From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development

July 2017
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Watch-Outs. 102. Statistics and Radioactive Elements
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Mentoring, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 7:48 am

You know, I am a strong proponent that scientific professionals
have a strong understanding of working with statistics and
perceive the hazards in our environment, that have good and not
so good effects on humans.  

So in our final class we talked about three features we should
look for in evaluating statistical data.  [I am always amazed that
their relevance is not emphasized in classes.]  variation, shape
and central tendency.
In our daily lives we are faced with statistics for nearly everything
and given “selective” interpretations to sell or convince us of various
- insure the data provides its sample size and range and variability
[small sample size, limited range, no measure of variation should
not be basis of a general position.]
- If the data is presented with many significant figures, it should
raise “red flags” in your mind.  [10,234,511.39 ?]
- The shape of the distribution of measure reveals critical insight.
[power law, normal, bimodal, skewness…]
- What is the appropriate central tendency representation?  Mean
if it is normal distribution…Other than that, questions are needed.
This leads to a link to be part of your toolkit for how to get “facts.”  
Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO, has researched USA
government statistics
and presents them in various forms.
There are two radioactive species in our environment that we
should be aware of some things.  One I encountered when I was asked
by a middle school student about a science project on radioassays.
That is when I learned about technetium.  Technetium-99 is most
useful as a radioassay measure for imaging internal organs.
CEN published a short factoid recently about this lightest, artificially
produced element.  ”Technetium cows” were developed by BNL
researchers and have been in use for more than 50 years in 
medical diagnostics and research.  In addition, technetium is a
by-product of U-235 decay and thus can be a valuable monitor
for nuclear reactor spent fuel rod decay and storage.
A second radioactive element is the gas, radon.  Radon is naturally
occurring in the environment and is attributed to be an effector of 
lung cancer in humans 
.  Radon decays naturally producing alpha 
particles.  Maps of the prevalence of radon in the US point to where
it is.  This should be a point of reference for us where we live
and work.

One Response to “Watch-Outs. 102. Statistics and Radioactive Elements”

  1. site admin Says:

    Sure you can look at Ballmer’s website. Some commentary on it
    that is useful reading is in Schumpeter April 25, 2017.

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