Pesticide-friendly lawmaker blocks Carson tribute

first_img 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WASHINGTON – A senator has delayed submitting a resolution to honor pioneering environmentalist Rachel Carson on the 100th anniversary of her birth after a colleague signaled he would block it because of her aggressive fight against pesticides. Carson’s 1962 book “Silent Spring” revealed the harmful effects of pesticides and helped launch the environmental movement. Carson died in 1964. She would have turned 100 Sunday. Sen. Benjamin Cardin’s resolution had intended to honor Carson for her “legacy of scientific rigor coupled with poetic sensibility.” But a spokeswoman for the Maryland Democrat said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., signaled he would use Senate rules to halt it. In a statement Tuesday, Coburn confirmed that he is holding up the bill and blamed Carson for using “junk science” to turn the public against chemicals like DDT that could prevent the spread of insect-borne diseases.last_img read more

Why Gretzky Had It Easy

One of the most interesting statistical nuggets I ran into while researching a piece about NHL goalies was the improvement in leaguewide goaltending over the past 30 years. It hasn’t just been a small improvement — the league’s save-percentage leaders during the 1980s and early 1990s put up statistics that would rate below-average in recent seasons.Here’s the league’s average save percentage since the 1983-84 season, when the NHL began tracking shots against:Save percentage rapidly increased during the so-called dead-puck era of the 1990s and early 2000s. It’s no coincidence that over that period, the NHL’s rate of scoring also dropped sharply. A lot of fans blame strategies such as the neutral-zone trap and left-wing lock for triggering the dead-puck era, but more of the blame belongs to better goalies.As for why goalies are so much better now, well, that’s a subject of much debate in hockey circles. One of the most popular explanations is that the sheer size of goaltending equipment has exploded since the 1980s. That’s hard to argue when you look at how pads have grown over time. But since pad size first became a talking point in the mid-to-late 1990s, the league has gone to some lengths (no pun intended) to police the dimensions of puck-stopping technology — and it’s had scarcely any effect on save percentages.Instead, I think a bigger reason save percentages improved so sharply in the 1990s was a dramatic change in the goaltending techniques being employed.During the 1980s, the prevailing style was still the so-called stand-up method, in which a goalie largely remains upright on his skates while making saves, using his stick and skates to stop low shots. In the middle of the decade, though, goaltending phenom Patrick Roy made his NHL debut. Emboldened by recent advances in arm and chest protectors, Roy used a different technique — the “butterfly” — wherein the goaltender drops to his knees to make saves, effectively sealing off most shooting targets along the bottom third of the net.Using the butterfly, Roy was sensational — he backstopped the Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup as a 20-year-old in 1986 — and it wasn’t long before the butterfly style spread throughout the league. The effect was profound. Stand-up goalies who were the mainstays of the mid-1980s were almost completely phased out of the game within a decade, replaced by a younger generation who used the butterfly or at least a hybrid technique featuring butterfly elements.In retrospect, this seems like an obvious tactic — it’s a goaltending truism that the majority of goals are scored on shots at or near ice level — but older equipment made dropping low a dangerous proposition. Once falling to the ice became safer, goalies no longer had to rely purely on reflexes, instead being able to stop a greater percentage of low shots on technique alone. It’s no surprise that save percentages skyrocketed when one of the most common subsets of shots suddenly became much tougher.One final note: Watch the Wayne Gretzky highlight reel below and pay particular attention to the goalies in the early portion of the video, when the Great One was with the Edmonton Oilers.Compared with today’s game, you can really see the difference in goaltending technique (notice how many of the goalies tried to stop Gretzky’s shots without dropping to the ice). Modern goalies are more athletic and mobile, and, yes, their pads are plainly bigger. But they’re also using a style much more grounded in the probabilities of where pucks are shot. read more

Nellis AFB Unveils Second Solar Array

first_img Dan Cohen AUTHOR Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, now sports DOD’s largest photovoltaic field, after officials from the Air Force, SunPower Corp. and NV Energy last week dedicated the installation’s second solar array.The $50 million project, a 15-megawatt system, will combine with an existing 13.2-megawatt plant to fully power the base with renewable energy during daylight hours. Both projects were built by SunPower.“The partnership we have with NV Energy and SunPower began over nine years ago with the ribbon cutting of our first solar photovoltaic array, and combined today with the second array will be the largest PVA in the Department of Defense,” said Col. Richard Boutwell, 99th Air Base Wing commander. “This goes hand-in-hand with one of the key purposes of our mission here in Nevada — to be a good neighbor, to find ways where economic growth is compatible with military requirements,” Boutwell said, according to Nellis Public Affairs.As part of the project, NV Energy built a new adjacent substation and underground distribution lines to provide additional redundancy and electricity reliability at Nellis. The utility owns and operates the new array, which was built over a closed landfill.Miranda Ballentine, assistant secretary for installations, environment and energy, said the Air Force is focused on continuing critical community partnerships like this one that also advance the service’s energy resiliency, and deliver cost effective and cleaner power.“These goals are important to us, but this solar array doesn’t stop at making better use of land, meeting Air Force renewable energy goals, and saving money,” Ballentine said. “This project also enhances our mission assurance through energy assurance and showcases how interlocked our national security is with our energy, the economy and our environment,” she said.last_img read more

Researchers use Doppler Effect for computer gesture control

first_img © 2012 Phys.Org (Phys.org) — Researchers from Microsoft and the University of Washington have together created a system whereby a computer user can use hand gestures to instigate a limited set of computer commands such as scrolling and mimicking mouse double-clicking, that uses nothing but inaudible sound and doesn’t require any hardware other than a standard computer microphone and speakers. PausePlay% buffered00:0000:00UnmuteMuteDisable captionsEnable captionsSettingsCaptionsDisabledQuality0SpeedNormalCaptionsGo back to previous menuQualityGo back to previous menuSpeedGo back to previous menu0.5×0.75×Normal1.25×1.5×1.75×2×Exit fullscreenEnter fullscreen The system is based on the now famous Doppler Effect, whereby the frequency of sound waves changes as an object making noises passes by another that hears it. In the real world, most recognize it as the way sirens appear to change the way they sound when an emergency vehicle passes by. With this new system, the engineers record the change in frequency of a tone (20 and 22 kilohertz, beyond normal hearing range) generated by the computer’s speaker using the computer’s microphone, when an object, such as a hand passes by. Software, the team calls SoundWave analyzes the frequencies and converts them to computer commands. It can also be used with a Smartphone. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. More information: SoundWave: Using the Doppler Effect to Sense Gestures (research paper)Project page: research.microsoft.com/en-us/u … roups/cue/soundwave/ Microsoft Kinect makes moves on computers Explore further Play Video credit: Dan Morris and Desney Tan Thus far, the team has managed to capture five basic variables involved with the change in frequency: velocity, direction, proximity, the size of the object and time variation. By capturing and measuring these variables when hand gestures are made in front of a computer, SoundWave is able to perform scrolling, recognize tap and double tap (mimic mouse clicks) perform a two handed seesaw (to turn objects on screen) and recognize sustained motion. The result is a system that is good enough to allow a computer user to play a game of Tetris without ever touching the computer. It also can be made to recognize when a person approaches a computer, causing it to wake up, or to go back to sleep as soon as the person leaves.The team has tested the software on a multitude of different kinds and brands of computers using existing hardware and has found that no tweaking was necessary to perform basic functions and overall commands were executed correctly ninety percent of the time. They also tested the system using a variety of users and in several environments, including a noisy cafeteria and found the software worked reliably in virtually every scenario.At this point, it appears the team is positioning the SoundWave software as an add-on to computers, serving to fill in some of the gaps in other gesture based systems (such as Microsoft’s Kinect) that rely on cameras and other sensors. They are set to submit a paper for review describing the SoundWave system at the upcoming ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing. Citation: Researchers use Doppler Effect for computer gesture control (2012, May 7) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2012-05-doppler-effect-gesture.html SoundWave allows non-contact, real time in-air gesture sensing on existing commodity computing devices.last_img read more