Shoutout to TamingData Readers/Gratitude

I would like to thank the readers of this blog for your time and comments.

This month, TamingData received almost 4,000 “page impressions“. That is an almost 189% increase over February 2011 (if I did that math correctly). Yes, I went from slightly under 2,000 page impressions in February to over 3,800 page impressions in March! I realize for some sites that may not seem like much, but for my blog, those are some nice numbers. I began this blog ~16 months ago, in December 2009.

How many page impressions did I have in March 2010? 141. I’ve had a >95% increase in readership over the past 12 months.

I am humbled that even one person wants to read what I have to write, much less thousands per month. The video below by Tim Morales, called, “Gratitude“, is my way of saying, “Thank you” to every one of you.

I hope you have a wonderful April.

Tsunami — Animation of Cause and Effect

The great Indian Ocean tsunami that struck 11 countries on 26 December 2004 killed an estimated 150,000 people and left millions homeless. The epicenter of that 9.0 quake was near the west coast of Sumatra, underneath the Indian Ocean.

On March 11, 2011, the Honshu Tsunami, caused by a 9.0 earthquake with its epicenter off of the northeast coast of Japan, struck the island nation, leaving thousands dead and thousands more homeless.

What causes a tsunami? How can an earthquake under the ocean cause so much damage on land?

Podders79’sAnimation-Tsunami Guide” explains the ocean-side cause and effect of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, but leaves off what happened once the tsunami struck land. It is still chilling to watch.

What are your thoughts after watching Podders79’s animation of the cause and immediate effect of a tsunami?

If you’d like to see how the Honshu Tsunami of 11 March 2011 spread across the Pacific Ocean, please read my post, “NOAA Maps Shows Honshu Tsunami Wave Heights Around the Globe“. Also see, National Geographic’s “Tsunamis — Fact About Killer Waves“.

Clueless Discovery / Asking the “Right” Questions

A large part of life and research involves figuring out what questions to ask. Still, how do you know what questions to ask? How do you know when to keep exploring vs. accepting that what you’ve found so far is “good enough”?

I have no idea.

And neither, apparently, does this guy, whose failure to “get it” clearly causes himself harm.

If you do not ask the right questions, you do not get the right answers. A question asked in the right way often points to its own answer. Asking questions is the A-B-C of diagnosis. Only the inquiring mind solves problems.” ~Edward Hodnett

Have you had any clueless discoveries you’d like to share?

[Via the SPARC eNews March 2011. See also, Aaron Ludwig, a.k.a., “the Rabid Milkman“.]

Earthquakes — Animation of Cause and Effect

What causes an earthquake?

We are told by the media in the aftermath of an earthquake that the ground moved and major “faults” shifted and collided because the earth’s “plates” are adjusting.

But what does that mean in layman’s terms?

Podders79 created this “Animation-Earthquake Guide” based on BBC archives to explain the how and what behind earthquakes.

What were your thoughts as you watched this video?

The New Zealand Herald has a section on the recent Christchurch earthquake. The BBC has an entire section devoted to the March 2011 quake and tsunami in Japan. If you would like to learn how a tsunami works, please read my post from September 2010, “Tsunami Animated Infographic“.

NOAA Maps Shows Honshu Tsunami Wave Heights Around the Globe

How can you display wave height in a meaningful way, particularly when a tsunami strikes after a major earthquake?

NOAA researchers and staff took the maximum predicted wave heights from buoys positioned in the Pacific as the Honshu Tsunami spread across the Pacific on March 11, 2011. Using that data, they created the dramatic images and video below of the predicted wave heights and energy of the tsunami.

The black color on the left side of each image shows the tsunami at its highest.

Image of the Honshu Tsunami courtesy NOAA and SciAm.

An author at SciAm writes:

This graphic shows the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s predictions of the maximum heights of tsunami waves caused by the March 11 earthquake near Sendai, Japan. The wave heights will decrease as the waves cross the deep Pacific Basin but rise again as they approach shorelines, although they won’t be as high as they were around Japan. The map shows waves of 30 to 70 centimeters (1.0 feet to 2.3 feet) are predicted to hit New Zealand, the South Pacific islands, Hawaii and the western coast of North America.

Continue reading “NOAA Maps Shows Honshu Tsunami Wave Heights Around the Globe”

Current-Generation Supercomputers — How Fast Is Fast? Can We Build Next-Generation Supercomputers That Are As Proportionally Fast?

Will we see advances in microprocessor speed during the next decade similar to what we saw in the past two decades? If so, how?

Researchers at DARPA asked this question, or, rather, asked: “What sort of technologies would engineers need by 2015 to build a supercomputer capable of executing a quintillion (1018) mathematical operations per second?” (IEEE, 2011).

The short answer is, it can’t be done by 2015 and, possibly, anytime in the near future. The reason for this is something called the power wall.

Modern supercomputers are based on groups of tightly interconnected microprocessors. For decades, successive generations of those microprocessors have gotten ever faster as their individual transistors got smaller—the familiar Moore’s Law paradigm. About five years ago, however, the top speed for most microprocessors peaked when their clocks hit about 3 gigahertz. The problem is not that the individual transistors themselves can’t be pushed to run faster; they can. But doing so for the many millions of them found on a typical microprocessor would require that chip to dissipate impractical amounts of heat. Computer engineers call this the power wall. Given that obstacle, it’s clear that all kinds of computers, including supercomputers, are not going to advance at nearly the rates they have in the past (IEEE, 2011).

The other part of the power wall — my version, anyway — is the amount of electricity required to run the machine. To run an exaflops-class supercomputer would essentially require a nuclear power plant next door — which is not exactly feasible.

So much for blazing fast speed with which to game and write The Great American Novel!

Still, how fast is fast? The infographic below uses bended bars to describe advances in microprocessor speed — i.e., “number crunching” — since 1993. (You can click on the image to view and zoom on a larger version of it.)

Number Crunching -- IEEE -- Next-Generation Supercomputers

Figure 1 — “Number Crunching”, courtesy IEEE Spectrum via the article, Next-Generation Supercomputers.

If you would like to read a summary of the expected limitations of next-generation supercomputing, read the 3-page article in IEEE Spectrum called, “Next-Generation Supercomputers“. If you would like to read the 278-page .pdf research report on the limitations of next-generation supercomuting, go to

Is there any data on the infographic above that surprises you? Would you have designed the data representation the same or differently?

Shoutout to Taming Data Readers/Tales Of Mere Existence: “How To Break Up with Your Girlfriend in 64 Easy Steps”

February 28th snuck up on me. I can thank deadlines and a shorter month for missing my end-of-month thank you to the readers of this blog. Therefore, March 1st will have to substitute as February’s end-of-month shoutout.

Thank you for reading this blog.

In honor of Valentine’s Day this past month, I cynically give you Lev Yilmaz’s “Tales of Mere Existence: ‘How to Break Up with Your Girlfriend in 64 Easy Steps'”. I believe it also applies to breaking up with any significant other, with only a slight variation based on gender and preference. I hope this makes you laugh about relationships.

I hope you have a wonderful and productive March 2011.