Photos: Derek Carr sacked six times in Oakland Raiders loss to Seattle Seahawks in London

first_imgOakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr took 10 hits and six sacks in the Raiders 27-3 drubbing by the Seattle Seahawks at Wembley Stadium in London on Sunday. That’s only one fewer sack than the Raiders have made all season. Carr had only been sacked six times in a single game just once before against the Chiefs in 2015. He bruised his left arm on a fourth-quarter sack, but is expected to be okay.The Raiders are now 1-5.last_img

Using Engineering to Prove Evolution

first_imgDavid Deamer smiling at a tide pool: is there an evolutionary connection?  The picture accompanies an article on Science Daily about Deamer’s latest thinking on the origin of life.  He’s going to share his ideas at a symposium in Oakland, California, organized by Eugenie Scott of the NCSE.According to Deamer, life began with complex systems of molecules that came together through the self-assembly of nonliving components.  A useful metaphor for understanding how this came about, he said, can be found in combinatorial chemistry, an approach in which thousands of experiments are carried out in parallel by robotic devices.But, one asks, where are the robots in the ancient primordial soup?  Who designed the experiments?  Nobody. The power of combinatorial chemistry lies in the vast numbers of structurally distinct molecules that can be synthesized and tested at the same time.  Similarly, conditions on the early Earth allowed not only the synthesis of a wide variety of complex organic molecules, but also the formation of membrane-bound compartments that would have encapsulated different combinations of molecules.    “We have made protocells in the lab–artificial compartments containing complex systems of molecules,” Deamer said.  “The creationists charge that it’s too unlikely for the right combination to have come together on its own, but combinatorial chemistry gives us a better way to think about the probability of life emerging from this process.”In his view, the spark of life was born “when one or a few protocells happened to have a mix of components that could capture energy and nutrients from the environment and use them to grow and reproduce.”  He distinguished between protocells that simply grew and those that could evolve:“Evolution began when large populations of cells had variations that led to different metabolic efficiencies,” Deamer said.  “If the populations were in a confined environment, at some point they would begin to compete for limited resources.”    The first evolutionary selection processes would have favored those organisms that were most efficient in capturing energy and nutrients from the local environment, he said.Deamer has been working on the origin of life for more than 20 years, and others decades longer than that.  The first serious thinking about a naturalistic origin of life dates back to Oparin in the 1920s at least, but Deamer remarked that the “Efforts to replicate this process in the laboratory are still in their infancy.” Will someone in the philosophy department please look at this nonsense that passes for science these days and speak up?  This is absurd.  Deamer and Scott are asking the public to tolerate decades of fruitless research with nothing to show for it and a lot against it and still bless it with the label of science.    Creationists point out how improbable their fable is for good reason (see online book).  Deamer responds, in effect, “Oh, so you think our story is improbable?  Well, I’ll show you.  I have a LOT bigger imagination than you think!”  So he conjures up metaphorical robots doing combinatorial chemistry experiments with no chemist around.  The lucky imaginary “protocell” (there’s the power of suggestion for you) wins the X-prize: the one that learns to synthesize and capture energy and nutrients and use them to grow and compete for resources.  Wow.  You thought intelligent agents did those things, but no: Deamer’s magic molecules are endowed with purpose and drive and visions of new possibilities: pterosaurs, roses, and concert pianists (01/24/2008).  Now isn’t this a “better way to think” about it?    Look how many miracle words are in this short article.  Life came about.  Life came together through self-assembly via natural experiments in combinatorial chemistry.  Molecules were synthesized and formed membranes that allowed different protocells to compete for limited resources.  In sum, life emerged.  There is their favorite miracle word again.  That miracle is so common it hardly seems miraculous any more (see repetition).    Look at that smile on Deamer’s face again.  He’s happy when you’re gullible.  “I’m a scientist, and YOU came from slime!”  Some smiling people need a change of face.  A citizen’s arrest should help (see 09/30/2007 commentary).(Visited 8 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Observations Upset Models of Stellar Evolution

first_imgStellar evolution models go back decades.  Ever since the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram came out in 1910 (graphing temperature against luminosity), showing most stars fell on a line called the “main sequence”, astrophysicists have sought to understand the life cycle of stars from birth to death.  In general, the story goes, collapsing clouds of gas and dust produce main-sequence stars that burn nuclear fuel till they run out.  Depending on their masses, they end up as supernovae, red giants or slowly-cooling cinders.  While red dwarfs cool down slowly into the darkness, supernovae and red giants eject mass outward into space .  Two new planets found close to a red giant are among new headaches for theorists. Hot survivors:  The paper by Charpinet et al. in Nature1 was discussed by Eliza M. R. Kempton in the same issue,2 who said, “The prospect of planets being detected in close proximity to an evolved star is certainly of great interest, because it was previously assumed that such objects would be destroyed during the stars evolution.” While other sites like the BBC News and Live Science focused on how scorching hot these planets must be, having once been inside the envelope of the red giant star, Science Daily put the deeper issue into the headline: “Discovery of Two Earth-Size Planets Raises Questions About the Evolution of Stars.” In the paper, Charpinet et al. discuss two possibilities.  One is that the planets are cores of gas giant planets that lost their gaseous envelopes. The authors believe this implies the startling idea that planets can affect the evolution of their parent stars.  If they are indeed survivors, the rocky core remnants must have endured hellish conditions that astronomers believed would have vaporized any planet.  Another problem is how they migrated inward so far when the red giant phase involves mass movement outward. Alternative scenarios may also be considered. Another way to form single sdB stars is through the merger of two helium white dwarfs, and planet formation following this event may be possible. We could speculate that collapse of the extended envelope resulting from this merger could produce a circumstellar disk, where second generation planets may form. However, it seems unlikely that new, sufficiently dense, planets could have formed within a rather short period of time (less than ~18 Myr) in an environment that close to this hot star. Neither possibility seems likely.  Since the masses of these planets have not been constrained with sufficient detail, more observations may be needed.  All bets are off:  Meanwhile, PhysOrg was reporting that “Some  nearby stars may be much older than previously thought,” over twice the assumed age (11 million years, not five million).  “The findings are surprising given Upper Scorpius’s status as one of the best-studied samples of young stars in the sky.”  The reasoning may be circular, though, since the conclusions are theory-laden: “we used state-of-the-art stellar evolution models to determine the ages.”  If the same stellar evolution models led to a 220% revision of the age, it calls into question the usefulness of the models.  The researchers at the University of Rochester believe their estimates are based on firmer measurements of distance and mass, but theory still drives the conclusions about how stars age.  For now, though, they are asking other astronomers to reassess their assumptions about the ages of other clusters.  “If a stellar group as well-studied as Upper Scorpius can be twice as old as previously believed, then all bets are off on the accuracy of the previously published ages for other similar groups of young stars,” the article ended. Heavy hearts:  Last month reported, “Unexpectedly Heavy Stars from Long Ago Puzzle Astronomers.”  The article about unpredicted amounts of heavy elements in stars on the outer fringes of our galaxy contained various alternatives to explain the anomalies.  Bottom line, though: astronomers did not predict this, either. Dash away all:  Last week, Nature revealed that astronomers still do not understand Type 1a supernova.  These are critically important stellar events used to calculate the large-scale structure of the universe.  “Not knowing the exact nature of type Ia supernovae, which have such a crucial place in cosmology, is an embarrassing situation,” Mario Hamuy remarked.3 Privileged Planet:  Meanwhile, count your lucky stars.  There are more indications that Earth is uniquely suited for life.  While NASA was trumpeting Kepler’s discovery of two Earth-size (but uninhabitable) planets (Astrobiology Magazine), PhysOrg had reported (again) that tidal locking around many stars would render many planets uninhabitable.  Even those diamond planets may not be man’s best friend, remarked New Scientist.  Valerie Jamison on New Scientist gave a surprisingly favorable review to John Gribbin’s pessimistic new book, Alone in the Universe: Why Our Planet Is Unique.  “Gribbin’s argument proves compelling as he ranges over issues of astrophysics, geology, atmospheric chemistry and evolution,” she wrote of this “thought-provoking and sobering” book. “Although he cannot quantify exactly how the potential for life around those trillion trillion other suns whittles down to zero, you can feel any optimism that ET is out there ebb away with each turn of the page.”  Another sobering conclusion is that there is nowhere else out there for us to go.  For more reasons to consider the rarity of Earth, watch the documentary, The Privileged Planet. 1. Charpinet et al., “A compact system of small planets around a former red-giant star,” Nature 480  (22 December 2011), pp. 496–499, doi:10.1038/nature10631. 2.  Eliza M. R. Kempton, “Planetary science: The ultimate fate of planets,” Nature 480 (22 December 2011), pp. 460–461, doi:10.1038/480460a. 3. Mario Hamuy, “Astrophysics: Cosmic explosions under scrutiny,” Nature  480 (15 December 2011), pp. 328–329, doi:10.1038/480328a. Astronomers can be forgiven for puzzlement over occasional anomalies.  When venturing out to explore any unknown realm, there will be surprises.  We must keep distinct in our minds, however, the difference between scientific exploration and scientific explanation. Cataloging and describing phenomena is non-controversial.  Astronomers sometimes show unwarranted hubris in proclaiming they’ve mapped out the territory enough to explain how it got that way and where it’s going.  The anomalies described above should at least give pause to anyone tempted to trust scientists as the most reliable humans on the planet.  When reading reports like this, enjoy the show (the discoveries) but beware the commercial (scientists have it all figured out). Research Project:  Determine whether the expected outward momentum of a red giant’s expanding envelope poses a problem for the location of the two planets.(Visited 21 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Creating a Photorealistic Superhero Landing in After Effects

first_imgThe latest episode from Video Copilot will show you how to create an epic superhero landing in After Effects and build an entire world for the scene.Top image via Video CopilotAndrew Kramer is back with all new episodes of the Video Copilot show. In this episode, you’ll see how Kramer and his team used some green screen techniques, 3D compositing, some camera tricks, set extensions to create a spectacular superhero landing in After Effects. And, of course, the episode includes Video Copilot’s always awesome VFX breakdowns.Watch the entire Superhero Landing episode here. Shooting only on green screen, the team did some amazing world building. By using some simple techniques, they were able to pull off some pretty slick stuff.In the video, you’ll see how they used a few wooden blocks for the jump off of the building. With After Effects, they were able to add the movement of his upper body and head falling out of frame.Images via Video CopilotOne of the best tricks in the video — the use of forced perspective. With limited space on set, the crew had their actor walk toward the camera and then slightly turn as the camera panned. He then simply walked back away from the camera. In After Effects, they added movement to the entire background to make it appear as if the actor walked in a straight line. The technique is very simple and very effective.GIF via Video CopilotThere are also some great practical tips for After Effects users, primarily how Kramer used classic matte-painting techniques to extend the elevator shaft. Only a small portion was actually built, and then the shaft was repeatedly stacked on top of itself. To keep from repetition, Kramer moved around some of the pipes and adjusted minor details to add more realism to the scene.GIF via Video CopilotFinally, Kramer talks about building the actual landing scene, which required some work in 3ds Max to simulate the road breaking apart. Then he composited the shots in After Effects, allowing him to create the epic landing crater.Image via Video CopilotFor more in-depth tutorials and project files, keep your eyes peeled on the Video Copilot blog. Kramer has already said, “I’m going to be diving into exactly how I did it!”Ever tried to execute a superhero landing in After effects? We’d love to see the footage. Link to it in the comments below!last_img read more

Australian umpire Simon Taufel decides to hang up his ‘hat’

first_imgIt came as a surprise to many in the cricket world when Simon Taufel, at just 41 years of age, on Wednesday announced his decision to retire from international umpiring.The Australian, perennially rated as one of the best in the world, will quit at the end of the World Twenty20 on October 7, and has already officiated in his last Test and One-Day International in the recent England-South Africa series.”I’m moving on from active international umpiring for personal and professional reasons. My wife and children have supported me immensely throughout my career and it is time for me to spend more time with them,” Taufel said in an ICC release.He will be taking up a much less hectic job – the newly-created post of ICC Umpire Performance and Training Manager. “I look forward to help create professional programmes and resources to support the current and future generations of cricket match officials.”A promising fast bowler who started out alongside Adam Gilchrist but suffered a career-ending back injury, Taufel shifted to umpiring very early by normal standards. His first ODI was in 1999, at the tender age of 27, and his first Test was the Boxing Day match between Australia and West Indies in 2000.Since then, he went on to establish himself as the premier official in the world. Only Australia’s success at the 2003 and 2007 World Cups prevented him from umpiring in a World Cup final, though he did eventually do that in the India-Sri Lanka final in Mumbai last year.He won the ICC’s Umpire of the Year award for five straight years (2004-08), but had stated four years ago that the constant travel was making him weary.advertisement”It’s important to spend time with my family, spend more time with my kids. The difference between us and the players is we don’t have a home series as such. That Australian umpire Simon Taufel makes it harder.”last_img read more