Random weirdness for the week of Feb. 17, 2015

Le Monde polarjazz

We can’t understand a word of it (beyond “Svalbard,” “Longyearbyen” and a few names, of course), but Le Monde nevertheless has one of the best online articles we’ve ever seen of Polarjazz (even if they got the name slightly wrong) by an uncredited artist who presents the festival as a graphic novel with song and interview audio clips. Organist Bugge Wesseltoft gets the most musician love, including (warning) a portion of his concert that autoplays when the page is loaded, but there’s also dramatic landscape and blizzard sketches, as well as some amusing caricature-like depictions of certain locals…

Meanwhile, certain folks in Britain continue to occupy the other end of the journalism scale, with a recent headline in The Telegraph of London proclaiming “The fiddling with temperature data is the biggest science scandal ever.” It seems graphs temperatures at three weather stations in Paraguay for the past 60 years were “dramatically reversed” to show a warming trend rather than a cooling one. That “sparked some discussion between colleagues at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute,” who ran some tests comparing temperatures recorded in Svalbard by different institutes and – shockingly – found some “not been subject to the same quality control and homogenization” as others. Oh, by the way, they also noted the Telegraph’s “charlatan bent on spreading misinformation” neglected to mention there’s tens of thousands of stations collecting data worldwide, and adjustments up and down are made as more accurate information becomes available so, um, three stations isn’t exactly a representative sample. People who want to read the technical details and more readers comments with the word “homogenization” than we care to count can check out tinyurl.com/lto93n9

Finally, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault celebrated its seventh birthday this week and, while there weren’t any high-profile deposits like some past years, it got a shoutout from lots of geek and science publications as Swiss researchers announced they’ve discovered a way to store massive amounts of data as a DNA-coded string in a way that, if kept in the -18C Doomsday Vault, could preserve the data for more than a million years.