Tobias Gerken

Aug 24

Fire clouds over California

California is in a catastrophic drought (XKCD) leading to massive wildfires.

Source: XKCD (as always)

NASA has released some stunning pictures of pyro-cumulus clouds (or towering fire clouds) as they were taken by the MODIS satellite and photographed by a fighter-jet.

Source: NASA (acquired July 31, 2014)

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Jun 04

Book review: Annalee Newitz - Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction

During the last 3 billion years, life on Earth has survived 7 mass extinctions. In each one more than 70% of the Earth’s species vanished. While the dominant species were wiped away, life recovered and vacant niches were filled by evolution. Some of the prominent victims of mass extinction  live on in radically different form and ecological function like birds: Think about dinosaurs and birds.

Needless to say, if the the human race stays around for long enough, we might also face such an event. Additionally, a lot can be learned from the thought experiment, how we might cope and what strategies we might develop in order to survive.

Unfortunately, “Scatter, Adapt, and Remember ” by Annalee Newitz cannot live up to its promising title.

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May 27

Spurious correlations

Correlation does not Imply Causation!

imageSource: Spurious correlations -

On the other hand: more science funding, means more PhD students, implies more misery…
For details see:

But seriously - A message from the creator of these graphs (BBC):

1) Be critical of statistics that you see
2) Look for a causal link or mechanism
3) Demand a little bit of scientific rigour in showing that there’s a strong, statistically significant correlation

Or in other words, when you make a computer data-mine hundreds of data-sets and calculate correlations you are bound to find some interesting correlations.

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May 26

Study: Black college grads have double the unemployment rate | Al Jazeera America -

(Source: so-treu, via scinerds)

May 17

John Oliver doing some science communication

Lets have an honest debate about anthropogenic climate change:

via IFLScience

May 08

Watch the IPPC scientists explain their findings about climate change

Real climate scientists explain, what is happening

The IPCC has produced a video on its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). The first part on the Working Group I contribution to AR5 is now available. The other parts will be released with the successive approvals of the other two Working Group contributions and the Synthesis Report in the course of 2014.