## Tuesday, January 05, 2016

### Happy 10*9*8*7*6/(5+4+3+2+1)

Alex Bellos writes an occasional puzzle column for the Grauniad. Yesterday he was asking for ways of inserting maths symbols into the list of numbers 10 9 8 7 ... 1 so as to make the expression evaluate to 2016. I quickly got an answer (10+9)*8*(7+6)+5*(4+3+2-1) but jules said I could only tweet it if I found three ways of doing it. A second solution is reached by noting that 10*9*(8+7+6) is 1890 and 6*(5*4+(3-2)*1) makes the remaining 126 to bring the total to 2016. Finally, 10*9*8*7*6/(5*(4-3)*(2+1)) works too.

I was writing the tweet and checking the numbers when I spotted that I'd used the 6 twice in the second solution. So that's how I found the most elegant solution at the top. Sadly, the prize was for obscurantism instead.

Talking of winning, I've also won a climate bet! Chris Hope (of IPCC WG2 fame) owes me £666 in view of 2015 being not more than 0.1C colder than 2008. It may seem like a strange bet for him to take, since even in 2011 when the bet was placed, there seemed little prospect of such strong cooling. However, I gave him decent odds of 5:1 (ie I stood to lose £3333 if the improbable cooling had occurred). Of course Chris didn't really expect the world to cool so sharply, but he already had established two bets the other way round (at evens with stakes of £1000) with Iam Plimer and Sir Alan Rudge, and was simply hedging his risk. In fact Chris was really taking the place of a bookmaker rather than gambler, and you can easily check that he was going to win a handy sum whatever the temperature did. I hope he manages to collect his winnings once the data are officially announced.

Of course the odds also look pretty good for my original \$10,000 bet. I just checked (cos someone asked) that if this year is as warm as the one just past, then 2017 would have to be a full 1C colder for me to lose. There is certainly no year on record where such a dramatic year to year cooling has happened, even after a volcanic eruption, so perhaps we are in the realm of a large asteroid strike being required. Collecting, on the other hand, is a bit less clear-cut as I've not had any reply to the emails I have occasionally sent to my adversaries in recent years.

Nick Barnes said...

Did you notice that 2016 = {2 ^ ( 2^2 \choose 2) \choose 2} ?

James Annan said...

Very neat!

crandles said...

Shockingly inefficient puzzle, you don't need 10 or 9 or 8 or 7

Happy 6!/5*(4+3)*2*1

That redundant *1 makes next year easy.

crandles said...

Without the 6 the best I got seems to need a bit of a cheat but
Happy (5+4)!/(3!)!*(2 raised to its own power)*1

crandles said...

> if this year is as warm as the one just past, then 2017 would have to be a full 1C colder for me to lose.

Or both remaining years about .35C cooler. Pinatubo managed about 0.2C cooler for about 3 years. This might suggest something with 1.5 times effect of Pinatubo happening pretty much immediately plus a bit of cooling down following 2015 El Nino might be enough. However, it looks like there wasn't much cooling in the first 9 months after Pinatubo. Seems quite a long time? Maybe initially there is increased insulation as well reduced sunlight and only when the aerosols have spread out well that you get strong cooling effect? With that sort of pattern, Pinatubo like eruption effects starting immediately wouldn't be enough. Furthermore, if we go for a larger eruption, with Krakatoa it looks like the coldest temperatures only occurred 17 months after the eruption and the pattern of temperature falls again does not look close to sufficient to make you lose. Obviously, this is only very anedotal suggestion that larger eruption means more delay before the effect is felt. Still might it mean there might not be a realistic size volcano that would cause you to lose? Of course, Krakatoa sized eruption located elsewhere and/or at different time of year might have more cooling effect....

Would asteroid strikes likely have similar relationship, the larger the climate disruption caused, the longer the delay before the peak impact?

If not volcanoes nor asteroid strikes, what are we on to then? Aliens keeping the moon between Earth and sun most of the time?

B_Key said...

Dear mr. Annan,

My name is Bert Kork, I'm a journalist and scientific reviewer in the oldest Siberian rergional paper Vostochno-Sibirskaya pravda (East-siberian truth). I live and work in Irkutsk city - you must have learnt of it via Galina Mashnich and Vladimir Bashkirtcev. I dared bother you exactly because of your bet with them.
Next year the term of it ends. Our paper decides to recall the readers about that topic and make some intermediate conclusions, because we wrote about it soon after making a bet in 2005. We've had Vladimis Bashkirtcev's point of view and up-to-date information. However, we'd like to ask you some questions to have the opposite point of view too.
As a result, could you answer some of my questions by e-message - via e-mail or comments of your blog - whichever is convinient for you. I'll send you the questions as soon as you confirm your concent.

Thank you beforehand!

Best regards, Bertold Kork

James Annan said...

Hello Bert, yes please feel free to email me directly, jdannan@blueskiesresearch.org.uk

crandles said...

Bert, I would also be interested in seeing Vladimis Bashkirtcev's current point of view. Perhaps you could post a link when the article appears?

Steve Bloom said...

Bert, I and I suspect most here had heard of Irkutsk prior to the bet.

Also, please bear in mind when writing your article that while the global average surface temperature trend is important to know about, it necessarily omits the accompanying consequences that I recall your region has had more than its fair share of recently, e.g. permafrost melt, heat waves, flooding and forest fires.

B_Key said...

James, I apologize for the delay, the questions you have in the mail. And once more, I forgot - http://baikal-info.ru/sm/2008/42/002007.html

Steve Bloom said...

Thanks, Bert.

If Google translate is to be trusted, the optimism of the variously enraged and cantankerous James fades visibly from year to year. But that was so 2008. ;)

Steve Bloom said...

On the same page as the article I noticed a link to this:

"In Usolsky area per day extinguished the smoldering peat bogs 6,5 ha

"In Usolsky area per day extinguished the smoldering peat on an area of 6,693 hectares. As the January 9, 2016 press service of the EMERCOM of Russia in the Irkutsk region, to control are two more places of burning peat Usolsky area on a total area of 8.34 hectares. On the territory of Bolsheelanskogo and Novozhilkinskogo municipalities Usolsk District peat fire acts on Kartagonskom field. During the day eliminated the centers on the area of 4,494 hectares. Smoldering peat occurs over an area of 4.98 hectares. In the area of federal highway P-255 "Siberia" in the Telminskogo and Railway MO peat fire in the hole Mandaliha acts on the area of 3.36 ha per day eliminated corruption in the area of 2,199 hectares.

"A total of 96 people are working fires and 52 units of equipment. Since January 3, to extinguish in the area involved Engineering. "Engineering allows attracted by stirring the burning of peat soil with a noncombustible and snow to cool and extinguish pockets", - said Acting Chief Fire and Rescue District garrison Usolsk Sergei Schleger."

That sounds kind of major. Lit off by last year's extensive forest fires? I hadn't heard of this sort of thing occurring mid-winter.

B_Key said...

Yes, Steve, you are right. Forest fires burn in Siberia only in the summer, peat bogs burn almost all the year round.

B_Key said...

James, I will meet Vladimir on Monday. He isn't fond of stay in the Internet, but I can refer some matters from you to it at our personal meeting.

Hank Roberts said...

> If not volcanoes nor asteroid strikes, what are we on to then?
> Aliens keeping the moon between Earth and sun most of the time?

If the Republicans take complete control of the USA again, perhaps they'll produce the magic sunshade by targeting a nuclear strike on the hated Goresat (aka Triana, DSCOVR) to produce a large persistent dust cloud at Lagrange-1 [L1] (the neutral gravity point between the Sun and the Earth). That will fix the market problem fossil fuels are experiencing, put paid to the solar power socialists, and just by happenstance cool things off on Earth even though they assure us there's no problem to be solved.

Doug Cotton said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
James Annan said...

Wow Doug, that's amazing. Why doesn't everyone know this?

No, don't answer that.

EliRabett said...

Looks like your Russian friends are getting ready to back out

http://www.reuters.com/article/climatechange-bets-idUSL8N1541LL

Galina Mashnich, an expert at the Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics in Irkutsk, Russia, who made the bet with her colleague Vladimir Bashkirtsev, said the new temperature data is not definitive.

"2015 is not the warmest year, according to some sources," she wrote in an e-mail to Reuters. In recent years, she said, it was "most likely temperature increases are caused by El Nino".

James Annan said...

Saw that, but I like to think it is more a case of putting a brave face on things for as long as possible. I'm pleased that a couple of journalists have got involved again, it actually provoked her into replying to my latest email, which she hadn't done for a while (also, thus confirming that I had the right address).

John Palkovic said...

2016 is the 63rd triangular number:

1+2+3+ … + 63 = 2016

I guess then you should think "Why did I forgo the offer of \$100K?!" in http://julesandjames.blogspot.ru/2010/02/more-on-betting.html

James Annan said...

No, thanks for the suggestion but I'm quite happy with the bet as agreed.

Steve Bloom said...

VB, it's a good rule of thumb to never bet more than you can easily afford to lose.

William Connolley said...

http://www.desmog.uk/2016/01/25/climate-science-denier-feels-bit-stupid-after-losing-1k-bet-world-would-be-cooling-2015 blah blah blah

Steve Bloom said...

Good, with at least one of them paying James can be entirely happy collecting from Chris on their own bet.

Layzej said...

Would it be a safe bet that 2016 will be warmer than 2015 in the satellite record? Would it be a sure bet?

James Annan said...

Nothing is a sure bet as far as the various conflicting and repeatedly readjusted interpretations of satellite measurements go.

Steve Bloom said...

Although it's a fairly sure bet if the lagged tropospheric T spike of RSS/UAH relative to the surface record during and after the 1998 El Nino is any guide. I'm almost looking forward to Woy's attempt at spinning that.

It's also interesting how people casually refer to the satellite record as if the surface record wasn't substantially from satellites (SSTs) (which note don't suffer from anything like the adjustment problems James mentioned). Some satellites are more equal than others, apparently.

(If I were a robot, I'd be a better go player.)

crandles said...

Does a 5 nil win against best European go player make it likely we will soon have a machine go champion? Guess James has given up on ideosphere?

James Annan said...

Not clear how far a good European Go player is from a pro, but it's obviously a good step in that direction. I sort of lost confidence in Ideosphere over the "true" fiasco. But also, real money bets are more fun anyway :-)

Steve Bloom said...

Fan Hui is a 2-dan pro (rank achieved in China), but has been retired from the pro circuit for a while and doesn't have a lot of competition in Europe (only a few quite weak pros there), so perhaps has lost his edge a bit. Given that, Lee Sedol should be at least 2-1/2 stones stronger than Fan. Based on those five games, the AI appears to be maybe only 1 stone stronger, so it's going to take some more work, maybe a lot more work, to get it up to top pro snuff. Even so, getting up to weak pro level is amazing progress.

Note that Google was willing to put up a million bucks (I suspect rather more than they needed to since that's something like double the richest tournament prize) for what seems like a sure loss. Trivial money for them, I suppose.

As a player, what I found most interesting is that the programming approach involves a library of lots of games for the AI to consult, but no joseki dictionary.