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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

How (not) To Measure Whatever is (or isn't) in the Waterways

As a public service to the community we present a quick and topical review of 8th grade arithmetic. We find that this information will be invaluable when watching the video below. For those of you that are mathematicians, physicist, pseudo-intellectuals and of course lawyers, please skip the next paragraph.

The modern day use of the phrase/word “exponential” is meant to convey “a lot” or “very much” or “so much we can hardly imagine it”. The problem is that in practical terms, when the term/phrase “exponential” is used by itself, it is meaningless. Exponential is derived from exponent. An exponent is a real or imaginary value by which a number, called a base, is multiplied by itself that many times. For example, a base of 2 with an exponent of 4 (written as 24) is equal to 16, since 2x2x2x2 (the base of 2 multiplied by itself an exponent – 4 – number of times) is 16. So you see, without specifying the exponent when one says “it’s exponential!” is utterly meaningless. More so when one considers that the exponent can be the number 1, so 20 to the exponent 1 is still 20. That too is “exponential” but is not that big is it? Or how about when the exponent is zero? Well, 1 gazillion to the exponent of 0 is … ONE! Well, that is exponential but yet a very big number has been whittled down to 1!

So, onto the video. Since there is no scientific report validating the amount of nitrogen levels growing exponentially as some understand the colloquial definition of this term to mean, we can only assume that the council chairperson proclaiming in this video that “The nitrogen levels have increased exponentially” had a scientific, validated, and peer-reviewed report where the exponent to a base level of nitrogen as measured over time was either zero or 1. So yes, it grew exponentially – by staying the same (exponent of 1) or by shrinking to 1 (exponent of 0). So (yes, the third “so” in this paragraph) once again we have a first in the annals of physics (or Orwellian speak) attributed to Marco Island – nitrogen levels grew by staying the same or shrinking to 1. [Note: if someone actually has this report please post it here so we can all see what the exponent is/was.]

By the way, listen to how “the fecal [sic] has increased”. Seriously, doesn’t this statement conjure images of fecal matter traversing our waterways right alongside manatees, boats (oh, sorry, “yachts”), ducks and lawn trimmings? This proclamation actually validates our analysis. As written on this blog in October 2006 (http://marcoislandblog.blogspot.com/2006/10/recall-for-dummies-intelligent-fecal.html), it is essential that there exist fecal matter, especially the intelligent kind, for how else will the new users of the STRP have exclusive use of the expanded/new part of the sewage treatment plant?

Note: Video circa 2005


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