Archive for July 12, 2012

Nevaeh ot Yawriats

Posted in Bad Statistics, Music, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , on July 12, 2012 by telescoper

I just remembered hearing this a while ago at a public talk given by Simon Singh. I guess many of you will have come across it before, but there’s no harm in repeating it. I don’t know why it popped into my head at this particular moment, but perhaps it’s because I’ve been reading some stuff about how my colleagues in gravitational wave research use templates to try to detect specific patterns in noisy data. The method involves cross-correlating a simulated signal against the data until a match is obtained; the problem is often how to assess the probability of  a “chance” coincidence correctly and thus avoid spurious detections. The following might perhaps be a useful warning that unless you do this carefully, you only get out what you put in!

This is an excerpt from the classic  track Stairway to Heaven, by the popular beat combo Led Zeppelin, played backwards. I suggest that you listen to it once without looking at the words on the video, and then again with the words in front of you. If you haven’t heard/seen  it before, I think you’ll find it surprising…

Of course the proper way to interpret (or dismiss) matches like this is to use tools based on  Bayesian inference….