It’s one thing to know what the weather will be like around your house tomorrow. It’s another thing entirely to forecast a whole week of weather, let alone a season! And what about when you’re widening your scope to include entire regions of the world, or the whole planet? Sometimes we joke that the weather report online or on TV is inaccurate at least half the time, but the truth is that it’s a tough job!
The fundamental principle of predicting long-term or wide-range weather is that you need oodles of data, you need to know how all the different data influence each other, and only then will you be able to separate signal from noise.
To collect initial data for a regional weather forecast, meteorologists use tools like weather balloons, Doppler radar, and satellites, as well as ground-level observatories that monitor sky conditions, visibility, precipitation, temperature, wind speed, and more. Sometimes this involves data collection by citizen scientists; the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has about 10,000 volunteers!
Most data nowadays gets fed into supercomputers that do the bulk of initial analysis, but of course human brains are always still involved in sorting things out. In terms of real reliability, weather forecasts tend to be accurate for about 4-5 days ahead, maybe as far as 10-14 days if you’ve got some very canny analysts and your region isn’t known for sudden weather changes.
Scale any further up from that, and a lot of the same principles apply, but the data influx is even bigger, and it becomes even more important to base predictions on historical phenomena and previously observed trends. All of this is what helps scientists guarantee when hurricane or monsoon seasons will start or how intense they’ll be, or things like whether a drought is likely. Tracking long-term patterns and noticing changes in the data is also how scientists know that our planet’s climate is getting dangerously warmer over time, what the causes are (largely human activity), but also what can be done to fix this problem.
How good are you at separating aberrations from normal data? The Hunt is about to test you! There are 12 mergers in the Hunt cell; you have 5.5 days and 24 guesses to locate them all, between midnight EST on 2/20 and noon EST on 2/25.
How to identify and report mergers
- Select Hunt cell from Change Cell menu. Stay in the overview.
- Type /debug into chat. This will reveal a special box with information about the cell (located above the “Start Playing” box).
- Use ALT+click to select the origin point of the merger you have identified. It is a good idea to zoom in close on the merger before you select it to get the most accurate coordinates.
- Find the coordinates of the merger’s origin in the cell information box. These are next to the word “center.”
- In the chat pm thehunt bot your coordinates. For example: /pm thehunt 5123 4321 5678.
- thehunt bot will let you know if you got it right or wrong and tell you how many guesses you have left.
- To check how many mergers you have found and to check what guesses you have submitted, type “/pm thehunt !list”; the bot will give you a list of all the coordinates you have guessed, and whether or not there was a merger at each set of coordinates. A + means there was a merger there, a — means there was not a merger there.
- If you accidentally submit the same coordinate a second time, it does not count as two guesses.
Do not reveal your coordinates to other players. Do not do anything against the spirit of the Hunt. Anyone caught cheating will be automatically disqualified from the event and will not receive any points.
Proximity to merger start point is determined by number of voxels (1 voxel = approx. 1/250th of a cube’s width). Mergers are only counted as found if guessed within a distance of 250 voxels. Pieces of dust floating in space don’t count as mergers, so please don’t report them! We also do not count fused mergers that could not be removed during the Hunt prep process.
Swag (made possible by generous donations from our past player @susi): The top scoring player will win their choice of face mask or notebook, plus their choice of sticker or magnet! Second and third place will each also win their choice of sticker or magnet.
Bonus info is available in your in-game notifications. Good luck, and happy hunting!
Artwork by Daniela Gamba