Corona virus: data analysis of a pandemic

Preamble: I am not an expert in epidemiology. Take any predictions in this post with a large pinch of salt. There are many considerations missing from my analysis. If you are looking for more robust forecasts, a collection of predictions has been made available in the coronavirus tech handbook and crowd-sourced predictions can be found on Metaculus. One of the most useful resource for what individuals and governments should be doing at the time of writing is the 80,000 Hours podcast.

Lots of data about the current corona virus outbreak are freely available for anyone to analyse. Here's my attempt to give a snap-shot of what we are facing and what we might expect in the future, purely based on the data we have available.

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New publication: I do some observations!

Magnetic bright point

Sometimes people ask me what I do. I say I am a solar physics researcher. And sometimes the conversation stops there.

But sometimes they want to know what that means. Like, do you research solar energy? No, I study the Sun itself, like astronomy but looking at our own star.

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Giving with Humility (and where I donated to last year)

Humility is hard. Humility with money is especially hard. We like to hold our money close to our chest. So close that our financial decisions are rarely discussed. Allowing other people to choose what happens with our money is even more taboo. Over the last few years, I have been questioning this paradigm.

Sometimes, showing a bit of humility pays. Consider this: if you were to invest your money in stocks, you broadly have two options:

  1. Invest in individual stocks,
  2. Invest in an investment fund.

The general advice for all but the most expert investors is to choose option 2. The motivation for this is that it’s very unlikely that you will select the optimum choice of stocks unless you are an expert. Rather, you are very likely to lose money investing in this way. Instead of choosing stocks yourself, get an expert to do it for you. Acknowledging that experts can make better decisions than you, then deferring investment decisions to them, will get you a higher return. This is financial humility. And it pays.

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The Reducetarian Solution: a review

Following on from my last post, a natural question is this: what have I changed my mind about? My two biggest mind-changes occurred within the last 3 years. The first led me to change what I wear, what I eat, and the value I place on non-human animals. The second led me to change how much money and time I donate, where I donate them to, and what I want to spend my career doing. It is the former that motivates this post.

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New publication: Magneto-acoustic modes of an asymmetric slab embedded in a magnetic environment

Magnetic bright point

Noémi Kinga Zsámberger, Robertus Erdélyi, and I have recently published a paper in The Astrophysical Journal analysing a further generalisation to the asymmetric slab waveguide model, now with an asymmetric magnetic field in the external plasma environment. We focus on potential application to oscillations of elongated magnetic bright points in inter-granular lanes, where even a small asymmetry in the parameters of the neighbouring granules could manifest itself as significant asymmetry in magneto-acoustic mode propagation. This analysis paves the way for development of magneto-seismology techniques that diagnose the magnetic field in structures where the magnetic field strength is traditionally difficult to directly measure. (Watch this space! We have upcoming research developing these magneto-seismology techniques in the works as I write this)

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