Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World
Ian Roulstone (top) and John Norbury (bottom) are authors of Invisible in the Storm: The Role of Mathematics in Understanding Weather and experts on the application of mathematics in meteorology and weather prediction. As we head into hurricane season along the Eastern coast of the United States, we are still not fully recovered from Hurricane Sandy, empty lots still dot the stretch between Seaside and Point Pleasant and in countless other beach communities. But it could have been worse without the advance warning of meteorologists, so we had a few questions about the accuracy of weather prediction and how it can be further refined in the future.
Now, on to the questions!
What inspired you to get into this field?
Every day millions of clouds form, grow, and move above us, blown by the restless winds of our ever-changing atmosphere. Sometimes they bring rain and sometimes they bring snow – nearly always in an erratic, non-recurring way. Why should we ever be able to forecast weather three days or a week ahead? How can we possibly forecast climate ten years or more in the future? The secret behind successful forecasting involves a judicious mix of big weather-satellite data, information technology, and meteorology. What inspired us was that mathematics turns out to be crucial to bringing it all together.
Why did you write this book?
Many books describe various types of weather for a general audience. Other books describe the physical science of forecasting for more specialist audiences. But no-one has explained, for a general readership, the ideas behind the successful algorithms of the latest weather and climate apps running on today’s supercomputers. Our book describes the achievements and the challenges of modern weather and climate prediction.
There’s quite a lot about the history and personalities involved in the development of weather forecasting in your book; why did you consider this aspect important?
When reviewing the historical development of weather science over the past three centuries, we found the role of individuals ploughing their own furrow to be at least as important as that of big government organisations. And those pioneers ranged from essentially self-taught, and often very lonely individuals, to charming and successful prodigies. Is there a lesson here for future research organisation?
“We can use mathematics to warn us of the potential for chaotic behaviour, and this enables us to assess the risks of extreme events.”
Weather forecasts are pretty good for the next day or two, but not infallible: can we hope for significant improvements in forecasting over the next few years?
The successful forecasts of weather events such as the landfall of Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey in October 2012, and the St Jude Day storm over southern England in October 2013, both giving nearly a week’s warning of the oncoming disaster, give a taste of what is possible. Bigger computers, more satellites and radar observations, and even cleverer algorithms will separate the predictable weather from the unpredictable gust or individual thunderstorm. Further improvements will rely not only on advanced technology, but also, as we explain in our book, on capturing the natural variability of weather using mathematics.
But isn’t weather chaotic?
Wind, warmth and rain are all part of weather. But the very winds are themselves tumbling weather about. This feedback of cause and effect, where the “effects help cause the causes”, has its origins in both the winds and the rain. Clouds are carried by the wind, and rainfall condensing in clouds releases further heat, which changes the wind. So chaotic feedback can result in unexpected consequences, such as the ice-storm or cloudburst that wasn’t mentioned in the forecast. But we can use mathematics to warn us of the potential for chaotic behaviour, and this enables us to assess the risks of extreme events.
Are weather and climate predictions essentially “big data” problems?
We argue no. Weather agencies will continually upgrade their supercomputers, and have a never-ending thirst for weather data, mostly from satellites observing the land and sea. But if all we do is train computer programs by using data, then our forecasting will remain primitive. Scientific ideas formulated with mathematical insight give the edge to intelligent forecasting apps.
So computer prediction relies in various ways on clever mathematics: it gives a language to describe the problem on a machine; it extracts the predictable essence from the weather data; and it selects the predictable future from the surrounding cloud of random uncertainty. This latter point will come to dominate climate prediction, as we untangle the complex interactions of the atmosphere, oceans, ice-caps and life in its many varied forms.
Can climate models produce reliable scenarios for decision-makers?
The models currently used to predict climate change have proved invaluable in attributing trends in global warming to human activity. The physical principles that govern average global temperatures involve the conservation of energy, and these over-arching principles are represented very accurately by the numerical models. But we have to be sure how to validate the predictions: running a model does not, in itself, equate to understanding.
As we explain, although climate prediction is hugely complicated, mathematics helps us separate the predictable phenomena from the unpredictable. Discriminating between the two is important, and it is frequently overlooked when debating the reliability of climate models. Only when we take such factors into account can we – and that includes elected officials – gauge the risks we face from climate change.
What do you hope people will take away from this book?
From government policy and corporate strategy to personal lifestyle choices, we all need to understand the rational basis of weather and climate prediction. Answers to many urgent and pressing environmental questions are far from clear-cut. Predicting the future of our environment is a hugely challenging problem that will not be solved by number-crunching alone. Chaos and the butterfly effect were the buzzwords of the closing decades of the 20th Century. But incomplete and inaccurate data need not be insurmountable obstacles to scientific progress, and mathematics shows us the way forward.
|Invisible in the Storm
The Role of Mathematics in Understanding Weather
Ian Roulstone & John Norbury
Click the image above to read Story #159 from Bill T. Jones’s Story/Time: The Life of an Idea.
In the Interest of Others named co-winner of 2014 Best Book Award, The Labor Project of the American Political Science Association
We are delighted to extend our congratulations to John S. Ahlquist & Margaret Levi. They are co-authors of In the Interest of Others: Organizations and Social Activism which has just been named a co-winner of the 2014 Best Book Award from The Labor Project of the American Political Science Association.
According to their web site, “The Labor Project is a related group of the American Political Science Association. Related groups promote teaching and research in political science, assist in the professional development of political scientists, and sponsor panels and roundtables at the APSA’s Annual Meeting. The Labor Project stands committed to advancing those goals. We support continued research on relevant issues such as the role and influence of organized labor in U.S. elections, Iraq reconstruction, federal whistle-blowing laws, local and state U.S. political representation of workers, neoliberalism, guestworker programs, advocacy efforts, new union strategies, court decisions affecting work, federal policies regarding employment, changes in union politics, political organizations, and labor, work, and employment issues.”
We have an Amazons personality quiz on PlayBuzz, here’s a bit more about the results! For more Amazon names and their meanings, please visit our Pinterest board: http://www.pinterest.com/princetonupress/the-amazons/
The meaning of Harman Dali is “Crazy-Brave”. Harman Dali was a beguiling berserker in the Turkmenistan region who thrived on killing would-be suitors who accepted her famous challenge: “I’ll only marry the man who beats me at wrestling and I chop off the heads of the losers.” She issued this challenge to Koroglu, a bandit hero, and in the course of their wrestling, he is overcome with desire and gives up. He sings for Harman Dali and she not only spares his life, but invites him to share her bed for one night.
Though Kepes appears on a 6th-century Circassian vase, little other than the meaning of her name is known. However, when the meaning of your name is “Hot Flanks/Eager Sex,” perhaps that is enough.
The meaning of Penthesilea is “She Who Brings Grief”. When Troy was under attack, they sent forth requests for help. One such request was sent to Penthesilea–a legendary warrior queen whose name would strike terror into the hearts of the Greeks. Penthesilea did have a starring role in the legendary Trojan War, though she did die there, struck down by Achilles.
The meaning of Sanape is “From Wine Country.” In Greek thinking, extreme passion for warfare went hand in hand with compulsive drinking, so it is not surprising that tipsy Amazons could be synonymous with war-loving Amazons. Sanape’s name is derived from a Circassian word for wine, though whether this was because she was from a wine-producing region or because she was a drunk is unknown. What we do know is that the Sinopeans celebrated their Amazonian history by issuing coins with Sanape’s image and held a bacchanalian procession on the city walls of women dressed as armed warriors.
The meaning of Sisyrbe is “Shaggy Goat-Skin”. Little is known of Sisyrbe, but given the meaning of her name, she must have cut a striking figure in the Ancient World. Actually, the reality is a little less hairy. Herodotus reported that several of the Libyan nomad tribes practiced free love, like the Amazons and the Massagetae, and noted that the women dressed in goat leather. In all likelihood, Sisyrbe is one of these nomad women.
The meaning of Pantariste is “Best of All,” so you have earned bragging rights. Use them wisely.
The meaning of Hypsicratea is “High or Mighty Power.” Hypsicratea was married to Mithradates, the famed Poison King, and they are often depicted riding together on horseback. “The queen Hypsicratea loved her husband Mithradates with boundless affection,” wrote Valerius Maximus. “She was happy to trade her splendid beauty for a masculine style, for she cut her hair and accustomed herself to riding horses and using weapons so that she could participate in the king’s toils and share his dangers.”
The meaning of Atalanta is “Equal, Balanced.” Atalanta is the original Amazon, selected to accompany Hercules on his quest for the Golden Fleece. Self-reliant, with a “fiery, masculine gaze,” she wrestled like a bear and could outrun any animal or man.
This information is taken from Adrienne Mayor’s new book The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World. You can read a free excerpt from the book here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s10302.pdf
In a nationally unprecedented move, the city of Chicago installed tax-funded, rainbow-colored pylons along North Halsted Street in 1997 as a way to celebrate the area’s sexual diversity. The $3.2 million dollar streetscape made “Boystown” the first officially designated gay neighborhood in the United States.
“This has been a labor of love,” Mayor Richard Daley announced to the cheering crowd on the day of its unveiling. “I knew from the beginning it was about fairness—fairness to this community. I am thanking you for what you (the GLBT community) have done for North Halsted Street for many, many years.”
Some of us might question the investment of millions in highlighting an area like Boystown—especially with mounting evidence that the neighborhood’s demographics are shifting toward increasing numbers of heterosexual households. Is it possible, as the New York Times once so damningly put it, that “gay enclaves face prospect of being passé?”
About half of Illinois’s estimated 25,710 same-sex partner households live in Cook County, which includes Chicago and several suburbs to the north, south, and west. Forty percent of these households reside in the four northernmost neighborhoods along Lake Michigan. Lakeview, which houses Boystown, has the largest concentration. It is home to 1,106 same-sex households, or 12 percent of the city’s total, followed by Edgewater (951 households, or 10.3 percent), Rogers Park (736, 8 percent), and Uptown (635, 6.9 percent). Lakeview’s rate of self-reported same-sex households (2.1 percent) is above the city’s average (0.9 percent), but its sexual portfolio lately boasts many more straight people.
Demographers confirm that zip codes associated with traditional gay neighborhoods in the 100 most populous regions of the country are, in fact, “de-concentrating” and becoming less “segregated,” to borrow their words. Fewer same-sex households lived in them in 2010 than they did in 2000.
The RedEye, a free daily paper in Chicago,ran a cover story that lamented these changes. “Boystown, a haven for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community since the ‘70s, is losing gay residents,” the journalist announced, “while more heterosexuals are moving in.”
Why is this happening?
“The gay neighborhood? It’s pretty much all of Chicagoland.”
As I was writing my book on the alleged demise of gayborhoods across the country, I discovered two main reasons why these urban districts are de-gaying (GLBT people are moving out) and straightening (straights are moving in).
First, the ongoing integration of sexual minorities into the mainstream is reversing an earlier propensity for many of them to live in the same area of the city. Alderman Tom Tunney of the Forty-Fourth Ward, which includes Boystown, told me: “It’s not just one neighborhood. Gay is okay in major cities. Period. It’s just not as ghettoized. It’s not this pocket and this pocket. It’s everywhere.”
A gay man said in the same vein, “The argument can be made that the entire North Side is homosexual.” Another added, “The gay neighborhood? It’s pretty much all of Chicagoland.”
No longer limited to one small pocket, GLBT city dwellers are expanding their residential portfolios to include the entire city as a safe, livable place.
It’s a mistake to assume that GLBT people must surrender what makes us culturally unique in order to participate in the most foundational institutions of American society.
Second, many GLBT Chicagoans today feel culturally similar to their straight neighbors. “We’re just like them,” one lesbian told me. “We love the same way, we want to have the same sorts of fulfillment in our lives.”
Another explained how this affects her decisions about where to live: “We can live anywhere. You could live with us. And at the end of the day, that’s the happiest ending.”
Some people worry that this residential dispersion signals the dilution of our community. But I think it’s a mistake to assume that GLBT people must surrender what makes us culturally unique in order to participate in the most foundational institutions of American society. Full equality does not demand that we renounce our colorful queer citizenship.
History instructs. As a community, we have moved steadily northward in Chicago since the late nineteenth century and revived the gayborhood along the way: from Towertown to Old Town to New Town to Boystown—and now to Andersonville and Rogers Park.
This long-standing sequence demonstrates what sociologists call “homophily.” The idea is simple: birds of a feather flock together. As we leave an area in which we once clustered, we have used our creative energies to resurrect a new gayborhood somewhere else. We see this pattern in many major cities, including Chicago, of course, but also in New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
Furthermore, these cities, and many others, prominently feature a variety of commemorative markers, such as the rainbow pylons and the Legacy Walk in Chicago; permanent rainbow colored crosswalks in West Hollywood and San Francisco; rainbow flags under street signs in Philadelphia’s gayborhood; the designation of Frank Kameny Way in DC; and the dedication of Harvey Milk Street in the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego. Such municipal markers preserve these culturally sacred spaces without naively denying the realities of residential change.
Gayborhoods may not have that je ne sais quoi, center-of-the-universe feeling that they once had, but this does not mean that they are passé.
Amin Ghaziani, an associate professor of sociology at the University of British Columbia, is the author of There Goes the Gayborhood?
Inspired by new research by Adrienne Mayor, available for the first time in her forthcoming book The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World, we present this personality quiz. Leave a comment below with your Amazon alter ego. If you want to read more information about these women, please click here.
We are delighted to congratulate Thomas G. Pavel and A. Douglas Stone on the occasion of their books being shortlisted for prestigious awards given by the Phi Beta Kappa Society.
Pavel’s book The Lives of the Novel: A History is nominated for The Christian Gauss Award, a prizewhich recognizes books in the field of literary scholarship or criticism. While Stone’s Einstein and the Quantum is shortlisted under The Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science, a prize that recognizes outstanding contributions by scientists to the literature of science.
Our fingers are crossed for both authors. The winners will be announced on October 1, 2014.
German Philosophy, 1840-1900
Frederick C. Beiser
“This exciting book provides an excellent overview of German philosophy in the latter two-thirds of the nineteenth century, showing that this relatively neglected period deserves more attention. The book is full of original insights, makes extraordinary use of obscure sources, and ties it all together in a clear and lively narrative that readers at all levels will enjoy. It will instantly become the main concise work on this period and should have a wide audience and a long career.”–Karl Ameriks, University of Notre Dame
Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election
John Sides & Lynn Vavreck
With a new preface by the authors
“Sides and Vavreck offer a detailed, quantified description of the battlefield–an effort to provide political science insight in real time.”–David Lauter, Los Angeles Times/Jacket Copy blog
|Mothers of Conservatism:
Women and the Postwar Right
Michelle M. Nickerson
“Nickerson has enriched conservative historiography by examining the integral role women played in conservatism’s development and implementation and has forced feminist historiography to confront the complications that conservative female activists bring to the literature.”–Mary C. Brennan, Journal of American History
|The Mystery of the Invisible Hand:
A Henry Spearman Mystery
“A cerebral delight, The Mystery of the Invisible Hand is an engrossing, original, and compelling whodunit in the tradition of Amanda Cross and Joanne Dobson.”–Carolyn Hart, Agatha Award-winning author of Letter from Home
The Life of an Idea
Bill T. Jones
“An experimental dancer/choreographer/performance artist improvises on the nature of story itself in a unique format. . . . A brave and often successful attempt to capture and display movement and intuition and the unspoken on the printed page.”–Kirkus Reviews
From Bowery Saloons to Cocktail Bars in New York City
Richard E. Ocejo
“A beautifully conceived and elegantly executed book that employs a magnifying glass to understand New York City. Focusing on bars in downtown Manhattan, Ocejo reveals the changing face of New York City in all its richness and complexity, enabling us to understand the key players in gentrification over time–old-timers, new arrivals, politicians, business owners, and activists–and how they interact and influence each other.”–William B. Helmreich, author of The New York Nobody Knows
Stop by our booth and say hi to our Sociology editor Eric Schwartz (the friendly fellow holding the Rice-a-Roni in the video above).
Check out some of our new titles in the annual sociology catalog: http://press.princeton.edu/catalogs/socio14.pdf
|The Art of Social Theory
|The Hero’s Fight:
African Americans in West Baltimore and the Shadow of the State
|Come Out Swinging:
The Changing World of Boxing in Gleason’s Gym
|A Social Strategy:
How We Profit from Social Media
Mikołaj Jan Piskorski
|There Goes the Gayborhood?
Shark week is well underway and the celebrations and glamorizations of the most famous of ocean predators continues unabated. However, as the creators of Un-Shark Week and co-authors of The Extreme Life of the Sea, Steve and Tony Palumbi know there are other fascinating marine animals that are equally deserving of your attention. In this fantastic interview with Voice of America News, they highlight some cool facts about sharks as well as other extreme creatures that have adapted to survive and thrive in the harshest environments of the ocean.
|The Extreme Life of the Sea
Stephen R. Palumbi & Anthony R. Palumbi
Available as an ebook and an enhanced ebook.
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