A simple explanation

Climate Change

The Skeptical side claims at least 31,486 dissenters in their ranks, according to the PetitionProject.org. That sounds like a lot. But is it?

Climate Change: A Consensus Among Scientists?
Of course, not all 12 million US scientists therefore agree with ‘The Consensus’. But this puts the PetitionProject’s 31,486 signatories in some kind of context.

Our maths here is somewhat coarse. Some better data suggests the ‘consensus’ figure is around 97.5% of publishing climatologists and around 90% of all publishing scientists supporting the human-induced climate theory. See this study for more details (PDF – Doran And Zimmerman 2009)

Actually, here’s how some of it looks:

Climate Change: A Consensus Among Scientists 2

Skeptical Field

Among the climate skeptic scientists, we wondered which fields of science were most represented. We expected climate and earth sciences. But we got…

Climate Consensus: Breakdown of skeptical scientists by field

In fact, when you adjust the PetitionProject’s odd categorisation – they filed ‘chemical engineers’ as chemists and physical engineers as ‘physicists’ – the total number of engineers who signed the petition, by our reckoning, jumps to 49%

Why so many engineers?


Investment Banking Fees

 Maybe I'm just on some kind of Wall Street kick today. Fabrice Gringa's candid interview on Venture Voice gave me a singular respect for a French guy. Since he's only one French guy I can keep my universal feelings for certain aspects of the French intact. But Fabrice seems to be OK. That said, he has posted on the recient sales of tech companys on Ebay where Ebay is acting as a defacto investment bank. Below is his list of the fees you can expect from Wall Street. It certainly makes Ebay look attractive.

From Fabrice Gringa's blog: Investment Banking Fees

eb_gra_ljw0041.gifAggregate value of transaction – Aggregate fee as a % of the transaction

    $20 billion – 0.150%
    $15 billion – 0.180%
    $12.5 billion – 0.200%
    $10 billion – 0.230%
    $9 billion – 0.240%
    $8 billion – 0.250%
    $7.5 billion – 0.265%
    $7 billion – 0.275%
    $6 billion – 0.300%
    $5 billion – 0.320%
    $4 billion – 0.360%
    $3 billion – 0.400%
    $2 billion – 0.450%
    $1 billion – 0.600%
    $900 million – 0.625%
    $800 million – 0.650%
    $700 million – 0.700%
    $600 million – 0.700%
    $500 million – 0.800%
    $400 million – 0.900%
    $300 million – 1.000%
    $200 million – 1.200%
    $100 million – 1.500%
    $50 million – 2.000%

As I mentioned before, those are retail prices so you might be able to shave a bit from those. Also, at lower price points and/or in deals that are less likely to happen you likely to have a retainer (say $50k) and a minimum transaction fee (say $750k).

Side note: IPO fees are very different. For IPOs where the market cap is below $400 million the bankers take 7% of the proceeds split between the book runner and the co-managers.

High Tech Jelousy: Enough will just never be enough.

jealousy2.jpgA simple explanation of why people with more money than 99.999% of the rest of earths population still don't have enough.

It seems that a lot of high tech entrepreneurs are learning about the afflictions that venture capitalists have been suffering under for years. Those returns just aren't as big as the other guys.

From the Times: In Web World, Rich Now Envy the Super-Rich

...Envy may be a sin in some books, but it is a powerful driving force in Silicon Valley, where technical achievements are admired but financial payoffs are the ultimate form of recognition. And now that the YouTube purchase has amplified talk of a second dot-com boom, many high-tech entrepreneurs — successful and not so successful — are examining their lives as measured against upstarts who have made it bigger.

Reference points only make matters worse, Mr. de Botton said. He pointed to research that has been done on attractive women who feel ugly when surrounded by images of more beautiful women. “Very often the problem isn’t so much what an individual happens to look like, but the extraordinary comparisons being made,” he said.

So what's behind this mid-life crisis? This study, by academics from Pennsylvania State and Harvard University, finds that richer people tend to be happier than poorer people. But the data revealed that the green-eyed monster jealousy influences how people gauge how happy they are.

"The higher the income of others in one's age group, the lower one's happiness," said Glenn Firebaugh a sociological researcher at Pennsylvania State University, one of the report's co-authors.

The research contains a worrying message for society, as the close observance of others' income, a "keeping up with the Joneses" trend, forces people to continually increase their income, the report said.

"Rather than promoting overall happiness, continued income growth could promote an ongoing consumption race where individuals consume more and more just to maintain a constant level of happiness," said Firebaugh.

According to the research of Brehm in 1985, there are five stages of jealousy: 

The first stage is the suspicion of the threat. In this stage people are insecure and may see signs of disaster where there are none. They tend to feel competitive to those they see as threatening.

In the next stage people begin to assess the threat and they become very protective of their possession. They worry themselves sick wondering what is happening or may happen in their relationships. These feelings of insecurity may lead them to spy on their significant other and/or the perceived rival. They question their partner`s fidelity and their own desirability.

The third stage is called emotional reaction. Here people determine if there is a threat and then react to it. People can react with a wide range of emotions depending on the person and the situation. Their reactions can range from clinging dependency to violent rage at the competitor or their partner. Their reactions may be to criticize themselves, become depressed, or resent their partners.

The next stage is called the coping response. There are two basic responses here. People either do their best to repair the threatened relationship, or they become competitive and look for ways of getting even with their mate and the competitor. Men and women tend to differ in their coping responses. Women are more likely to become depressed and blame themselves, whereas men become more competitive and angry. Research indicates that females are more jealous than males over situations involving the partner spending time on a hobby or with family members, but other situations evoke no sex differences (Hansen, 1985).

The final stage according to Brehm is the outcome stage. People ask themselves how their reactions are effecting their relationship. They determine whether they are helping or harming their threatened relationship with such emotional responses.

According to McIntosh and Tangri (1989), jealous behaviors are divided into two types, direct and indirect. Direct behaviors are more confrontational behaviors such as confronting a partner about a jealousy-evoking event. The indirect type includes behaviors that are less confrontational such as giving a partner the silent treatment.

It would appear that the evidence suggests that jealousy is hardwired into us humans and if we're in certain situations their's little we can do.

Certainly there is much to be said for the benefits of jealousy; it makes you work harder and strive to out compete others. In many business situations this is exactly what you want. But the fact is that it comes at a price. I'm sure if you asked people what they want 'happy' trumps 'rich', although many equate the two. It's obvious that that's not the actual case. 

Perhaps the high tech answer is to trade in the BMW or Ferrari and get a minivan. After all, your kids don't know you're a loser. 

Why time slows when approaching the Speed of Light. A simple explanation.

0375727205.01._AA240_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpgI love physics.

I find myself discussing physics often with others who don't quite share my fascination. My father, my wife, and many other have had to sit through diatribes of quantum theory, gravity waves and M-Theory. Now it's your turn. Sorry, I just can't help myself.

Why time slows for someone approaching the Speed of Light.
A simple explanation.

I'm sure you've heard that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. (That's not quite true. The expansion of the universe allows for faster than light travel but that's another post.) You're also aware that time slows down the closer you get to the speed of light. You know, the 'One twin goes off to Alpha Centauri at the speed of light and comes back after 80,000 years but he's only aged 3 months' story.

Ever wonder why? Here's the crib notes.

Everything in the universe always travels exactly at Light Speed.

Time dilation:
Special relativity declares a law for all motion: the combined speed of any object's motion through space and it's motion though time is always precisely equal to the speed of light.

spacetime.gifThat's right, everything. You, me, the computer screen you're looking at, your grandma's French toast, Santa Clause... everything.

Everything is traveling through Spacetime: space (the three dimensions we experience and the nine others that m-theory predicts) and time. Adding the total movement through both space and time always equals light speed. Always. Always. Always.

Since you must travel constantly at exactly the speed of light, when you increase your speed through space, you decrease your speed through time.

Your head (and the rest of you) is traveling through spacetime at the speed of light, but all of your head's movement when you're at rest is through time, none of it is traveling through space. Every time your head moves through space; in a car, in a plane, in a spaceship... even nodding up and down, some of it's movement in time is lost since it is now moving through space. Cool huh.

What about light?

Since light waves use all of their motion to travel through space at Light Speed, they have absolutely no motion through Time. Every photon that has ever been produced exists in an ageless state. The universe ages, light does not.

Reading: The Fabric of the Cosmos: Brian Greene