Am publicat recent împreună cu Felicia Cărbunaru (Administrația Națională de Meteorologie) în "Weather, Climate, and Society" (una dintre revistele editate de Societatea Americană de Meteorologie) un studiu în care analizăm pentru prima dată decesele cauzate de trăsnete în România. Pentru acest studiu am folosit un set de date, furnizat de Institutul Național de Statistică, ce conține informații despre 724 decese provocate de trăsnete în România între 1999 și 2015 (i.e., 42.6 decese pe an).  

Numărul anual al deceselor cauzate de trăsnete a scazut de la 65 decese pe an între 1999 și 2003 la 23 decese între 2011 și 2015 (Figura 1a). O posibilă explicație pentru acestă scădere a numărului deceselor în ultimi ani este legată de dezvoltarea serviciilor de urgență (e.g., Serviciul Mobil de Urgență, Reanimare și Descarcerare - SMURD oficial operațional din 1996, Inspectoratul General pentru Situații de Urgență - IGSU înființat în 2004) care au împiedicat ca unele dintre accidentele produse de trăsnete să ducă la decese.

 Figura 1. a) Numărul de decese asociate trăsnetelor din România între 1999-2015. În dreptul fiecărei coloane este indicată rata de mortalitate (i.e., decese per milion de locuitori pe an). b) Distribuția lunară a numărului de decese la trăsnete. (Figură reprodusă din  Antonescu and Carbunaru 2018 .) ©American Meteorological Society. 

Figura 1. a) Numărul de decese asociate trăsnetelor din România între 1999-2015. În dreptul fiecărei coloane este indicată rata de mortalitate (i.e., decese per milion de locuitori pe an). b) Distribuția lunară a numărului de decese la trăsnete. (Figură reprodusă din Antonescu and Carbunaru 2018.) ©American Meteorological Society. 

Majoritatea deceselor asociate trăsnetelor au avut loc în Mai-August (42% din totalul deceselor) cu un maxim în Iunie (31% ) și Iulie (28%) (Figura 1b). Cea mai mare rată a mortalității (>2,6 decese per milion de locuitori pe an) sa înregistrează în regiunea de sud-vest a României, o regiune caracterizată de valori mari ale densității trasnetelor (>2 trasnete pe kilometru pătrat pe an, Figura 2) și în care >40% din populație trăiește în zone rurale. Majoritatea deceselor (78%) au fost raportate în zonele rurale. Aproximativ 78% dintre victime au fost bărbați. Cel mai vulnerabil grup a fost cel al bărbaților cu vîrste cuprinse între 10-39 de ani care trăiesc în zonele rurale. 

 Figura 2. Densitatea medie anuală a trăsnetelor în România între 2003 și 2007. (Figură reprodusă din  Antonescu and Burcea 2010 .) ©American Meteorological Society. 

Figura 2. Densitatea medie anuală a trăsnetelor în România între 2003 și 2007. (Figură reprodusă din Antonescu and Burcea 2010.) ©American Meteorological Society. 

În concluzie, acest studiu arată că România are una dintre cele mai mari (daca nu chiar cea mai mare) rate a moratalității la trăsnete din Europa. Chiar dacă acestă rată a scăzut în ultimi ani, credem că numărul deceselor la trăsnete poate fi în continuare redus, de exemplu, prin campanii de informare privind riscurile asociate trăsnetelor și prin dezvoltarea unor resurse pentru protecția la trăsnete (de exemplu, www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov).

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AuthorBogdan Antonescu

This is a very interesting and atypical book in which the biography of the Italian Renaissance polymath Jerome Cardano (1501–1576) is mixed with discussions about quantum mechanics. Michael Brooks, the author of the book, is calling his approach "magical realist non-fiction". I really liked the magic realism aspect of the book, but I am not going give any details because I do not want to spoil the book. As for the non-fiction aspect, there are two main threads. The first one (and the main reason for which I decided to read this book) is about the life and works of Jerome Cardano. Cardano had an extraordinary life, he was a mathematician, physician, astronomer, inventor, writer, and philosopher, but also an astrologer, and gambler.  I remember learning at school about Cardano's contributions to mathematics, in particular to algebra, and I knew about the Cardan shaft (a mechanical component for transmitting torque and rotation), but I had no idea about his contributions to the probability theory (see Liber de Ludo Aleae/Book on Games of Chance, written around 1564 and published 1663) and imaginary numbers. Probability theory and the imaginary numbers are the connexions to the second thread of the book as they are the "twin pillars of quantum theory". The second thread of the book not only contains a description of the foundations of quantum mechanics but also descriptions of some of the main interpretation of quantum mechanics (e.g., the Copenhagen interpretation, the many worlds interpretation).

Decision: recommended.

[follow Jerome Cardon on Twitter at @JeromeCardano and Michael Brooks at @DrMichaelBrooks]

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The Quantum Astrologer's Handbook: a history of the Renaissance mathematics that birthed imaginary numbers, probability, and the new physics of the universe Hardcover by Michael Brooks [Amazon, and Audible].

Posted
AuthorBogdan Antonescu
CategoriesBook Review

The Productive Researcher* by Mark S. Reed (Newcastle University, Fast Track Impact) is a book that aims not only to make researchers more productive, but also to "enable [them] to be happy working less, and being more." (p. 168). The book is based on the author's personal (and sometimes very personal) experiences, interviews with some of the most productive researchers in the world, and literature on psychology, organizational management, ecology, and international development. The first part of the book contains a series of principles (e. g., on motivation, retelling your story, prioritizing, find goals that inspire you) which are relevant both to early career researchers and to more experienced researchers.  The second part of the book contains practical ideas (mainly for more experienced researchers) about how to become significantly more productive (e.g., work planning, say "yes" to say "no", writing, do less to do more, how to spend less time on emails, meetings, and online). 

The book was inspiring (even if in few places I slightly disagreed with the author) and I will try to implement some of his ideas and strategies in my research activities and develop goals that are Stretching, Motivational,  Authentic, Relational, and Tailored (i. e., the new SMART proposed by the author). Furthermore, the book is beautifully done, I really like the cover and the design. 

Decision: Recommended. 

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*) See also this video Work less to achieve more - lessons from the world's most productive researchers.

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Posted
AuthorBogdan Antonescu
CategoriesBook Review

In the introduction to my coffee table book on tornadoes and waterspouts in Europe, I wrote that there are still more historical depictions of these meteorological phenomena in libraries and archives across Europe waiting to be re-discovered. A tweet posted recently by Warrington Museum showed that I was right. The tweet was companied by a beautiful depiction of the "singular phenomena" that occurred on 16 June 1798 in the neighbourhood of Warrington. Almost immediately I contacted Warrington Archives and Local History and they were very helpful in providing more details about the event, details published in an article in The Gentleman's Magazine, and Historical Chronicle in August 1799. A transcript of the article is shown below.

[...] A dark thick cloud of a considerable extent and forming almost a direct line parallel to the horizon lowered over part of the adjoining country, chiefly Cheshire, when towards the centre a water spout of immense magnitude appeared lengthening by degrees until it assumed a formidable appearance in the shape of a sugar loaf reversed and extending from base to point to the eye of the spectator nearly 1-16th of the whole hemisphere.  It moved in a curvilinear form the point inclining from the South, the cloud stretching out due North and South. It frequently varied its size sometimes extending within a few feet of the ground then seemingly drawn upwards. At one time it remained stationary in respect to form and situation for near ten minutes but never burst not meeting as supposed with attracting fluid which at sea serves to form that immense body of water which at last breaks from its own weight. After varying its length for some moments longer it entirely disappeared and was embodied in the cloud. Between the cloud and the horizon the sky appeared a dusky yellow which served to mark the dark edge of the cloud and the waterspout with a peculiar gloom. After the appearance of this phaenomenon there was scarce a day passed here for the continuance of nearly a month that it did not rain in perfect torrent. Its appearances were during the time of the Newton races to the no little dismay of the crowd assembled on that occasion and to the horror of the farmers who foreboded in consequence some most melancholy catastrophe to their harvest. I send you a drawing taken on the spot of the singular appearance it presented.
— The Gentleman's Magazine, and Historical Chronicle (1799)
 The "singular phenomena" observed on 16 June 1798 in the neighbourhood of Warrington (courtesy of Warrington Archives and Local History, Culture Warrington).

The "singular phenomena" observed on 16 June 1798 in the neighbourhood of Warrington (courtesy of Warrington Archives and Local History, Culture Warrington).

Form the description is not clear if this event was indeed a tornado, a waterspout, or a funnel cloud that extended very closed to the ground. Nevertheless, this is another great example of how detailed and beautiful are some of the historical descriptions and depictions of tornadoes, waterspouts, and funnel clouds in Europe. 

(Many thanks, to David Gelsthorpe (@paleomanchester) from the Manchester Museum for pointing to me the tweet from Warrington Museum (@warringtonmus), and to Warrington Archives and Local History, Culture Warrington for their help. #archivescience #explorearchives.)

Posted
AuthorBogdan Antonescu

A funny and interesting book about the "hidden silly side of higher education" (Wright 2017). Topics range from "Academic Publishing" (e.g., ATLAS Collaboration& Collaboration 2015 has 5,154 authors, 9 pages discussing the findings, and 24 pages listing the authors and their affiliations), and "Impact & Outreach" (e.g., Kardashian Index, Hall 2014, my K-index is 6.679 = "Kardashian"...), to "Conferences" (e.g., conference bingo, an excellent activity that keeps you engaged and awake at conferences), and "Academic Animals"** (e.g., Hetherington and Willard 1975).

Decision: highly recommended. 

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*) Non-fiction book reviews in 300 words or less. 

**) Co-authoring a paper with a cat is on my bucket list (see photo). 

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Posted
AuthorBogdan Antonescu
CategoriesBook Review