Monthly Archive: August 2015

Aug 26

Statistical power

Fair coin simulation [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Steve Cook]

In a recent(ish) post, we saw that if a fair coin is flipped 30 times, the probability it will give us 10 or fewer heads is less than 5% (4.937% to be pointlessly precise). Fisher quantified this using the p value of a data set: the probability of obtaining data (or a test statistic based on those data) at …

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Aug 23

Organism of the week #26 – Oxymoron

Acanthus mollis [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Steve Cook]

Plants can have some very odd names. Bears are not renowned for their trousers, and this spiky sod is the last thing anyone would want to make a pair of trousers from, but “bear’s breeches” it is. Even its Latin name is odd: acanthus means spiny, and mollis means smooth; a literal oxymoron. It might not look very familiar, but it may be the …

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Aug 17

Organism of the week #25 – Bull headed

Bucephalus minimus [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Steve Cook]

This is another of the things we have found down a microscope in one of our undergraduate practicals, but for once it’s not a ciliate. This is the larva of a parasitic fluke called Bucephalus, which is the Greek for ‘bull headed’. It’s appropriate for this fluke not because it looks like Alexander the Great’s horse, but because …

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Aug 10

A graph to show

A graph to show [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Steve Cook]

I’ve never been sure where “a graph to show…” comes from. As far as I can tell, A-level specifications don’t use or specify this wording, and you wouldn’t typically see it in a figure legend in a scientific paper. But if you ask first-year students to put a title on a graph without any further guidance, almost every one of them will default …

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Aug 10

Organism of the week #24 – Danse Macabre

Yersinia_pestis [Public Domain, credit: NIH]

For three centuries, the Black Death was routinely epidemic in London. The first outbreak – in 1348 – probably killed half the population of England; the last outbreak – from 1665 to 1666 – probably killed a quarter of the population of London. In 1665, Isleworth was a small village several hours’ walk (or row) from …

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Aug 03

Organism of the week #23 – Rattled

Rhinanthus minor (field) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Steve Cook]

My annual summer ritual to stave off death for one more year involves running round Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, which are situated conveniently close to $WORK. I lumbered merry as a shroud. That aches and sweats o’er trails and heights, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden parasites: Yellow rattle is a member of the broomrape family, which …

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