My birthday, computer science, clouds, pauses, and helmets

I’m 39 tomorrow, boo hoo. Only one more year and I’m 40. That’s scary.

Apparently a new computer science curriculum has been launched in English schools as a replacement for the old ICT course. I think this is wonderful. Teaching children how to create software is far more useful than simply teaching them how to use it; this is the main difference between ICT and computer science. If I was going to design a computer science curriculum for school students it would include topics like database design, user interface design, discrete mathematics, programming, algorithms & data structures, and ethics.

New Scientist this week has two good articles about climate change. One is about clouds and how changes in cloud cover will affect the amount of warming we’re going to see over the coming centuries. Clouds have both a warming and a cooling effect depending on the type of cloud. High clouds have a warming effect: they reflect less light from the sun than low clouds while radiating very little heat back to space. Low clouds reflect a lot of sunlight and so they have a cooling effect. If climate change produces fewer of the low cooling clouds and more of the higher, warming clouds then this could mean 6C of warming over the coming century instead of 3C of warming; a big difference.

A paper published earlier this year found that a warmer world will produce fewer lower, cooling clouds and more higher, warming clouds.

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v505/n7481/full/nature12829.html

The other article is No more pauses in global warming. If our emissions continue to rise, then the chance of us seeing another decade with no significant increase in surface temperatures (notice I prefaced temperatures with the word “surface” here as the ocean temperatures have continued to increase and ice is still melting even though surface temperatures have risen by only a small amount), will be “virtually zero after 2030”.

Oh, and I found another article which explains why mandatory helmet legislation is counterproductive if the goal is to improve the health of the population:

http://mappingignorance.org/2014/09/10/cycling-wear-helmet-maybe-dont/

39 thoughts on “My birthday, computer science, clouds, pauses, and helmets

  1. Happy birthday tomorrow, hope you have a good day.

    I’m 38 next birthday and on a fitness kick before I hit the 40. Also my hair is thinning and that is making me feel old, more than the number.

    Good article on cycle helmets. Isn’t that “decrease in the number of accidents” statistic rubbish? Without taking into account the decrease in the number of cyclists too?

    1. I’m on a fitness kick too and I’m loving it. I feel like I’ve missed something in my day if I haven’t gone cycling or running. I really need it.

      I’m self-conscious of my frown lines. I blame the earthquakes for making me frown too much. This is why I have a fringe. I never used to have one but discovered that a fringe could quite neatly hide my frown lines and now I quite like the look of it anyway.

      That statistical mistake is so ridiculous that I find it hard to believe they could have made such a mistake. I didn’t investigate though.

      1. That’s true (about young people and lack of exercise) but probably not in my case. I’ve always been fairly active. I used to run every morning at 6am when I first started University. I haven’t always gone running though. The last decade has been mostly walking and cycling. But I’m just getting back into running now and quite enjoying it.

  2. Happy 39th birthday, Rachel. Getting older isn’t my favourite thing but it’s better than the alternative. Wish I was only 39!! 🙂

      1. Cool, I inspire other people, but fail at inspiration… 🙂 The announcement that it was my b/day wasn’t planned, it was rather pointing to the plans that I was making. But it’s still a cool idea.

        AV

  3. Happy Birthday. And, a wish that 40 isn’t scary. It’s not getting there that is scary. Every year is not getting older but a another notch on your life belt to be proud of. Aren’t I horribly optimistic. Happy Birthday. 🐻 ⭐

  4. Happy (if belated) birthday wishes, Rachel.

    Never mind the numbers. Age is largely a state of mind assuming tolerable physical health and arguably, small breasts.

    I am now a mind-boggling 49 but try not to dwell on it. Birthdays are muted affairs these days, for this obvious reason. Plus the hangovers just get worse the older I get…

    😉

  5. Happy Birthday Rachel! Nice to know that our birthdays are only 6 days apart…with a few more years to add for mine though, lol! I remember finding it really hard turning 40 but after that I got used to it and then when I turned 50 I was grateful that I made it that far in relatively good shape, ha. Now I’m 55 and you know what? I feel younger than ever, fitter than ever and I embrace it. Strange isn’t it? To think I was absolutely dreading turning 40? Hope you have an absolutely super day and get spoiled rotten 🙂

    1. Happy birthday to you too, Sherri! September is the best month to have a birthday. It has always been spring for mine although I realise this is soon to change to autumn but that’s fine. I love both seasons.

      1. Thanks Rachel! I think that too, September is a great month. Of course, it is spring for you, I keep forgetting that! You’ll be coming from your summer into our winter won’t you when you move back to Aberdeen? That must be very strange. And yes, you’re birthday will be different for you. It would seem so odd to think that my birthday is in the spring…but, it’s good you love both seasons. You’ll get the best of both worlds 🙂

  6. Hello Belated Birthday Kiwi Lady …. now > 39, yes? its all math heh? by hours at the least. Nice new zealand style going on in your blogs. I especially appreciated reading your comment “Teaching children how to create software is far more useful than simply teaching them how to use it. And the following paragraph about “climate cloud change coincidences… Its a big issue, certainly we appear to be powerless and some of us more than others. Investing in Renewable Energy Certificates, the financial contribution subscriptions that directly affect and support the development and maintenance of wind farms, solar power resources and other breakthrough methods that address the solutions to our global environmental problems.

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