Fudging and finagling often underlie the confident-sounding claims of cosmologists.Finagle’s Rules prescribe ways to ameliorate Murphy’s Law in science. They are needed because, according to Finagle, “The perversity of the Universe tends towards a maximum.” Here are the rules:To study a subject, understand it thoroughly before you start.Always keep a record of data – it indicates that you have been working.Draw your curves first, then plot your data.If in doubt, make it sound convincing.Experiments should be reproducible – they should fail in the same way.Do not believe in miracles, rely on them.The case of the impossible star: A “Methuselah” star older than the universe was reported on Space.com. That, of course, is impossible, so what did astronomers do? In order to keep current theory intact, they worked the puzzle from both ends. They increased the age of the universe, and worked to decrease the estimated age of the star from 16 billion years down to a more reasonable level, by altering theory to let it burn faster. But the new estimate is still paradoxical, because the star has to be significantly younger than the big bang to allow time for gas to condense into galaxies. “In the end, the astronomers estimated that HD 140283 was born 14.5 billion years ago, plus or minus 800 million years,” the article ends. “Further observations could help bring the Methuselah star’s age down even further, making it unequivocally younger than the universe, researchers said.” Is that further observations, or further finagling?The case of the unwelcome supernova: Type-Ia supernovas are the “standard candles” of cosmology, critical links for determining distance and age of the universe. An upstart new type of Type-Ia has been found, potentially blurring the calibration. Called Type-Iax, it is 1/100th fainter and less energetic than classical Type-Ia supernovae, Science Daily said, and may account for a third of all Type-Ia supernovae. Couldn’t that call into question earlier estimates, making some supernova events look farther away than they were? The article didn’t say. What it did say was not particularly encouraging for standard theory. “Researchers aren’t sure what triggers a Type Iax,” for one thing. What one astronomer said was even more disconcerting: “The closer we look, the more ways we find for stars to explode.” Maybe that’s why Space.com‘s headline read, “Whoa! Mini-Supernovas Discovered.”The case of the anomalous good fit: Most of the science news media gave excited headlines about how a new map of the cosmic background radiation made from Planck Telescope data “confirms standard cosmology” (Science Now; see Finagle Rule #4). The Planck telescope, three times more sensitive than its predecessor WMAP, “backs sudden ‘inflation’ after the big bang,” according to Nature News. They were less excited, and more worried, about the “anomaly” in the data, the so-called “axis of evil.” Planck seems to have confirmed the presence of a preferred direction in space – a violation of the so-called “Copernican Principle” that expects every direction to look the same:The asymmetry “defines a preferred direction in space, which is an extremely strange result”, says Efstathiou. This rules out some models of inflation, but does not undermine the idea itself, he adds. It does, however, raise tantalizing hints that there may yet be new physics to be discovered in Planck’s data.Not only that, Planck found a “‘cold spot’ that covers a large area.” Space.com discussed how the new map makes the universe “older than thought” by about 100 million years, based on its calculated value of the Hubble constant. The new truth to be told in textbooks is 13.82 billion years, not 13.7, meaning that “space and time are expanding slightly slower than scientists thought.” The phrase “than thought” appears again in New Scientist: “The universe is almost perfect, 80 million years older than we thought, and maybe a little bit evil.” New Scientist suggested the anomaly might represent a bump from a neighboring universe born from”eternal inflation” putting a “bruise” on ours – a speculative notion far beyond experimental confirmation. At best, Efstathiou said, “There is less stuff that we don’t understand, by a tiny amount.”If you don’t know how much you don’t understand, then you don’t know how much you do understand. Suppose you don’t understand 99.99% of reality. Improving that to 99.98% (“a tiny amount”) is hardly cause for rejoicing. A bad sign is when you have to conclude, based on your favored notions, that the stuff of stars and galaxies is perverse or evil. Since gas cannot be evil, the evil must reside in the minds of the theorists who fudge and finagle the data, or invent new physics, to keep their presumably righteous theories intact. When you hear a cosmologist worrying about an “extremely strange result,” ask whether it is the evidence, or the astronomer, that deserves the adjective.(Visited 45 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
Trials have shown that rates of HIV infection are reduced if people not infected with HIV take anti-retrovirals – known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Just two African countries have approved PrEP for now: South Africa and Kenya.Pre-exposure prophylaxis is providing an exciting new innovation to tackle HIV prevention.Linda-Gail BekkerThe rate of HIV infection remains greater than the number of people initiating treatment. This imbalance will stop the eradication of HIV/AIDS. It begs for increased investment into primary prevention.Primary prevention caters to people who are HIV negative. It aims to reduce their chance of becoming infected. There are certain populations, now referred to as key populations, in whom the burden of infection is disproportionately high. These include men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who inject drugs, transgender people, and, in sub-Saharan Africa, adolescent girls and young women. Primary prevention should be tailored, and scaled up, for these groups.Primary prevention can be provided in a number of ways. But the most exciting new innovation is pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). PrEP is the use of anti-retrovirals by HIV-uninfected people to prevent HIV transmission. It is commonly given as a daily pill (sold as Truvada) to be taken orally in the same way that contraceptives are used to prevent pregnancy or antimalarial pills are taken before travelling to a high malaria risk area.Numerous clinical trials and demonstration projects in diverse settings and populations have been conducted with PrEP all showing that it works. PrEP is easy to take. It is also largely side effect free and safe. There is one hitch: it has to be taken consistently at the time of HIV exposure. Adherence has been oral PrEP’s biggest stumbling block.That’s why a huge effort is being made to find alternative ways to take PrEP. New formulations in the pipeline include long-acting injections, monthly vaginal rings, implants and topical gels, films and dissolving topical pills. The hope is that new formulations will make PrEP more accessible and convenient, particularly for adolescents and young people who may find a daily intervention cumbersome.PrEP for AfricaIn sub-Saharan Africa, teenage girls and young women are most at risk of HIV infection. There are 2000 new infections in this group every week. These women are vulnerable because of the high prevalence of both gender-based violence and the commonality of age-disparate relationships and transactional sex. These conditions can make it difficult for women to negotiate safer sex practices. PrEP would enable these women to protect themselves in advance, without their partner’s knowledge or consent.Kenya and South Africa are the only two African countries that have granted regulatory approval for PrEP.New interventions can only be useful if deployed and scaled up to the populations most in need. This raises questions of cost versus impact. It is hoped that new formulations and delivery systems will enhance choice, encourage use, and provide a platform from which PrEP roll out can be advocated.Adherence is PrEP’s Achilles’ heelAdherence is key. To block HIV transmission PrEP must be “in the system” at the time of HIV exposure. Its effectiveness decreases rapidly when this “effective coverage” is inconsistent. Good adherence gives almost 100% HIV transmission prevention. Poor adherence results in little to no protection.This is why, where possible, a daily dose during times of risk is recommended. But this may be difficult to achieve for some.In PrEP trials the following reasons were given for poor adherence:fear/experience of side effects,fear of interactions with alcohol and other drugs,forgetfulness,dislike of pill-taking, andfear of the discrimination associated with taking an anti-HIV pill.Alternative dosing strategies using longer acting formulations and PrEP delivery methods may well be another way to increase PrEP effectiveness.New PrEP frontiersTopical gels, which can be applied pre and post sex to rectal and vaginal tissue, were the first alternative formulations to be tested. But the results in women have been inconsistent. This formulation still holds promise in men who have sex with men although efficacy trials haven’t yet been conducted.An alternative strategy is a monthly vaginal ring, which in its current form contains slow-release dapivirine (another antiretroviral). Two large phase III clinical trials have demonstrated that the ring is effective and can reduce the chance of HIV infection by 27%-31%. In a sub analysis of different ages, older women once again fared better than young women.The benefit of the vaginal ring is that there are less side effects because the drug is released locally and only a small amount enters the blood stream. The other huge plus is that women are encouraged to insert and forget, only changing the ring on a monthly basis. The obvious catch is that this is only suitable for women and vaginal intercourse.The vaginal ring is undergoing further investigation.Another tool that is being investigated and could overcome the need for a daily pill is a long-acting monthly injection. An injection of the antiretroviral cabotegravir (cabotegravir LA) has been shown to be very effective at lowering viral loads in people being treated for HIV when administered every two months.Also being investigated are dissolving vaginal films – a bit like the breath fresheners that can be bought over the counter – as well as quick dissolving pills.Perhaps most exciting of all is the prospect of an implant, a small rod which can be surgically placed just under the skin and will be able to slowly release antiviral protection over months.Finally, new formulations are currently being investigated that will combine treatment for both contraception and preventing sexually transmitted infections. It is hoped that these multifunctional preventions may further encourage people to consistently use these products.A new challenge to the field is how these new clinical trials can be efficiently designed. To qualify for first-line use of PrEP, new pills and products will need to have improved or equivalent efficacy compared to the current oral PrEP. And they would need to have reduced or equivalent side effects. All these formulations and delivery methods are still in the early stages of testing, but look to be out on the market within the next two to five years depending on their success.Linda-Gail Bekker is a professor of medicine and deputy director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre at the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, University of Cape Town. The article was originally published in The Conversation. Read the original article.
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The Soil Health Partnership (SHP) announced it is accepting proposals for partnerships and collaboration for 2019. SHP encourages any organization or individuals who have an interest in working together to submit ideas.“At the SHP, we collaborate with a diverse network of partners ranging from universities to industry and government groups to non-profits,” said Shefali Mehta, executive director of the Soil Health Partnership. “These broad partnerships enable SHP to maximize the impact of our work. This year we are making this specific call for proposals to ensure that we continue to seek out diverse partners and include a fuller range of ideas.”Applicants are required to complete the Request for Partnership form on the SHP website. The deadline for submissions is Friday, March 15, 2019.“Whether working with soil science or agronomy experts, developing a partnership in a new state as we expand our farmer network, or fueling a graduate student’s passion for soil health, SHP knows that partnerships make our work stronger and more impactful,” Mehta said. The Soil Health Partnership will review and respond to the submitted proposals by end of April.
BSP sees higher prices in November, but expects stronger peso, low rice costs to put up fight This is the first time Germany have qualified for a World Cup finals with a perfect record and they are unbeaten in their last 16 games.Joachim Loew’s side are only the second team to achieve the feat in a European qualifying campaign after Spain managed it on their way to winning the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.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 shutoutGermany also scored a European qualifying record 43 goals over the campaign.Despite the comfortable scoreline, Loew was unimpressed with the first-half display as his side went in 1-1 at the break. Nonong Araneta re-elected as PFF president Kiefer Ravena joins 2017 PBA Draft View comments Frontrow holds fun run to raise funds for young cancer patients Sheydaev then wrong-footed Ruediger and fired past Germany goalkeeper Bernd Leno to stun the hosts.But Wagner put Germany back in the lead on 54 minutes thanks to Hawk-Eye.Wagner’s header was cleared in a scramble, but goal-line technology showed the ball had crossed the line for his fifth international goal in as many games.At 2-1 up, the floodgates opened when Ruediger hammered his header past Azerbaijani goalkeeper Kamran Agayev on 64 minutes.Goretzka grabbed Germany’s fourth just two minutes later when he fired home Leroy Sane’s pass after some good work by the Manchester City winger.The 23-year-old Can completed the scoring in style when he rifled a 30-yard strike into the roof of the net.With time almost up, Azerbaijan defender Magomed Mirzabekov hit the post and Germany’s Matthias Ginter cleared a shot off the line. Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:37Protesters 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 Mustafi suffered a suspected thigh injury, which Loew said looks serious.Schalke midfielder Goretzka gave Germany an early lead with a superb back-heeled goal before Azerbaijan striker Ramil Sheydaev stunned the hosts by equalising before half-time.Second-half strikes from Hoffenheim striker Sandro Wagner and Chelsea defender Antonio Ruediger, before Goretzka added his second, saw Germany pull away.Liverpool midfielder Emre Can added the fifth when he smashed home his first international goal with a powerful shot from outside the area.The World Cup holders lost Julian Draxler before kick-off as the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder dropped out with flu, after Real Madrid star Toni Kroos had already been ruled out with a rib injury.The hosts got off to a dream start when Goretzka showed great technique by netting with his heel and his back to goal on eight minutes.Then came Germany’s injury blows.Suele limped off on 22 minutes to be replaced by Chelsea’s Ruediger before Mustafi went down in the build-up to the equaliser.The Germans should have doubled their lead with half an hour gone when Wagner hit the post.Azerbaijan deservedly levelled on 34 minutes when Sheydaev sprinted clear of Mustafi — who pulled up injured. MOST READ “This line-up hadn’t played together before and you could see that in the first half,” he said.“The second half was better as the opposition tired.“It would be a mistake to use this qualifying campaign as a benchmark – sure it was good – but the World Cup will be a different matter.“It will be hard to win the World Cup for a second time.”The victory came at the cost of two center-backs, as Bayern Munich’s Niklas Suele and Arsenal’s Shkodran Mustafi both limped off with first-half injuries.ADVERTISEMENT Fire hits houses in Mandaluyong City Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH LOOK: Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte unwind in Amanpulo for 3rd anniversary Azerbaijan’s midfielder Rahid Amirguliyev (R) and Germany’s midfielder Leon Goretzka (L) vie for the ball during the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification football match between Germany and Azerbaijan in Mainz, western Germany, on October 8, 2017. AFPMidfielder Leon Goretzka netted twice as Germany routed Azerbaijan 5-1 on Sunday to make history with a perfect World Cup qualifying record of 10 wins in as many games.The reigning world champions had already sealed their ticket to Russia last Thursday with a 3-1 win over Northern Ireland, and finished their qualifying campaign in Kaiserslautern with a 10th straight victory.ADVERTISEMENT Read Next LATEST STORIES Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC
Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.netDon’t expect any reunion between Louie Alas and son Kevin at Phoenix in the PBA–at least not in the immediate future.Just minutes after the story broke that Alas would be taking the head coaching duties of the Fuel Masters, the soft-spoken former Alaska assistant said he would rather let Kevin spread his wings with the NLEX Road Warriors.ADVERTISEMENT Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa “Likewise, I am sad as I’m leaving Alaska, especially coach Alex, who has been very supportive and is a dear friend to me and my family.”Sources said Alas signed a three-year deal with Phoenix. Kin of Misamis Oriental hero cop to get death benefits, award — PNP Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC MOST READ The younger Alas has been entrusted with a major responsibility by NLEX coach Yeng Guiao and has responded with aplomb.“He’s doing good at NLEX,” Alas told the Inquirer from Hong Kong, where he was awaiting an 8 p.m. flight back to Manila.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 shutoutIt was earlier reported that Alas would replace Ariel Vanguardia, who reportedly resigned as Phoenix coach. Alas said his staff would be made up of Lyceum coach Topex Robinson and his former deputies at Letran, brother Mel and Kris Reyes.“I’m super excited to take on a head coaching position again as it will be a big challenge,” said Alas, who once coached Mobiline (now TNT) in the early 2000s. Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Stronger peso trims PH debt value to P7.9 trillion QC cops nab robbery gang leader, cohort CPP denies ‘Ka Diego’ arrest caused ‘mass panic’ among S. Tagalog NPA View comments Read Next Japan ex-PM Nakasone who boosted ties with US dies at 101 Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:37Protesters 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 Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Lanete gets boost from starting gig, pounces on chance to make impact LATEST STORIES
Cardiff boss Warnock: Crystal Palace and Jordan very good for meby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveCardiff City boss Neil Warnock admits former Crystal Palace owner Simon Jordon helped him fall back in love with the game.Warnock faces his former club today.He said, “I’m looking forward to it because I’ve got some special memories there. I’ve got some good friends there and it’s always a good atmosphere.”I enjoyed it. Simon Jordan got me that love back. I felt really let down leaving Sheffield United. I think I would’ve jacked it in had it not been for Simon.”I ended up having a fabulous relationship with him and I’m disappointed how it ended for him as well.” TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
APTN InFocus with Cheryl McKenzie:In October leaders, Elders, members and supporters of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) rallied at the Federal Court in Vancouver.Today, they’re waiting for the court’s response on a judicial review.They want federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq’s decision to allow expansion of the Alberta tar sands, quashed.In addition to ACFN’s argument that their section 35 Constitutional rights were violated in the process, they also have results of an environmental health study on their side.The study links contaminants from the tar sands to incidence of illness in their community.Video courtesy: One River News (onerivernews.ca)
Kent DriscollAPTN NewsA student in Iqaluit has kicked off a debate about whether people in schools should stand while the national anthem is played.Then one day, Miles Brewster just stopped standing.“They didn’t explain what Orange Shirt Day meant,” he told APTN News. “They said ‘it’s Orange Shirt Day’ … ‘wear an orange shirt.’ But I felt like they didn’t explain enough – so I tried to make a statement.”[email protected]@kentdriscoll
Facing difficulty in balancing classes, work and social life is commonplace for college students. Add in conditioning and training, and you get a combo that leaves little time for sleep. Just when there is a moment to get a few hours of rest, it is time to wake up and do it all over again, said John Laing, a senior pommel horse specialist for the Ohio State men’s gymnastics team and a civil engineering major. The life of a male gymnast is a balancing act between the achievement of perfection and time management while working toward competing on a collegiate level and being a college student. “It’s tough balancing the workout schedule and all the stuff outside the gym,” said Michael Newburger, a redshirt junior pommel horse specialist and a mathematics and physics major. “I spend a lot of time in my classes and you always want to have a social life, too, but you always think about putting the team first.” Rustam Sharipov, the OSU men’s gymnastics coach, said he thinks learning is the most important part of being a student-athlete. “Gymnastics is one of the sports where you never waste your time,” Sharipov said. “As long as the kid got his education and he doesn’t have any regrets, I’m fine with that and that means I did my job. And that’s what it is all about.” While some naive onlookers may not realize it at first, men’s and women’s gymnastics have different sets of rules and regulations, even though both sports are fundamentally based on perfection and physical and mental strength. “People think we use a lot of music like the girls and it’s really choreographed,” Newburger said. “Although it is an artistic sport, we try to keep that perfection and that performance attitude, but it is a very physical, very serious athletic sport.” After tying for second in the 2013 Windy City Invitational Jan. 19 in Chicago and earning second place in the Metroplex Challenge Friday in Dallas, some members of the No. 5-ranked men’s team said they still are striving for more. “Things don’t just happen by themselves, you have to make things happen and not sit back and wait for things to happen,” Laing said. While sports like football and basketball enjoy relative levels of popularity nationally, Laing said gymnastics’ relevance in major college athletics isn’t quite as clear. “There are 17 Division I colleges that participate, and it is slowly getting less and less popular with everyone in general,” he said. “The average person can’t come in here and do a flip, which to us is very basic, but it’s not something where someone off the street can just come in here and mess around and do.”