Why weather apps disagree with each other, Einstein’s notes fetch millions, physicist and Subway founder dies age 90


Bad weather illustration
Uncertain forecast: why do weather apps disagree? (Courtesy: iStock/trendobjects)

There are thousands of weather apps to choose from and perhaps surprisingly, they can sometimes give different forecasts. In this video from The Guardian, Josh Toussaint-Strauss explores why different apps can give different predictions for sunshine or rain. Apparently there are myriad reasons, including which algorithms and observations are used and whether there is any human input to the forecasts.

“Without a doubt the most valuable Einstein manuscript ever to come to auction,” is how the auction house Christie’s described 54 pages of handwritten notes on relativity, which were sold for €11.6m (£9.7m) at auction in Paris this week. According to The Guardian, the notes were made by Einstein and colleague Michele Besso in 1913-14 and contain preparatory work for Einstein’s general theory of relativity – which was published in 1915.

The notes are concerned with the precession of the perihelion of Mercury’s orbit, which Einstein subsequently put forth as a test of general relativity. The manuscript contains several errors, which caused it to be abandoned. Instead of tossing it away, Besso saved it for posterity.

There is no standard career path for a physics graduate and people who do PhDs often stray far from academic life. Peter Buck did a PhD in physics at Columbia University with Nobel laureate Isidor Rabi and started out working in the nuclear industry. But in 1965 he lent a friend $1000 to open a sandwich shop, and this changed Buck’s life. What started out as Pete’s Super Submarines grew into the Subway chain, which today has more than 37,000 restaurants in over 100 countries worldwide.

Buck died on 18 November, age 90. In 2016, Forbes estimated that he was worth $1.6 bn, so I’m guessing that he had few regrets leaving physics for the world of fast food.

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