Thursday, December 15, 2016

Math Thursday:
A small victory celebrated

I have created a lot of blogs over the past ten years, and one of the least popular was Math Year 2013, which as you might expect was written in 2013 and had posts that concerned math. One mathy thing I did that year was work with the data set created by Berkeley Earth Surface Temperatures, now shortened to Berkeley Earth, their website available through the link. Created by UC physicist Richard Muller on a grant from the Koch Brothers, the website has one of the best databases of temperature readings from around the globe, going back centuries. Muller does not deny climate change and the Koch Brothers still fund him. Muller is a flack for fracking and shale oil, which are the reasons I assume keep him in good graces.) In 2013, I took the data set and reduced it to a more easily readable form for my computer program written in C++. I decided to look at regions defined by longitude and latitude over the time frame from 1955 to 2010. If the earth were flat, these regions would be rectangles, but the actual shapes are more a slice from a "ring" defined by two concentric circles. If the one of the latitudes is the North Pole or South Pole, the region is shaped like the slice of a pie.

The jagged maroon line marks the average yearly temperatures. The step-like lines, the two black ones on top and bottom and the dotted red line in the middle, are respectively the high, low and median temperatures for defined time periods. It's the definition of a time period that is my idea.

Folks in California are well acquainted with the words El Niño and La Niña as they refer to our weather. It refers to the temperature of the water near the equator all the way across the Pacific and Indian Oceans, from the eastern shore of Africa to the western shore of South America. In El Niño years, that water is warmer than normal and the opposite in La Niña years. In California, the pattern has an effect on our rainfall totals. El Niño and La Niña have effects on the weather all around the world, even being a factor in the Atlantic hurricane season.

I came up with the Consistent Oceanic Niño/Niña Intervals or CONNI for short. An interval starts with a high El Niño year, must contain at least one low La Niña year, then ends just before the next high El Niño. The intervals are not all the same length, but for the region shown above, every interval was warmer than the last in all three ways of measuring. (It should be noted that this is not true for every large region, but was true for both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.)

Okay, so I did all this work and nearly no one read it. Given how little I did to advertise it, I should not be surprised. What is surprising is that this year, someone read it, someone liked it and someone paid me cash money to use graphics based on the picture above.

As any blogger will tell you, it's the "cash money" part that's the big surprise.

In August, I got an e-mail from AQA, a British company that lists itself as a "charitable organization" and writes the A-Level exams. These are like the SAT exams in the United States, a way to get into university. The main difference is that in Great Britain, there are several organizations that produce the tests, unlike the monopoly enjoyed by The College Board here in the States. 

So they showed interest, I saw they made changes in the graphs but didn't obscure the meaning, so I asked about pay. They want two graphs, and they paid $200 total. Since they are a "charitable organization", I guess this makes me a charity case. I won't quibble over this.

In any case, unexpected free money is always appreciated. I believe this is true for non-bloggers as well.

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