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Billion years

11 billion years of history in one map: Astrophysicists reveal largest 3D model of the universe ever created – CNN

(CNN)A global consortium of astrophysicists have created the world’s largest three-dimensional map of the universe, a project 20 years in the making that researchers say helps better explain the history of the cosmos.

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), a project involving hundreds of scientists at dozens of institutions worldwide, collected decades of data and mapped the universe with telescopes. With these measurements, spanning more than 2 million galaxies and quasars formed over 11 billion years, scientists can now better understand how the universe developed.
“We know both the ancient history of the Universe and its recent expansion history fairly well, but there’s a troublesome gap in the middle 11 billion years,” cosmologist Kyle Dawson of the University of Utah, who led the team that announced the SDSS findings on Sunday.
“For five years, we have worked to fill in that gap, and we are using that information to provide some of the most substantial advances in cosmology in the last decade,” Dawson said in a statement.
Here’s how it works: the map revealed the early materials that “define the structure in the Universe, starting from the time when the Universe was only about 300,000 years old.” Researchers used the map to measure patterns and signals from different galaxies, and figure out how fast the universe was expanding at different points of history. Looking back in space allows for a look back in time.
“These studies allow us to connect all these measurements into a complete story of the expansion of the Universe,” said Will Percival of the University of Waterloo in the statement.
The team also identified “a mysterious invisible component of the Universe called ‘dark energy,'” which caused the universe’s expansion to start accelerating about six billion years ago. Since then, the universe has only continued to expand “faster and faster,” the statement said.
There are still many unanswered questions about dark energy — it’s “extremely difficult to reconcile with our current understanding of particle physics” — but this puzzle will be left to future projects and researchers, said the statement.
Their findings also “revealed cracks in this picture of the Universe,” the statement said. There were discrepancies between researchers’ measurements and collected data, and their tools are so precise that it’s unlikely to be error or chance. Instead, there might be new and exciting explanations behind the strange numbers, like the possibility that “a previously-unknown form of matter or energy from the early Universe might have left a trace on our history.”
The SDSS is “nowhere near done with its mission to map the Universe,” it said in the statement. “The SDSS team is busy building the hardware to start this new phase (of mapping stars and black holes) and is looking forward to the new discoveries of the next 20 years.”

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Despite years

Despite 22 years leading Iowa, Kirk Ferentz claims ignorance of player mistreatment within program – CBS Sports

It took until the last week for veteran Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz to become aware of allegations of widespread mistreatment of players within his program. That’s shocking enough, especially with the allegations having to do with bullying and racist comments.

Now, add the context that Ferentz is the longest-tenured coach in the country at one school. The widely respected Iowa legend will turn 65 on Aug. 1 as he begins his 22nd season at Iowa this fall.

If he makes that far.

“I don’t want to say I was blind-sided,” Ferentz said during a Sunday call with media, “… but the bottom line is we don’t want anybody to leave this place not feeling like this was a good experience.”

There is apparently a long way to go before Iowa becomes a feel-good program. We know that because powerful, highly-compensated, highly-regarded strength coach Chris Doyle has been put on administrative leave. An investigation is ongoing regarding alleged mistreatment — including racist comments and actions — by Doyle.

Tweets began being published by Iowa players on Friday and picked up over the weekend. An estimated 40 ex-Hawkeyes have come forward to share their negative experiences with Doyle while involved with the program.

The situation roiled so intensely that some of those came forward while Ferentz was on the call. Ferentz’s own son, offensive line coach Brian Ferentz, was also implicated.

Doyle is considered one of the best in the business; he is definitely the highest paid, making $800,000 per year.

How he got to that lofty position and kept his job for this long is now in question.

Former defensive back Emmanuel Rugamba said Doyle mocked black players, making them walk around the facilities on “eggshells.” Rugamba called the anxiety caused by Doyle’s actions “unbearable.”

Doyle allegedly told another black player, “I’ll put you back on the streets.”

If true, those incidents alone might be fireable offenses. And not just because the Black Lives Matter protests have raised awareness of social injustice. Players may have been compelled to come forward amid the protests that have sprung from George Floyd’s death, but the overwhelming reaction for their willingness to talk should be positive.

If the allegations are true, it’s a shame it took this long for them to go public. Awareness is supposed to be raised at an institution of higher education. And not just for the players.

Racial disparity continues throughout college football, a sport where minority head coaches are scarce while 45% of the athletes are African-American.

Adding to the confusion is determining just what is the culture of Iowa football.

Minutes before Ferentz started his call Sunday, Doyle posted a tweet denying any racial comments. He also said that his statement was being made despite the fact that he was told to “remain silent.”

“I don’t remember using the word ‘silent,'” Ferentz said. “I’m not here to tell Chris what to do. When you feel like you’re being wrongly accused of some things, you want your chance [to speak].”

Yeah, but what about the players who have felt abused? Ferentz was sympathetic saying he is the process of assembling an advisory committee of former players to guide future policy.

Clearly, though, any way out of this has to involve Ferentz’s bosses, athletic director Gary Barta and school president Bruce Harreld. If Doyle’s alleged actions were missed, whether enabled or ignored, this is still a matter for the board of trustees, not just a football coach.

Ferentz literally got to this point in his career by knowing everything that goes on within his program. He wouldn’t be the first coach to rule like an autocrat only to claim ignorance when times get rough.

That institutional dominion is how Ferentz got to be this successful, this powerful in a state that only sees 2% of its high school players recruited by Division I schools.

The first question from a reporter Sunday capsulized the moment: Given all of the above, how does this happen?

“That’s a fair question,” Ferentz said.

The answer hangs in the air like a booming punt.

Doyle is no stranger to controversy. Under his watch, 13 Hawkeyes were hospitalized in 2011 with rhabdomyolysis. “Rhabdo” a stress-induced syndrome that can cause organs to shut down and even death. An internal investigation by Iowa found that the exercises Doyle was using, not Doyle himself, were responsible for the players’ condition. Later that season, he was honored as Iowa’s “most valuable coach of the year.”

The school settled a lawsuit with a player who sued for negligence, paying $15,000. According to reports, since 2009, Doyle has made at least as much as both Iowa coordinators each year but two.

“There’s a fine line between demanding and demeaning,” Ferentz said more than once on Sunday.

There’s no fine line when it comes to racist comments. Those are for the weak-minded and uneducated. They’re why this country is experiencing its largest united protests since the 1960s.

“I don’t want to say [the reaction] is a ‘spin off,’ but I think people are tired. People are frustrated. They are angry,” Ferentz said.

Maybe the Iowa players felt compelled to share their experiences because of this national awakening, but that shouldn’t muddle or distract from what actually happened to them.

Most coaches know the line between demanding and demeaning. Ferentz has called for a “cultural shift” in the program. Asked what that culture was before the past week, he said, “you could argue, in my mind, it’s been healthy.”

Ferentz added: “[But] in the last 48 hours, I learned of things that needed more attention. However you want to break it down, I’m the one who is responsible.”

Doyle and Ferentz were also credited by former players for their success. The mother of one current player, who spoke with the Des Moines Register, said she felt safe with her son reporting for voluntary workouts on Monday.

In a tweet, 49ers All-Pro tight end George Kittle called it a “defining moment” for Iowa football.

Asked whether he feared for his job, Ferentz said, “That’s really not my frame of work. But I did ask multiple players if they feel like I’m part of the problem or if they feel like we can’t move forward with me here, I’d appreciate that feedback. That’s not what I’ve heard thus far.”

The picture painted of Iowa football is over overachieving excellence. In the Big Ten, it is not Michigan or Ohio State or Penn State. But under Hayden Fry and then Ferentz, it frequently punched above its weight class. Those teams were/are tough.

Doyle has helped produce two Outland Trophy winners (Robert Gallery, Brandon Scherff) and the AFC Defensive Player of the Year (Bob Sanders), but something has seemingly gone wrong for that many players to speak out.

Fifteen minutes into Sunday’s call, former walk-on defensive lineman Jack Kallenberger posted a lengthy tweet about being ridiculed for his ADHD. Kallenberger referenced that a coach wrote his GPA on a meeting room whiteboard to mock him. That is a possible violation of privacy laws.

If the allegations are true, Barta has no choice but to fire Doyle for cause. The current crisis is a symptom of college football culture not just central to Iowa. Too much power is consolidated at the top.

In that Iowa culture, Doyle was seen as some sort of body-building savant. He reveled in making stars out of two- and three-star recruits. Iowa coaches and administration bought in, making him the highest-paid strength coach in the country. He has even been called a “third coordinator.”

Strength coaches have outsized — and sometimes unregulated — influence in most major programs. They are able to spend large swatches of time alone with players when head coaches cannot. Those experiences can be tremendously enriching. Those moments can also be abused.

This cannot be explained simply as a coach and a program out of touch. Ferentz recently relaxed a ban on Twitter which seems almost prehistoric these days.

What else, one might ask, was he missing? 

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Comment years

Comment: Two years on, the HomePod is still a widely misunderstood product – 9to5Mac

Apple’s HomePod has faced two consistent criticisms right from the start.

First, people said, it’s the dumbest of the smart speakers — that both Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers can do more.

Second, it was said to be way too expensive. If you want a smart speaker, the thinking went, you could get an Amazon Echo Dot for $50, and sometimes as little as half that during promotions. Why pay Apple $349 then (and $299 now)?

Hearing both criticisms repeated recently, I couldn’t let it pass…

There is truth to the first claim, especially when you compare Siri to Alexa. However, as I discovered when trying the Echo Dot, there is a very large rider to that statement. Alexa is not inherently smarter; instead, it allows third-party developers to add “skills” to the platform.

I noted then the two big drawbacks of this approach.

First, because anyone can add a skill, there are lots of competing skills, many of which are worthless. And the required syntax means you can’t realistically have more than a limited number of skills installed.

You can’t ask natural questions like ‘Is the Circle Line running ok?’ Instead, you have to ask Alexa to ask the skill. The format for these queries is:

Alexa, ask London Travel whether the Circle Line is running

That’s not only horrendously clunky, but also ridiculously unscalable. Even with just a handful of skills enabled, I couldn’t remember the next day whether the Tube one was called London Transport or London Tubes or London Travel — in part, because I’d had to try several of them before finding one that worked well.

That’s not to say third-party skills are useless. The sole reason we still have a couple of Dots in use today is that they allow us to easily add things to our online supermarket shopping trolley. I wouldn’t dream of playing music through them, however: the HomePods are speakers, the Dots are convenient intelligent assistant hardware.

Which brings us to price. Yes, if you think of the HomePod as an IA device, it is too expensive and too large. But if you think of it as a highly sophisticated speaker system, using beam-forming technology that debuted in speakers costing five figures and only relatively recently made it into four-figure ones, then they are both impressively compact and surprisingly affordable.

I’ve said before that HomePods don’t replace a full-on hifi-quality speaker system, like the Naim Mu-sobut they get remarkably close. $600 buys you a high-quality stereo paired system that, in audio terms, is absolutely superb value for money.

Indeed, if you imagine a world in which voice assistants didn’t exist, and HomePods were speakers, pure and simple, they would be welcomed as incredible value.

It’s time to stop comparing them to tinny speakers costing $50, and start thinking of them as really good audio kit at a never-before-seen price point.

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