0.85 degrees what?!

3 03 2015

The BBC have produced an interesting program looking at the mathematics of climate change. [Climate Change by Numbers – it’s on iPlayer throughout March 2015].

The show was stylishly presented with some interesting LED persistence of vision graphics.

Personally I would have preferred accurate graphics overlaid in postproduction rather than wobbly graphics produced live. The presenter walked across the frame holding what looked like a broomstick fitted with LED lights which then painted the graph across the screen.

When your whole thesis surrounds the accuracy of data it seems strange to then represent this data in such an wobbly way.

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I suppose programmes need hooks to grab the audiences’ attention and this was considered “a fun way to present boring data.” I would not have done it this way but I can forgive them their choice.

What is much harder to forgive was their representation of the figure that justified the whole half hour segment.

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Where are the units? 0.85° what? It’s a temperature measurement so there are three units to choose from. The unit was mentioned briefly by the presenter but I find it very strange that it was not added to the end of that graphic. It’s not like there wasn’t space in the shot.

(And it’s not as if they couldn’t have added the missing unit in postproduction afterwards. Straight lines were regularly added to the wobbly graphs in postproduction during the rest of the segment- something that to me reveals just how much a gimmick the drawing of the graphs were…)

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I have no idea what the presenters of this program thought about this. Perhaps they argued for the inclusion of units and were overruled. Whatever the reason it is a real shame when a programme about mathematics, presented by mathematicians, misses out something so essential.

If you don’t want to watch the whole show watch from the 25:45 min mark to see just what I mean. I’d be interested in your thoughts in the comments.

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