31 March 2011

Swan's explanation for replacing Professor Warwick McKibbin doesn't add up

Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan cited the length of time Professor Warwick McKibbin and Don McGauchie served on the Reserve Bank Board in the justification he gave to Ross Greenwood on 2GB for replacing these vocal critics of the Labor government’s fiscal policy.

Can I just make this point about the two departing members. They’ve been there for 10 years. I don’t think there’s ever been a situation where someone has been on the board longer than 10 years.

This is not true. Jillian Broadbent has been a member of the Reserve Bank Board since 1998. Swan didn’t have a problem reappointing her for a third five year term in May 2008.

18 March 2011

Reality check: Facts about the threat posed by radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi plant

  • People are exposed to an average of 3.0 mSv/year.
  • People have a normal radiation acceptance level of 20 mS/year.
  • On 17 March at 10am, helicopters measured 87.7 mSv/h at 90 m and 4.13 mSv/h at 300 m above the Daiichi plant.
  • Other measurements of radiation levels taken within ~60 km of the Daiichi plant ranged from 0.7 to 170 μSv/h on 17 March.


6 March 2011

Fairfax paints a grossly distorted picture of earthquake sizes

An article by Fairfax on the magnitude 6.3 earthquake that devastated the city of Christchurch in New Zealand includes an interactive diagram of several earthquakes which are compared by the relative sizes of circles shown on a map.

The magnitude 7.9 earthquake that occurred in Sichuan, China on 12 May, 2008, appears nearly as large as the catastrophic magnitude 9.1 earthquake near northern Sumatra on 26 December, 2004. It is not a meaningful comparison, because earthquake magnitudes are measured on a logarithmic scale. An increase in magnitude by one unit represents a tenfold increase in the maximum amplitude of the seismic waves recorded by the seismograph and about 32 times the amount of energy released. Thus the magnitude 9.1 earthquake near northern Sumatra had an amplitude 109.1 - 7.9 = 15.8 times larger than the magnitude 7.9 earthquake in Sichuan, China, and 109.1 - 6.3 = 631 times larger than the magnitude 6.3 earthquake in Christchurch.

Comparison of earthquakes by amplitude on seismogram

According to an empirical relationship developed by Beno Gutenberg and Charles Richter, log10E is proportional to 1.5M, where E is the energy released by the earthquake and M is the magnitude. This means that in terms of energy released, the magnitude 9.1 earthquake was about 101.5(9.1 - 7.9) = 63.1 times stronger than the magnitude 7.9 earthquake, and about 101.5(9.1 - 6.3) ≈ 15800 times stronger than the magnitude 6.3 earthquake.

27 February 2011

Sportsbet closes bet on Labor leader at the next federal election

Sportsbet just closed the bet on the person to lead the ALP at the next federal election, but has kept open the bet on the Liberal leader. Bill Shorten was briefly favoured to lead Labor at $2.00 with Julia Gillard at $2.50 just after she announced her plans to introduce a price on carbon a couple of days ago. The bet was still available when Google captured a snapshot of the page on 26 February 14:14 AEDST.

Google's cache of https://www.sportsbet.com.au/sports/event/SportID/65/CompetitionPID/27107/RoundPID/29489/EventID/1745324/MenuLevel/C

20 February 2011

Eric Ripper foolishly brings up Alannah MacTiernan in his attack on Troy Buswell

Eric Ripper might recall that Alannah MacTiernan lost her licence twice for drink driving and a third time for speeding.

She stayed on in the transport portfolio despite misleading the public about her previous driving offences.When asked whether it was her first time, she said "No, I lost my licence in '94, I think it was, yeah, '94"—she lost her licence for drink driving in 1986 as well as 1994.

MacTiernan's conduct was debated in Parliament on 2/5/2001:

2 January 2011

North Queensland has seceded, if you believe the Daily Mail

Any Australian who has been through our primary school education system would have immediately been struck by the Daily Mail’s article about the disastrous flooding in Queensland that was published on their website on 30 December, 2010. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just the scale of the disaster that would have struck Australian readers, but the addition of a new breakaway state from Queensland displayed on their map of Australia.

Map of Australia from the Daily Mail

Northern Queenslanders have long felt that they need a state of their own that focuses on the needs of the rural and regional communities living in this area. Outspoken independent Bob Katter recently said that Queensland needs to be split to save the region from economic ruin. While many Northern Queenslanders would welcome the splitting of the state across the 22nd parallel south, they would have been just as unimpressed as the rest of Australia with this glaring geographical error.

Capricornia was the name for the proposed state dreamt up by Ian Johnston in his personal campaign for the creation of new states back in 2005.

How did they make such a blunder with a state seven times the size of the United Kingdom? Perhaps they ran a story on the North Queensland secessionist movement at some stage and accidentally used the map that includes the proposed state instead of the current map of Australia.