Shuttersparks

Welcome to my musings on whatever topic catches my eye, plus stories, recipes, handyman tips, welding, photography, and what have you. Oh, and analog/digital hardware design, and software. Please comment on the blog post so everyone who visits can see your comments.

Category: Environment / Ecology (page 1 of 5)

Coronavirus Covid-19 Quizzes

In the interest of getting more information on the Covid-19 virus out and in easily digested form, I’ve developed three educational quizzes. Those quizzes have been added to my existing quiz web site.

The Covid-19 virus is new and much is being learned. New discoveries are made and our knowledge refined every day. There are changes in what’s known every day. In compiling information for these quizzes, I found many examples where information published a week or two ago is already obsolete. These quizzes are based on the best information I could find as of March 18, 2020.

I will do my best to keep these quizzes up to date. Please comment here on this blog post with any updates or incorrect information you may find. Ideas for additional questions or additional quizzes are welcome. In fact, this blog post exists so that you have a place to leave comments.

Click here to go to the quizzes.

A New History Blog!

Relatively new on the Shuttersparks blog are the “On This Day” posts about important historical events in science and engineering. I started these here on my main blog but I see that these posts are going to drown out everything else. So, I’ve created a new blog just for these historical posts here: https://today.shuttersparks.net/

Consistent Forecast Temperature Error

A weather forecasting question:

For the past two months we’ve had one heat wave after another here in West Virginia. It’s been awful. High temperatures in the low 90s (Fahrenheit) with humidity giving a heat index around 100F. These conditions are 15 to 20 degrees above normal. Sometimes, it goes on for four or five days at a time without a single break. Then, there’s a one or two day break in the 80s, and then another heat wave. It’s now the middle of September, almost fall, and it continues. The forecast shows another heat wave next weekend, after the first day of fall.

An odd new thing I’ve never seen before that’s happening this summer is that forecast temperatures, both highs and lows, are consistently four or five degrees lower than the temperature actually reached. The forecast says 90, but it reaches 95. The forecast is 87, but it reaches 92. An error the other way around never happens.

As an engineer, I know that true errors are like noise and vary randomly to either side of the correct value. If the error is consistently to one side or the other, then there’s a systemic problem or calibration error.

Here’s the question. As an amateur meteorologist for over 50 years, this got me thinking. Long ago, before the powerful computer weather models of today, the historical average temperature was factored into a weather forecast. I don’t know if that’s still the case today. Might it be that I’m observing one of the effects of climate change? The climate is changing, today’s temperatures are above normal, and the historical weather data is biasing the forecast several degrees too low? Is that what’s going on?

I invite anyone who might know the answer to comment below. Thank you.

Hurricanes and Quizzes

The hurricanes of 2019 have begun in earnest. For a quick review and tutorial, here’s a fun tutorial-quiz on the Maya Paradise web site:

https://www.mayaparaiso.com/quiz/quiz.php?q=276

There here are other fun tutorial-quizzes on interesting subjects here:

https://www.mayaparaiso.com/quiz/index.php

The BP Blues by the Dirty Cajuns

Flickr Explore

Finally got a couple of photos into Explore! again on Flickr. Yay!

Click the photos to see larger versions.

Greenish transparent jumping spider. This spider makes it apparent that Salticidae are different from ordinary spiders in many ways. For example, their legs are not operated by muscles and tendons, but by hydraulics. You can also see the tiny black dot at the tip of each leg — the spider’s “foot”. Each of those contains around 600,000 microscopic setules which enable these spiders to stick to surfaces by means of the Van der Waals force (an electrical effect). When walking on the ceiling, each of those tiny black “feet” can hold up to 170 times the spider’s weight.

On Flickr

Here’s a fairly common sight in the tropical regions of Central America, the Brown Bark Scorpion. I’m holding this one here by blinding him with a bright light. They have several pairs of eyes and you can see its primary eyes shining like diamonds. Since I startled it, it’s playing possum, playing dead. Notice the tail flopped over to one side and legs all askew. There’s actually nothing wrong with this scorpion and it’s quite alive.

On Flickr

 

 

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