Annals of Improbable Research, also known as AIR, is
many things. First, AIR is a science humor journal. Now, hearing
that, you might be tempted to toss this book aside, because maybe:
you don’t like science and won’t understand the book; or
you love science and know that science is too important to let
people laugh at it.
way, you might be right. But I doubt it.
Best of Annals of Improbable Research is not very
random sampling of some of the juiciest bits that have appeared in
W. H. Freeman; Reissue edition (Sep. 15, 1997)
10.9 x 8.6 x 0.6 inches; Shipping weight: 1.2 pounds.
models predict that, if global warming is really happening,
temperature in the troposphere should rise along with those on the
surface. Recorded surface temperatures are, indeed, rising. However, both data from weather balloons and observations made by
satellites suggest that temperature in the troposphere have remained
constant since the 1970s. Over the tropics they may even have
dropped. This counter-intuitive result has caused sceptics to
question how much warming, if any, is actually going on.
are, of course, three possibilities. One is that the sceptics are
right. A second is that the models are wrong. And the third is that
there is something wrong with the data. Three papers published in
this week’s issue of Science suggest that the third
possibility is the correct one.
and light, Economist, August 13th-19th 2005.
exactly: data are never wrong, data are simply the result of the
measurement performed, statements accepted at a given value (face
value). However, interpretation of the data (i.e., assignment of the
data to a particular physical quantity in the computer model) could
be wrong. As I have learned a long time ago, in the freshman physics
lab, you may encounter a problem with the measurement setup and
procedure, but that you can master; the real problem is to
understand what you have actually measured.
by themselves are not information. Information has to be
extracted from the data. Data by themselves may have no meaning, and
only when interpreted by a set of epistemological criteria (some
kind of data processing pattern) data may take on meaning and become
information. For example, voltage readings of a thermocouple are
interpreted as temperature while voltage readings of a pressure
transducer are interpreted as pressure; yet, they are voltage
readings, all the same.