Secrets of Three Amazing Animals Unveiled

first_img(Visited 25 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Here are accounts of three very different animals whose behaviors have baffled scientists till now.  Scientists are beginning to get at least partial answers for scientific mysteries by carefully observing and testing to see how things work.Waving corals.  Some soft corals pulsate regularly.  Why is that?  Why would they perform motion that is energetically costly?  PhysOrg reported that scientists at Hebrew University of Jerusalem wanted to solve this “old scientific mystery.”One of the most fascinating and spectacular sights in the coral reef of Eilat is the perpetual motion of the tentacles of a coral called Heteroxenia (Heteroxenia fuscescens). Heteroxenia is a soft coral from the family Xeniidae, which looks like a small bunch of flowers, settled in the reef walls and on rocky areas on the bottom of the reef. Each “flower” is actually a living polyp, the basic unit which comprises a coral colony. Apparently, the motion of these polyps, resembling flowers that are elegantly spreading out and closing up their petals, is unique in the animal kingdom.Researchers found that the corals take a “siesta” for a half hour every day.  They will also stop pulsing for a few minutes after being touched.  By measuring the water flow around the corals, the researchers found that the pulsations effectively stir the water around these filter feeders to enable new nutrient-rich water to flow in.  It also removes excess oxygen and brings in carbon dioxide, raising the rate of photosynthesis for symbiotic algae.  “The findings of this study indicate that pulsation motions are a highly efficient means for sweeping away water from the pulsating body, and for an increased mixing of dissolved matter between the body and the surrounding medium,” the report said.  The answer to this biological mystery was not just for curiosity: “These two processes (expulsion of medium and mixing of solutes) may lead to future applications in engineering and medicine.”Baby turtles:  Surely everyone who has watched TV footage of baby sea turtles scurrying across the sand toward the water thinks it’s cute.  Scientists agree, but ask questions beyond: how do the turtles travel so effectively, several body lengths per second, across soft sand?  Science Daily tells how researchers at Georgia Tech tried to mimic the action with “Flipper-Bot,” a robot with paddle-like limbs (see video of the turtles and the robot on YouTube).  A Georgia Tech biologist first filmed the hatchlings traveling toward a light at night.  Their clumsy-looking limbs are actually quite effective at scurrying over sand without moving it much.  They can control their wrists depending on the medium.  “On hard ground, their wrists locked in place, and they pivoted about a fixed arm,” the scientist explained. “On soft sand, they put their flippers into the sand and the wrist would bend as they moved forward.”  A robot model proved this is a good way to travel; it gives a high angle of attack, and reduces drag.  The article suggested that the new information “could ultimately provide clues to how turtles evolved to walk on land with appendages designed for swimming,” but one of the researchers quickly admitted, “We don’t have solid results on the evolutionary questions yet….”Homing pigeons:  A mystery of bird navigation is closer to being solved.  PhysOrg reported that Viennese and Australian scientists have “added some important pieces” to the puzzle of how birds navigate, a skill that allows some species to span the globe on the wing.  It turns out every bird (but not humans) has little iron balls in sensory neurons.  “Remarkably, each cell has a single iron ball, and it’s in the same place in every cell,” they noted.  Even ostriches have them.  Perhaps these are the “elusive magnetoreceptors” that respond to the earth’s magnetic field.  A previous theory has been discredited.  It turns out that iron-rich clusters thought to exist in pigeon beaks were just blood cells.  If the iron in the sensory neurons is involved in birds’ magnetic sense, scientists still do not know how they work: “we’re a long way off understanding how magnetic sensing works,” one of the scientists said; “we still don’t know what these mysterious iron balls are doing.”The classical “scientific method” of observation, hypothesis, and testing can answer questions about “how things work” if they are amenable to repeated observation, as in these cases.  Stories about “how they got that way” by evolution are far less useful.  When scientists approach things as if they work for a purpose, whether coral pulsations or turtle flippers, they usually get two rewards: satisfying explanations that can bear repeated testing, and applications that can improve human life.  Liberate these scientists from the ball and chain of having to add a Darwinian just-so story to their work.Speaking of birds, a great new film on bird flight is coming from Illustra Media.  Watch for the news here.  It contains a truly stunning story of migration, as well as other cutting-edge findings that were obtained by good observational scientific methods.  The film will illustrate a common experience in scientific research: when scientists look more closely at natural phenomena, they usually find answers that are far more dynamic and wonderful than previously thought: answers that transcend language and cause us to stand in awe.last_img read more

Aerospace industry gets wings

first_img29 November 2004South Africa’s strategy for aerospace industry growth is to encourage partnerships with international players in the field of component manufacture and maintenance. A number of new deals in the sector suggest the strategy is starting to pay off.Turbomeca Africa, a joint venture between SA arms manufacturer Denel and French group Turbomeca, has opened a new manufacturing and maintenance facility adjacent to Johannesburg International Airoport. New facility for aircraft engines The industry was also boosted recently by the announcement of a R110-million Anglovaal Mining investment in a new plant to produce super-alloy metals for Rolls-Royce engines.According to Business Day, the plant, at Pelindaba outside Pretoria, is expected to produce 4 000 tons of the super-strong steel within three years, mostly for export, with potential earnings of R750-million a year for South African Airways (SAA).The project forms part of offset deals linked to arms and aircraft purchases by the government and SAA.Defence technology group Grintek also announced recently that it had secured two contracts with the Malaysian government.Avitronics, a joint venture between Grintek and Saab of Sweden, has been awarded the first phase of a contract to supply Malaysia with 18 multi-sensor warning systems for its new Sukhoi fighter aircraft.The first and second phases of the order are valued at over US$20-million, or R134-million, with the first phase starting immediately.Grintek subsidiary Grintek Aviation Systems will also be supplying and installing instrument landing equipment to a civilian airport in Malaysia.The two deals follow numerous negotiations between the two countries, helped by President Thabo Mbeki’s visit to Malaysia last year.Aerospace Industry Support InitiativeThe government has also announced the creation of the Aerospace Industry Support Initiative.Speaking at the African Aerospace & Defence Trade Show in Pretoria in September, Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa said the industry had the potential to stimulate export growth and – through international subcontracting arrangements – industrial innovation, competitiveness and growth further down the supply chain.To be implemented in partnership with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Aerospace Industry Support Initiative will include a high-level advisory task team comprising a number of stakeholders, business people and industrialists.The collaboration is expected to lead to the establishment of an Aerospace Centre of Excellence to support the development of skills, research, and technology. Other areas to be looked into include:Standards and quality required in the industry.Training of industry personnel.Working with universities, science councils and other research and academic institutions.Partnering with Brazil in the development of new products in the defence and regional travel industry, as well as utilising synergies between India, Brazil and South Africa.The development of a local space industry.SouthAfrica.info reporterlast_img read more

Recent Changes to LEED for Homes — Part 1

first_imgStructural changes I DON’T likeThe LEED for Homes Committee was very happy with several innovations we pioneered – things we felt were distinct improvements over the more senior members of the LEED family, for reasons of clarity. One of these was having prerequisites and optional measures reside within the same credit, so it was easy to understand the baseline requirements and then the enhanced measures that could be taken to step up performance above the baseline in a given area. Sadly, that wisdom has been steamrollered under the behemoth that is non-residential LEED. The prerequisites and credits are now decoupled, irrationally, with separate names and numbers – purely for the sake of conformity, alas.The threshold adjustment mechanism to account for home size impacts – though not very aptly called, originally, the “Home Size Adjustment” (no, the homes’ sizes were not being adjusted) – has been transformed into a prerequisite, EAp4, Home Size. I haven’t had time to play with the numbers to see how this affects scoring, if at all. But I do lament the move, if for only this reason: the mechanism was developed to account for not only lower or higher energy use associated with smaller-than-average or larger-than-average homes, but also for differences in material resource consumption. This idea will now be lost – whether or not it’s accounted for in the numbers.The newly remodeled prerequisite is also now tied to the Energy Star for Homes, version 3, reference home – which was undoubtedly fashioned to some degree after the original LEED for Homes mechanism. Perhaps it’s an improvement, perhaps not. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to plumb its depths.Another reversion to the non-residential LEED norm is the move of low-emitting building materials from their original home (MR2.2) to the Indoor Environmental Quality category. The logic of their former placement was to enable a specifier to understand all the different material properties that were of interest when selecting materials. Ah, consistency – the hobgoblin of small minds!Now on to more petty complaints: does anyone really think that having a bunch of “cases” and “options” and “paths” (which appear now in numerous credits) lends to clarity? Not me! I also find that while some credit language has been nicely trimmed and clarified, some has been muddied and rendered overly complex and layered.I also fail to understand why the Innovation and Design Process category has been split into two categories, Integrative Process (comprising one lonely credit) and Innovation (which has but a single prerequisite and two credits). Was ID really so overcrowded?On the other hand, the Awareness and Education (AE) category has disappeared, and its contents subsumed into Energy and Atmosphere. Since there were only two AE credits – that really should have been one all along – I don’t object to the category going away, but the vestigial credit, now EAp3, really isn’t only about energy.And then we have the Regional Priority category, comprising the single Regional Priority credit. I would have really preferred to see some consolidation – perhaps into a nice, tidy, “Other” category. But that’s just me, apparently.Now on to some categories – not necessarily in order, but rather in order of most improved to most … well, you fill in the blank. BLOGS BY ANN EDMINSTER High-Performance and Net-Zero Homes — Part 1The Green Countertop DilemmaMore Lighting Options, Please?!A Theory of Work: What Number Are You?The First … Charrette?Ready, Set, Go!Does Green Building Cost More? Water efficiency (WE)The new WEc1 provides a performance pathway alternative to the prescriptive credits WEc2 (indoor water use) and WEc3 (outdoor water use), which mirror and consolidate the old WE3, SS2.3, and SS2.4. This is very sensible and uses the EPA WaterSense Water Budget Tool to calculate percentage reductions from a baseline.WEc2 now includes clothes washers and reduces the allowable flow rates for lavatory faucets and showerheads. There is now only one award level for toilets. Any fixtures with a flow rating higher than 2.5 gpm now trigger mandatory use of WEc1.WEc3 may or may not be an improvement – it seems straightforward, but the proof will be in the pudding. It combines limits to turf grass with minimums for native/adapted planting area. Projects with pools or other outdoor water features are required to use WEc1. Structural changes I LIKEFirst, there’s some good news with regard to the rating system structure: midrise projects have been integrated into the rating system, no longer being shunted into a separate document. It’s about time! (If we could get the California version integrated, too, I would be even happier.)It’s also great to see that credits that include multiple performance levels are no longer parsed (absurdly) into numbered sub-credits. The levels have also been evened out more rationally into proportional steps … at least in most multi-level credits. My perspective on the latest version of the LEED for Homes standard (version 4) has an inescapably historic slant. This doesn’t mean that I categorically reject change. In fact, much as a parent reserves the right to be her child’s most ardent fan and harshest critic at times, I have not been at all hesitant to point out flaws in LEED for Homes over the years since the launch of the pilot.Having established that, let me say that I applaud a number of significant improvements in the New! Improved! LEED for Homes (version 4). There are other changes about which I am considerably less enthusiastic. Green Building Advisor has been kind enough to let me share both my praise and my discontent.In Part 1, I’ve offered some overall structural comments and reviewed the two categories that have seen the greatest improvements: WE and EQ. In Part 2, I will cover the remaining categories.center_img Indoor environmental quality (EQ)The ventilation credits (former EQ4 and EQ5) have been consolidated into a single prerequisite (EQp1) and a single credit (EQc1), each addressing both exhaust and supply (or balanced) ventilation. This is handy, since they reference the same (updated) ASHRAE standards.Some measures that used to be optional are now – appropriately – mandatory. Shared surfaces between living spaces and garages must now be air-sealed (was EQ10.2, now EQp3). Environmental tobacco smoke controls (formerly EQ11 in Midrise, now EQp6) are now mandatory and slightly simplified. Compartmentalization (formerly EQ12.1 in Midrise, now EQp7) now applies to both multifamily and attached single-family dwellings.A number of measures have also been made more stringent, including enhanced ventilation (was EQ5.2 and EQ4.2, now EQc1), midrise compartmentalization (was EQ12.2, now EQc4), enhanced combustion venting (was EQ2.2, now EQc5), and enhanced garage pollutant protection (was EQ10.3 and EQ10.4, now EQc6).One credit that seems a bit wacky is EQc2 (was EQ8), Contaminant Control – particularly the walk-off mats for multifamily projects. I’ll be truly shocked if any project puts in 10-foot walk-off mats to earn ½ point.And, as mentioned above, I’m not fond of the inclusion of low-emitting products in this category (EQc7), although I do understand the logic. I have no quarrel with other aspects of this new credit, though.The EQ category, because it is one of the largest, particularly suffers from segregating prerequisites from their companion credits. Were it not for this flaw, this category would definitely warrant “Most Improved.”For Part 2 of this series, click here. RELATED ARTICLES Recent Changes to LEED for Homes — Part 2GBA Encyclopedia: LEED for HomesWhy Is the U.S. Green Building Council So Out of Touch?It’s 2012 — Do You Know Where Your LEED for Homes Is?How to Cheat* at LEED for HomesNew Urbanist Andres Duany Lashes Out at LEEDGreen Building Programs Got Some ’Splainin’ to Do LEED-H Clarifications Raise More Questions Than They AnswerEqual-Opportunity Feather Ruffling Ann Edminster is the owner of Design AVEnues , a green building consulting firm in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is also a member of GreenBuildingAdvisor.com’s team of advisors and is the former chair and co-chair of the LEED for Homes Committee.last_img read more

Ranidel de Ocampo ‘right fit at right time’ for Meralco

first_imgRead Next Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. LATEST STORIES Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Fire hits houses in Mandaluyong City The veteran forward was shipped to Meralco Monday, marking the end of a colorful nine-year run with the Talk ‘N Text franchise.“He fits us perfectly and he’s with us at the right time,” Black told INQUIRER.net Tuesday. “Ranidel is not only a talented and experienced player, he’s also very, very smart.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutThe 6-foot-6 de Ocampo addresses the Bolts’ lack of big men and he gives the team another knock down shooter and reliable post player.“The reason why we wanted him at Meralco it’s because he gives us another floor spacer, somebody who can stretch the floor,” said Black, who won four titles with de Ocampo at TNT. WATCH: Streetboys show off slick dance moves in Vhong Navarro’s wedding ‘Bato’ to be ‘most effective’ CHR head? It’s for public to decide – Gascon PLAY LIST 01:38‘Bato’ to be ‘most effective’ CHR head? It’s for public to decide – Gascon00:50Trending Articles02:26Friends, relatives of inmates detained at NBP want visitation rights restored01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games Frontrow holds fun run to raise funds for young cancer patients  E.T. returns to earth, reunites with grown-up Elliott in new ad center_img “Our team is built around Durham and we want to surround him with guys who can shoot from the outside,” he added, referring to import Allen Durham, who is a menacing force in the paint.Black hopes de Ocampo is Meralco’s missing piece of the puzzle to finally get over the hump.The Bolts are currently among the top teams in the 2017 Governors’ Cup with a 6-2 record just half a game out of first place held by Barangay Ginebra and NLEX, who own similar 7-2 slates.“We’re aiming to win a championship and we need him right now,” said Black, who has nothing but praise for the 35-year-old de Ocampo.“Ranidel is still the best, if not one of the best stretch fours in the league today.”ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ LOOK: Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte unwind in Amanpulo for 3rd anniversary Just over 2 years left, intense work at Tokyo stadium site BSP sees higher prices in November, but expects stronger peso, low rice costs to put up fight Nonong Araneta re-elected as PFF president Meralco head coach Norman Black believes Ranidel de Ocampo is a perfect addition to the Bolts and his arrival couldn’t have come at a better time.ADVERTISEMENT View commentslast_img read more

10 months agoMan Utd striker Rashford resists Real Madrid approach

first_imgTagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Man Utd striker Rashford resists Real Madrid approachby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United striker Marcus Rashford has no interest in talks with Real Madrid.The Sun says Rashford has scored twice in three games since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer succeeded Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford.And his renewed enjoyment with his boyhood club will see him reject the advances of Los Blancos.Rashford was reportedly open to talks with Real due to how he was being used by Mourinho, despite never having his heart set on an exit from Old Trafford.But the 21-year-old has been pivotal to United’s upturn in form since Solskjaer’s arrival, producing some dazzling footwork to set up the opener for Paul Pogba in the Red Devils’ 4-1 hammering of Bournemouth on Sunday. last_img read more

18 days agoWolves captain Coady hails 2-goal Traore after Man City victory

first_imgAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Wolves captain Coady hails 2-goal Traore after Man City victoryby Paul Vegas18 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveWolves captain Conor Coady hailed two-goal Adama Traore after victory at Manchester City.Traore, who had only scored one previous goal for Wolves, netted twice in the final 10 minutes.Coady said: “We know what he brings to this club. He is an outstanding footballer. His pace and his power, everything about him. He is a brilliant lad as well.“It’s amazing. We came here with belief. We really did. We have had two good results and a fantastic one on Thursday night.“This just tops the lot I think with how good Manchester City are and how well they move it. “We were organised and in shape. I thought we deserved the win, we really did.“That is how we set up. We need to do it more. We have not done enough at the start of the season. I thought we were fantastic.” last_img read more

Has the US Mens National Team Plateaued

This view suggests the U.S. may have reached a new plateau. The performance of the 2002 team, for instance, is problematic from this vantage point. If the U.S. fails to beat Belgium on Tuesday, that means it will have gone three World Cups without equaling (much less improving upon) the 2002 team’s performance. Perhaps we’re left with the global soccer equivalent of the Atlanta Hawks: a team that will usually make the “playoffs” then lose in the first round.This might seem like a contrived reading of the evidence. But mapping the Americans’ trajectory from 1986 onward is also selective: It’s easy to make an upward pattern look more impressive by starting from what you know to be a low point.There’s a credible story behind each theory. Under the steady-improvement theory, the story is one of demographic and cultural trends abetted by some measure of self-perpetuating success (a positive feedback loop). Soccer has been a big youth-participation sport since the 1970s, but immigration from Latin America may be giving the U.S. even more young athletes who are interested in soccer. The occasional successes of the U.S. men’s national team, along with an increasingly popular domestic league (and improved television visibility for the English Premier League and Liga MX) may motivate some of these young athletes to play soccer professionally instead of transitioning into baseball, football or another sport.The punctuated-equilibrium theory suggests that the U.S. was badly underachieving its soccer potential for many years. Then it got its act together when it was chosen to host a World Cup: better facilities, more investment in the national team, a sustainable domestic league and so forth. But it was picking low-hanging fruit. It shouldn’t be that difficult for a super-wealthy country like the United States, which excels at so many other sports, to be half-decent at soccer if it tries.What’s more challenging is going from a country that sometimes makes the knockout phase to one that sometimes makes the World Cup semifinals — or beyond. It’s not clear that the U.S.’s wealth, or its athletic prowess, implies that it ought to be much more successful at soccer than it has been in recent years. For instance, we can compare each country’s GDP (taken as a natural logarithm) against its soccer team’s Elo rating as of June. There’s certainly some relationship, but it’s rough (soccer is a comparatively inexpensive sport). The trendline in the chart implies that a best guess for the United States is an Elo rating somewhere in mid-1,800s, almost exactly where it is today.The same story holds if we compare the number of medals each country has won at the Summer Olympics since 2000 (again taken as a natural logarithm5Because a number of countries have won no medals since 2000 — meaning that their natural logarithm would be undefined — I instead take the log of the number of medals won plus one.) against its soccer team’s Elo rating.There’s a high margin of error on these estimates. China’s GDP (and its Olympic medal count) is just a little less than the United States’ — but its soccer team has qualified for only one World Cup and has gotten worse in recent years. Germany also has a big economy and a big medal count — and its soccer team is great. The point is that the U.S. men’s national team is no longer underachieving reasonable expectations, as it was before the 1990s. Nor is it exceeding them. Perhaps what we’ve seen is about what we’re due to get in a populous, wealthy, athletic country — where interest in soccer is average, at best, by global standards.The success of the U.S. women’s national soccer team stands in contrast to that of the men’s. But soccer players are among the highest-profile female athletes in the U.S., suggesting that part of the problem for the men’s side is competition from other sports.The punctuated-equilibrium theory would imply that it may take some time for the U.S. men’s team to reach the next plateau. Perhaps an external catalyst would help: another American World Cup, a run to the World Cup semifinals, the emergence of an American soccer player who is recognized as among the best in the world. (Personally, I’d hope for him to be as brash as Cristiano Ronaldo, the better to spark headlines and stoke rivalries with other countries.) But it could be a long while before any of those things happen, and there could be some further delay before their feedback effects kick in.Or it could be that the steady-improvement theory is right. It also reflects a reasonable interpretation of the evidence. The data on youth interest in soccer is very encouraging, for instance.Tuesday’s game against Belgium will provide us with one data point — but just one. Unlike in the past, however, we might not need to wait four years for the next one. Instead, in 2016, the United States will host the Copa América Centenario, a special one-off tournament that will feature the best teams from both North and South America. It could serve as a preview of our soccer future. Playing at home produces the equivalent of an 100 Elo-point bonus — equal to eight years of improvement for the U.S. based on its 1986 to 2014 trajectory. If the U.S. will be ready to compete with the Colombias and Argentinas and Brazils of the world on neutral turf by 2022 and 2026, it should be able to do so on home soil in 2016.CORRECTION (July 1, 4:54 p.m.): A chart in an earlier version of this post mislabeled the Elo ratings vs. Olympic medal counts for China and Russia. The chart has been updated. For the United States, almost every recent World Cup match has been billed as the most important game in the history of the men’s national team. Its knockout-stage match against Belgium on Tuesday isn’t receiving quite as much hype.1The New Republic does describe the U.S.-Belgium game as the “most important sporting event in American history.” That’s apparently a joke, however. But a win would advance the U.S. to the World Cup quarterfinals for a Saturday afternoon match against Argentina or Switzerland. That would probably be the most-watched game in U.S. soccer history — the first World Cup quarterfinal that many American fans would ever see their men play live.2The U.S. advanced to the quarterfinals in 2002, but its game against Germany was played in South Korea at 7:30 a.m. Eastern time on a Saturday morning — not ideal viewing hours. The U.S. also advanced from its group to the semifinals in the inaugural World Cup in 1930, but that was when just four teams made the knockout stage.It’s tempting to say that these matches are the soccer equivalent of political “game changers” — much-ballyhooed events that seem exciting at the time but which rarely have as much lasting impact as the pundits claim. But it’s not unreasonable to feel as though every World Cup game is more important than the last. It’s a consequence of the long-term state of U.S. soccer.On the one hand, expectations are getting higher. The U.S. advanced from the group stage in 1994, 2002, 2010 and now 2014. Matches against England or Portugal or Germany are now thought of as opportunities rather than sure losses. On the other hand, the men’s national team has never quite had its breakthrough moment.When might the bar be raised? When might U.S. fans view a Round of 16 exit as a travesty and not a triumph?If you’re in your mid-30s, like me, the advance of the U.S. men’s national team might seem as inevitable as that of gay marriage. You’ll be just old enough to remember that the U.S. was once a soccer backwater. But you might not remember how long it took the Americans to get where they are today. The trajectory since the 1980s has always been upward:This chart shows the Elo rating for the U.S. in each World Cup year3Specifically, it shows the U.S.’s Elo rating as of the date of the World Cup final — whether or not the U.S. actually qualified for the tournament. For 2014, I’ve used the U.S.’s Elo rating at the end of the group stage. since 1986 — the last World Cup where the Americans failed to qualify, and the last one before 1988, when FIFA declared the 1994 World Cup would be played in the U.S.From this perspective, the upward trend has been extremely steady. In fact, other than the 2002 team arriving in the quarterfinals a little ahead of schedule, it’s been almost perfectly linear. Since 1986, the U.S.’s Elo rating has improved by almost exactly 50 points every four years.Imagine that the trend continues. Right now, the U.S. team’s Elo rating is nearly 1,850, which places it 15th in the world. Add another 50 points, and by 2018 it would be at 1,900 — somewhere around eighth or 10th in the world and near where Belgium and Uruguay and France are today. That’s a team that could be a dark-horse World Cup contender. By 2026, its Elo rating would be 2,000 — not far from where Argentina, Germany and the Netherlands began this year’s tournament. So in just 12 more years — in a World Cup that could possibly be held in the United States — the U.S. will be a global soccer powerhouse.Or perhaps not. Consider another look at the evidence, one where we run the numbers back further. For much of the 1970s, there was a lot of hope surrounding the growth of U.S. soccer, but the men’s national team repeatedly failed to qualify for the World Cup. In one year, the U.S. failed to win a single qualifying match. But let’s go back ever further, to 1950. This tells a different story. The men’s national team got worse from 1950 to 1958, bottomed out for almost 30 years with no sign of life, improved rather sharply in a concentrated period from 1986 through 2002, and has been fairly steady since.Yes, the U.S. has still gotten better by this reckoning — but it looks more like a case of punctuated equilibrium — a sudden change after years of stasis.4The so-called punctuated trend in the chart is drawn by fitting a regression with a dummy variable that is taken as zero between 1950 and 1986 and one between 2002 and 2014 and allowed to vary at a linear rate only in the intervening years. read more

The Historically Great Warriors Got Historically Crushed

6/2/85Celtics@Lakers3NBA Finals-254.3 5/30/14Pacers@Heat6East final-255.6 5/22/00Lakersvs.Blazers2West final-290.1✓ 25+ point blowouts of conference No. 1 seeds in the NBA playoffs, 1984-2016 6/2/95Magic@Pacers6East final-272.2✓ 5/27/01Spurs@Lakers4West final-292.5 5/3/07Mavericks@Warriors6West Rd. 1-252.2 5/27/85Lakers@Celtics1NBA Finals-340.3✓ 5/26/15Hawks@Cavaliers4East final-302.8 5/25/01Spurs@Lakers3West final-390.2 In the NBA playoffs, No. 1 seeds have a special air of authority about them. Since the league expanded to a 16-team playoff format in 1984, top-seeded teams have won their conference about 55 percent of the time; unlike in sports that feature heavy randomness, it’s a surprise when the best team doesn’t win out in the NBA.But that doesn’t mean top seeds are invincible, as the Golden State Warriors found out Sunday night in Oklahoma when they lost 133-105. With the series tied 1-1, the Warriors were facing the most crucial game of their season — and the Oklahoma City Thunder absolutely shellacked them. Going back again to ’84, it tied for the 14th-worst defeat of a conference No. 1 seed in the playoffs: 6/7/98Jazz@Bulls3NBA Finals-420.1% 5/11/10Cavaliersvs.Celtics5East Rd. 2-32<0.1 6/16/00Lakers@Pacers5NBA Finals-330.3✓ 6/3/84Celtics@Lakers3NBA Finals-330.4✓ 6/14/88Lakers@Pistons4NBA Finals-253.5✓ 6/11/13Heat@Spurs3NBA Finals-360.2✓ Half of those 14 losses came in the NBA Finals, and six featured a No. 1 seed from one conference crushing its counterpart from the the other — not exactly comparable to Dubs-Thunder. So if you toss those out, Golden State’s loss is tied for the seventh-most-lopsided defeat by a No. 1 in the past 33 postseasons of conference play. (It’s also tied for ninth-worst among playoff losses by No. 1 overall seeds during that span.)The Thunder are a high-quality basketball team, perhaps far better than they appeared to be at various points during the regular season. But the degree to which they dominated the Warriors in Game 3 was stunning. According to the pregame Elo ratings (our pet metric for estimating each team’s strength at a given moment), there was a mere 1.1 percent probability that OKC would run up a victory margin of 28 or more points Sunday.1Based on a process similar to the NFL version I used here. We’ve hardly ever seen this incarnation of the Warriors destroyed so thoroughly, and never in a game that meant so much.Putting aside why it happened — yes, the Warriors had one of their worst (unluckiest?) shot-making nights of the season, but they also played some of their most porous defense of the year and looked out of sorts for long stretches of the game — Golden State’s Game 3 drubbing has left the team in trouble. Both opponents being equal, the team that wins at home in a 1-1 series goes on to win the series more than 69 percent of the time. And although we wouldn’t have considered the Warriors and Thunder to be equals before the West final tipped off, OKC has closed the gap considerably since then. (Plus, Draymond Green is at risk of being suspended for Game 4 after kicking Steven Adams in the crotch for the second time this series.) Now, our model considers the Thunder 64 percent favorites to make the NBA Finals.Plenty of historical teams who suffered similarly huge routs bounced back and won the series anyway, so all is not lost in Oakland. But the Warriors will have to regroup after a Game 3 performance that put them in an exclusive, unenviable club of vulnerable No. 1 seeds.Check out our latest NBA predictions. 5/24/87Celtics@Pistons4East final-262.2✓ 5/22/16Warriors@Thunder3West final-281.1— DATETEAMOPPONENTGAMEROUNDMARGINELO PROB.WON SERIES 5/19/88Lakers@Jazz6West Rd. 2-281.2✓ Source: Basketball-Reference.com 6/17/08Lakers@Celtics6NBA Finals-390.1 6/4/05Heat@Pistons6East final-252.3 5/21/92Bullsvs.Cavaliers2East final-260.2✓ 5/30/96Sonics@Jazz6West final-350.3✓ 6/3/92Blazers@Bulls1NBA Finals-330.8 read more

Berzins brothers to battle in Chicago volleyball match

When the Buckeyes step into Gentile Arena in Chicago on Saturday and senior outside hitter Mik Berzins looks at the opposing team’s bench, he will see two people he knows quite well. “I’ve grown accustomed to playing my brothers over at Loyola,” he said. “It’s a good rivalry.” Berzins’ brothers, Kris and Dainis, have made the family name synonymous with volleyball at Loyola University Chicago, just as their father paved the way for Mik at Ohio State. The tradition begins with OSU Hall of Famer, Aldis Berzins. The Olympic gold medalist and former outside hitter led the Buckeyes to four Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association championships and four NCAA Final Four appearances between 1975 and 1978. Like father, like sons. Kris, Mik and Dainis have played at the outside hitter position and have made strides within their respective programs. Even the youngest Berzins, sophomore Dainis, started in 21 sets last year and tallied 113 kills, according to Loyola’s athletic website. “We all really support each other and want to have the other one do well,” Mik said. “I’m not going to cheer whenever Dainis gets a kill, but I wish him the best.” Former all-American Kris Berzins amassed more than 1,000 kills and 500 digs in his career with the Ramblers, one of only seven players in school history to do so. After a year on the professional circuit in Austria, Kris returned to Chicago as an assistant coach for the 2012 season. Ramblers’ coach Shane Davis said he tried to recruit Mik, too. “I thought we had him,” Davis said. “He took another look at Ohio State unfortunately, but we definitely wanted him.” Mik said he chose OSU over Loyola because he could see himself succeeding in the versatile program. “I came in as a libero, and I got the opportunity this year, and a little bit last year, to play some outside hitter,” he said. “Ohio State was the best place for me to go.” Mik has helped propel the Buckeyes to an 11-4 record with 120 kills, 10 service aces and a 0.928 serve percentage so far this season. He also has the most career digs in school history with 787. OSU’s coach Pete Hanson describes Mik as a passer, defender and server, but not one to be distracted by the family feud that awaits him this weekend. “Mik does a great job for us,” Hanson said. “He’ll be in a good frame of mind in terms of Ohio State volleyball.” The Buckeyes are 28-13 on the series against conference rival Loyola, and are on a five-match winning streak. The No. 14-ranked Ramblers have fared better at home, however, with a 9-7 record against OSU there. Davis, who shared the MIVA Coach of the Year award with Hanson in 2010, said that he is most looking forward to “all the hype” surrounding the match. “The two teams, we have a lot of history together,” he said. The trio from Brinklow, Md., will reunite Saturday after OSU makes a stop in Romeoville, Ill., to face No. 7-ranked Lewis on Thursday. Both matches are set to begin at 7 p.m. read more

Opinion Ohio State shouldnt be considered top team after shaky start

Redshirt sophomore quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) tries to shake off a tackler during a game against Northern Illinois on Sept. 19. OSU won 20-13.Credit: Samantha Hollingshead / Photo EditorComplacency.It’s a word to be scared of and to not be associated with.The bad news for Ohio State football: The word complacency describes the team’s play really well thus far in the season.After topping Northern Illinois 20-13 at Ohio Stadium on Saturday, the Buckeyes are 3-0. Though a win’s a win, the way this team won its first three games of the season isn’t championship football.“We are not the No. 1 team in the country. … We definitely have the potential to be, but not right now,” junior running back Ezekiel Elliott said.Elliott is right. This team should not be the No. 1 team in the country. The motivation isn’t there. The panic should start.The toughest opponent for coach Urban Meyer’s team is themselves. This is normal among championship teams. The hardest hurdle the year after a successful run is to not feel entitlement. This is poisonous in a locker room. And junior defensive end Joey Bosa’s tweet post-NIU might say it all.Hey everyone we were 2-1 this time last year…. Relax.. This trains about to get rolling— Joey Bosa (@jbbigbear) September 19, 2015OSU does have the talent to potentially repeat as College Football Playoff National Champions once again this season. To do this, however, the offense needs to sync better.After uncertainty of who should be under center coming into the season against Virginia Tech, redshirt junior Cardale Jones got the start in each of the first three games of the season.All due respect to Jones, as talented as he is, Meyer likely handed him the starting position because he believes the position belongs to him. After all, he won the championship, though redshirt sophomore J.T. Barrett appears to be the better quarterback with more experience.Come Saturday against NIU, the inexperience showed. He was benched after two early interceptions, giving way for Barrett to take most of the second quarter and all of the second half.“We felt like he gave us the best chance to move the ball down the field,” Meyer said of Barrett.But when asked about the quarterback position, Meyer was unsure.“I don’t know that right now,” he said. I haven’t had time to think about it.”The quarterback position needs to be solidified before OSU football can return to the level of performance it’s accustomed to.Meyer deciding on a starting quarterback to lead the team, and sticking with him, will give the players assurance. Having a familiar leader snap the ball consistently is key to minimize confusion and to rally a team. One voice is more transparent than multiple coming from all sides.Regardless of who Meyer decides to have at the helm of the quarterback position, both Jones and Barrett are not playing up to par.Jones has completed only 26 passes out of 46 for 334 yards with three interceptions in three games, and Barrett has completed 20 of 46 for 120 yards with one interception.This has to be frustrating for Meyer. He’s known for his offense stemming from strong quarterback play from his time in Utah with Alex Smith and in Florida with Tim Tebow.“I’m not OK with five turnovers and lacking execution and not being able to control the line of scrimmage,” Meyer said. “That’s a recipe for failure.”The good news for this team is its defensive secondary, which has caused five interceptions and recovered two fumbles. And it has only allowed 357 yards passing through three games, an average of 119 yards per game.Redshirt sophomore linebacker Darron Lee acknowledged the team’s defensive play this season on Saturday.“When the offense needs a minute to find their rhythm we know we have to go out there and do our job,” Lee said.The Buckeyes had doubters coming into the season, including Arkansas coach Bret Bielema who made what some call a “bold statement” a week ago about OSU having an easy schedule, and thus not earning its standing and prestige.The teams on OSU’s schedule receiving votes in the Associated Press poll are Virginia Tech, which the Buckeyes beat 42-24 and has two votes in the poll, and No. 4 Michigan State, which is scheduled to meet OSU in Week 12.Here’s the thing: If the Buckeyes are struggling this badly with non-conference games, Big Ten play will hurt even more.So once again, someone please hit the panic button. read more