Weekly Roundup 72

Although not directly related to science I believe the following story does have a certainly message that is certainly applicable: During the second world war the Center for Naval Analyses a branch of the United States Navy conducted research into the damage sustained by aircraft during their dogfights. By creating a detailed map of where the aircraft had been pierced and shredded it would be possible to improve the armour of these points in order to reduce casualties and improve fighting ability. It took a particularly brilliant mathematician, called Abraham Wald, to point out the flaw in this scheme. If the planes were being damaged in these locations and yet still managing to return it showed that this damage was, in fact, unimportant. More armour really needed to be added to places for which no returning plane ever seemed to be damaged, for it is clear that if damage was taken at this point, the aircraft was downed and failed to return. It is this simple twist of thinking that makes all the difference and which can change the conclusion so much. Being able to extract the real conclusion from the data is an important skill of a scientist and so, as a bit of practice, I’ll leave you with some information and you can draw a conclusion:

California has, out of the United States, one of the worst mortality rates for sufferers of tuberculosis. What can this tell us about the California’ climate as it relates to tuberculosis severity?

Until tomorrow, goodnight.


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