Dany Adams

Dany Adams has written 21 posts for Lab Math

Scale matters: always show your audience the size of the subject

A short, easy to read essay by Helena Jambor* on The Node, gives some good tips for adding scale bars to images.  She also gives a little history: interestingly, putting scale bars on images is not an age-old practice.  Apparently, there was a time when scientists (and many non-scientists) were assumed to know how big things were. But that [...]

GREAT charts! (not numbers, but, whatever)


Teach about confirmation bias. Please.

I am on a mission to spread the news of this transformational (yes!) exercise for all teachers of all subjects, but especially scientists. It is called the Wason* 2-4-6 Task, (I’ve seen it referred to as the 2-4-8 test). It is the best exercise I’ve ever seen for demonstrating the perils of confirmation bias.  It [...]


Hi Dany Spencer Adams, I think there might be an error in the equation for converting RCF to rpm on page 140 of the second edition, hardcover. Should the equation be: rpm= (RCF / (r x 1.118 x 10^-6))^1/2 instead of 10^-5? because the radius is measured in mm? … E. D. Dear E. D. [...]

Tabling Advice

How to Make Truly Terrible Tables: A Tutorial by David Streiner Part I: Be Too Accurate   No, your eyes are not deceiving you; the title of the blog has changed slightly, from “How to Make Truly Terrible Graphs” to “How to Make Truly Terrible Tables.” This reflects the fact that it is possible to [...]

Streiner does it again

David Streiner, my favorite statistician (if that’s not obvious from other posts here), has been writing short pieces (that I wish I could have written) about important but often misunderstood or forgotten statistical topics.   I just read one, about sample size and power, that makes these two uncomfortable topics very clear.  In particular, he [...]

The Patriots, the Nobel Laureate, and the power of uncertainty

Chemistry Nobel Laureate Roderick MacKinnon has done a wonderful (by which I mean numerically sound) analysis of the analysis of the Patriots’ footballs.  This is yet another example of the cost of not understanding uncertainty:  was it $2 million?  If Brady would like me to teach him, I’ll take a mere half of that. Analysis of [...]

It’s just multiplication, have no fear

(A true story, with some added sarcasm, to illustrate that using equations is safer in the long run than trying to avoid using equations)   My lab has a new centrifuge that I recently needed to use for the first time.  Like most centrifuges, you can set the rotations per minute (RPM) and the number [...]

Graphing Advice

How to Make Truly Terrible Graphs: A Tutorial by David Streiner Part 4: Where’s the Y?   In previous blogs, I described how to make terrible graphs using some of the features of leading graphing packages, such as pie charts and 3-D graphs. But, this is unfair to users of other programs that do not [...]

How much in taxes??

Birth of the Blog

This blog, like the book Lab Math from which it springs (incompletely formed), will be about numbers. I will endeavor to:

1. showcase the basic and the practical, not the challenging or even the advanced;

2.. provide straightforward guidance for the unenthusiastic (“just do it exactly this way”);

3.. provide refreshers for those needing refreshment (whether they know it or not.)