* Posts by Hilary Curtis

4 posts • joined 11 Jul 2008

Economists: European ancestors are what make you rich

Hilary Curtis

"If we understand which culturally transmitted factors are important"

I'd hazard a guess that money might conceivably be an important culturally transmitted factor. Duh!

UK ramps up health über-database

Hilary Curtis

@RW real statisticians

... know what random sampling means, when to use it, and what can legitimately inferred from non-random samples. Which is quite a lot, especially in terms of probing a large dataset for hypothesis-generating associations. And believe me there are plenty of real statisticians on this project which is probably the largest and best planned piece of medical research ever undertaken in the UK.

Noel Edmonds defies BBC's jackbooted enforcers

Hilary Curtis

There is an IT angle

The IT angle is that TV Licensing now claim to be able to interrogate their own database. This is a massive technological breakthrough. They obviously couldn't in the past, 'cos the fact that we've always had a license didn't stop them sending abusive letters and threatening to take me to court after I bought a new telly a while back. (Did you know shops are legally obliged to tell them the name and address of anyone buying one?)

South African survives exploding fridge attack

Hilary Curtis
Flame

A boringly rational explanation

I bet he was keeping some kind of flammable solvent in the fridge - people do that because they think it's safer than out in the heat but they're wrong, wrong, wrong. Vapour pressure builds up in the enclosed space, and then instantly ignites with a tiny spark - usually from the thermostat mechanism switching the power back on.

When I was a graduate student in chemistry there was a compulsory "safety" training demonstration which included going out to a field where the fire brigade blew a few old fridges sky high just to remind us _never_ to put flammable liquids in any fridge that didn't have the switching mechanism specially sealed into a gas-tight component (as the lab ones did). That was a lot of fun, though maybe not quite as good as learning to extinguish fires or making cotton wool explode by soaking it in liquid air before putting a light to it. Those were the days. Bet they don't do that kind of safety training now ... much too dangerous.

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