Category Archives: News Fact Checking

Using Excel to Plot Year of Dedication and Locations of Confederate Monuments

I heard some discussion on television about all the Confederate monuments around the country and when they were erected. I decided to look for the data and plot it for myself. I very quickly found a document from the Southern Poverty Law Center that looked interesting and provided me some interesting data tidying and charting challenges. My focus here is on duplicating their chart of monuments dedications dates. This chart type is not a standard Excel type and I wanted to see how I could duplicate it. This workbook will be used in a charting seminar that I plan to present in a month or so. Continue reading

Posted in History Through Spreadsheets, News Fact Checking | 1 Comment

Cost Advantages of Electrical Generation Using Natural Gas

I have been reading about how low natural gas prices have been affecting the coal mining industry. Coal mining is affected because those coal-fired electrical generation plants that can switch fuels are converting to natural gas to achieve significant cost reductions. Also, natural gas can fuel peaking generators that are designed to provide peak load support. I had no idea what the price advantages were for natural gas so I surfed over the US Department of Energy's (DoE) web site and found two tables that provided a summary of the maintenance, fuel, and operating costs for different types of electrical generation. Continue reading

Posted in News Fact Checking | 2 Comments

100 Mile Square Solar Array Could Power US

lon Musk gave a talk at the National Governors Association where he stated that a 100 mile square solar array built in place like Nevada could generate an amount of electrical power equal to that of the present electrical grid. This seems like an easy calculation to verify and I thought I do that analysis here. Continue reading

Posted in News Fact Checking | 1 Comment

Security Risks with Medical Radiation Sources

I was reading the Washington Post this weekend when I stumbled upon an 22-July-2017 article about concerns that ISIS in Mosul had access to an old medical radiation source. This source, which contains the radioactive isotope cobalt-60, is used in the treatment of cancer. However, cobalt-60 is extremely radioactive and could be used to build a dirty bomb. Fortunately, ISIS did not touch the source, but the concerns about a terrorist being able to use one of these radiation sources for a dirty bomb are real. Continue reading

Posted in News Fact Checking | 5 Comments

Iceberg Size Analogies

e nightly news reports have been filled with stories about the large iceberg that recently calved off of the Larsen C ice shelf. Reports of natural events always struggle with trying to convey the scale of events to the general public. In this case, the media has been reporting that the iceberg is (1) approximately the same area as the state of Delaware, (2) it contains a volume of water that is double that of Lake Erie, and (3) the mass of water it contains is about 1 trillion metric tons. Figure 1 shows a good graphic for area comparisons. Continue reading

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Larsen Ice Shelf and Potential Sea Level Rise

I just read an article about a large iceberg that will likely form in 2017 when a 5,000 km2 section of the Larsen C ice shelf (Figure 1) calves into the Antarctic Ocean. There is concern that the formation of this iceberg will remove a barrier that has been preventing the entire Larsen C ice shelf, with a total area of over 50,000 km2, from sliding into the sea. This is a massive amount of ice. Continue reading

Posted in General Science, News Fact Checking | 2 Comments