Global Perspective

For some light summer amusement, I thought I would share a map I made a while back to satisfy my curiosity. I’ve had the plot in my office for several years and occasionally think to pull it out for visitors I suspect will enjoy it. I usually just hand it to them and let them puzzle over its meaning before I explain anything. It’s not meant to be an IQ test—although doubtless some feel that way—but rather a chance to delight in self discovery. I “discovered” the 7-24-25 Pythagorean triangle the other day quite by accident while constructing a relativity problem and was delighted by the find—even though Wikipedia has an exhaustive list of other sets wholly unknown to me. Likewise, I “discovered” Saturn as a 15-year-old on a summer night with a small telescope just poking around an unfamiliar sky. I danced around the yard in delight. My point is that discovery is personal, even if not original.

So here’s a chance to discover what the map is meant to convey. I’ll naturally explain later.

wmap-0

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Okay: Three Question Survey for DtM Readers

I should have done it right the first time.  I now realize that I’m hungry for a tiny bit more information in relation to personality type.  I have had almost 500 responses to the previous query (see previous post, below).  The results are fascinating.  I have added two quick questions that will give me a fair bit of insight into some key systematic issues.

Even if you have answered the poll already, I would appreciate a quick moment of your time to answer two additional questions (click here).  It requires very little time: especially if you responded to the first survey request.

If you did not respond to the first survey, please do this one.

Instructions appear on the survey page for how to determine your Myers-Briggs type, if you do not already know it.  Thanks for your patience, and look for a post in mid-April with the jaw-dropping results.

One-question Survey for DtM Readers

I have a new post written up, but thought that before I release it I should get some delicious new data.

To that end, please take this single-question bare-bones survey (link decommissioned; see this post) about your personality type.  There are sixteen choices in a drop-down menu according to the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator.  If you do not already know your type, you can find free online versions.  While I have no particular affinity for this specific one, it may be good for the sake of uniformity that you go take this one.  It’s 72 yes/no questions (should take 5–10 minutes).

Just remember to be honest and answer for the person you are, rather than the person you may aspire to be (if different).

And don’t forget in your excitement to indicate the outcome on my lighting-fast survey (link decommissioned; new survey here).

I’ll let you know what it’s all about shortly.

 

Peak What?

separating U.S. influence on global oil production

(you’ll see larger later)

I’ve been maintaining “radio silence” for a while—mostly on account of an overflowing plate and several new new hats I wear. All the while, I have received a steady stream of e-mail thanking me for Do the Math, asking if I’m still alive, and if so: what do I make of the changing oil situation? Do I still think peak oil is a thing?

Let’s start with the big picture view.

I was wrong about everything. Oil is not a finite resource: never was and never will be. We will employ new technologies and innovate our way into essentially perpetual fossil energy. We’ve only scratched the surface in exploration: there are giant deposits (countless new Saudi-Arabia-scale fields) yet to be discovered). The shale oil tells us so—and it won’t stop there. Shale first, then slate, marble, granite: just squeeze the frack out of rocks and we’ll get oil. Meanwhile, whole new continents are being discovered, rich with resources. The most recent was hiding behind Australia. And naturally it doesn’t stop there. We have now discovered thousands of planets just a hop away, most of which are likely to contain fossil fuels of their own. So game over for the resource limits crowd, yeah?

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Prolonged Absence

The cessation of regular blog posts has prompted a number of folks to ask if I still live and breathe. Several reasons contribute to the silence. Primarily, most of what I set out to do and say on Do the Math has been covered. How many times can I calculate total tidal power available? I’ve expressed views on our precarious trajectory with respect to finite resources, touched on the psychology of major change and sacrifice, and shared personal explorations in reducing energy/resource footprints at home. While some of this continues (look for a post on nickel-iron batteries soon), for the most part it’s already all there.

The second factor is that the research, education, and administration components of my life (i.e., my job) are demanding significant attention. This has generally been true all along, but the administrative burden has skyrocketed of late due to my role as vice chair of the physics department at UCSD since July 2013. Perhaps as I climb up the learning curve, I’ll find more “hobby” time in the months ahead.

While I am sharing personal news, two things of note: 1) My efforts to write and speak about energy and resource use to a broad audience has resulted in UCSD awarding me the Outstanding Faculty Sustainability Award for 2014. This despite the fact that I don’t know what sustainability means (suspecting that none of us really do), and that very little of my efforts have been directed at the UCSD campus.  All the same, I am as pleased as I am surprised by the recognition.  2) While not related to Do the Math, I encourage you to check out this stunning photo taken by Dan Long capturing our recent laser ranging efforts during the April 15 lunar eclipse.  This is a real photo, taken through a C-11 telescope with a focal reducer (700 mm, f/2)—the outgoing laser beam has not been artificially superimposed. Normally it is really difficult to get a picture of our faint beam heading toward the Moon, because the Moon is so glaringly bright. The eclipse provided a great photo-op, and also a means to test the hypothesis of dusty reflectors. To me, this shot is just gorgeous. But I have more invested in it than the average Joe: this picture serves as a visual representation of a key focus in my life over the last 14 years—so of course I’m enamored.