Thursday, March 22, 2018

Was The Recent Oil Spill in China The Largest In History?

Source: Acclaim Images

Back in January, an oil spill occurred off the coast of China.  One account reported the oil spill to be largest in history.  Whenever an oil spill is reported, the number is stated and rarely cast into perspective.  Which makes the visualization of such a disaster very difficult to achieve.  In order to really understand, an analysis needs to be carried out.  Below I explore the oil spill in China using dimensional analysis (and past blog posts).  There are the following steps in the analysis:

1) Convert the weight of oil spilled into a volume using the density of crude oil

2) Compare the calculated volume to a previous oil spill in history

3) Put the volume into perspective using a known volume as a metric

How Large Was The Spill?

The answer to the question of size is difficult due to the continuous diffusion of oil over time after a spill occurs.  What is reported is usually the amount (in weight or volume) of oil.  In an article from 'The New York Times' titled "Huge Oil Spill Spreads in East China Sea, Stirring Environmental Fears" the author states the amount spilled as follows:

HONG KONG — An oil spill from an Iranian tanker that sank in the East China Sea is rapidly spreading, officials said Tuesday, alarming environmentalists about the threat to sea and bird life in the waterway.
The tanker, the Sanchi, was carrying 136,000 tons of highly flammable fuel oil when it crashed into a freighter on Jan. 6. On Sunday, the Sanchi sank after a huge blast sent up a great plume of black smoke and set the surface of the water on fire, China Central Television said.
The bodies of three crew members have been recovered, and the remaining 29 were presumed dead, the Iranian government said. Thirty Iranians and two Bangladeshis were believed to have died.
The oil slicks from the sunken tanker were growing in size, China’s State Oceanic Administration said Tuesday. There are now two huge slicks covering 52 square miles, compared with just four square miles the previous day. Strong winds were pushing the spill toward Japan, away from China, and it was now less than 200 miles from Naha, Japan.

Wow!  That is crazy.  Although, I find the number of tons of oil spilled confusing.  Different media reports state statistics differently.  Some use 'cubic feet of oil', while others use 'tons', yet others use gallons.  I wish that there would be a standard set by the Associated Press for readers.  A comparison would be much easier with a standard unit set for large oil spills around the world.

Since that is not the case, dimensional analysis can be used to get us to a standard for comparison to other spills reported on this site.  The amount of oil spilled off the coast of China was stated in 'tons' -- which is a weight.  In order to get a volume out of units of weight -- a 'unit conversion' is necessary.

The unit conversion factor is specific to each chemical.  Every chemical has a unique volume associated with a given amount of weight.  In other words, the 'density' of a chemical species is the amount of weight specified for a given volume.  The units can vary but are usually stated as 'grams/milliliters' or 'kilograms/cubic meters'.  If the following question was typed into a search engine regarding the 'density' of oil: What is the density of Oil? -- the result shown below would appear at the top of the screen:

The result of the search above indicates that the density of crude oil is actually a range.  Crude oil is a composition of varying chains of hydrocarbons.  Hydrocarbons are molecules in the shape of 'chains' which contain mostly elements 'hydrogen' and 'carbon.'   Crude oil  is a mixture of chemicals and therefore the density can vary.  For the purpose of this analysis, the value of 900 kilograms/cubic meter will be used -- which is in the stated range above.

Having a value of density allows the conversion of a 'weight' to a 'volume' as follows.  Starting with the weight of the oil spill from the excerpt above -- 136,000 tons, a change of notation is useful for conciseness.  Below, the weight is expressed in scientific notation:

Scientific notation is a way to handle large numbers in calculations rather than writing out large numbers in long form.  Before the conversion from a weight to a volume of oil is possible, a direct unit conversion is necessary first.  What?  Yes, the density is expressed in units of 'kilogram/cubic-meter'.   The stated weight of the oil spill is in units of 'tons'.  Therefore, a direct conversion is needed from 'ton' to 'kilogram' before proceeding to convert to a volume.

If the following question is typed into Google: How many kilograms in a ton?  The following appears below:

The result of the query shows that there are 907.185 kilograms in a single ton.  With the conversion value in hand, the conversion from 'ton' to 'kilogram' is shown below:

Now that the unit of weight is consistent with the units contained in the density of crude oil, the volume can be determined of crude oil from the weight as follows:

The result of the calculation indicates that a total of 137,000 cubic meters was released during the oil spill.  In order to put this result in perspective with other calculations on this blog, the conversion from units of 'cubic meters' to 'gallons' is necessary.  If Google is consulted with the following question: How many gallons in a cubic meter? The following result is shown below:

There are 264.172 gallons in a single cubic meter.  The conversion from units of 'cubic meters' to 'gallons' is now possible and shown below:

The oil spill in China resulted in a total of 35.7 million gallons of oil being deposited into the ocean.  Wow!  In the past blog posts on large volume spills (which can be found here), a comparison was made to previous spills.  If the largest oil spill in history -- Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill -- is used as a metric for comparison, the following analyses can be obtained shown below:

The two calculations yield different numbers with different meanings.  First, the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill in the gulf of Mexico contained a total of 210,000,000 gallons of oil (210 million).  In the first calculation, the result indicates that the oil spill in China was small compared to the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill.  In comparison, there would be 588 equivalent volumes of oil (China) to a single volume of oil contained in the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill.

The second calculation above indicates shows that the volume of the oil spilled in China is roughly 17% of volume spilled during the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill. Given that these two different numbers calculated above are difficult to visualize, there is a need to cast them into a visual perspective.  Below, I show that the volume can easily be put into perspective using a metric from a past blog post.

Magnitude of volume

The magnitude of the volume was calculated above and compared to the previously reported largest oil spill in history -- Deepwater Horizon Oil spill.  Turns out that the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill is still the largest oil spill in history.  The news media accounts that reported the oil spill in China to be the largest in history were incorrect.  The calculations indicated that the oil spill in China was small in comparison to the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill.  The total volume of oil spilled was 35.7 million gallons of oil.

In order to visualize how large 35.7 million gallons of water is exactly or approximately, a metric is needed to cast the volume into perspective.  In the past, a common metric to compare large volumes of liquid has been to choose the "World's Largest Swimming Pool" in Chile shown below:

Source: Huffington Post

The swimming pool shown above holds around 66 million gallons.  Which makes the volume of oil spilled in China easily understandable.  The total volume of oil spilled in China could fill just over half of the swimming pool above.  A person can easily visualize the amount of oil spilled in comparison to the volume shown above.


News accounts can vary with regard to statistics which are reported.  Further, statistics can be misleading.  Fortunately, the above analysis allows each of us to cast any number into perspective.  The results of the calculations show that the oil spill in China was not the largest oil spill in history.  The recent oil spill was a tragedy, but at least the spill was smaller in comparison to other past oil spills.  Compared to the largest oil spill in history -- Deepwater Horizon Oil spill -- the spill was 1/588 the size -- Or 17%.  The spill was more comparable to the Exxon Valdez Oil spill which was around 20 million gallons of oil.  Regardless, using the analysis above and visual metric provided, the magnitude of the oil spill is now easily understandable.

More blog posts can be found here.

Monday, March 19, 2018

How Resilient Is Your Body Toward Infections?

Source: CDC

Have you ever had the following thoughts while 'under the weather' due to a cold or flu: "Why is this cold/flu holding my body hostage so long?  Why is my body taking so long to fight this cold?  I normally recover within a couple of days....this flu/cold must be a big one."  If so, I would like to bring up a few points inspired by a discussion a few days ago with a colleague regarding the body's resiliency in fighting infections.  Enjoy!

Why am I sick?

Why am I sick?  The answer to this question lies in the ability of a person's immune system to mount an attack on an infection (a foreign invader) into your body at any given time.  Of course, at any given time, through the acts of breathing, seeing, hearing, eating, skin absorption, invaders are attacking our bodies mounting an invasion on our system.

Stop to think about this.  Just opening your eyes, opening your mouth, breathing in, covering yourself with clothes or being naked, invaders are trying to get into your body.   You may be wondering why I am thinking about this subject at all?  First, we are in the midst of an influenza frenzy -- the spread of which is fast and wide.  Schools are hotbeds for the spread of the influenza virus this season.  I got the virus after participating as a 'science judge' a few weeks ago at an elementary school.  I even got the flu shot this season.

Turns out that there are four strains of the influenza virus circulating this season.  Three of which are wiped out by the 'flu shot' -- which is great.  The downside is that the worst strain of the virus is the fourth which has mutated and built up a resistance to the 'flu shot' - not great.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers the following explanation regarding the viruses ability to change over time:

Influenza viruses are constantly evolving, in fact all influenza viruses undergo genetic changes over time (for more information, see How the Flu Virus Can Change: “Drift” and “Shift”). An influenza virus’ genome consists of all genes that make up the virus. CDC conducts year-round surveillance of circulating influenza viruses to monitor changes to the genome (or parts of the genome) of these viruses. This work is performed as part of routine U.S. influenza surveillance and as part of CDC’s role as a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center for Reference and Research on Influenza. The information CDC collects from studying genetic changes (also known as “substitutions,” “variants” or “mutations”) in influenza viruses plays an important public health role by helping to determine whether existing vaccines and medical countermeasures (e.g., antiviral drugs) will work against new influenza viruses, as well as helping to determine the potential for influenza viruses in animals to infect humans.
Genome sequencing reveals the sequence of the nucleotides in a gene, like alphabet letters in words. Comparing the composition of nucleotides in one virus gene with the order of nucleotides in a different virus gene can reveal variations between the two viruses.
Genetic variations are important because they affect the structure of an influenza virus’ surface proteins. Proteins are made of sequences of amino acids.
The substitution of one amino acid for another can affect properties of a virus, such as how well a virus transmits between people, and how susceptible the virus is to antiviral drugs or current vaccines.
Influenza A and B viruses – the primary influenza viruses that infect people – are RNA viruses that have eight gene segments. These genes contain ‘instructions’ for making new viruses, and it’s these instructions that an influenza virus uses once it infects a human cell to trick the cell into producing more influenza viruses, thereby spreading infection.

Not all people receive the form of the influenza virus which has mutated or changed and is resistant to the 'flu shot.'  Although, the few that have and still get sick (like myself) have the risk of giving up days of productive work to allow our bodies to repair our immune system to restore the ability to mount a counter attack against influenza virus.  The majority of folks that have been subjected to taking time off due to illness (sick days) -- wanted or unwanted.  This virus has a real kick and can put a person down in bed for several days.

In the worst case scenario, a few unfortunate elderly people have transitioned from serious illness caused by the influenza virus to the actual stage of an pneumonia - which in some cases can be life-threatening.  A colleague of mine just mentioned the other day that he has attended this year  3 funerals of friends who have died as a result of a serious progression of the virus into a pneumonia and onto death.  What a tragedy that is.  I expressed my sorrow for his losses.  I also took the time to insert a message of gratitude for those of us who have survived.  Not to be disrespectful of those unfortunate people that passed as a result.

The Human Body is Resilient Toward Infections

In most cases the human body is resilient toward infection.  As I mentioned above, the human body is constantly being bombarded with attacks from foreign invaders.   And our immune system is in turn mounting attacks against foreign invaders at what seems like the speed of light (not literally).  Our ability to comprehend the extreme resiliency of our immune systems ability to mount counter attacks is greatly lacking.  Let me give you an example to explain why this is the case.

Present Day Syria

Immigration is a hot issue presently throughout the world.  There are 65 million displaced migrants moving throughout the world today.  A significant portion of the moving migrant are moving from the civil war that has plagued Syria over the last few years.  Here is a picture shown below of a previously largely populated city of (in Syria - pre-civil war):

Source: Sputnik News

This picture is of the city of Aleppo pre-civil war with a population of 1.6 million people.  Of course, after years of the civil war, the city now appears as shown below:

Source: CNN

Wow!  Imagine if the human body was unable to fight an infection.  Imagine if the human body worked on the time scale of the human ability to rebuild a city like Aleppo after a civil war.  Our ability on the human level (physical scale) is lacking.  Building up a city like Aleppo will take years to return to normalcy if ever.

On the microscopic scale (virus level), our bodies have to be much more resilient to fighting disease.  The ability to rebuild our destroyed cells or other cellular machinery is of the upmost importance and needs to be accomplished immediately. Again, you may be wondering the following question:

What is the connection to the city of Aleppo and the human body's immune system?

The point that I would like to drive home is that we should respect the our body more.  Furthermore, in the event that the influenza virus invades our body successfully and causes us to miss work, respect your body and let your immune system do its intended job.  Think about this blog post while you rest in bed.  Let your body repair your system.  If you choose to not respect your immune system and let the system do the job of counter attacking the virus, you could move the virus into the stage of an pneumonia -- and possibly progress onto death.


Respect your body.  Amazingly enough, your body's ability to mount a counter attack is super efficient compared to the human scale activities shown above.  Imagine if your body operated on the scale of us as humans operating on a daily basis.  You would be sick for years.

Secondly, remember that your body fights the virus every few weeks after you recover.  Therefore, if you recover and start to abuse your body (let your immune system be compromised) by not taking care of yourself, you will find yourself sick again.  What?  Is that possible?  Yes, it is.  Don't believe me?  See if this happens in the future after you recover from your present sick state.

I hope that each of you choose to respect and let your body heal itself on the appropriate time scale.  Remember to think about how amazing your system is to be able to recover in a matter of days.  What is the equivalent process that occurs on the human physical scale?  Is there such a comparison?  I do not believe that one has been uncovered.  We have a lot to learn in science to be able to mimic the body's ability to recover.  Until next time, have a great day.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Chemistry Reactions Are Amazing - See For Yourself

Source: Coursera

In general chemistry, a professor will start teaching new students about reactions which occur between individual or groups (small groups) of atoms or molecules.  The next step is to view those reactions in terms of 'moles' which is analogous to 'a dozen'.  There are "12 eggs in a dozen" and there are "602,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules in a mole" -- Wow!

Well, when those molecules are viewed in these numbers the chemical reactions appear as follows in the video shown below.  The video is 11 minutes long and shows 10 very common demonstrations (reactions) which amaze the human mind.  Watch and see what you think:

Did I disappoint your imagination?  Were you able to view all of the molecules reacting together?  Probably not is the answer to both.  Chemistry is amazing.  I will elaborate more on these reactions in future posts.  Have a great weekend!

Recent Blog Posts:

Parameters: Steel And Aluminum Tariffs Are Not Isolated - They Are Tied To Trading Of Other Vital Goods

Thoughts: How Did People Talk In 1929?

LimeBike Dockless Bikeshare Riders Travel A Distance Of 13,000 Miles In Just Over 3 Weeks?

Ralph Nader Suggests To Consumers Reading 'Consumer Reports' Before Impulse Buying

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Parameters: Steel And Aluminum Tariffs Are Not Isolated - They Are Tied To Trading Of Other Vital Goods

Source: The Times In Plain English

The world trading process can be thought of as a giant machine with many moving parts.  At times, different parts take on greater importance.  Although, in total, each part is tied to one another.  Why do I state the obvious?  The recent move (or proposal) by the Trump Administration stands to verify the obvious -- that 'traded goods' are tied to one another.  Meaning, if one traded good (such as steel) is shifted in value (by adding a tariff), then the overall machine changes to accommodate the overall shift.

Traded Goods Are Connected

Global free trade is good for the world despite what In a sense, exports and imports between various countries in the world are 'connected' together.  This was made apparent in an e-mail that I received yesterday from 'Politico Agriculture' stating the following regarding trade:

TRUMP DIGS IN ON STEEL, ALUMINUM TARIFFS: Leaders of both the House and Senate have criticized President Donald Trump's plan to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell making his first public comments on the proposal on Tuesday. The Kentucky Republican said that lawmakers are telling the administration the action could "metastasize into a larger trade war," POLITICO's Nolan McCaskill reported.
House Speaker Paul Ryan has also personally warned Trump about the economic dangers and potential political backlash. And Sen. Orrin Hatch suggested that the trade restrictions would be a tax on American consumers and businesses while detracting from the breakthrough of recent tax cuts.
But GOP lawmakers don't appear to be changing the president's mind on imposing tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum. Trump, during a press conference on Tuesday with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, doubled down on his plan - even saying the tariffs will be applied in a "loving way," though he didn't expand on the meaning of that statement.
The president added that action was needed to address the "very unfair trade situation" between the United States and other countries, and he singled out the European Union as an example.
EU promises to target wide range of ag products: Our colleagues at POLITICO Europe obtained a four-page list of American imports that the EU is set to hit with duties of 25 percent to retaliate against Trump's tariffs, totaling nearly $3.5 billion worth of goods. The trading bloc would go after imports of corn, rice, cranberries, peanut butter, orange juice, kidney beans, bourbon whiskey and tobacco - valued at about $1.2 billion.
Groups unite to try to fight efforts: Agriculture and business groups were on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to lobby against Trump's pending tariff actions. The effort was led by the National Foreign Trade Council, which announced the formation of a new coalition of more than 30 groups that oppose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, including those representing export-dependent industries and users of the two materials. A range of farm groups are involved, including the American Soybean Association, Beer Institute, Grocery Manufacturers Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Pork Producers Council and U.S. Wheat Associates. Members will meet with the Senate Finance Committee today.
GMA Spokesman Roger Lowe said in a statement to POLITICO that the organization is continually meeting with members of Congress to explain how the president's proposed tariffs "will act as a regressive tax on food, beverage and consumer products, driving up costs for American families and mitigating economic momentum our industry is beginning to realize via tax reform." GMA and those lawmakers are encouraging the administration to take a "more balanced approach," Lowe said.

Wow! Before this announcement - a small percent of voters were concerned about our position as a nation in a world where global free trade has resulted in an imbalance where the U.S. pays more than other countries to keep the global trade business flowing.  Remember though, that the U.S. is the largest democracy aside from being the most developed and financially dominant country in the world.  We benefit the most in total.

While at the same time, global free trade has created a 'connected world' where "trusts" are built by preserving trade routes and norms between nations.  If we make an adjustment in the 'trade machine' - a shift will be caused which will jeopardize that "trust" if not erode any confidence in future trading mechanisms going forward from here.  What does this mean?

The result is that now all of those 'trade agreements' will have to be re-negotiated - which will be costly and take years and in the interim create instability in the global trade system.

Don't Believe Me

In a short video on 'CNN' anchor Andersen Cooper discusses with prior White House employees the results of imposing a 25% trade tariff on Steel and Aluminum which lasts 8 minutes in length:

If the video is not enough, the 'National Foreign Trade Council' has information on their web page regarding the decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum along with the overall dynamics (consequences) shown below:

The Alliance, whose membership includes over 30 sectoral associations representing a vast cross-section of American manufacturers and farmers, will meet with members of Congress and the Administration to express their concern about the downstream effects of the proposed tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum announced by President Trump last week and the potential for foreign retaliation against the President's action.

"Our alliance represents some of the most competitive industries in the U.S. economy, and we are deeply concerned about the effects that these tariffs will have on industries and companies that use steel and aluminum," said Rufus Yerxa, President of the National Foreign Trade Council. "We are also concerned about the retaliation against America's most competitive exporters. This ‘double whammy' of higher prices to our domestic producers and retaliation against our exporters will endanger tens of thousands of quality American jobs."

In a policy paper also released today, the Alliance outlined the member's concerns regarding the proposed tariffs, including the following:
1) Damage to downstream users and American consumers;
2) Damage to U.S. exports; and
3) Damage to U.S. economic growth.

With the clear implications laid out above from the National Foreign Trade Council, one would think that any position counter to that message would be considered ludicrous.  An article appeared in 'The New York Times' on Sunday titled "Trade War Prospect Shakes Part of Trump Base: Midwest Farmers" with the following thoughts from a soybean farmer from the Midwest:

“The ag economy is not very good right now — fragile is the polite word for it,” Mr. Gould said.
His wife, Sandy, across the table, jumped in: “It’s in the tank is what he means.”
Mr. Gould continued, “So then when you go to great lengths to upset some of your key customers, there’s reason for concern.”
Three out of every five rows of soybeans planted in the United States find their way out of the country; half of those, valued at $14 billion in 2016, go to China alone. Mr. Gould estimates that 90 percent of his soybeans are exported, and 70 percent of his corn, so what he calls Mr. Trump’s “trade antics” — particularly his criticisms of Nafta — nag at him.
“It’s not only what happens today, but it’s the reputation of becoming an unreliable supplier,” he said.
Still, he’s not sure what will happen next, and he thinks that many farmers who supported the president are not yet ready to abandon him. “I think they’re going to wait and see how this thing plays out,” he said.

The message is clear.  Trade exports from the United States will definitely be impacted by the recent tariffs on steel and aluminum by the Trump Administration.  The question is just "how much will those tariffs be in the end to counter Trump's tariff."


With the excerpts above in mind, I am astounded that the farmers are still hanging on to a 'sinking ship.'  That 'sinking ship' is the tariffs implemented by the Trump Administration.  The following actions put forth by the current Administration lead me to think critically about the following questions about the 'consequences' of tariffs:

When will the public get the message?  When the price of cars increase?  

When the cost of produce increases?  

Will consumers be able to tie the two 'connected' commodities together?  

These are important questions to consider.  The answers will become apparent in the future of consumers choices and opinions.  Further, the next time that the 'voting' polls are open, the consequences will be apparent as well.

Recent Blog Posts:

Thoughts: How Did People Talk In 1929?

LimeBike Dockless Bikeshare Riders Travel A Distance Of 13,000 Miles In Just Over 3 Weeks?

Ralph Nader Suggests To Consumers Reading 'Consumer Reports' Before Impulse Buying

President Trump Just Allowed Greater Environmental Risk To Children's Health

More blog posts can be found here

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Thoughts: How Did People Talk In 1929?

Source: NPS.Gov

Have you ever found yourself reading a book from a the past (decades ago) and wondered how the people of society spoke during that respective era?  I have.  For a variety of reasons.  Especially, in the era before television and cameras were so frequently used.  This lack of understanding is filled only with the books with which we are left to read.  Furthermore, this leads each of us to hear and think (imagine) their voices in our own heads.  Of course, we could rely on 'Hollywood' also to fill a portion of the void.  Now, that has changed for one excerpt of interviews upon which I stumbled -- check them out below.

Recently, I found a video with a few interviews on the website 'Aeon'.  After clicking into the YouTube url, I was directed to a video titled "1929 - Interviews With Elderly People Throughout The US" is shown below:

Wow!  That is a collection of history that each of us could not even dream up ourselves.  As a closing question, I will ask the following:

How do the people in the video above compare with the (created) voices in your head? 

How about compared with those portrayed in the same era by Hollywood movie productions?

The concerns and questions of the day seem to be similar to today.  Until next time, have a great weekend.

Related blogs can be found here.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

LimeBike Dockless Bikeshare Riders Travel A Distance Of 13,000 Miles In Just Over 3 Weeks?

Source: LimeBike

Dockless BikeShare Programs are emerging in a number of areas across the United States.  Especially, around university campuses for obvious reasons.  Around California State University at Northridge, over 50% of the students live within a radius of 5 miles.  This makes a BikeShare program thrive instead of using cars to travel to and from campus.  Residents may engage in use of BikeShare bicycles too and have done so in the Northridge area.  Below is a dimensional analysis of the total distance traveled (13,000 miles) in just over 3 weeks.  Wow!

Today, I wrote a guest post on for the wonderful website 'BikingInLA' titled "Guest Post: Open letter opposing Englander motion to halt dockless bikeshare and CSUN LimeBike system" which focuses on a recent 'emergency moratorium through a motion' to regulate (basically shut down) the use of LimeBike Dockless Bikeshare bicycles around campus.  The obvious reasons for using alternative modes of transportation can be found in the link to the post along with staggering statistics and testimonials of riders.

For the purpose of the following post, I would like to show the calculations of the stated statistics in the article on 'BikingInLA' written by myself.  To start with the two statistics in question need to be stated below:

1) 13,000 miles -- a person could ride a bicycle 2 round trips from Northridge (California) to New York City (New York).

2) 13,000 miles -- a person could make 17 round trips from Northridge (California) to San Francisco (California).

In order to verify those calculations, a few steps need to be taken.  In the following two sections, each devoted to a single statement above, the steps will be displayed clearly to arrive at the statements above.  Lets start with explaining through dimensional analysis the first statement regarding 2 round trips from Northridge to New York city.

Northridge to New York City?

To start the dimensional analysis of casting the distance of 13,000 miles into perspective, a 'metric' needs to be stated.  In the first statement above, the 'metric' is the distance traveled from Northridge (California) to New York City (New York).

The first step is to find the distance, consult a 'map program' such as 'GoogleMaps' and type in the following destination: New York City.  The map should appear as follows below:

Next, click on the 'directions' button and then a "From" and "To" entry spaces should appear on the upper left hand corner as shown below:

Upon choosing a "car" as a choice of transportation, the following possible set of directions appear like those shown above.  The total distance from Northridge (California) to New York City (New York) is 2,867 miles.

Remember that the distance stated above is a 'One Way Trip'.  Which means that when a final total number of trips is reached through analysis below, the total number of trips will be divided by 2 in order to determine the number of round trips

"OWT" represents 'One Way Trip'.  To calculate the total number of 'One Way Trips' possible by traveling 13,000 miles, a division of the distance traveled by the distance of a 'One Way Trip' as shown below:

The result of the calculation is interpreted as the following: If a person were to travel by bicycle (BikeShare) 13,000 miles, they could complete 4 One Way Trips or 2 Round Trips from Northridge (California) to New York City (New York).  The analysis above matches up with the statistic stated in my guest post on 'BikingInLA' today.

Next, the same analysis is carried out to verify the second statement above using a metric of 'One Way Trips' to San Francisco from Northridge.

Northridge to San Francisco

The analysis above was carried out to verify the distance traveled by LimeBike users in less than a month around the CSUN campus - 13,000 miles using the metric of 'One Way Trips' from Northridge to New York City across the U.S.  In the current analysis below, a smaller metric is used.  The metric is 'One Way Trips' from Northridge (California) to San Francisco (California).

To start the analysis, the website '' is consulted with the following statement: San Francisco, CA and the following result is shown below:

If the current analysis is carried out in the same manner as above, then click on the 'Directions' in the upper left hand corner and two entry spaces will appear.  If the top entry space is filled with 'Northridge, CA' while the second entry space is filled with 'San Francisco, CA' - the following result is shown below:

The result is shown above which shows the total distance for a single trip from Northridge (California) to San Francisco (California) is 368 miles.  The is shown below:

Expressed as 'One Way Trips' the following total distance for a single trip is shown below:

With the metric of a single trip known to be 368 miles, to determine the total number of 'One Way Trips' possible is carried out by dividing the total distance in question (13,000 miles) by 368 miles as shown below:

The result above indicates that a total of 35 'One Way Trips' are possible given a person with the ability to travel 13,000 miles by bicycle (BikeShare).  This can be interpreted as a total number of round trips to be 17 from Northridge (California) to San Francisco (California).


Above, two different analyses were carried out using the same methodologies.  These analyses verified the number of  'Round Trips' possible by the total distance of 13,000 miles.  Additionally, the above dimensional analysis allows us to visualize the magnitude of the number cited in the guest post written on 'BikingInLA' today.  The number of miles -- 13,000 miles represent the number of miles traveled in 40,000 trips by LimeBike users around Northridge in less than a month.  These numbers are extremely encouraging toward moving to alternative modes of transportation.  Incorporating active transportation into our lives will result in a healthier community, less congested (with traffic) and boost local economy.

Related Blogs using dimensional analysis can be found here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Ralph Nader Suggests To Consumers Reading 'Consumer Reports' Before Impulse Buying

Source: Consumer Reports

Have you every shopped with that seemingly haunting 'impulse'?  You know what I mean.  Walk into a store and the feeling arises immediately when viewing a product of interest with such an 'urge to purchase' that you can hardly leave the store -- that is until you buy the product occupying not only your mind -- but your life temporarily?  Well, if you have and later had the thought of regret, then the Consumer Activist Ralph Nader has some advice for you below worth reading before your next purchase.

As I have stated before on this blog post, I receive new content via e-mail from the wonderful website '' -- Ralph Nader's website.  Here is a letter regarding the magazine 'Consumer Report' worth reading before going out to purchase your next product:

On my weekly radio show, I recently interviewed Liam McCormack, the head of testing for Consumer Reports (CR)—a resource and monthly magazine with seven million print and online  subscribers. It has always been a wonder to me why seventymillion people don’t take advantage of this honest, non-profit testing organization that gives you the lowdown on just about every kind of consumer product—and some services—that you buy regularly.
Year after year, month after month, Consumer Reports proves its worth to consumers through money saved, aggravation avoided and safety advanced. Founded in 1936, this venerable  organization takes no advertising and is as incorruptible as  any organization can possibly be.
Here are just a few examples of naming names and suggesting better purchases:
–“AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint or Verizon cost an average of $960 a year. We’ll tell you about the carrier that provides better voice quality and costs $360 a year. You can save $600 a year.”
–Comparing price, selection and service of more than 20 chain retailers, consumer satisfaction scored Costco higher than Walmart.
–You’ve heard the Geico insurance ads—“15 minutes” saving you “15 percent.” CR advises you compare insurance companies every two or three years, adding, “After 20 years with Geico, one of our readers switched to highly-rated Amica insurance companies and saved $793 on her coverage.
–The most expensive brands, whether cars or mattresses, are not often the best buy, whether it is a Mercedes-Benz car or an Apple computer, or a Serta mattress. CR’s own testing results often show other brands—including lesser known ones, are a better deal for a variety of reasons—including price and performance.
To show how much you can save and how you pay for rewarding name-brand advertisers, Consumer Reports tested the “Serta Comfort Smart Support HB300Q,” which costs $2,275, and “had unimpressive back support.” By contrast, the “Denver Mattress Doctor’s Choice” received a CR top-rating with “very good back support” and is priced at $500!
CR’s food testing and advice can save your family hundreds of dollars a year while protecting your health and saving you additional health care expenses.
One of the magazine’s innovations was their Annual Auto Issue. Let’s say you’re thinking about buying a car or selling a car. You’ll receive “detailed ratings, reliability, recommendations, photos and base price ranges for 240+ recently tested cars and trucks.”
CR doesn’t shy away from controversy. It writes that doctors recommending CT scans include many physicians who “underestimate the risk of CT scans,” whose substantial radiation can “increase your risk of cancer.” “Always ask your doctor why the scan is being ordered and if your problem could be managed without it,” urges CR. As with other cautions, CR backs such statements up with hard evidence in its magazine.
With various offerings, the subscription is $30 a year and you should receive the famous CR’s Buying Guide and another book titled, Should I Eat This? which you will find very nutritious.
As someone who has received thousands of complaints from consumers over the years, pardon me if I continue to wonder why so many consumers continue to act against their own perceived self-interests.
If you’re already a CR subscriber and you want to get the attention of friends whom you think can benefit from its comparative ratings and other advice, try a little reverse psychology: to wit, I submit the following:

10 Ways to Shaft Yourself as a Consumer
1) Buy before you think
2) Buy before you read
3) Buy before you ask questions
4) Buy before you can afford to buy
5) Buy before you see through the seller’s smile and smooth tongue
6) Buy before you comparison shop
7) Buy when you are tired or hungry
8) Buy when you are rushed
9) Buy to dote on your child or because your child demands the product
10) Buy just to keep up with your friends or neighbors

 Marketing experts rely on a 'tool box' of supplies to reel you into purchasing a given consumer product.  Technology has been the most recent 'tool' added to the 'tool box'.  While a shopper might arrive at an aisle ready to purchase a given beauty product - BAM - out of the blue, their cell phone rings with a coupon for a competitor beauty product.

  How are consumers supposed to stay focused after their hours of reading 'Consumer Reports' magazine while being inundated with 'real time' coupons to try to persuade a change of heart?  

Choosing a product is difficult in today's world with an overload with information.  Cost has no meaning.  Behind cost can be a deceptive manufacturer's stamp which unveils the true value of the product.  Be careful.


Ralph Nader has a big point regarding the research contained in the 'Consumer Reports' magazine.  In a world where information is free flowing and entangled in various web pages after web pages, at least there is still a publication dedicated to providing consumers with the best 'researched' choice.  The magazine is well researched.  Although, the competition is the entire 'internet' coupled to the 'attention deficit disorder' which each of us suffer from.  What do I speak of?

To end the post, think about the last purchase in which involved your opinion.  How well researched was your purchase?  Now that you are aware of the 'Consumer Reports' -- would you have consulted the magazine before the purchase?  How inclined are you to 'impulse' shop?  I admit that I have little patience and am very prone to 'impulse shop' to relieve my 'shopping anxiety.  Maybe I will subscribe to 'Consumer Reports' to educate myself.  Especially since I love to read.  Why not read about my next purchase? 

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