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What Donald Trump's tweets reveal about his sleeping patterns

Trump has claimed he only needs four hours of sleep a night. His tweets suggest otherwise. 

Donald Trump has claimed he sleeps only four hours a night because of the "long hours" he's working as president of the United States. 

However, a scientist from Germany has modelled Donald Trump's sleeping patterns via his tweets and discovered that Trump is likely exaggerating. 

Till Roenneberg, a professor of chronobiolgy at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich analysed 12,000 tweets sent from @realDonaldTrump from December 2015 to March this year, to estimate what times Trump went to bed and woke up. 

He hoped to shine a light to the public the wealth of data that we unwittingly reveal to the world about ourselves on the internet, but also show how useful such information can be to data-hungry scientists.

To determine when the account was actually used by Trump himself, Roenneberg had to characterise the types of usage on the account from different devices. The activity on @realDonaldTrump as Roenneberg's paper published in Cell Current Biology highlights, can be split into three categories: web clients on work computers, an iPhone and an Android phone.

Roenneberg found that the Android device was used most often in the early mornings and late evenings. The activity also showed "strong seasonality" which means that Twitter activity from this account followed when the sun set and rose throughout the 27 months of activity that was analysed. 

Usage on the iPhone showed no such seasonality which Roenneberg concluded meant that it was used by multiple users. The Twitter activity on work computers predictability followed work hours. Tweets coming from these devices, Roenneberg concluded, must be by multiple people from Trump's team. 

As the Twitter activity on the Android device was so predictable, it can be safely assumed that it was controlled by one user - that user being the 45th president of the United States. This has also been determined via less scientific methods prior by those who have observed that the account's angrier tweets come from Android devices

Interestingly, Roenneberg found that Trump's Android device sent plenty of tweets during the night in the later months of 2015, but "then decreased nocturnal tweet activity gradually to a point that it was mostly absent over the past year". It appears that the Trump has been having fewer restless nights since becoming president.

Roenneberg was able to figure out when Trump was asleep by determining when his Twitter activity on his Android device was minimal. Nearly 70 percent of his "tweet-less times" were between 10pm and 6am. 

Assuming that it takes 15 minutes for one to fall asleep, and another 15 minutes to wake up, Roenneberg estimated that Trump sleeps for roughly six and a half hours. Lying Trump. What a shock! 

The next steps would be determine if Trump only tweets "Sad!" in the mornings due to feelings of melancholy and "fire and fury" at 10 minutes past dinner-time as his chefs are late and he is hangry. Future historians may even be able to ascertain whether Trump was sleep-deprived when he declared nuclear war. 

Unfortunately, since Trump joined the iPhone bandwagon in March 2017, it has been more difficult to determine whose activity on the account is Trump's and whose belong to his team.

Or as Trump would say - Sad!

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How Japan is preparing for the great flood

Experts fear Tokyo’s flood defences are not enough to avoid calamity.

Just north of Tokyo, a network of gigantic subterranean cisterns, tunnels and industrial engines helps to protect the world’s largest metropolitan area from extreme flooding – the threat of which is rising because of climate change. The system’s five cylindrical shafts can each accommodate a space shuttle, and the main tank, known as “the temple”, is held up by rows of 500-tonne pillars. Built at a cost of $2bn in 2006, the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel sucks in water from swollen rivers and pumps it
out towards the ocean using the type of engines used in jet airliners.

The project has so far done its job in protecting the Tokyo area’s 38 million residents. But many experts fear the capital’s flood defences – which also include extensive underground reservoirs – are not enough to avoid calamity. Japan is being afflicted by ever stronger typhoons, and rainfall levels rise every year. In one river breach scenario, the government projects more than 6,000 deaths. “To be frank, these measures are not enough,” says Nobuyuki Tsuchiya, the former chief civil engineer of Tokyo’s flood-prone Edogawa ward.

Mayumi Ootani, who sells pots and pans and cigarettes from her shop, puts things more bluntly: “We’re living side-by-side with death.”

Calamitous flooding wrought by extreme weather is becoming an international menace, as shown last year in Texas, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. In Tokyo, the threat is even greater because the city is already so vulnerable to natural catastrophes such as earthquakes, typhoons and tsunami.

Swiss Re, a reinsurer, described Tokyo and neighbouring Yokohama as the world’s riskiest metropolitan area in a 2014 study, citing extreme flooding as one of the perils. The Japan Meteorological Agency blames climate change for a 30 per cent rise in rainfall measuring more than two inches per hour – in what is already one of the world’s wettest cities. In recent times, Tokyoites have also been beset by man-made perils, such as the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and North Korea’s recent threats to bring “nuclear clouds ” to Japan.

Such a confluence of worries might seem a recipe for mass-neurosis, or a flight to areas that do not lie on seismic or geopolitical fault lines. But  while Japan’s overall population declines due to low birth rates, Tokyo’s is still growing, with young people migrating from stagnant rural areas. Meanwhile, the city continues to build more and more skyscrapers – testament to Japan’s superlative earthquake-resistance technologies.

Even in the districts of Tokyo most at risk from floods and earthquakes, people tend to go about life with an optimism partly born of resignation. “I don’t go around worrying about it – if disaster comes, it comes,” says Toshio Miyata, who runs a tempura restaurant in a wood-framed home. “We Tokyoites don’t give a damn, whether it’s earthquake, fire or flooding. You can’t expect to fight with nature and win.”

Miyata runs his business in the Edogawa  ward – bordered and bisected by flood-prone rivers. It’s one of the areas that form what is known as the city’s shitamachi, or downtown, traditionally considered the authentic heart of Tokyo, where people are gruff, plain-spoken and on the hustle. It’s also the centre of so-called zero-metre zones that lie below sea level – and are doubly vulnerable because of the risk of inundation and buckling during quakes, a result of poor land quality. (One Edogawa resident described the ground beneath her home as “soft as tofu”.)

Yet it is precisely a centuries-old history of coping with disaster that explains how people here deal with the prospect, even likelihood, of natural calamity. “The consciousness that you may die in a natural disaster is something deeply-rooted among the Japanese,” says Kansai University disaster psychologist Tadahiro Motoyoshi. “There is a strong sense of the threat and the blessings of nature.”

Tsuchiya, the former Edogawa chief civil engineer, says these low-lying areas have been flooded at least 250 times in the past four centuries – causing countless deaths – but each time the survivors started over in the same place. Innovation came with the commitment to stay. Residents developed elevated structures called mizuya – literally “water houses” – where they could store necessities and escape to during flooding, as well as a sophisticated system of emergency boats that converted the submerged city into a floating one.

Engineering marvels such as the metropolitan discharge channel and a planned network of super-levees, more than 300 meters wide, are an extension of these early innovations.

Japan’s earthquake-resistance technologies also draw inspiration from the past. The Tokyo Skytree, the world’s tallest tower at 634 metres, completed in 2011, borrows from Japan’s traditional five-storey pagodas – which since medieval times have been resistant to the most powerful earthquakes. Skytree engineers adapted the pagoda’s central pole – called a shinbashira – that redistributes seismic vibrations to prevent collapse.

There is also a stock of resilience and community spirit that has managed to survive waves of rampant development and inward migration. Masanobu Namatame makes painted paper lanterns for traditional festivals. He squats on straw mats in his Edogawa workshop, carrying on a craft that has been handed down through generations. “The locals depend on me during festival time,” he says. “So I’m not thinking about running away.”

But the family business was not always in this location. During Namatame’s grandfather’s time it was in the more affluent Kojimachi district. Wartime air-raids that burned down the house forced the family to flee here with a few belongings on their backs.

“The bottom line is if some calamity happens you have to run,” says Namatame. “But until then you just stay put and get on with things.” 

This article first appeared in the 15 February 2018 issue of the New Statesman, The polite extremist