Those who regularly exercise their QR state of mind routinely find themselves asking, "Compared to what?" So, as I look out my window at daytime temps of -20o F (we're headed to a high of -15o F from a low below -20o F) I thought I would take on this important question.
- While Ohare Airport posted a record, meaning they haven't been this cold at this time of year in over 100 years, in Minnesota our -20o F won't even come near the coldest 10 observations. (You have to get to -33o F to make that list.)
- The South Pole clocked in at -11o F this morning. We could send them "Wish we were there!" postcards.
- Today's predicted windchills of -40o F to -50o F--or even the alarmist warnings of -60o F--won't top (or bottom?) the 1936 Twin Cities record of -67o F'.] Note: Prior to 2001 we reported that as -87o F, but then we figured out that the formula for calculating the effects of wind speed on perceived temperature were overly aggressive. We don't want to exaggerate! It was only -67o F!
- The [link http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/weather/resources/askjack/wasnow.htm 'average low temperature at the US South Pole Station during the months of July-September is -81o F. At that temperature, even a breeze of 10 mph creates a windchill below -100o F.
All in all, I feel better about my lot when it is put in perspective. Another advantage of QR literacy!
- This is a great example of taking QR seriously. In the context it's being used, the consideration of trade-offs seems pretty sound.
- Given that the research on the under-use of 4th down has been around a while and we still don't see many coaches following this strategy, there must be some other component to coaches decision-making. For example, could it be that to lose unconventionally poses a greater risk to job security than losing the same way everyone else loses? Or could it be that winning isn't the only thing (pace Mr. Lombardi)--that coaches are trying to give students a "football experience" even if that doesn't mean maximizing the probability of wins.
- Recent concerns surrounding head injuries have led some to question the danger of kickoffs and punt returns. This video suggests the game wouldn't necessarily be radically different at the high school level if rules were adopted to eliminate these risky plays. (For example, rule could heavily penalize any kickoff that traveled more than 20 yards and outlaw punts.) Presumably receiving teams would get better at handling "on side" kicks and, as the video points out, the change in starting field position wouldn't necessarily be that great.
Overall, I share Christopher's recommendation of the video as an interesting application of QR to sport.
Now, that's a pretty big number. But just how big is it? I poked around Nature's website and found this interesting blog that gave me an answer. Author Bradley Voytek notes that the most common comparison is that "there are as many neurons in the human brain as there are stars in the Milky Way." But Voytek tells us that this isn't quite right--our best guess for stars in the Milky Way is between 200 and 400 billion.
He also shares some details about how we estimate the number of neurons. (Turns out counting one by one isn't a good strategy--who knew?!) Problems abound. The brain isn't uniformly dense with neurons, so sampling matters. And the neurons are so intertwined that the current best estimate comes from a strategy of disolving brain samples and introducing a dye that sticks to the nuclei of neurons. All in all, a pretty interesting example for teaching ideas of representative sampling and estimation techniques. An interesting problem to which your students can apply a few of those neurons!
If you're reading this blog, then I probably don't need to tell you: When you seek a marriage partner be sure to check on your potential mate's QR skill!
Over the weekend my wife took my infant son to urgent care. He was fine, but he was "prescribed" acetaminophen. The paperwork from the clinic told us to give "1.65 ml" every so many hours. The problem was that this set of instructions didn't come with any particular bottle of medicine. Apparently we were just to use whatever we got over the counter. Now, I appreciate that they didn't sell us $5 of generic medicine for $50. But the risks here should be obvious to a medical professional: If you don't specify a concentration, then how in the world do you know whether 1.65 ml is too little or too much?!
Thankfully, I married well (in QR and in so many other ways!). My wife carefully checked the bottle of medicine we had against dosages (which are presented in mg per kg of baby). Sure enough, the 1.65 ml prescription would have been an overdose given that we have a more concentrated medicine than the doctor was thinking of. (Our babies have never liked the stuff and so we get the higher concentration to minimize the fight.)
Here's to a world filled with numerate citizens so that you can marry based on love rather than the Quantitative Literacy and Reasoning Assessment!
While some of the analyses are a bit fluffy, there are some interesting tidbits. For instance, the resurgence of cupcakes and bacon coincides more or less with the financial crisis. Is there something to learn about humans and our feelings of security in this observation?