A’s top Twins to take one-game lead in second wild-card spot

first_imgMINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — The A’s (56-42) took the second game of this four-game series with a 5-3 win over the host Minnesota Twins on a balmy Friday night. The win gives them a one-game lead over Tampa Bay for the second wild-card spot.Khris Davis extended his homer-less game to 21 games but continued to hit the ball hard, collecting a pair of go-ahead RBI singles.Related Articles Fo … What A’s winter ball performances can tell us about the second base race last_img

Simple Molecules: The Building Blocks of Lie

first_imgAt a physical level, everything in the universe is made of atoms and molecules.  Life, being a subset of everything in the universe, is composed of a subset of all molecules that exist.  It could be said that any atom or molecule present in a living thing is a building block of life, but how informative is that?  Carbon, for instance, is essential to life, but is also a building block of cyanide, tailpipe soot, graphite, diamond and a host of deadly poisons.    It’s not just the presence of the simplest parts that conveys information about the whole – it’s the way that the building blocks are assembled into the complex structure.  A child’s alphabet building blocks, for instance, form gibberish when assembled by an infant who cannot read.  Life has been compared, by contrast, to an encyclopedia of highly specific information.  This information then directs a symphony of coordinated, dynamic processes using molecular machines.    Evolutionists are fond of pointing to carbon, water and other atoms and simple molecules as “building blocks of life.”  Embedded in the phrase is a subtext of progress.  If the building blocks are present, the statement suggests that they will “build” or assemble into life, given the right circumstances.  No one would say, though, that since silicon is a building block of computers, finding silicon on extrasolar planets is a sure bet computers will eventually be found.  In a similar vein, life uses a subset of “organic compounds” (carbon-based chemicals), but sometimes the word organic is used in an equivocal way to suggest the presence of life, even though many organic compounds (cyanide, gasoline, and carbon tetrachloride, for example) are poisonous or useless to biology.    At what point does the use of “prebiotic compounds” or “organic soup” or “building blocks of life” invoke the power of suggestion to support an evolutionary, naturalistic view of life’s origin?  Look at these recent examples to see if the inference to life is warranted by the observations.Oxygen:  The oxygen atom, though necessary for most living things, can also be a deadly poison – that’s why we take antioxidants.  In the cell, it is handled very delicately by complex enzymes that combine it with byproducts of respiration to form water and carbon dioxide, which can be safely removed.  Oxygen’s mere presence, however, suggested to EurekAlert that life was ready to explode in a plethora of wondrous complexity.  The title reads, “2 oxygenation events in ancient oceans sparked spread of complex life.”  Would the same thing be said of silicon sparking the spread of computers?Carbon:  Carbon is essential to most living molecules.  It is basic to fats, sugars, proteins and nucleic acids.  Raw carbon, or simple hydrocarbons, however, are useless to life unless incorporated by enzymes into structural molecules according to coded instructions.    Why, then, are the news media all using the L-word Life in their reports about the discovery of methane around a nearby star?  Methane is the simplest “organic” (carbon-based) molecule: one carbon joined to four hydrogens.  Because of its fourfold valence, carbon easily joins with other atoms – especially the most abundant element in the universe, hydrogen.  Methane is abundant on Titan, the gas giants, some comets and probably Mars, though not associated with life there.  Humans use methane for their cooking but not for their biology; it is emitted as a waste product by the bacteria in cow stomachs and by the decay of biomass, but is not a nutrient for life.    Nevertheless, most reports from a paper in Nature1 emphasized the L-word when methane was detected around a star, even though the authors said nothing about life.  “Under certain circumstances, methane can play a key role in prebiotic chemistry – the chemical reactions considered necessary to form life,” said the BBC News.  Ditto for Science Daily.  A NASA scientist called this “a dress rehearsal for future searches for life on more hospitable planets,” according to Space.com.  National Geographic was slightly more tentative, but ended with a focus on methane’s potential as a biomarker for life on other planets.Amino acids:  Proteins are composed of long chains of one-handed amino acids.  These carbon-based molecules have two simple parts, an amino group and a carboxyl group, and a side chain (R-group) that can be as simple as one hydrogen (glycine) or much more complex with cyclic domains and other things.  Of the almost endless varieties of possible amino acids, life as we know it is restricted primarily to 20 kinds.  It is not just the amino acids alone that make them “lively” but their specific combinations into long chains, held together by peptide bonds.    Finding a few amino acids, however, got EurekAlert all excited with two pronouncements on the same day: Meteorites are rich in the building blocks of life and Meteorites a rich source for primordial soup.  Both articles insinuated that a steady rain of amino acids on the primitive earth would have been sufficient to kickstart life in the ocean – even though amino acids avoid joining into polypeptides in the presence of water.  Notice the confidence mixed with suggestion in a statement by a scientist from Imperial College, London: “We know that approximately 3.8 to 4.5 billion years ago the Earth underwent heavy bombardment from meteorites which brought molecules to our planet, just before life emerged on Earth.”Water:  It goes without saying that water is another simple molecule often associated with the L-word.  A press release from Jet Propulsion Lab referred to life twice in the story about dust disks around stars (see the other 03/19/2008 entry today).  The article said that the discovery of water vapor molecules in the disk “may help shed light on the origins of our own solar system and the potential for life to develop in others.”  They also quoted Carr using the “building blocks” angle, “Now that we can identify these molecules and inventory them, we will have a better understanding of the origins and evolution of the basic building blocks of life–where they come from and how they evolve.” Countless press releases rush to include the L-word whenever a discovery is made of “building blocks of life” in space.  Presumably, the claim could be made about hydrogen.  Humans have plenty of hydrogen atoms bound to carbon and oxygen.  By extension, then, the whole universe is a building block of life.1.  Swain, Vashist and Tinneti, “The presence of methane in the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet,” Nature, 452, 329-331 (20 March 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature06823.Your imagination is being taken for a ride when you fall for the “building blocks” line.  Assumptions, unwarranted inferences and misdirection: these are the building blocks of lie.(Visited 35 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

SA capture Polocrosse World Cup

first_imgWinning the World Cup is a “great opportunity” for South African polocrosse, he said. “People are excited and interest in the game is on the up. People who were doubters about South African polocrosse are now on board. 21 July 2011 Jan Albert Steenkamp was in excellent form for South Africa in the title-decider and was later named the best male player of the tournament. The women’s award went to Kelly Redfearn of Zimbabwe. South Africa had earned their place in the final with an excellent 25-11 victory over Australia in the semi-finals. Zimbabwe reached the title-decider with a 24-10 win over the USA. Zimbabwean expectationsMuch was expected of the Zimbabweans this time around, after they defeated a South African team full of capped internationals three-nil in a series in Johannesburg in early June. It was not, however, South Africa’s World Cup team. South Africa captured the Polocrosse World Cup title for the first time when they defeated neighbours Zimbabwe in the final at the Onley Grounds Equestrian Centre near Rugby in the United Kingdom on Sunday. ‘After four chukkas, it was over’“In the first two chukkas, our girls went down 3-0, but then pulled it back to 3-3. Our men then won their first chukka 5-0. After four chukkas, it was over, Australia weren’t going to come back from being so far down.” Heavy rains in the final created some muddy patches on the field, but South Africa adjusted especially well to them to run out convincing 29-18 winners after eight exciting chukkas. For the record, South Africa’s World Cup winners were Gavin Cocker, Jossie Spilsbury, Graham MacLarty, Nikki Crook, Jan Albert Steenkamp, Celicia Jacobs, Nico Van Wyk, and Julie Royden-Turner. Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material Playing in the United Kingdom proved to be a test for the two southern African nations, who are used to dry conditions. Both teams were undefeated heading into the final and both had beaten Australia, who had previously never lost a game at the World Cup, which was held Down Under in the first two editions in 2003 and 2007. It was in the game against the highly-fancied Australians that a huge turning point occurred, said Cocker. Australia dominated the USA in the clash for third place, romping to a 31-8 win, while New Zealand held on for a 20-19 victory over the UK in thee battle for fifth. Zimbabwe had earlier downed the Australians 21-12 in pool play. They also edged New Zealand 17-15 and saw off Zambia 22-10. Stellar defenceQuestioned about South Africa’s stellar defensive showing throughout the tournament – the 18 goals they gave up to Zimbabwe was by five the most they conceded in any game – Cocker again put it down to game planning for each side they faced. South Africa had finished third in both the 2003 and 2007 events, while Zimbabwe had finished fifth in 2007 and fourth in 2003. “We got the horses into the right positions for the right riders and we were lucky that the horses suited our playing style.” “It’s also good for Zimbabwe,” he said about the all-Southern African World Cup final and what it means for polocrosse in the region. South Africa won their first two pool matches 19-9 over Ireland and 18-7 over the USA before sneaking past the UK 14-13 on a last-gasp goal by Graham MacLarty. At a World Cup, for health and safety reasons, players use borrowed horses which are put into pools and draws are then made for them. Adjusting to the horses is vital and this, too, was part of the South African team’s preparation, Cocker related. Visual skillsIt was a World Cup win a long time in the making, explained Cocker. Work on the South African challenge began some nine or 10 months before the tournament and visual skills’ work with world-renowned Doctor Sheryl Calder was “very helpful”, he enthused. For those not in the know, polocrosse is a combination of polo and lacrosse and the format features men and women playing alternate chukkas. It’s easy to understand and makes for a fantastic spectator sport. And with the next Polocrosse World Cup taking place in South Africa in 2015, the defending champions have plenty to look forward to, and to build towards. ‘Phenomenal’“It was phenomenal, especially for Southern Africa,” to be playing Zimbabwe in the final, South African captain Gavin Cocker told SAinfo. “And to win it was the ultimate, a special moment.” last_img read more

South Africa’s football youngsters shine

first_imgAmajita pushed hard for an equaliser and after some narrow misses were rewarded eight minutes from time when Mthembu headed in a cross from Junior Sibande. Penalty shootout loss Taking lessons from each match, they showed progress from game to game as they ironed out chinks in their defence and found a cutting edge on attack. Semi-finalsAmajita faced a daunting challenge in the semi-finals, taking on five-time under-20 World Cup champions Brazil. However, the hosts were far from intimidated and produced an excellent performance. While Bafana Bafana struggled against lower-ranked Ethiopia, South Africa’s under-20 football team held their own against the world’s best in an eight-nation tournament which ended in Cape Town on the weekend. In their third game, coach Solly Luvhengo’s charges took on Nigeria, a country that South Africa has traditionally struggled against at all levels of the game. Brazil went on to lift the title, defeating Argentina 2-0 in the final after extra time. Amajita were certainly one of the most entertaining teams, if not the most entertaining team, in the tournament. Their passing and speed on attack were hallmarks of the side. After they had clinched third place with a win over Japan, coach Solly Luvhengo told a press conference: “When you work so hard, you always deserve to get something from your hard work. You saw us celebrating on the pitch. But we were not celebrating third position, we were celebrating the results of hard work.” “Amajita” finished third after a string of impressive results against very strong opposition, including some of the game’s traditional powerhouses, who have won 11 under-20 World Cup titles between them. With bronze medals up for grabs, Maselaelo Seango put South Africa ahead in the 23rd minute, but Japan scored a goal against the run of play 20 minutes from time to make the final score in the playoff match one-all. South Africa dictated play for most of the contest, but after missing a number of opportunities had to wait until five minutes from time to score the decisive goal. Jerry Mxabo struck the winner, volleying a cross into the back of the Nigerian net to ensure a South African victory and a place in the semi-finals. South Africa gave as good as they got in a back-and-forth clash, but Argentina finished better to take the victory. Thabani Mthembu, on as a substitute, netted the home team’s goal. Top goal scorerStriker Thabani Mthembu scored five times in five matches to lift the Top Goal-Scorer award, while midfielder Snethemba Ngidi was one of three nominees for Player of the Tournament, which ultimately went to Brazil’s Misael Bueno. “Sometimes you work hard and you don’t get anything. But I’ll take the bronze medal and build from that.” Ghana, the winner of the World Cup in 2009, were South Africa’s next opponents. “It was disappointing not to, but I told the players ahead of the play-off against Japan – go and reward yourselves for your hard work [by picking up a medal]. Amajita dominated the first half and were rewarded with a two-goal lead. Thembu headed in his second goal of the tournament and Junior Sibande scored after a goalmouth scramble. Although there were no further goals, South Africa continued to impress in the second stanza. “If we get more time together, these actions will start synchronising themselves and we will get much, much better.” Argentina, the winner of five of those World Cups, offered a very difficult challenge to South Africa in the host’s first game. The South Americans recorded a 3-1 win, but their coach Marcelo Trobbiani admitted the score-line had flattered his charges. The game went straight to penalties and after a tense shootout the hosts emerged victors by seven goals to six. Third place playoffBrazil and Argentina were left to contest an all-South American final after the Argentina edged Japan 1-0, leaving Amajita to tackle the Japanese in the playoff for third and fourth places. South Africa took the game to the Brazilians and forced them onto the defensive. The South Americans, though, scored against the run of play to take the lead. Impressive winPlaying an exciting brand of football once again, Amajita recorded an impressive 2-0 victory over a team that had opened their account with a superb 3-2 win over traditional continental powerhouse Nigeria. The home team had missed out on the final in a penalty shootout against eventual champions Brazil. “I felt we deserved to have been in the final,” Luvhengo said. The home team put Brazil under heavy pressure as they sought a winner, but the match went into extra time. South Africa had the better of the chances in extra time, but the game was left to be settled by penalties. Unfortunately for South Africa, they went down four-three from the spot. Mthembu levelled for South Africa only four minutes after the hosts had conceded, but 10 minutes later a defensive error gifted Brazil a second goal. Assessing the overall performance of his charges, Luvhengo said: “I’m very happy with the work ethic. I’m very happy with the team spirit. I’m very happy with the chances we are creating. 6 June 2012 Finishing“I’m not happy with the finishing, we must work on that,” he added. “Maybe at some moments we switch off a little bit. That’s expected at youth level, but as a coach you need to keep your players on their toes and keep reminding them. Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more