Significance: December 2014 issue just published


  • Author: Statistics Views
  • Date: 02 December 2014

The December 2014 issue of Significance has just published.

The issue includes a special section on astrostatistics written by leading astronomers, astrophysicists and statisticians. These articles explain the workings of the universe and the part statistics plays in helping solve the endless mysteries of space. Read the astrostatistics section contents below.

thumbnail image: Significance: December 2014 issue just published

The disciplines of astronomy and statistics are coming together to answer some of the biggest questions in modern science by Joseph M. Hilbe.

Impacts from space rocks have set off mass extinctions at least twice in Earth's history. Should we be worried that another strike is imminent? Joseph M. Hilbe and Jamie Riggs assess the risks.

An overview of meteorite strikes observed through the ages, designed by Carlo Zapponi.

If you want to know why the universe is the way it is, you have to understand its initial state. Benjamin Wandelt takes us back billions of years to show how statistics is helping cosmologists understand the origins of everything – including life itself

Astronomy data sets are astronomically big – that is why statistical approaches are needed to analyse, organise and unravel the mysteries of the universe. By Rafael de Souza and Emille Ishida.

There's more to the universe than meets the eye – over 80% is made up of stuff we cannot see. Jessi Cisewski explores the nature of dark matter, and how statistics is helping locate it.

There isn't a set of scales big enough to measure the most massive objects in the universe. Madhura Killedar considers alternative methods, and the associated statistical challenges.

Our universe is fine-tuned for life to such a degree that it would seem improbable were it the only universe in existence – which means there is a good chance that we live in a multiverse. Roberto Trotta explains the idea, and the discoveries that gave rise to it.

It began with a bang, but current models suggest the universe will go out with a whimper. Chris Impey explores the long, dark fate that awaits.

Back on Earth, Maimuna Majumder explores the challenges facing epidemiologists as they try to model and contain the spread of West Africa’s Ebola outbreak. Tim Harford takes “big data” advocates to task for ignoring the statistical lessons of the past. And Nisha Owen introduces an algorithm to help conservationists prioritise which animals to save from extinction, based on measures of evolutionary distinctiveness.

Statisticians need to prioritise clear communication over numerical detail, says Ed Swires-Hennessy as he discusses his new book, Presenting Data, with Allan Reese.

Paula McLeod reveals what life is like as a statistician on a remote island in the Atlantic Ocean.

This being the festive season, Significance could not let it pass without a suitably themed article, so you will also find the statistician’s guide to organising a cracking good Christmas party.

We also reveal the books that Significance readers have most enjoyed during 2014.

Significance is a bi-monthly magazine for anyone interested in statistics and the analysis and interpretation of data. Its aim is to communicate and demonstrate in an entertaining, thought provoking and non-technical way the practical use of statistics in all walks of life, and to show informatively and authoritatively how statistics benefit society. It is published on behalf of the Royal Statistical Society and the American Statistical Association.

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Published features on are checked for statistical accuracy by a panel from the European Network for Business and Industrial Statistics (ENBIS)   to whom Wiley and express their gratitude. This panel are: Ron Kenett, David Steinberg, Shirley Coleman, Irena Ograjenšek, Fabrizio Ruggeri, Rainer Göb, Philippe Castagliola, Xavier Tort-Martorell, Bart De Ketelaere, Antonio Pievatolo, Martina Vandebroek, Lance Mitchell, Gilbert Saporta, Helmut Waldl and Stelios Psarakis.