Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Importance of Large Sample Size

In my penpenultimate lab report of the semester, we had to compare the spectra from a radionuclide in two different circumstances. The data was stored in an ASCII file with the pulse heights represented by varying numbers of asterisks.

Rather than worry about important the data from the text file into a more sophisticated analysis program, I printed out the 15 page spectra and aligned them next to each other on my apartment floor. This was described in my experimental methods section, with a footnote stating that "I had hoped that I would be able to show that this measurement is independent of apartment by repeating this experiment in the presence of a female of beauty at least three standard deviations above the norm; sadly, circumstances did not permit this."

I got a comment back chiding me for thinking that one supermodel was a sufficient sample size in the first place.


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