Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Time to get into trouble: Stochastic Subsurface Hydrology

There are two main camps of hydrologists in the world. The first camp, the older and less wiser, views the subsurface as a structureless blob, unknowable and forbidding. Rather than delve into the archana of crap like "physics" and "thermodynamics" (notice how "they" always "quote" "crap" "they" "distain" "?"), "they" say "'tis too complex and expensive to know, so fuggit!" They reduce the complexities of the world to an expanding football shaped cloud that moves in some direction that is not owned by their clients or people likely to sue said clients. These cats get hired by civil engineering firms to stamp drawings so developers can drain swamps and put in golf courses.

The exceptionally good looking, fit, smart, hip and wiser camp views the subsurface as a blob too, but one that has a structure that is knowable, if only in a conditional probabalistic sense. Knowing a bit of physics and thermodynamics and enough probability theory to take applied economics courses in risk analysis and actually enjoy it, they reduce the complexities of the world into an ever expanding football shaped cloud with a squiggly outline. Unlike the smooth football set, these cats get hired by Wall Street or Big Oil or spend their time begging for change outside the Five Points Marta station and sleeping off hangovers in Woodruf Park.

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