This week’s Economist has a fascinating map of the number of UFO sightings per capita, by state: When I saw this last Friday, it raised a few questions: What’s up with Washington? How well do UFO reports correlate with population density? (Do aliens have a fondness for sparsely settled, wide-open spaces?) Could I use any … Continue reading Sasquatch is an alien! (A proof in three graphs)
Several sources have pointed me to this neat web site of spurious correlations, showing graphically how, for example, the age of Miss America correlates with the number of murders by steam, hot vapours and hot objects, or my favorite: Though spurious correlations can be dangerous (and hilarious), it’s often useful to look for correlations in … Continue reading Reading this post? You get an “A”!
How does a department recruit graduate students? Like many physics departments, ours brings accepted prospective students to visit, funneling most of them into two days during which we try to convey information about our research, the university, the area, etc. Faculty in different research areas think of ways to spend an hour or so describing … Continue reading Grabbing graduate students with graphs
I like graphs. At their best they are useful, elegant, and thought-provoking. At their worst, they’re infuriating. Modern systems-ish biology seems to have an abundance of awful graphs, even in good papers (as noted earlier, for example), perhaps because the complex statistical procedures it often uses are hard to make sense of. There’s no excuse … Continue reading (Another) bad graph
Whales, apparently, learn from one another. That’s the message of this paper in Science last month on the transmission of feeding tactics among humpback whales. There are lots of fascinating things in the article, some of which are news to me but have been known for a long time to people who pay attention to … Continue reading Whales, culture, and graphs