Ask Ethan: How sure are we that the Universe is 13.8 billion years old? (Synopsis)

“Normal science, the activity in which most scientists inevitably spend almost all their time, is predicated on the assumption that the scientific community knows what the world is like.” -Thomas S. Kuhn

For all of human history, the biggest questions have fascinated us. Where did the Universe come from? How old is it? And what is its ultimate fate? Once relegated to the realm of theologians, poets, and philosophers, science has brought us closer than ever to the answers. But scientific revolutions have occurred before, in many cases significantly changing the answers to these and other inquiries. How certain are we that this won’t happen again?

The Sun, the Earth, and the history of life on our world all have a consistent age today, but back in the late 1800s, the evidence for the age of the Earth suggested it was significantly older than the Sun. Image credit: NASA, ESA, and ISS Expedition 37.

When it comes to the question of the age of the Universe, presently estimated at 13.8 billion years, there are many uncertainties that could come into play. Dark energy could evolve over time, fundamental constants might not be constant, or today’s fundamental particles might be broken up into smaller components. Additionally, we could have flaws in the expansion rate or composition of our Universe, or even alter General Relativity.

The four possible fates of our Universe into the future; the last one appears to be the Universe we live in, dominated by dark energy. What’s in the Universe, along with the laws of physics, determines not only how the Universe evolves, but how old it is. Image credit: E. Siegel / Beyond The Galaxy.

But it really looks like 13.8 billion years is safe, to within perhaps 2% at most. How can we be so confident? Find out on this week’s Ask Ethan!

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Adventurous Man Quits His Job to Travel Australia in a Campervan With a Beautiful Black Cat By His Side

Tired of his corporate life in Hobart, Tasmania, adventurer Rich East decided to go off the grid in a campervan of his own design. He sold off all his things and hit the road with his beloved black cat Willow whom he adopted from a rescue center. Since that time, the travelling duo has clocked over 31,000 miles around the continent of Australia, documenting the trip the entire way through YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. Calendars of their adventure are available for purchase through the VanCatMeow site.

In early 2014 I started making plans for a massive life change. Unhappy with my 10 years in the corporate world I started designing a new life for myself. I started designing a campervan that could provide me with shelter, a home, and comfort for this next stage of my life. Slowly I began to sell all my possessions such that what was left would fit in this van….We have now travelled thousands and thousands of kilometres around Australia, often only managing 60 kilometres a week. Please join us as we continue our trip, our worlds slowest land speed record attempt.

via My Modern Met

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Clippers PG Milos Teodosic leaves game early

Phoenix Suns' TJ Warren, center, is defended by Los Angeles Clippers' Milos Teodosic, right, Blake Griffin and Patrick Beverley, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Two nights after beginning their 2017-18 season with a comfortable win over the Los Angeles Lakers, the LA Clippers saw a key member of their rotation go down with an injury during the first half of Saturday’s game against the Phoenix Suns. Point guard Milos Teodosic, a key offseason addition to compensate for the Clippers trading Chris Paul to Houston, was carried off the court by teammates after suffering a left foot injury.

Teodosic was ruled out for the remainder of the game as a result, with more to be learned regarding his status moving forward. Teodosic was unable to put any weight on his foot after being helped up off of the Staples Center floor.

Teodosic, considered by some basketball experts to be one of the best passers in the world at the time of his signing with the Clippers, played 21 minutes in the Clippers’ 108-92 win over the Lakers Thursday night. While he made just two of his nine shots from the field, Teodosic dished out six assists and blocked a shot in addition to scoring six points in his NBA debut.

At the time of his exit from Saturday’s game, Teodosic tallied five points and two assists in 11 minutes of action.

Without Teodosic, the Clippers have a noticeable hole to fill in their perimeter rotation. Patrick Beverley, who is already in the starting lineup, and Austin Rivers are among the options head coach Doc Rivers can call upon should Teodosic be sidelined for an extended period of time. Also in the rotation is guard Lou Williams, who was one of the NBA’s best sixth men last season.

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Report – Jaguars RB Fournette expected to miss Colts game

That ankle injury that knocked Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette out of the Rams game last week will apparently keep the rookie out of this week’s game against the Colts as well.

After missing two days of practice this week, Fournette is expected to be held out of Sunday’s AFC SoutHmatchup with the Colts at Indianapolis’s Lucas Oil Stadium, Ian Rapoport reported on twitter.

The news comes as a bit of a surprise as Fournette had vowed to play on Thursday, but it is believed the Jaguars are trying to be cautious with Fournette, who would benefit from getting this week and next week’s bye week off.

Fournette has run the ball 130 times for 596 yards and ranks second in the NFL in rushing. He has accounted for 36.4-percent of the Jaguars offense this year.

If Fournette does indeed miss Sunday’s game, the Jaguars would likely lean on Chris Ivory as their lead back in a game in which their passing attack may have to come to life for the Jaguars to win. Jacksonville can also turn to former second round pick T.J. Yeldon, who has battled a hamstring injury, but is now healthy.

The Colts will go into this game ranked 30th in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 295.8 yards per game. They’ve also allowed a league-high 34 passes of 20 yards or more.

That could make for an interesting matchup against the Jaguars, who have leaned largely on their running game this year and have struggled mostly to throw the throw the ball downfield.

The Jags will go into this game ranked 29th overall in passing (169.7 yards per game), but their biggest problem is their inability to make explosive plays.

Through five games only 23 of quarterback Blake Bortles’ 97 completions (21.6-percent) have gone for 16 yards or more. That mark may have to improve without Fournette to anchor the attack.
Ivory has run the ball 40 times for 162 yards in what has been a limited running role so far this year but he has caught 16 passes, third most on the team, for 143 yards.

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Solak | 5 takeaways as Penn State thrashes Michigan

#19 Michigan Wolverines v #2 Penn State Nittany Lions


Beaver Stadium – University Park, PA

Score:  #19 Michigan 13, #2 Penn State 42

1) Saquon Barkley remains transcendant

This takeaway is nothing new–but, at the same time, no takeaway could be listed before it. Saquon continues to give defenders fits with his explosiveness, agility, and contact balance. He had three touchdowns on the evening: one illustrated his vision and absurd straight-line burst as a ball-carrier; the next, his body control and retention of velocity when turning a corner; the last, his route-running prowess and concentration.

It wasn’t Barkley’s best performance, however. He had a couple of drops/shaky catches, though his hands away from his frame are about as good as you’ll ever find in a back. The biggest smirch on otherwise spotless film remains: Barkley must learn how to lunge forward and take 1-yard losses instead of dancing in the backfield and losing 4. When he faces NFL athletes on a weekly basis, there may be some growing pains in that regard.

The Heisman resume continues to build for Saquon, however–and, frankly, the case to be a Top-5, Top-3, and even Top-1 selection. He’s that level of game-changing weapon.

2) Trace McSorley is a ton of fun…just not an NFL prospect

I want Trace to be a draftable QB oh so badly. He’s truly an excellent athlete–not a mobile QB, but dual-threat–and competes with ferocity. Proven winner, too. When it comes to traits that maybe help him stick on an NFL roster or practice squad, pocket presence comes to mind: he does well to make subtle movements to buy time, and escape when he has an advantageous lane.

Tonight especially he impressed with his decision-making and poise. While he still struggled under pressure, as is typical, he did well to locate his checkdowns and give them a chance to make the play–though he’s too often bailed out by the excellent play of his pass-catchers.

The sad reality is that McSorley lacks an NFL QBs arm. He must hitch to generate velocity on any throw to the boundary or down the field; any balls to the intermediate levels of the field have an absurd amount of air under them. He’s an arm-punter; he throws jump balls. While it’s tons of fun, it simply isn’t sustainable at the NFL level.

That TD run sure was sick, though.

3) Michigan lacks its usual defensive pieces…for now

My love for the Wolverine’s senior DT Maurice Hurst is quite well documented. He had a decent night. On multiple reps, he presented in the backfield in typical fashion: with elite first-step quickness and lateral agility, Hurst works into gaps and busts up plays. He showed excellent hand work on swims and arm overs to generate interior pressure. Penn State did well, however, to expose Hurst’s lack of size, and on a couple of down blocks he got washed straight out of the play.

While Hurst continues to shine, Michigan’s defense–only returning one starter from 2016–simply lacks the studs of which it usually boasts.

Senior LB Mike McCray looked stuck in the mud all night as he tried to track Barkley around the field–when he hesitated, he fell behind; when he tried to anticipate, he over-pursued. Senior DE Chase Winovich lost leverage in the run game early and often, falling victim to multiple read option reps; his pass rushes lacked twitch and effectiveness. Junior DT Bryan Mone got bullied by the Penn State interior OL all night long.

Fortunately for Michigan, their youth impressed: sophomore DE Rashan Gary and freshman LB Devin Bush are already talented football players, and they’ll only grow into their roles. Reinforcements are coming for the Wolverines.

4) Penn State…does indeed have some defensive pieces

A unit that was supposed to be the Achilles’ heel on a close-but-not-quite team in the preseason has been anything but. The only team in the FBS to not allow a first-quarter point–like, at all–Penn State’s defense is led by two talented, draftable players: senior LB Jason Cabinda and senior S Marcus Allen.

Allen is the more popular name: a box safety playing single-high for his team, Allen showed decent pattern recognition tonight, though his range wasn’t tested by Michigan’s struggling aerial attack. He got involved early in the run game, but only finds significant success when closing downhill, between the tackles–when it’s to the boundary, he struggles to set an edge or come to balance. The real question for Allen is coverage–and he was hardly tested in this matchup.

Cabinda, further under the radar, was highlighted in my 3 prospect battles to watch post, and I’ll say that he answered the call. While the stat sheet won’t show too many tackles, Cabinda played a physical, disruptive brand of football against a team that can punish linebackers with their offensive scheme. Cabinda excels at seeing red and hitting red: When his gap opens up, he immediately fills it; when a puller comes his way, he immediately strikes him. He can be a click slow to get there, but when he arrives, he plays disciplined, intelligent football. I’m interested in his Combine numbers for sure.

Of the eligible PSU corners, I like the best the one most likely to return to school: Redshirt junior Amani Oruwariye. Keep an eye on that name.

5) Draft a Penn State pass-catcher

6’6″ TE Mike Gesicki, the jump-ball extraordinaire; 6’4″ Juwan Johnson, the physical specimen; 6’1 DaeSean Hamilton, slot machine; 5’11 DeAndre Thompkins, punt return specialist. Just pick your poison, folks.

DaeSean Hamilton had the most impressive night. Working the slot, he burned Michigan’s nickel defenders off the line with explosive releases and sudden cuts. He tracked more than a few McSorley prayer balls with ease, doing well to keep his body leveraged between the defender and the ball, making catches away from his frame. When Michigan rolled their better corners onto Hamilton, he struggled a touch with their physicality at the line–but he still regularly won releases with quickness and made a couple of tough catches through contact. Impressive stuff.

Gesicki made two Gesicki-esque catches–just trademark stuff. At 6’6, but with a storied, multi-sport athletic profile, Gesicki excels at attacking footballs at their highest point and making hands-grabs, in traffic, away from his frame. He showed nice body control and awareness for a sideline snag as well. While Juwan Johnson had a quieter night, struggling with the physicality of Michigan’s corners, his physicality and natural hands still impress. Only a redshirt sophomore, I’d love to see him return to school for an extra year of polish.

As a parting gift: Mike Gesicki, ladies and gentlemen.

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Astros shut out Yankees to win ALCS Game 7

Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. reacts after getting New York Yankees' Aaron Judge to strike out during the eighth inning of Game 7 of baseball's American League Championship Series Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Having made just one World Series appearance in franchise history prior to this season, the Houston Astros are headed back for the first time since 2005. Evan Gattis got things going offensively in the fourth inning with a solo home run, and the Astros scored three more in the 5th as they defeated the New York Yankees by the final score of 4-0 in Game 7 of the American League Championship series.

While the mid-game offensive fireworks gave the Astros the cushion they needed, chasing Yankees starter CC Sabathia from the game in the 4th inning, it was the pitching that sealed the deal for AJ Hinch’s team. Charlie Morton pitched five innings of shutout ball to get things going, allowing two hits while striking out five and walking one.

Lance McCullers Jr. took over from there, allowing just one hit while striking out six batters and walking one over the next four innings to earn the save.

After Gattis’ solo shot got the Astros on the scoreboard, the Yankees has the opportunity to tie things up in the top of the fifth. But Alex Bregman would throw out Bird at the plate, preserving the 1-0 lead. A Chase Headley ground out would end the inning, and with that went the Yankees’ best chance to put runs on the board.

Houston would take advantage and extend their lead in the bottom half of the frame due to a Jose Altuve solo home run. Houston plated two more runs that inning courtesy of a Brian McCann two-run double, with Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel scoring the runs that made the score 4-0 in favor of the home team.

The home team won all seven games in the series, the first time it’s happened in a League Championship Series since the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Astros in seven games in the 2004 NLCS. And the visitors struggled offensively in this series, scoring a combined eight runs with four being scored by the Astros in their Game 4 loss at Yankee Stadium.

Next up for Houston is Los Angeles, with the Dodgers defeating the Chicago Cubs in five games to win the NLCS. Game 1 of the World Series is scheduled for Tuesday night in Los Angeles.

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Rapid Recap- Bulls make program history-roll to 7-0

A history making night for USF, as the Bulls raced out to a big lead and then had to hang on a bit as Tulane got closer, but it still ended 34-28.

The Bulls had been slow starters all year, outscoring opponents only 43-38 in the first quarter.

However, Saturday night was a different story. The Bulls opened with a 10-play, 85-yard drive for a touchdown on its opening possession on Saturday night at Yulman Stadium and controlled the game from there.

A victory over the Green Wave gave USF its first-ever 7-0 start to a season. The 34 points is the modern NCAA Division One record with 24 straight games with at least 30 points scored.

Meanwhile, RB Darius Tice ended the night with a career high 141 rushing yards on 13 carries, 10.8 yards per carry on the night.

Senior quarterback Quinton Flowers totaled 265 yards for three touchdowns to help the Bulls garner their second conference road win against Tulane (3-4, 1-2). He hit Marquez Valdes-Scantling in the third quarter on this score:

Tice scored on a 30-yard run only a few moments after Tulane called its final timeout sealed the win for the Bulls.

The Bulls now put their perfect mark on line and host Houston next Saturday at Raymond James Stadium.

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Photo Of The Day By Josh Kaiser

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Reynisfjara Beach, Vik, Iceland” by Josh Kaiser.
Photo By Josh Kaiser

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Reynisfjara Beach, Vik, Iceland” by Josh Kaiser.

“You never know what will happen with the light, regardless of where you’re at,” says Kaiser. “This is especially true in Iceland. We were packing it up when this unexpected scene revealed itself! Magic.”

See more of Josh Kaiser’s photography at

Photo of the Day is chosen from various OP galleries, including AssignmentsGalleries and the OP Contests. Assignments have weekly winners that are featured on the OP website homepage, FacebookTwitter and Instagram. To get your photos in the running, all you have to do is submit them.

The post Photo Of The Day By Josh Kaiser appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.

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DNA techniques could transform facial recognition technology

When police in London recently trialled a new facial recognition system, they made a worrying and embarrassing mistake. At the Notting Hill Carnival, the technology made roughly 35 false matches between known suspects and members of the crowd, with one person “erroneously” arrested. Camera-based visual surveillance systems were supposed to deliver a safer and more secure society. But despite decades of development, they are generally not able to handle real-life situations. During the 2011 London riots, for example, facial recognition software contributed to just one arrest out of the 4,962 that took place. The failure of this technology means visual…

This story continues at The Next Web

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No, Apple isn’t ‘enabling’ Chinese censorship

I know it’s popular to hate on Apple these days. I’m guilty of this myself. But assertions made earlier this week by Sens. Ted Cruz and Patrick Leahy that Apple was enabling Chinese censorship are a step too far. In a public letter, Cruz and Leahy fused their remaining brain cells to argue Apple ‘enabled’ censorship in China by removing several popular VPN apps in July. The move, the duo argue, strengthens China’s control over its citizens by picking and choosing which parts of the internet they can access. It’s not North Korea, but China’s “Great Firewall” is no doubt…

This story continues at The Next Web

Or just read more coverage about: Apple

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