The Radar Fallacy

So, I mentioned The Octonauts in a previous post and I still think it is brilliant however there is another scientific flaw I have noticed. The Octopod’s Radar system seems to have the tv / film fallacy (it’s not a real fallacy, I made it up).
When a radar turns it discovers the position, as a distance and direction, from the radar. There are many types but they all work roughly the same. For a radar system to update the position of an object it must turn through the space where that object is. The radar sweep line on the Octonauts display turns at about 30 rpm meaning that the position of the decorator crab would jump every 2 seconds as it gets scanned. However, the position of the crab as marked by the blip on the screen moves smoothly even while the radar sweep is well away from the crab. This could, of course, be because of an auxiliary system that is not mentioned in the show.
I am sure there are films and tv shows where the radar has a finite refresh time but the movement of planes are smooth. Time to start looking at radar shots more closely!

Hawaii 5-O

This re-imagined TV show is brilliant.
A friend, Jase, really likes CSI Miami and I have tried to watch it but find it extremely clichéd. CSI Miami is poorly scripted, it is poorly shot and poorly acted (apart from Emily Procter). However, Jase finds something to enjoy and thoroughly raves about it.
I now understand what he means. Hawaii 5-O is poorly scripted, reasonably acted and extremely clichéd.  The scenery is brilliant. The technology used is rubbish. The actors are glamorous and the plot appalling. I love it.
I vaguely remember the original series, watching it with my dad when I was younger. I do not remember whether it was any good. I am worried that if I went and watched the original series it would be like seeing 1980s Dr Who or Blakes 7. In my mind these shows are brilliant but if I was to  see them I know I would be disappointed. I have recently seen some episodes of Space 1999 and it is amazingly dated!
5-O is shot in Hawaii and makes the islands look fantastic. It is a brilliant advert for a visit. I can’t help feeling that Hawaii is somewhat wasted on the Americans! The actors are very glamorous and include members of the cast of Lost (good early on) and Battlestar Galactica (all good). The premise of immunity of the 5-O crew is somewhat bothersome for a humanist, but a brilliant plot device. The relationship between the main two characters is well scripted with them arguing like a married couple. I love them driving between crime scenes for the discussions they have. The idea that a police group can hack into any bank account, any phone account, utilities, CCTV system or triangulate a mobile signal is rather far fetched but I guess some of the population believe it.
This show is a great find and well worth watching as it is brain dead TV. It takes no brain power to watch but entertains.


The kid’s tv show Octonauts is brilliant. Let me explain.
Most other children’s shows have something wrong with them. A character or object or plot device which pushes the boundaries of imagination too much, here are some examples:
Bob the builder: a scarecrow that is alive, the character Spud. I’m fine with the vehicles talking and being able to drive themselves but a sentient scarecrow is too much.
Postman Pat: the village has a much higher proportion of ginger kids than anywhere in real life, apart from occasional villages in Scotland. Also these kids all seem to have colds and so speak with blocked nasal passages. Perhaps all these children were fathered by Pat.
Postman Pat SDS: Pat is turned from a competent postman to the world’s most incompetent delivery man. If something can go wrong it does. The economic model for this type of delivery is unsustainable.
Chuggington: a world of sentient trains doesn’t bother me too much but there are some physics issues. The trains get washed by resting on tracks that then turn the train longitudinally so it ends up being horizontal, not good. Another problem is the small train which can extend on a cantilever and turn its body to face the other way, don’t like this. I am quite happy with the flying train though.
Everything’s Rosie: the characters are annoying and whinge a lot. The carts they drive around in have no appreciable power source and don’t slow going up hill. Although I’m happy with Oakly who can speak I don’t like the female speaking tree, Saffy, as she just spouts Eastern mystical bollocks all the time.
Mr Bloom’s Nursery would be ok if it didn’t have the talking, singing, moving vegetables with faces. Surely there is enough excellent entertainment and learning that can be garnered from a gardening show that doesn’t need anthropomorphised vegetables. The McGregors are particularly annoying.

So back to the Octonauts . The main characters are animals who talk and are curiously the same size. They don’t wear ballast and have magic “field tech” helmets. The Octopod would need to be pressurised a huge amount for the depths they travel to and they even have Tunip, a half vegetable half animal called a vegimal. Somehow all of this is acceptable as the stories are excellent and consistent and it just looks marvellous. All  the creatures the Octonauts find are real and look, act and eat the way they do in real life. Marvellous.
I think it’s one of the best things on TV at the moment.

Explore, Rescue, Protect.

TV volume settings

This post is based on a tweet. Perhaps this’ll happen more often. I find something pithy to mention and then I’ll expand upon it in a blog post.
My wife was changing the TV volume the other day and making sure she could see the number it was set on (the amp is perpendicular to where we sit, so quite hard to read). I asked whether she was being fussy about what volume the amp was on. No, was the reply, you are the fussy one.
This is correct as I would prefer the TV volume (actually the amp volume) on either a multiple of 2 or 5. Given that for normal TV viewing the ideal volume is somewhere between 20 and 30 this gives plenty of choice: 22,24,25,26,28. The other volume settings are incorrect to use and even if they create the best listening conditions I would find it hard to settle on one of those.
I do not consider this to be weird behaviour, I consider it to be remarkably sensible although I would probably end up with many logical fallacies should I attempt to explain how this obsessiveness can be  justified.
A friend will only get out of bed if, when he looks at the alarm clock, it is a multiple of 5 minutes. If not he will stay in bed until the next multiple. Now that’s weird!

Material World 23/06/11

Quentin Cooper discussed health reporting in UK newspapers with Dr William Lee, King’s College London and Roger Highfield, Editor of New Scientist. Material World.
Roger Highfield made the argument that newspapers are for entertainment and that the fact that around 70% of the claims made in their health articles were not backed up with evidence was justifiable. His reasoning was that journalists often have short deadlines and that the readership was able to tell the difference between what was true and what was not. He is quite wrong.
Newspapers are expected to tell the truth and to have evidence to back up what they report. The fact that people fail to trust newspaper science reporting is mostly due to newspapers reporting either poor research or researching poorly. The general public have lost faith in the trust of reporters to report what they know.
If the tabloids are generally read by the not so educated then those newspapers have a lot of responsibility for their readers’ health. People aren’t clever enough to judge the science and evidence for claims made in papers. Half of the population has below average intelligence and probably doesn’t understand the sceptical process of critical thinking about scientific claims. I await the time that a tabloid is sued for causing the death of someone who took their broccoli health plan seriously. The readers of the Daily Mail deserve whatever they get given the excrement they read.
The responsibility for the understanding of health articles relies with those writing the articles, not those who read them.