What to make of what should be a unique and uncertain college football bowl schedule

This was going to be largest bowl season in history with 43 games. But like everything  affected by COVID-19, plans are being rewritten. How things play out with the three College Football Playoff games and the remaining 36 scheduled bowls remains uncertain.

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What we do know is that the experience for teams, players, fans and communities is going to be vastly different. That’s understandable given health conditions have pushed the season to a later finish, limited or eliminated attendance at games and altered travel plans.

a group of baseball players standing on top of each other: Michigan State celebrates a win over Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium last December.

© Adam Hunger, Getty Images
Michigan State celebrates a win over Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium last December.

Those  who build holiday plans around bowl season and those  who can’t imagine ringing in the new year without watching the biggest postseason games should still be able to enjoy the season’s conclusion — albeit with a different feel.

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An assessment of how things stand after talking with multiple officials involved in the bowl process. They requested anonymity because the situation is in flux.

Expect lots of losing records

A waiver by the NCAA eliminating the win requirement for bowl eligibility will make team selections more straightforward. The annual calculation about whether conferences have enough teams with six wins goes away.

Bowls are still expected to follow league affiliations and tie-ins, regardless of the records of the teams.

With three of the Power Five leagues — the Big Ten, Pac-12 and  Southeastern Conference — playing a league-only schedule and the other two having only one non-conference game, math tells you it’s going to be impossible to avoid having a swath of teams with losing records.

In the case of the Big Ten, it will fill all of its seven spots outside the New Year’s Six games. That could open the door for selection of the 10th-best team among its 14 members. The same will be true for the other conferences that have spots for more than half their membership.

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The SEC has 14 teams and nine possible bowl affiliations outside the College Football Playoff and Sugar Bowl, but only five schools have winning records through five weekends. Six have losing records.

The 10-team Big 12 has the potential for six bowl spots outside its guaranteed berth in the Sugar Bowl. The league has just six teams with winning records.

Eight of the 15  Atlantic Coast Conference schools have winning records, but the conference has 10 possible bowl spots.

The NCAA waiver does create fewer opportunities for Group of Five teams. Five served as replacements for Power Five schools unable to fulfill their allotments last

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A unique pre-Columbian manuscript and the mystery behind its colors

A unique pre-Columbian manuscript and the mystery behind its colors
The Nahuan (i.e. “Aztec”) divinatory manuscript, also known as Codex Cospi, represents a rare example of a pre-Columbian “book”. Credit: Luca Sgamellotti

The Codex Cospi is one of the few Aztec ‘books’ in the world and it is kept at Bologna University Library. A new research project will investigate with unprecedented detail the painting techniques and tools with which it was made.

There are very few pre-Columbian manuscripts in the world; the Codex Cospi is one of them. These days, this manuscript is being analyzed at Bologna University Library in collaboration with Palazzo Poggi Museum (University Museum System). Using cutting-edge non-invasive techniques, researchers will try to figure out the composition of the bright colors with which the codex was embellished between the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th.

Carisbo Foundation provided the funding (Art and Culture grant) to the Department of History, Cultures, and Civilization of the University of Bologna. Thanks to this funding, these analyses will be carried out exploiting the MOLAB platform.

“We will employ fluorescence and hyperspectral imaging techniques to map the distribution of compositional material (both organic and inorganic) on every page of the manuscript,” says Davide Domenici, Professor at the University of Bologna and head of the project. “The level of detail these techniques are able to provide is unprecedented and will shed new light on the pictorial and technological practices developed by pre-Columbian artists.”

A unique pre-Columbian manuscript and the mystery behind its colors
Using cutting-edge non-invasive techniques, researchers will try to figure out the composition of the bright colors with which the codex was embellished between the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th. Credit: Luca Sgamellotti

The Nahuan (i.e. “Aztec”) divinatory manuscript, also known as Codex Cospi, represents a rare example of a pre-Columbian “book.” Very few of these “books” made it through the centuries and survived the destructive madness of conquerors and evangelizing missionaries. For this reason, the Codex Cospi exemplifies an entire book heritage largely doomed to oblivion. The manuscript came to Bologna thanks to Domingo de Betanzos, a Spanish Dominican friar, who probably brought the Codex to this city on the occasion of his meeting with Pope Clemens VII on March 3, 1533. Since then, this precious book was kept in Bologna, initially as part of the Ferdinando Cospi collection. Then, it entered the collection of the Academy of Science, and finally it got to the University Library, where it found its definitive location.

In 2006, researchers carried out a first non-invasive analysis on the Codex. This was a pioneering experiment as far as pre-Columbian manuscripts are concerned. From that first experience, the researchers involved (Davide Domenici, Antonio Sgamellotti, Costanza Miliani) started analyzing most of the existing pre-Columbian manuscripts around the world currently kept in institutions like the Museo de América in Madrid, the British Museum in London, the World Museum in Liverpool, Oxford’s Bodleian Library and the Vatican Apostolic Library. 15 years later, advances in technology have made it possible for researchers to use cutting-edge imaging techniques to better

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Contact Tracers Face A Unique Enemy: Robocalls


  • North America has high rates of scam calls, making Americans reluctant to pick up the phone for any number they don’t recognize
  • This is a problem for contact tracers, who have partnered with service providers to ensure their calls have identifying information attached to them

Contact tracing has been an important part of COVID-19 response efforts since the beginning, but in North America those efforts are often disrupted by an abundance of robocalls.

A surge in scam-call rates occurred well before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but legitimate mass-call programs implemented to halt the virus’ spread found that most Americans simply won’t answer their phones for a number they don’t know.

As a result, contact tracers have been forced to find ways to differentiate themselves from scammers.

serious-black-businessman-using-smartphone-on-street-4560146 Wireless waterproof earbuds let you enjoy your playlist wherever whenever. Photo: Pexels

Data from Transaction Network Services, a company providing call filtering and information for some of the U.S.’s largest phone networks, indicates only one in 10 people answer their phone when called by a number they don’t know. Providing a bit of caller information bumps that number up to four in 10.

Bill Versen, TNS’s chief product officer, told Yahoo Finance a full 83% of people called for contact tracing thought the call was a scam.

“We’d venture to say that agencies around the country don’t realize how big this problem is, nor are [they] leveraging a service provider to get their contact tracing calls answered,” he said.

Some contact-tracing programs have been finding workarounds, such as partnering with telephone networks to make sure all their calls show who they are and label them as legitimate. Some even provide a small summary of their mission for contacts to read.

Those efforts have boosted success rates and been implemented in almost every state. Still, challenges remain.

Some enterprising scammers have used the implementation of contact tracing to pose as tracers, fishing for personal information or just hoping someone picks up so they can add the contact to a list of active numbers to be sold. The Federal Trade Commission has clarified that contact tracers will never request social security numbers, banking information, immigration status, money, or request that you download files.

Versen says that people should still let unknown callers go to voicemail. They could be collecting information or working scams that charge huge international fees when people call them back.

“Legitimate callers will leave a voicemail or find another way to contact you via email, SMS or a personalized app,” he told Yahoo Finance.

Source Article

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Tapping secrets of Aussie spider’s unique silk

Tapping secrets of Aussie spider's unique silk
The basket-web spider in its natural form with its unique lobster pot web and silk, which has now been revealed as uniquely robust. Credit: Professor Mark Elgar, University of Melbourne

An international collaboration has provided the first insights into a new type of silk produced by the very unusual Australian basket-web spider, which uses it to build a lobster pot web that protects its eggs and trap prey.

The basket-web spider weaves a silk that is uniquely rigid and so robust that the basket-web doesn’t need help from surrounding vegetation to maintain its structure.

“As far as we know, no other spider builds a web like this,” said Professor Mark Elgar from the School of BioSciences at the University of Melbourne.

“This silk retains its rigidity, allowing a rather exquisite silken basket or deadly ant trap.”

The collaboration between the University of Melbourne and the University of Bayreuth with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation is likely to draw a lot of interest.

Entomologist William J Rainbow discovered the basket-spider in 1900 but made no mention of the nature of its silk, perhaps because he had only seen drawings of the web and imagined it to be more sack-like.

The recent study, just published in Scientific Reports, as Dimensional stability of a remarkable spider foraging web achieved by synergistic arrangement of silk fiber,” has found that the silk used to construct the basket web is similar to the silk that many species of spiders use to wrap around their eggs, to protect them from the elements and enemies.

“Our discovery may provide insights into the evolution of foraging webs,” said Professor Elgar. “It is widely thought that silk foraging webs, including the magnificent orb-webs, evolved from the habit of producing silk to protect egg cases. Perhaps the basket-web is an extension of the protective egg case and represents a rare contemporary example of an evolutionary ancestral process.”

The basket-web spider is found only in Australia. Its basket is approximately 11mm in diameter and 14 mm deep and has crosslinked threads of varying diameters. The nature of the silk was revealed by the Australian Synchrotron, a national facility of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation in south east Melbourne.

Professor Thomas Scheibel from the University of Bayreuth said the rigidity of the silk appears to come from the synergistic arrangement of microfibres and submicron fibres.

“Nature has created a complex structure that, at first glance, resembles industrially produced composites,” said Professor Scheibel who headed the research from Germany.

“Further investigations have, however, shown that they are chemically different components and their respective properties together result in the thread’s extreme elasticity and toughness, thus creating a high degree of robustness. With today’s composite materials, on the other hand, it is mainly the fibres embedded in the matrix that establish the particular properties required, such as high stability.”

While more work needs to be done to understand the molecular details of the silk, Professor Scheibel said there is potential interest

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