel, Frans de Waal, Nicole Sharp, Diego Golombek, and Olga Shishkov. Follow the links on their names to begin exploring some of their work!

A FURTHER NOTE ABOUT THIS SERIES: These little videos are not quite as good as they ought to have been, due to curious decisions made by the video editor. The most obvious of those strange decisions was to dose everything with goopy, slightly distracting music. The editor also objected to some of the content of the videos, deeming them somehow too offensive to record. The lesson we learned: choose our video editor more carefully.

Odorous preoccupations of James Joyce – the low down [study]

Thursday, June 20th, 2019

James Joyce may not have had particularly good eyesight, but (some say) he at least partially made up for it with a heightened awareness of smells. Especially bodily ones. Which he often wrote about. In great detail.

But do academic works about Joyce’s evident preoccupations with flatulence – which have led some scholars to suggest that he might have been an eproctophiliac, or even a renifleur – sometimes have a whiff of overegging about them?

Dr Crispian Neill (University of Leeds, UK) points out that :

“Joyce’s taxonomy of flatus does not provide a differentiation based upon odorous characteristics. Rather, the characteristic intangibility of the fart as a gaseous emanation is offset by the narrative’s ascription of spatial and auditory properties, which enables the encoding of flatulence within the text.”

And further :

“The unstable linkage between an odor and its presumed source or odor object recalls the linguistic unit’s arbitrary pairing of sign and object, an interconnection signaled in representations of odor throughout Joyce’s writing, as smells—flatulent or floral—become aromatic signs that float free from their original referents.”

See: The Afflatus of Flatus: James Joyce and the Writing of Odor in the journal James Joyce Quarterly, Volume 53, Number 3-4, Spring-Summer 2016 pp. 307-326, and which can be savoured in its entirety here.

[Research research by Martin Gardiner]

DFMB (Deep Fried Mars® Bars) research update

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

A 2014 paper published in the Scottish Medical Journal elucidated (for the first time) the acute effects of a Deep Fried Mars® Bars (DFMBs) on brain vasculature. Since then, research involving DFMBs has not ceased. A 2016 study from Dr Christine Knight at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, has (again, for the first time) examined coverage of DFMB stories in the Daily Record/Sunday Mail and the Scottish Sun/Sun on Sunday newspapers.

“Analysis showed that both newspapers clearly associated the DFMB with Scotland. Further, both newspapers portrayed the DFMB and the broader “deep-fried” Scottish diet stereotype ambivalently (mixed positive and negative associations). However, the Daily Record actively criticised the DFMB stereotype much more often than did the Scottish Sun. These findings suggest that the Scottish population encounters different messages in the press about food and nutrition from people elsewhere in the UK, and that these messages vary depending on choice of media in Scotland.”

See: Negative stereotypes of the Scottish diet: A qualitative analysis of deep-fried Mars bar references in bestselling newspapers in Scotland, 2011–14, in the journal Appetite, Volume 103, Pages 1-458 (1 August 2016)

Photo credit: ‘unknown’ @Wikipedia

Research research: Martin Gardiner

Microdosing oneself study – still time to participate

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

If you’d like to participate in the Imperial College (London, UK) / Beckley Foundation (Oxford, UK) Naturalistic Self-Blinding [psychedelic] Microdose Study, there is still time – as it’s been extended to plant-based psychedelics (mushrooms &etc) as well. An important detail, participants should note that :

Also see : Founder and director of the Beckley Foundation, Amanda Feilding features in a 2001 Japan Times report regarding the benefits of drilling a hole in one’s skull.

[ research research by Martin Gardiner ]

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