Return to Website

Number Watch Web Forum

This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.

Forum: Number Watch Web Forum
Start a New Topic 
Modern computer modelling

In the "The Right Climate Stuff" thread I mentioned that there is a difference between modern computer modelling and the way it was done in the past before desktop computers replaced mainframe computers. Another strange difference is the tendency to use computer models in the present day for decision-making.

An example of this is given in this 2016 article in the Daily Telegraph about a modeller called Nira Chamberlain, apparently listed by the Science Council as one of the UK’s top practising scientists:

Nira Chamberlain

In the article, Chamberlain briefly describes two projects that he is most proud of:

"The first, a Babcock project that involved the creation of a mathematical cost capability trade-off model for the HMS Queen Elizabeth at a time when the £6.2 billion project was still at the computer design stage and the first sheet of steel had yet to be cut.

His model, which convinced the client that this prestigious aircraft carrier should indeed be built, not only earned plaudits for Babcock but saw Dr Chamberlain himself cited in the Encyclopaedia of Mathematics & Society – making him one of only a handful of British mathematicians to receive such an accolade."

Basically he seems to have devised a computer model which 'proves' that building the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier is a great idea, and the model has convinced the client to go ahead with the project, the 'client' presumably being the Ministry of Defence.

Some background information on these new aircraft carriers, the largest warships to be built in the UK, is given in this Wikipedia article. The Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier was actually launched yesterday.

Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier

The idea of building ships as big as this doesn't look very sensible to me. Decades ago, many countries had aircraft carriers, but the general cost escalation of military equipment over the years has translated into such ships now being regarded, except in the USA, as a luxury item. Another specific complication for aircraft carriers is that ships built since the 1970s are mainly gas turbine powered, which means that there is no immediately available steam supply for the steam catapults that would be needed to launch normal military jets, and the idea of providing an alternative source of steam is unfavoured for some reason. In the UK we switched in the 1970s to the idea of building smaller size aircraft carriers with specialised short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) planes (Harrier jets). These new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers are still using the short take-off plane technology instead of normal military jets, but the ship is now three times as big as the previous smaller size aircraft carriers. I'm sure the model explains all this away somehow.

Re: Modern computer modelling - by Brad Tittle - Jun 28, 2017 4:45pm
HPV vaccine - by Dave Gardner - Jul 2, 2017 1:41pm
Re: HPV vaccine - by Brad Tittle - Jul 3, 2017 5:34pm
Re: HPV vaccine - by Brad Tittle - Jul 3, 2017 5:48pm
Re: Modern computer modelling - by Ian Reid - Jun 29, 2017 4:07pm
Re: Modern computer modelling - by Dave Gardner - Jul 11, 2017 3:26pm
Re: Modern computer modelling - by Brad Tittle - Jul 12, 2017 7:54pm
Re: Modern computer modelling - by Dave Gardner - Aug 28, 2017 12:59pm