Why we need more continents

In any group of geography nerds, one of the biggest peeves will be “Europe’s not a continent”. From this perspective, Europe is just a peninsula of Asia, and the listing of Europe in the seven traditional continents (Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia/Oceania, Europe, North America, South America) is just a result of Eurocentric bias.

This isn’t an unreasonable view – “continent” doesn’t really have a set definition, but a common one is “large area of land surrounded by water”. By this definition, Australia and Antarctica definitely fit and North and South America nearly do, as does Africa. Asia and Europe are then the weirdos, since they share a long, indefinite land border somewhere in the Urals. So you redefine this as one big continent, Eurasia, and then everything just about works.

But there’s another problem. By population, the continents are uneven. There are about 1.2 billion Africans, 750 million Europeans, 600 million North Americans, 400 million South Americans and 40 million Oceanians. That adds up to just about 3 billion people. The other 4.2 billion people on this planet all live in Asia. More people live in Asia than live in all the other continents combined. Adding Europe to the mix gives Eurasia a total population of 5 billion, or around 70% of the world’s population. What’s the point of dividing the world into continents if you’re going to have one continent with almost everyone?

In fact, what’s the point of dividing the world into continents at all?

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Did Wikipedia hint at the Labour surge?

Fair to say, most people did not predict the result of the election. A few pollsters were correct – Survation and YouGov, take a bow – but most thought that even if May didn’t get the landslide she wanted, at least she’d gain and Labour would lose, right?

Then came shocks as safe-safe-safe Tory seats like Kensington and Canterbury, which have been Tory for decades, fell to Labour. The result was a hung parliament. Who saw it coming?

Maybe, Wikpedia.

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Frankfurt Sneak Statistics III – Sn3ak

Here we are again. Another year of OV Sneak Preview – the showing of a random new movie each week at Frankfurt Metropolis cinema. In 2014 and 2015, I collected all the statistics of the films we saw and did a bit of maths. Now, let’s do it all again. This time, we also have statistics for how many films passed the Bechdel test, provided by the lovely Dove.

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Some Eurovision 2016 statistics

A vision of Europe

Today, 200 million Europeans wake up with a banging headache, an empty liquor cabinet and almost no memory of any of the music they heard last night. Yes, it’s Eurovision time!

In the interests of openness, Eurovision makes all the results available in a convenient Excel format, and this means I get to have some fun. Here are a few of the more interesting results to come out of the night.

Regional voting happens… but mostly in the phone vote

The voting system used last night wasn’t actually new – there’s been a 50/50 phone vote and jury split since 2009. However, previously, these results were merged into one before the results were given. This is the first time the votes have been given individually, which helps us see exactly where Eurovision’s much touted regional bias comes from.

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Frankfurt Sneak Preview Stats – The Sequel

Another year, another… year of films? Anyway, here are some stats about the Sneak Preview films we had at Frankfurt Metropolis Cinestar. You can see last year’s here, and compare with what happened this year. Get ready for some movie statistics!

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Frankfurt Maths 4: Sneak Preview

Every week, the Frankfurt Metropolis Cinestar cinema shows a “Sneak Preview” of a random upcoming English film. We attend every week, which means that over the course of the year, we get to see a good selection of everything Hollywood and Pinewood have to offer.

And, as Dove suggested, it might be fun to look back over the year of films and do a bit of stats. Sneak seems to be loaded with gritty thrillers, but how many are there, really? How many films go on so long that we miss the last train?

Let’s see!

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Frankfurt Maths 3: The S-Bahn to St Ives

By Roje, Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

After weeks of work, the S-Bahn is running properly once more! To celebrate, here’s one of my favourite little maths problems. It’s something I first noticed during the torturously long wait for a Merseyrail train before the timetable improvements. I haven’t a clue whether it has a real name, so for now, let’s call it the S-Bahn Paradox.

Suppose you want to go from Frankfurt West to Frankfurt Süd (this was the limit until the building work ended). Well, there’s a train precisely every five minutes during the day, and the journey takes almost exactly 15 minutes (more like 16, but let’s say 15). As you travel, you’ll pass trains travelling in the other direction. Supposing you leave just as the next train is coming in, how many will you meet along the way (including the ones at the start and end stations)?

15 minutes, a train every five minutes, that means that there are three five minute periods, and (not forgetting the train you meet at time zero), you meet four trains altogether, right?

Well, not quite.

Let’s do this the easy way, with pictures. Here’s our train line, straightened out and with the stations removed (as well as trains that don’t travel the full distance between West and Süd). Our train is on the left hand track, facing south. Each tick represents the distance that the train can travel in one minute. (It doesn’t matter that this distance may vary as the train speeds up and slows down – all that matters is average speed)

As you can see from the number on the right, we’ve just met one train, and there are three more waiting for us. The four theory’s looking pretty good right now. Let’s see what happens if we bump the clock along by one minute.

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Occupy Tom Nook

A pre-print of an article soon to appear in the prestigious Mushroom Kingdom Journal of Socioeconomics.

Occupy Tom Nook

Google Search Q&A 4 – A beginner’s guide to set theory

According to our site stats, almost two thirds of visitors to our site are looking for information on sparrows. Don’t believe me? Here is a graph of the search strings that have found our site, grouped by whether or not they contain the word “sparrow”:

See? It’s scientific fact. And 23 of those are variants on “is sparrow and dove same thing?” So, what does the mailbag have for us this time? (Please don’t be sparrows, please don’t be sparrows)

topless jamaica

red light district in frankfurt on map

rob liefeld wallpapers

… On second thoughts, let’s go with the sparrows.

sparrow in maths sets

Aww, who wants to learn some maths?

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Maps! Wait, they don’t love you like I love you! Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaps!

Sadly, my original plan to show the flow of transport around Frankfurt over the course of a day failed due to the extreme lack of availability of timetable data in a halfway reasonable format. So instead, here’s some maps of Frankfurt and the surrounding area made by mucking about with OpenStreetMap data in MapPoint. Enjoy?

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