1321: "Cold"

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby Jave D » Sun Jan 26, 2014 4:05 am UTC

dash wrote:
gimmespamnow wrote:
dash wrote:It's just unfortunate that so many global warming enthusiasts have so much hidden agenda. Al Gore as worst offender.


I'm worried that I might get hurt. As such, I have a first aid kit in my house and a band-aid in my wallet and health insurance. If I don't get hurt, then those are bad investments, (health insurance is expensive!) but if I do, those are good investments. If you turn the entire thing on its head and look at it from the perspective of what I've done to make myself safe, you could claim that I have a hidden agenda and I'm planning on hurting myself or that I'm an insurance salesman or you could go even further and suggest that getting hurt is a myth and that we are all immortal. That said, the important words there are "you could claim"; you wouldn't be right...


It's well documented that Al Gore stood to make millions upon millions of dollars in the CO2 pollution exchange. That was an artificial market where 1st world nations would pay 3rd world nations for their pollution credits which would go unused. The creators of the exchange (early investors) would have made $$$. Al Gore was an early adopter. Now all he had to do was use his political clout to push for the exchange.

Now, is there really global warming caused by humans, or is there not global warming caused by humans? The question is irrelevant. Al Gore would have made vast amounts of money if the CO2 exchange had come to fruition. There is a serious conflict of interest there. I choose to believe Al Gore was a scumbag. As are all politicians. It's a prerequisite for the job.

Along the lines of insurance, a fellow named Malthus had some pretty convincing math arguing that the world was close to its capacity for sustaining human life. What with the exponential growth of population. Might have been at the time an opportunity to invest in some equivalent "insurance". Farmland? And as we know the predicted catastrophe hasn't occured yet.

Insurance is a sucker's bet, unless the event you're insuring against actually does occur. Just common sense stuff. No matter what you do you're gambling. That's life.


The suckers are the ones who don't get insurance and then oops, that fire/car accident/health crisis happens. Not the ones who get insurance and then don't need it. I mean that's kind of like saying that fire departments are a waste of time and money unless a fire happens. Yeah they are! Think of all those people paying for their municipal fire departments that don't have their houses burned down. Ha ha, suckers!

But it's true, Malthus predicted catastrophe and it didn't happen. Therefore predictions are wrong!

And it's interesting you think Al Gore is worth talking about but global warming itself isn't. What you're really saying is that, like most people, you prefer to sideline the issue. Al Gore is irrelevant, but you can't have an internet discussion about global warming without also involving Al Gore. Come to that I'm a bit disappointed that the well known global warming communist atheist muslim gay agenda to kill freedom and bring about a new world order and enforce a nanny state to kill God hasn't been brought up yet. Damn internet, it always disappoints.

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby tarry » Sun Jan 26, 2014 6:10 am UTC

I am disappointed. I live in St. Louis. I thought for sure that Randall had set the code so that everyone had their own location used as the example in the comic, but it seems from reading the forum that everyone got St. Louis. Is that right?

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby tarry » Sun Jan 26, 2014 6:33 am UTC

Invertin wrote:
Kit. wrote:
Gargravarr wrote:The argument is to climatology (and maths) as "if man came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?" is to biology.

Humans didn't come from monkeys. Humans are apes.

I'm not sure it's good practice to correct someone's example of something that is wrong.


I'm lost in the logic of whether I should post a correction or not, but I'll do it anyway --

The critical issue in the correction is whether humans evolved from (or "are directly descended from", or "came from") apes. It is true that humans are themselves apes. However, whether or not humans are themselves apes is irrelevant to whether or not they evolved from apes. In fact, humans are directly descended from the (evolutionarily) latest predecessor of all apes. I think this predecessor (which we can know only from the fossil record) would itself be classified as an ape. Therefore, I think that the answer is yes, humans come from apes.

Now, replace "ape" with "monkey" in the previous paragraph, and negate the second sentence:

The critical issue in the correction is whether humans evolved from (or "are directly descended from", or "came from") monkeys. It is not true that humans are themselves monkeys. However, whether or not humans are themselves monkeys is irrelevant to whether or not they evolved from monkeys. In fact, humans are directly descended from the (evolutionarily) latest predecessor of all monkeys. I think this predecessor (which we can know only from the fossil record) would itself be classified as a monkey. Therefore, I think that the answer is yes, humans come from monkeys.

(I have to say, though, that I think this has nothing to do with the global warming wars!)

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby dawolf » Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:58 am UTC

sonar1313 wrote:Not one bit of it. I didn't say we should go ahead and drop everything we have in order to match China. What I'm arguing is that since we already have much tighter restrictions than China, tightening them up more won't solve anything.


Is this the same China which has the biggest amount of installed renewable energy (both including and excluding hydro) in the world?

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby Snaake » Sun Jan 26, 2014 12:35 pm UTC

drachefly wrote:
Klear wrote:
sonar1313 wrote:P.S. Fahrenheit is incredibly more useful than Celsius for measuring weather. 0 degrees: fucking cold. 100 degrees: fucking hot. "It's in the 20s" = bundle up. "It's in the 70s" = it's pleasant. You can give a ten degree range of temperature and people know what that means and what to wear. If I go to Canada and say "it's in the 20s" you wouldn't know whether you might want a jacket for a pleasant autumn day or whether it's going to be close to sweltering.


I really have no clue what to make of this post. How is this any different from Celsius?


You get almost an extra bit of information from a range-of-ten rough temperature. This bit can be important for choosing what to wear. That is all.
...


You get an extra bit of information from a range-of-ten rough temperature, yes. But it's not as easy to say "oh, it's in the 60s outside" in every language, compared to "it's 18°C", and everyone just understanding that it's a ±2°C estimate (for about equal granularity). Or adding "about" in there. Or saying "it's just under 20°", "it's just under freezing" "just above freezing" or any of a long string of phrases for such. So yea, so much for universal utility of rough range-of-ten temperatures.

Even if you disagree with the previous paragraph (everyone should speak English! The rest of the world should abandon that new-fangled SI system and switch to Fahrenheit, because we, the US, say so!), it's still a rather weak advantage compared to:
- 0°F not being anything meaningful (?)
- freezing or boiling point of water being less obvious. Or maybe this should just be "not conforming to base-10 system"?

JustDoug wrote:
Klear wrote:
sonar1313 wrote:...
Ounces, cups, pints, etc. work pretty well over c.c. when cooking comes around: so much so that celsius-lands had to finally resort to using weight measures for ingredients. :)

First of all, it's cc or cm^3. Second, in any cooking or baking, you'd use the equivalent millilitres. You used ounces yourself, not cubic inches. Third, yes, it's not handy, but saying "ounces etc. are more useful than cc" is like saying "desilitres (most common unit for flour, sugar etc) are more useful than 1/30th US fluid ounces (approx. 1 ml)." The size of the unit is different enough that they may not be convenient to measure the same things: bulk ingredients like flour vs. spices. Ok, some recipes do use weight measures for ingredients, but at least here in the Nordics it's usually desilitres or tablespoons/teaspoons (15ml/5ml). So: factually wrong, or at least completely twisted by using a miles-to-metres comparison instead of miles-to-km. :?

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby oliphaunt » Sun Jan 26, 2014 12:43 pm UTC

I want to contribute two little things.

orthogon wrote:0°F is about 255K; i.e. the reference point for Fahrenheit is 0xFF K. Hence the "F". :wink:

Well done. I'll never forget this now.

dash wrote:http://xkcd.com/164/

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When he posted that first perspective to the whole issue I thought his taking a non-stance was brilliant. This recent leaning towards taking a stance kind of undoes some of the charm.

I don't know if it's just me, but I don't interpret this as a "non-stance" from Randall at all.
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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby BlitzGirl » Sun Jan 26, 2014 1:08 pm UTC

oliphaunt wrote:I don't know if it's just me, but I don't interpret this as a "non-stance" from Randall at all.

Same here - I saw it as a sarcastic jab when I first read it. The first sentence shows the character has an opinion; the rest of the monologue is just trolling (or "playing devil's advocate").
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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby oliphaunt » Sun Jan 26, 2014 3:35 pm UTC

BlitzGirl wrote:The first sentence shows the character has an opinion; the rest of the monologue is just trolling (or "playing devil's advocate").

Come to think of it, part of the last sentence shows the same: "on the outside chance they're all wrong, ..."
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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby orthogon » Sun Jan 26, 2014 4:38 pm UTC

Snaake wrote:
sonar1313 wrote:...
Ounces, cups, pints, etc. work pretty well over c.c. when cooking comes around: so much so that celsius-lands had to finally resort to using weight measures for ingredients. :)

First of all, it's cc or cm^3. Second, in any cooking or baking, you'd use the equivalent millilitres. You used ounces yourself, not cubic inches. Third, yes, it's not handy, but saying "ounces etc. are more useful than cc" is like saying "desilitres (most common unit for flour, sugar etc) are more useful than 1/30th US fluid ounces (approx. 1 ml)." The size of the unit is different enough that they may not be convenient to measure the same things: bulk ingredients like flour vs. spices. Ok, some recipes do use weight measures for ingredients, but at least here in the Nordics it's usually desilitres or tablespoons/teaspoons (15ml/5ml). So: factually wrong, or at least completely twisted by using a miles-to-metres comparison instead of miles-to-km. :?

I think the "benefit" of using non-SI units is really that there are so many to choose from, so there's always going to be one that's a good fit for what you want to measure. This is achieved partly by using a new name instead of a multiplier (yard instead of trifoot), partly by using smaller ratios between units in the same system (2, 3, 4, 8 being common compared to 1000 in SI and 10, 100, 1000 in other metric systems) and partly by having separate unrelated systems of units for measuring the same physical quantity in different contexts (carats, cubic feet...). The use of names instead of multipliers also allows the unit to be named after a real-life object like a stone or a foot, making it feel more intuitive.

Needless to say this is a nightmare as soon as you need to do any conversion or calculation. That the USA put a guy on the moon is impressive, that they managed to overtake the USSR and get there first despite having to convert between foot-pounds and horsepower-fortnights at every step in the calculations is just incredible. I reckon there'd be a McDonalds on Mars by now if NASA had used SI units from the outset.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby speising » Sun Jan 26, 2014 5:12 pm UTC

btw, we didn't have to resort to weight measurements, we use them because they are intrinsically better. and where not, we just use cc or liter, which are, incidentlally, trivially convertable.
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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby Hekateras » Sun Jan 26, 2014 5:39 pm UTC

tarry wrote:
Invertin wrote:
Kit. wrote:
Gargravarr wrote:The argument is to climatology (and maths) as "if man came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?" is to biology.

Humans didn't come from monkeys. Humans are apes.

I'm not sure it's good practice to correct someone's example of something that is wrong.


I'm lost in the logic of whether I should post a correction or not, but I'll do it anyway --

The critical issue in the correction is whether humans evolved from (or "are directly descended from", or "came from") apes. It is true that humans are themselves apes. However, whether or not humans are themselves apes is irrelevant to whether or not they evolved from apes. In fact, humans are directly descended from the (evolutionarily) latest predecessor of all apes. I think this predecessor (which we can know only from the fossil record) would itself be classified as an ape. Therefore, I think that the answer is yes, humans come from apes.

Now, replace "ape" with "monkey" in the previous paragraph, and negate the second sentence:

The critical issue in the correction is whether humans evolved from (or "are directly descended from", or "came from") monkeys. It is not true that humans are themselves monkeys. However, whether or not humans are themselves monkeys is irrelevant to whether or not they evolved from monkeys. In fact, humans are directly descended from the (evolutionarily) latest predecessor of all monkeys. I think this predecessor (which we can know only from the fossil record) would itself be classified as a monkey. Therefore, I think that the answer is yes, humans come from monkeys.

(I have to say, though, that I think this has nothing to do with the global warming wars!)


The first thing many people with a biology/evolution background would take issue with in the original statement is that humans didn't "evolve" from apes, humans and apes share a common ancestor. The reason humans can be very loosely said to have "evolved from" apes is that, unlike, say, humans and reptiles, (who also share a common ancestor), the branch-off point that led to the speciation of humans and modern apes happened recently enough, phylogenetically speaking, that this common ancestor can also be loosely described as an ape.

So yeah. That's the reason the original statement is so groan-inducing: it has so many false premises and wrong conclusions that you don't even know where to start, one of the main being that modern apes are identical to the "apes" that humans "evolved" from and just sort of stagnated while humans did their sweet evolution thing, as well as the assumption that a species that "evolves" out of a different one must by necessity "replace" the old one.

As for the climate thing... I studied climate science for two years (before switching to biology because I realised the thought of being stuck with cold hard datasets for the rest of my life was not very appealing for me) and got pretty deep into the whole fiddly details aspect of it. I can only say I fully agree with Crissa:

Crissa wrote:I'm just surprised there's any deniers here. It's completely ascientific. And the number of completely bunked points is astounding. Predicting Ice Ages? Basically no one. Temperatures are being hidden? Bunk. Temperatures have been higher in the history of civilization? Also bunk. Climate changes all the time? Have you never heard of velocity?

Yeesh.

-Crissa


Climate change "debates" are fraught with logical fallacies, and few are as insidious as the 'There has always been climate change!' one.

Let's just get this clear.

Our existence is complicated and balanced on a slew of metaphorical ice floes shifting under our feet.

It is almost never a question of quality (yes or no), and almost always a question of quantity (how much).

Saying that there's always been climate change, or that there have always been people starving to death, or that there'll always be people dying of disease, is a useless statement that reduces complex datasets to a yes or no issue and tends to lead to the Perfect Solution Fallacy (i.e. "let's not do anything because we can't fix it 100% anyway").

What matters is HOW MUCH climate change there has been, WHERE it has been, how FAST it has been going and how that AFFECTS other things. A change of one degree in temperature spread out over a hundred years or concentrated in twenty years will make all the difference between "will barely notice it and adapt" and "OH GOD WHY IS THERE MALARIA IN NORTH AMERICA WE ARE NOT READY FOR THIS ARGH NO SO MANY PEOPLE DYING ALL OF A SUDDEN WE NEED MONEY FOR THIS BUT WE DON'T HAVE IT BECAUSE IT'S TOO SUDDEN??" (to use a bit of hyperbole to get my point, though not too much because the comfort zones of malaria-carrying mosquitoes HAVE already been shifting due to the rise in global temperature).

It's the difference between a hundred million climate refugees fleeing from flooded areas in ten years, or spread over fifty years. Which do you think would be more difficult for the global economy and political climate to cope with?

Biological species and human infrastructures all have relatively rigid limits in terms of how fast they can effectively cope with change, defined in the former case by the reproductive turnover and mutation rate and in the latter case by the rules we've set for ourselves that are almost as impossible to change quickly as a species's reproductive rate. Any change in our society, whether positive or negative, will lead to chaos if it happens too quickly. We're stuck. The only thing we can do is try to make an effort to counteract and slow down the environmental changes that are posing a threat to us, but we're not willing to do that because... the prospect of putting more research or resources into eco-friendliness now is somehow more daunting than the prospect of dealing with millions of climate refugees, diseases and epidemics in areas where they're not expected, crop failures, fossil fuel shortages and massive freshwater supply shortages (because let's not forget what a rising sea level means) in fifty years?

Give me a break.

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby Sprocket » Sun Jan 26, 2014 5:44 pm UTC

This alt-text definitely turned me on. It'd been awhile.
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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby Klear » Sun Jan 26, 2014 6:10 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:That the USA put a guy on the moon is impressive, that they managed to overtake the USSR and get there first despite having to convert between foot-pounds and horsepower-fortnights at every step in the calculations is just incredible. I reckon there'd be a McDonalds on Mars by now if NASA had used SI units from the outset.


You don't know Russians at all, do you? =P

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby orthogon » Sun Jan 26, 2014 6:30 pm UTC

Klear wrote:
orthogon wrote:That the USA put a guy on the moon is impressive, that they managed to overtake the USSR and get there first despite having to convert between foot-pounds and horsepower-fortnights at every step in the calculations is just incredible. I reckon there'd be a McDonalds on Mars by now if NASA had used SI units from the outset.


You don't know Russians at all, do you? =P

:D Haha, I was thinking as I wrote it that the only possible explanation was the USSR was hampered by some even greater obstacle. Communism, temperatures well below zero even in Fahrenheit, and excessive vodka consumption crossed my mind as possible candidates. But you're right, to my surprise I don't think I know any Russians.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby Flumble » Sun Jan 26, 2014 6:44 pm UTC

SCSimmons wrote:Fiddled around with possibilities for a bit. I thought milli-electron volts per molecule (of an ideal perfect gas) looked pretty handy for everyday purposes. The unit turns out to be just under 8ºC and almost exactly 14ºF, so it's not very fine-grained; reporting to tenths of a degree would give you comparable precision to what you see in weather forecasts, but the comfort categories can be that wide & still work well.[/code]
Nice, thanks. :D
So anywhere between 37-38 M* is moderate, 38-39 M is warm, 39 M and above is hot and down at around 36 M it's cold with 35 M and below bearing snow and ice. (Okay, 35.2 M and below, but it's a shitty way of freezing if it's not a few centimaxwells (that needs a new name) below freezing temperature)
Btw, do you have an exact expression for the conversion from ºC/ºF/K to M?

SCSimmons wrote:Huh. Normal human body temperature is ... 40.00 +/- .02 ºM. :shock: This must mean something, right? :)

It isn't 42, so I fear it's merely coincidence. :oops:


*you can drop the º for this scale; also, why not call it a Simmons? I've never heard of a Simmons unit/theorem/constant and the symbol S is used sparsely, contrary to the M.

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby NiteClerk » Sun Jan 26, 2014 10:20 pm UTC

tarry wrote:I am disappointed. I live in St. Louis. I thought for sure that Randall had set the code so that everyone had their own location used as the example in the comic, but it seems from reading the forum that everyone got St. Louis. Is that right?

I wondered about that also. Then I got to thinking that the city people mention in the forum might also be changed. Then I thought that we could all spell out our cities with spaces in them. But what if the Emergents were monitoring all computer usage and changing the spelled out words in the forum? We need to Focus on a solution people!

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby Darekun » Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:03 pm UTC

Kit. wrote:
Darekun wrote:Well, it seems obvious to put 0° at absolute zero;

It may seem obvious, but in the grand scheme of things it's just plain wrong.

It's much more sensible to put "absolute zero" at one of the infinities for a "fundamental" scale to measure temperatures.

I dunno, I don't think such a scale would meaningfully be a temperature scale… Wouldn't the reciprocal of that be better as a temperature scale? (Kinda like how proximity and distance are both useful, but clearly not the same thing.)

oliphaunt wrote:I don't know if it's just me, but I don't interpret this as a "non-stance" from Randall at all.

It's definitely a non-ideology from Randall, though. Perhaps the assumption is a stance must be based in ideology?

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby Mazzula » Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:10 am UTC

z64dan wrote:I think the main problem with climate change is that there is really no clear solution to the problem of CO2 emissions.


How about an artificial recreation of something like the Azolla Event, which reduced CO2 levels from those present during the Eocene Climatic Optimum (about 3500 ppm) to less than twice today's levels (the beginnings of icehouse Earth)?

If climate change is supposed to be about 0.5F/decade (IPCC estimates vary widely, though), why take dramatically disappearing days below 0F over a few decades as evidence for it any more than we should take any given cold snap as evidence against it? I understand that the scientific evidence for climate change is strong, and I think climatologists probably know their stuff, but I don't see why it should be at all obvious to casual observers that it is going on. Seems like it should require a fairly sophisticated analysis to separate that kind of relatively small global long-term signal from the local climate noise.

I suspect that there are "true believers" on each side who think they are performing a public service by claiming that this or that dramatic phenomenon is evidence for their side. I think these claims are likely to prove counter-productive when conditions change again (e.g. volcanic eruptions/sunspots/whatever return to historical averages). Certainly there are dramatic climate changes over a period of a few decades, I just haven't seen the link between these and a 0.5F/decade global warming trend.

Maybe there is a similar graph to Randall's for days below 1F and 2F, and we would see the numbers shifting over 4 decades or so, with a recent chart of days below 2F looking like the days below 0F chart from 4 decades ago. That would make a more convincing narrative that days below 0F is a meaningful measure of the kind of climate change the IPCC report is talking about. In either case, I don't think that I would notice enough subjective difference between a 2F day and a 0F day that the change would be at all obvious over the 40 year period.

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby addams » Mon Jan 27, 2014 5:46 am UTC

tarry wrote:
Invertin wrote:
Kit. wrote:
Gargravarr wrote:The argument is to climatology (and maths) as "if man came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?" is to biology.

Humans didn't come from monkeys. Humans are apes.

I'm not sure it's good practice to correct someone's example of something that is wrong.


I'm lost in the logic of whether I should post a correction or not, but I'll do it anyway --

The critical issue in the correction is whether humans evolved from (or "are directly descended from", or "came from") apes. It is true that humans are themselves apes. However, whether or not humans are themselves apes is irrelevant to whether or not they evolved from apes. In fact, humans are directly descended from the (evolutionarily) latest predecessor of all apes. I think this predecessor (which we can know only from the fossil record) would itself be classified as an ape. Therefore, I think that the answer is yes, humans come from apes.

Now, replace "ape" with "monkey" in the previous paragraph, and negate the second sentence:

The critical issue in the correction is whether humans evolved from (or "are directly descended from", or "came from") monkeys. It is not true that humans are themselves monkeys. However, whether or not humans are themselves monkeys is irrelevant to whether or not they evolved from monkeys. In fact, humans are directly descended from the (evolutionarily) latest predecessor of all monkeys. I think this predecessor (which we can know only from the fossil record) would itself be classified as a monkey. Therefore, I think that the answer is yes, humans come from monkeys.

(I have to say, though, that I think this has nothing to do with the global warming wars!)

You are correct.
This has nothing to do with the Global Warming Wars.
Spoiler:
It is interesting, anyway.
A long time ago, in a place not so far away;
People dicussed our origins, serously.

The Fossil Record stops.
The Missing Link. (what fun.)

Where did we come from?
How did we get here?

Where are we?
Did you pack Beer?

The Missing Link!
We must Know.
We must be able to prove it. Science!

Where is that Missing Link?
Dear Poster;
I think I know where I like to think it is.

I like to think The Fossil Record is lost to the Sea.
I am not happy about it. I am, simply, ok with it.

We are not direct decendants from the Land Monkey.
They are our Cousins.

We are not direct descendants from the Whale.
They are our Cousins.

I look at people arguing over the Monkey vs (i don't know).
And; I think, "Fish?"

I like the Story of the primate that lived by the Sea.
That animal spent a lot of time in the Water.

One day it got too cold, for some.
Others had put on a little weight and liked the refreshing tide.

One part of the Family started hanging out on shore and up in the Caves.
The other part of the Family stayed in the Water.

It is such a nice Fairy Tail.
To think of the Whale as a distant relative
is no worse than thinking of an Ape as a distant relative.

The sweet arguments of intelligent people about the funny details of our very, very distant past.
That kind of Science should not have too many arguments.

Can we prove it?
Prove what?

That mankind is related to everything on this planet?
I think that has been proven.

We can argue about who are our closest relatives.

Silly.
Spoiler:
What is the closer relative.
A. The human you have never met and don't want to meet.
B. The dog at your feet.

How go the Global Warming Wars?
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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby tearec » Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:21 am UTC

Is the data presented in the comic actually correct? I went and pulled data for STL from the NOAA website and it doesn't match what was published.

For example, the NOAA chart has 1 day in 2011 and 2001, 2 days in 2009 and 1999, and a whopping 6 in 1997. But they report 0 days in 1998 and only 2 in 1990. The NOAA has STL w/ 6 days in 1994 , twice the number in the comic.

Using that data set makes it look a lot less impressive with frequent dips into sub-zero temeratures since 2000.

I thought it might be the difference in the NOAA treating it a less than or equal to 0, but that wouldn't explain why they report only 4 days in 1984, while in the comic it is, by far, the year with the most cold days at 13. Which, by the way, would make it tied for the 2nd most coldest days annually in STL since 1893 with 1977 and 1963. The record was 1936 with 18 days.

Were I to hazard a guess about how the chart in the comic was generated I'd suppose that the data is coming from a single weather station in STL, one which is not the "official" weather for the city.

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby thp » Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:20 am UTC

Reminds me of comic 722

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby CharlieP » Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:29 am UTC

markfiend wrote:
Kit. wrote:
Spoiler:
And while an argument behind the question might be stupid, the question itself is perfectly valid. When we say "A came from B", we suggest that either A is no longer B or that B does not exist anymore. If A belongs to a monophyletic group B (such as apes or simians for humans) and other members of the group still exist, we use "A is a B".

So, if the ancestors of white Americans came from Europe, why are there still Europeans? ;)
CharlieP wrote:I invented (or, more likely, co-invented later) a new temperature scale, where 0 <unit> is absolute zero and 1 <unit> is the triple-point of water. So, for example, a temperature of 20 C (68 F) would be 1073.2 milli<unit>s. It has the scientific advantages of Kelvin, twice the "granularity" of Fahrenheit, and freezing and non-freezing temperatures are as obvious as in Celsius. I just need a catchy unit name.

Kelvin is defined in terms of absolute zero (0K) and the triple-point of water (precisely 273.16K) so your units are just K/273.16

You're welcome.


Indeed. The only snazzy thing about mine is that freezing temperatures "look" different to non-freezing, e.g. 990 thingies versus 1010 thingies, as opposed to 270K versus 276K. :)
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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby CharlieP » Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:44 am UTC

orthogon wrote:I think the "benefit" of using non-SI units is really that there are so many to choose from, so there's always going to be one that's a good fit for what you want to measure. This is achieved partly by using a new name instead of a multiplier (yard instead of trifoot), partly by using smaller ratios between units in the same system (2, 3, 4, 8 being common compared to 1000 in SI and 10, 100, 1000 in other metric systems) and partly by having separate unrelated systems of units for measuring the same physical quantity in different contexts (carats, cubic feet...). The use of names instead of multipliers also allows the unit to be named after a real-life object like a stone or a foot, making it feel more intuitive.


A common argument I hear for using Imperial measurements is that "it's better to divide things into 12, as it has more factors". My standard response is to ask what a twelfth of a mile is, and nobody has been able to answer off the top of their head. :?
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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby JustDoug » Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:06 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:
Snaake wrote:
sonar1313 wrote:...
Ounces, cups, pints, etc. work pretty well over c.c. when cooking comes around: so much so that celsius-lands had to finally resort to using weight measures for ingredients. :)

First of all, it's cc or cm^3. Second, in any cooking or baking, you'd use the equivalent millilitres. You used ounces yourself, not cubic inches. Third, yes, it's not handy, but saying "ounces etc. are more useful than cc" is like saying "desilitres (most common unit for flour, sugar etc) are more useful than 1/30th US fluid ounces (approx. 1 ml)." The size of the unit is different enough that they may not be convenient to measure the same things: bulk ingredients like flour vs. spices. Ok, some recipes do use weight measures for ingredients, but at least here in the Nordics it's usually desilitres or tablespoons/teaspoons (15ml/5ml). So: factually wrong, or at least completely twisted by using a miles-to-metres comparison instead of miles-to-km. :?

I think the "benefit" of using non-SI units is really that there are so many to choose from, so there's always going to be one that's a good fit for what you want to measure. This is achieved partly by using a new name instead of a multiplier (yard instead of trifoot), partly by using smaller ratios between units in the same system (2, 3, 4, 8 being common compared to 1000 in SI and 10, 100, 1000 in other metric systems) and partly by having separate unrelated systems of units for measuring the same physical quantity in different contexts (carats, cubic feet...). The use of names instead of multipliers also allows the unit to be named after a real-life object like a stone or a foot, making it feel more intuitive.

Needless to say this is a nightmare as soon as you need to do any conversion or calculation. That the USA put a guy on the moon is impressive, that they managed to overtake the USSR and get there first despite having to convert between foot-pounds and horsepower-fortnights at every step in the calculations is just incredible. I reckon there'd be a McDonalds on Mars by now if NASA had used SI units from the outset.


Thanks for the more reasoned and detailed "explanation" of what I was talking about and especially for that mention about translation. There's where the pain lies. I've used both systems and much prefer metric, wth the possible exception of dealing with weather. That is likely partly due to familiarity but there are some points I mentioned originally that are valid in making the case for Farenheit in meteorlogical mattters. It had a better fit for the temperature of the climate of Earth, leaving out the polar regions as exceptional cases.

Anyway, when cooking rolled around... That trailing smiley was there for a reason. A Note: teaspoon and talblespoon are derived from that non-SI ounce system, being defined as one-sixth and one half ounce measure respectively (though likely originally were defined by something like 'amount of phlegm the King coughted up first thing in the morning' ). Also, ounces aren't only a measure of weight, but pull additional duty as a measure of liquid/volume, so it was more a case of fractions over decimal rather than apples over oranges when mention of comparing came up. :)

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby Hekateras » Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:44 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:
Klear wrote:
orthogon wrote:That the USA put a guy on the moon is impressive, that they managed to overtake the USSR and get there first despite having to convert between foot-pounds and horsepower-fortnights at every step in the calculations is just incredible. I reckon there'd be a McDonalds on Mars by now if NASA had used SI units from the outset.


You don't know Russians at all, do you? =P

:D Haha, I was thinking as I wrote it that the only possible explanation was the USSR was hampered by some even greater obstacle. Communism, temperatures well below zero even in Fahrenheit, and excessive vodka consumption crossed my mind as possible candidates. But you're right, to my surprise I don't think I know any Russians.


Eh, at least we launched the first dog and the first human in space, while hampered by temperatures below zero even in Fahrenheit and... try 'recovering from a devastating war with over twenty million in casualties and massive economy and infrastructure damage'' in lieu of 'vodka consumption', yeah? Would be a little more original.

(Also, calling communism an "obstacle" from the position of - I presume - someone in Western society with its current mess of politics and economy is a little funny. Pot, kettle, black.)

Source: one tired-of-these-frigging-stereotypes Russian

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby CharlieP » Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:03 pm UTC

JustDoug wrote:Also, ounces aren't only a measure of weight, but pull additional duty as a measure of liquid/volume


Another one for the minus column right there.
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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby sonar1313 » Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:33 pm UTC

Hekateras wrote:(Also, calling communism an "obstacle" from the position of - I presume - someone in Western society with its current mess of politics and economy is a little funny. Pot, kettle, black.)

You're probably right about this, since democracy generally requires orienting most of the people in the same direction in order to achieve anything as vast as a moon landing whereas communism only required one person to decide - or at most a consensus of a small group of party elites. In any case, living under the Western "mess of politics and economy" isn't a disqualifier from commenting on other systems. Whatever anyone's opinion of their current president/prime minister/etc. it doesn't stop them from being glad that leader isn't Stalin.

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby Klear » Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:57 pm UTC

Hekateras wrote:(Also, calling communism an "obstacle" from the position of - I presume - someone in Western society with its current mess of politics and economy is a little funny. Pot, kettle, black.)

Source: one tired-of-these-frigging-stereotypes Russian


Hehe, I've lived under communism for a bit and I would definitely call it an obstacle to most things, though the space program and the movie version of War and Peace are notable exceptions.

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby Mazzula » Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:20 pm UTC

CharlieP wrote:A common argument I hear for using Imperial measurements is that "it's better to divide things into 12, as it has more factors". My standard response is to ask what a twelfth of a mile is, and nobody has been able to answer off the top of their head. :?


But most US schoolchildren know that 1/3 of a mile is 1760 feet (because they learn that there are 1760 yards in a mile), and it is pretty easy to divide 1760 by 4 in your head. Certainly an easier mental calculation than dividing a kilometer into twelfths.

There isn't much practical difference between the utility of miles vs kilometers. What is really needed is to put the measurement of time in a system consistent with the measurement of distance. Well, physicists do that when they set the speed of light equal to 1 (dimensionless), but that isn't so practical for highway travel. I suspect that the reason decimal time hasn't caught on (it has been tried) is that factors of 10 are a little too large. It can be the case that an x-sized unit is too small, but a 10x-sized unit is too big. In the case of time, dividing the day into 10 hours of 10 minutes of 10 seconds gives units that are too big, but 100 hours of 100 minutes of 100 seconds gives units that are too small.

The best (if least practical) solution would be to change the common numbering system to base 6. Dividing the day into 36 hours of 36 minutes of 36 seconds gives a second that is about twice the current second, a minute that is 0.4 times the current minute and an hour that is 2/3 the size of the current hour. Furthermore, the clock would look somewhat familiar, since the dial would be printed with 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 (all base 6) at the same spots where the current dial reads those values (in decimal) for minutes and seconds, e.g. half past 10 in the morning would be 10.30.

Base 6 also works very nicely for money. Base 10 leaves us with such oddities as the $10 bill, which never saves carrying more than one bill in the wallet, but which takes a whole cash register slot. Base 6 is also better for psychological reasons, since it groups in accord with the 7±2 theory.

The base 10 numbering system is something of a mistake. It was apparently devised when people knew that they had 10 fingers, but didn't know that putting 0-10 in each digit gave you base 11. Base 6 works very conveniently with the 5 fingers on each hand representing the 0-5 of each base 6 digit.

I use both systems (metric and English) and it seems to me that the metric system is better when measuring something in nature. Such measurements practically never come out even anyway, so decimal calculation is convenient. The English system is better when making something (because thirds, quarters, and sixths are much more common divisions than are fifths). I don't think the practice of selling "by the dozen" would have persisted if there were not some value in divisibility. But if the number system were base 6, then a single system would have the best attributes of each.

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby orthogon » Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:30 pm UTC

Hekateras wrote:
orthogon wrote:
Klear wrote:
orthogon wrote:That the USA put a guy on the moon is impressive, that they managed to overtake the USSR and get there first despite having to convert between foot-pounds and horsepower-fortnights at every step in the calculations is just incredible. I reckon there'd be a McDonalds on Mars by now if NASA had used SI units from the outset.


You don't know Russians at all, do you? =P

:D Haha, I was thinking as I wrote it that the only possible explanation was the USSR was hampered by some even greater obstacle. Communism, temperatures well below zero even in Fahrenheit, and excessive vodka consumption crossed my mind as possible candidates. But you're right, to my surprise I don't think I know any Russians.


Eh, at least we launched the first dog and the first human in space, while hampered by temperatures below zero even in Fahrenheit and... try 'recovering from a devastating war with over twenty million in casualties and massive economy and infrastructure damage'' in lieu of 'vodka consumption', yeah? Would be a little more original.

(Also, calling communism an "obstacle" from the position of - I presume - someone in Western society with its current mess of politics and economy is a little funny. Pot, kettle, black.)

Source: one tired-of-these-frigging-stereotypes Russian

I'm sorry to have offended you. I really should stop and think before employing national stereotypes; it's got me into trouble before. I speak as someone whose country has famously lousy weather, a serious alcohol problem of its own and as for a space programme, some days it seems we're lucky if we can get a human being from London to Manchester without "leaves on the line" causing a "Euston, we have a problem" moment.

Also, Klear and sonar1313 are of course right that an authoritarian system actually makes something like a space programme easier. (Though, interestingly, Klear turns out to be older than I had guessed, at least for reasonable values of "a bit").
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby CigarDoug » Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:10 pm UTC

JustDoug wrote:A Note: teaspoon and talblespoon are derived from that non-SI ounce system, being defined as one-sixth and one half ounce measure respectively (though likely originally were defined by something like 'amount of phlegm the King coughted up first thing in the morning' ).

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby Flumble » Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:33 pm UTC

Mazzula wrote:The best (if least practical) solution would be to change the common numbering system to base 6.

I'm used to preaching about base 12, but you make an excellent case for base 6 here. :D Both can be counted on any number of hands (digits opposed to phalanges), both have the most common divisors (2 and 3, with b12 expanding it to 4 and 6) and both leave a kid puzzled when the successor to a full hand is one digit on the next hand ("why does that other hand count all the fingers on your one hand plus one?" :o "also, what's a zero do?"). But 6 doesn't require an fancy new symbols —instead it reduces the number of symbols— and indeed it aids any form of estimation/comprehension/communication of numbers.

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby Mazzula » Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:35 pm UTC

alun009 wrote:Next, we'll talk about units of weight, distance, and volume: it's bizarre how the US is so backwards on this narrow subject. Almost like they yearn for the old days of subjugation and empire. "Pounds" always makes me think of Britain and the queen. And does anyone really know what a gallon is :?:


"Conveniently", a gallon is 231 cubic inches.

I think the US is officially a metric nation. Labels are required by law to have metric measures. Currently, labels are required to display both, but there are proposals to permit metric-only labels. Metric-sized quantities are allowed, beverages are quite commonly sold in liters (or 0.75L or 1.5L), even though they display both units. It is legal to sell machines with metric fasteners.

I am not sure why imposing a unit of measure on a population, rather than letting them use whatever units they think are most convenient for the purpose at hand, isn't better evidence of subjugation and empire. I think most Americans are comfortable with either system, but react badly to being coerced. The rebellion is worth the (minor) inconvenience. Wherever there is a practical advantage of using the metric system (i.e. profit), Americans do.

On the other hand, since the inch is now defined in terms of the meter, the distinction seems somewhat blurry. Unit conversion is always just a multiplication away.

It still seems a subjugation to ban people from packaging "by the dozen" or in whatever other quantities willing sellers and buyers find convenient.

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby sonar1313 » Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:48 pm UTC

I'm still sort of curious about the source of the data. The obvious implication is that it's warmer than it used to be and that this kind of cold was once normal and now, 20-30 years later, is not.

Now I don't live in St. Louis, but I do live in Detroit, for which Randall implies having similar data. The historical average January high is 32F and average low is 19.1 (Wikipedia says so.) Accuweather's data for the month says this month's average high will be 25.1 and low of 11.6 (assuming the next week's forecast is reasonably accurate). That's pretty significant. Fuzzy childhood memories tell me that from kindergarten through 12th grade, we only ever had one "cold day" off of school, in that entire 13 years. I'm sure of that - what I'm much less sure of is how cold it had to be to make that happen, but I think it was something like 2 or 3 degrees F with a negative windchill.

This month alone the school district has shut down three times because of the cold. Now, maybe we're just wussier about it now, but in any case I'm fairly confident that for a long time there, there wasn't this handful of days with negative temperatures. My memory only goes back to the mid-80s, but still. Climate change implications totally and completely aside here, I don't think the point that this is just a normal cold winter is a very strong one. This winter is simply the harshest in quite some time. Multiple days in one month of below-zero temperatures is not normal, nor are routine windchills of below zero, to say nothing of the fact that we've absolutely blown past the snowfall record.

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby speising » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:03 pm UTC

sonar1313 wrote:I'm still sort of curious about the source of the data. The obvious implication is that it's warmer than it used to be and that this kind of cold was once normal and now, 20-30 years later, is not.

Now I don't live in St. Louis, but I do live in Detroit, for which Randall implies having similar data. The historical average January high is 32F and average low is 19.1 (Wikipedia says so.) Accuweather's data for the month says this month's average high will be 25.1 and low of 11.6 (assuming the next week's forecast is reasonably accurate). That's pretty significant. Fuzzy childhood memories tell me that from kindergarten through 12th grade, we only ever had one "cold day" off of school, in that entire 13 years. I'm sure of that - what I'm much less sure of is how cold it had to be to make that happen, but I think it was something like 2 or 3 degrees F with a negative windchill.

This month alone the school district has shut down three times because of the cold. Now, maybe we're just wussier about it now, but in any case I'm fairly confident that for a long time there, there wasn't this handful of days with negative temperatures. My memory only goes back to the mid-80s, but still. Climate change implications totally and completely aside here, I don't think the point that this is just a normal cold winter is a very strong one. This winter is simply the harshest in quite some time. Multiple days in one month of below-zero temperatures is not normal, nor are routine windchills of below zero, to say nothing of the fact that we've absolutely blown past the snowfall record.


here in vienna, europe, though, we had yesterday the first day below 0°C this winter; which is extremely unusual. i remember loads of snow in december when i was a kid, which doesn't really happen anymore.

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby CharlieP » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:04 pm UTC

Mazzula wrote:
CharlieP wrote:A common argument I hear for using Imperial measurements is that "it's better to divide things into 12, as it has more factors". My standard response is to ask what a twelfth of a mile is, and nobody has been able to answer off the top of their head. :?


But most US schoolchildren know that 1/3 of a mile is 1760 feet (because they learn that there are 1760 yards in a mile), and it is pretty easy to divide 1760 by 4 in your head. Certainly an easier mental calculation than dividing a kilometer into twelfths.


I'm not sure how many people my age or below would even know how many yards are in a mile if you stopped them on a UK street and asked them - education is in metric, but we never got round to changing the road signs, so the majority of people still use miles colloquially (and feet and inches for height, and stones and pounds for "weight", although kilograms are becoming more and more common).

To answer my own question, it's 2/3 of a furlong, 6 2/3 chains, 26 2/3 rods, 146 2/3 yards, or 440 feet. I had to work those out.

The best (if least practical) solution would be to change the common numbering system to base 6. Dividing the day into 36 hours of 36 minutes of 36 seconds gives a second that is about twice the current second, a minute that is 0.4 times the current minute and an hour that is 2/3 the size of the current hour. Furthermore, the clock would look somewhat familiar, since the dial would be printed with 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 (all base 6) at the same spots where the current dial reads those values (in decimal) for minutes and seconds, e.g. half past 10 in the morning would be 10.30.


With 3, 13, 23, 33, 43 and 53 in the gaps. :wink:

Half past 10 in the current system would be 23:43 in new time, 10:30 in the new system would be 04:20 on a current clock. Might take a bit of selling to people. :D
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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby CharlieP » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:13 pm UTC

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby addams » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:21 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:
Klear wrote:
orthogon wrote:That the USA put a guy on the moon is impressive, that they managed to overtake the USSR and get there first despite having to convert between foot-pounds and horsepower-fortnights at every step in the calculations is just incredible. I reckon there'd be a McDonalds on Mars by now if NASA had used SI units from the outset.


You don't know Russians at all, do you? =P

:D Haha, I was thinking as I wrote it that the only possible explanation was the USSR was hampered by some even greater obstacle. Communism, temperatures well below zero even in Fahrenheit, and excessive vodka consumption crossed my mind as possible candidates. But you're right, to my surprise I don't think I know any Russians.

I have known some Russians.
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They have accents and dialects of Russian.
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The Russians, like everyone else,
have a large variation in both Temperament and Appearance.

Horrible and Quick Tempers on some of those people.
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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby Klear » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:36 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:(Though, interestingly, Klear turns out to be older than I had guessed, at least for reasonable values of "a bit").


Actually, "a bit" in this context means "three years", and I intentionally misinformed ere, since I figured it would be quicker and painless than describing how I got a pretty good picture from what my parents told me, witnessing the mental scars they bear, knowing how much the country's changed since my childhood, and my own experiences with the way communism has left its mark on our country. Hell, with every election the communist party (which pretty much just added one letter to their abbreviation after the revolution) is on the verge being a part of the government.

Also, I love stereotypes and I love many nations because the stereotypes are actually often true, including Russians, which is kinda rare around here =)

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Re: 1321: "Cold"

Postby Mazzula » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:46 pm UTC

CharlieP wrote:Half past 10 in the current system would be 23:43 in new time, 10:30 in the new system would be 04:20 on a current clock. Might take a bit of selling to people. :D


I agree it is a tough sell, but I don't think it is a tough sell for that reason. That is essentially the rationale that says the metric system is too complicated because an inch is the overly-complicated 2.54 cm.

Instead of having a meeting at what is now half past 10, they would probably just start it at 24:00. Still 2 new hours left before lunch at 30:00 (30 hours conveniently can be thought of as half a day in the same way that 30 minutes is half an hour).


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