This morning, my inbox had a handful of interesting data that are totally unconnected to each other, each interesting in its own right, and together, a veritable potpourri of bloggyness. So, here goes:
First, Don Prothero at Skeptiblog has written one of those posts you want to keep handy next time you need to refer to Noah's Ark. The title of his post is "Ship of Foolishness" but I'm going to catalog it under Noah’s Ark compared to the Titanic. Here's the embedded data comparison:
Ok, I said these different data comparisons were not related to each other, but I guess maybe some of them are a little. The next item comes from Pew and it is the latest study showing the frequency of "none" people in the US population. Nones are those who are atheists, not-religious, etc. You know, the people who are not represented by having a copy of the ten commandments on the courtroom wall or a benediction at the start of an official public ceremony or a candidate say "god bless 'merica" at the end of every speech, that sort of thing. Here's the graph from pew forum:
So, if "none" is at about 20%, then there are more "nones" than Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Orthodox Christians, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and eve, yes, Mainline Protestant (which means Protestants who are not black, apparently). Yes. There may be (just barely) more Protestants than there are Nones. And, I suspect that this is largely because of the spawn of Protestants growing up and saying "no" to their religion, more than any other source, but that is just a suspicion.
The next item is the scary one. It turns out, Mitt Romney really really did win the debate with President Obama. All the polls that collect data from after the debate show Romney increasing, with the latest poll showing him on the edge of statistically AHEAD of Obama. There are no current polls that show Obama winning. That part of the election, where Obama was winning, is over. Here's the graph of averages from Real Clear Politics;
The thing about that graph is that it shows an average across time and while that is nice for many interpretations, it tends to not indicate the dynamic of short term events. Here is a different graph showing the number of points Obama is ahead (positive numbers) or behind (negative numbers) across time expressed as days before and after the debate. That latter number is fudged because the polls take several days to do...I used the midpoint of the days indicated for the polling period as an estimate. This does not look good:
And now let's move on to what might be a happier note. Voyager 1 has left the building. And by building, I mean solar system.
Strangely it is reported that NASA is mum on the issue. But there is this graph going around that shows that the number of loose protons ands tuff that Vger-one runs into on a regular basis has gone from a whopping 25 or so a second to almost none, and that this happened in late August. Here's the graph:
Actually, when I look at that graph, I see an instrument sputtering out a couple of times then failing, not the edge of the solar system. But that's just me. Maybe.
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Re: the Voyager 1 graph
I have heard that NASA is waiting for confirmation from another instrument (the magnetometer) before announcing this, just in case the effect is as you describe it. But it is normal for spacecraft crossing analogous boundaries in the solar system to make multiple close approaches, or even crossings, during a single pass. Fluctuations in the solar wind pressure will naturally cause the heliopause to move slightly inward or outward. And we know very little about short-term fluctuations in the interstellar medium pressure (the only instrument we have to monitor such things is IBEX, which takes six months to produce a full sky map), which would have the same effect on the boundary location.
Maybe Noah's ark was a TARDIS.
On the election. Basically the republicans made it their strategy to FKUP the electorate and use all their power to stop anything Obama did being a success. In part this is because many of them owe their primary allegiance to Norquist and his taxes pledge, and only a secondary on to their electorate. This resulted in among other things, a stimulus that was too small, the fiscal cliff and the resultant lowering of the US bond rating which cost the taxpayer dearly. This cliff comes up in January. Should Romney win I predict that cliff with disappear into thin air, which in the short term will be good for the economy, though in the medium term, depending on which Romney we get, it is going to be bad. In the long term rewarding republicans for obstructionism rather than cooperation will be disaster. The only solution to is vote in a large democratic majority and I cannot see that happening. As always the electorate will get the government most if deserves, and to make up its collective mind on their emotional reaction to a single debate rather than a serious consideration of the issues, says much.
I also predict that Romney will be much worse than Obama for the deficit, especially if he goes to war wit Iran. But the deficit, once the republicans stop using it to flay the democrats will be a minor to non-issue.
Boy, I mangled the English language in that post!
If the instrument failed, why did it report a couple of particles per second anyway?
Just because I hope it really did find the end of the solar system... exiting.
Every seven months someone reports that Voyager has or will have left the solar system, maybe, according to one definition or another. The data is more interesting than the interpretations.
On the election, the only polling worth looking at is Nate Silver's at the NYTimes. He aggregates over all polls and uses monte carlo to estimate the future. He was right on in 2008 with both presidential and senate. Yes since 7 Oct Obama has lost ground but Silver still has him winning electoral college with a probability of ~63%
bobvh: All the data here is from RCB (Nate Silver's site). I don't think he does polling; he uses other people's polls and usually leaves off the press's spin.