The relationship between signal to noise is something we environmental scientists, engineers and geophysicists need to understand and work with on a regular basis. But it is an important issue in all aspects of engineering and in life. What is exactly do I mean when I talk about the signal to noise relationship? Generally, we can think of the signal as the desired target result of an experiment or test. In contrast, the noise can be viewed as the background interference, or really everything else that can get in the way of focusing on the signal. More practically, let’s take Valentine’s Day as an example. You decide to buy your wife a new shovel for this romantic holiday. When you ask her what she thinks of it, she responds, “it’s fine.” There is a good deal of “noise” incorporated into the result of this experiment. By finding a way to remove the noise and focus on only the true result, we may see that her true signal response is something more like, “what do you think, dear?” Marriage can be the ultimate experiment in interpreting signal to noise ratios.