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Monday, September 04, 2006

Statistics in Life 10

Vermicomposting is my topic for today. I enjoy growing heirloom variety plants in my garden, many of which are fickle. In an effort to reduce the use of harsh fertilizers and increase the low productivity of some of these plants, I began looking into soil enhancers and came across vermicomposting. New to me, I am thrilled by this option. According to reseach, vermicomposting is able to "break-down" organic material in a matter of a few days as compared to weeks in some cases. Secondly, the critters are able to eat their own body weight in 24 hours under optimum conditions…recycling kitchen scraps and newspapers (term-papers, student loan notifications, and late bills) is more convenient than hauling it to the recycle dumpster…and I get something back from it for my garden. Kinda neat. So, here is the catcher…vermicomposting is being used on a gigantic scale for waste management because not only can the worms eat their weight daily, but they multiply in rates that would embarrass a rabbit. Theorectically if you began with 1000 red-worms under optimum conditions you would have 2 billion in 24 months. (According to authorities) Now, I am sure you are wondering how this has to do with statistics…(maybe it doesn't, it may have more to do with evaluation…J), but these numbers and many others like them are all very statistically significant. These worms can eat amazing amounts of organic waste and produce a valuable bi-product in the process. Everyone from a backyard gardener to entire cities can participate. Garbage is a big problem. Am I missing some point or is this a potential solution to a segment of the trash problem? (By the way, I'm in the public health section so trash would fall under my feasible areas of interestJ).
If someone has taken the time to measure the ability of disposing of organic waste in this manner, and it has been shown effective and significant (hey, is there some area that measures both?), and it is such a great need, what is the problem? I use this whole example to ask the simple question…what about those areas that seem all in focus but something is missing? How do you go about testing the information? You know the adage, if its to good to be true it probably isn't…how do you prove it? If research attempts to demonstrate an intervention is not the same as normally expected by rejecting a null hypothesis, then what would happen if that was in fact an error but was established as truthful and provided a basis for measurement. Has this not in fact occurred in the past? For example, when the earth was considered the center rather than the sun, were the measurements and experiments of the time all incorrect or un-able to work or were they "self-corrected" by the virtue of things still being relative? I really don’t fully understand this null idea…I realize it is a statistical measurement much like the idea of the critical vs. calculated measurements, But translating that into reality leaves me out in left field. Also, if evalutation and research is not the same, what determines when to use which? I assume it is the social situation.


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