Million-dollar idea or pie in the sky? Study says A’s gondola system would bring big benefits

first_imgOAKLAND — A study released Friday said the Oakland A’s proposed gondola system would generate more than half a billion dollars in economic benefits over its first decade in service.The Bay Area Council Economic Institute study found an aerial transit system connecting downtown Oakland to Jack London Square will bring $685 million in benefits to Oakland, most of which would be derived from sales tax.(Graphic by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute)“A gondola provides a unique and important …last_img read more

Excusing Darwinism’s Lack of Evidence

first_img(Visited 600 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Several recent papers either rationalize evolution’s failures, or else agree that the theory needs revision.Scientists develop new theory of molecular evolution (Phys.org). This article begins with the defunct “march of human evolution” icon, signaling something is already wrong. It claims that protein evolution often leads to convergence, and that evolutionists need to take this into account (see also Science Daily). Whether their analogy of the Stuff Happens Law provides clarity, the reader can decide:“We like to think of the other amino acids as a bunch of kids jumping down on a memory foam mattress while you try to walk on it,” Pollock said. “Most of the time your feet are sunk into the mattress and you can’t step forward, but every so often the kids will create a dent in the mattress that allows you to step ahead.“Coelacanth (DFC)Heterochronic evolution explains novel body shape in a Triassic coelacanth from Switzerland (Nature Scientific Reports). The authors of this paper describe a variation on the coelacanth body plan, knowing full well that the coelacanth is a classic “living fossil” that did not appreciably evolve for millions of years between its last fossil appearance and the discovery of living counterparts. If this variant was being naturally selected toward some non-coelacanth, they don’t say so. Instead, they say that “This species broadens the morphological disparity range within the lineage of these ‘living fossils’ and exemplifies a case of rapid heterochronic evolution likely trigged [sic] by minor changes in gene expression.”Why it’s difficult to predict evolutionary fate of a new trait (Brown University). This press release displays a surprising diagram that basically shows that average ‘fitness’ stays unchanged over time. “Fitness can be fickle,” the evolutionists say, and is subject to complications. See our 9/09/17 entry for details.Blind cave fish lost eyes by unexpected evolutionary process (New Scientist). Michael LePage sees trouble for standard evolutionary theory in this latest visit to a case of “evolution by loss”—loss of functional eyes. “We’ve found out why a Mexican cavefish has no eyes – and the surprising answer is likely to be seized upon by those who think the standard view of evolution needs revising,” he teases. The upshot is that no genetic mutations were selected. Instead, the blindness appears to be a consequence of epigenetic change. LePage entertains the notion that the change looks Lamarckian, and might fuel the movement to include epigenetics into a revised neo-Darwinism called the “extended evolutionary synthesis.” He gives the last word to David Shuker of the University of Edinburgh. “He thinks some people are trying sneak religious ideas back into evolutionary theory.” That’s too late, though. Cornelius Hunter shows in his book Science’s Blind Spot that religious ideas gave rise to Darwinism in the first place, and religious ideas keep it going. Which religious ideas, you ask? What Hunter calls Theological Naturalism: the religion that says, in short, ‘Naturalism must be true because God wouldn’t create things that way.’Molecular ensembles make evolution unpredictable (PNAS). Sailer and Harms make a resounding argument that evolution is unpredictable, given the nature of proteins and other macromolecules:A long-standing goal in evolutionary biology is predicting evolution. Here, we show that the architecture of macromolecules fundamentally limits evolutionary predictability. Under physiological conditions, macromolecules, like proteins, flip between multiple structures, forming an ensemble of structures. A mutation affects all of these structures in slightly different ways, redistributing the relative probabilities of structures in the ensemble. As a result, mutations that follow the first mutation have a different effect than they would if introduced before. This implies that knowing the effects of every mutation in an ancestor would be insufficient to predict evolutionary trajectories past the first few steps, leading to profound unpredictability in evolution. We, therefore, conclude that detailed evolutionary predictions are not possible given the chemistry of macromolecules.This is not surprising. Scientists already know that the Stuff Happens Law is unpredictable. That’s what natural selection reduces to.Excuses, excuses. This is the greatest idea the world ever produced? This is the elegant theory Richard Dawkins gushes over? Come on. Science can do better than “stuff happens.”last_img read more

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives in Davos

first_imgDeputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has arrived in Davos, Switzerland, to lead the South African delegation at the World Economic Forum 2018.Davos, Switzerland – The Deputy President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, today arrived in Davos, Switzerland, to lead a high-level government, business and labour delegation to the 2018 World Economic Forum annual meeting scheduled from 23-26 January 2018.This year’s event is held under the theme, “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World”.Deputy President Ramaphosa will join various discussion platforms in Davos with an aim to develop a response to new strategies towards transforming governance in various parts of the world.South Africa last week announced a number of measures to strengthen governance and management of its state-owned enterprises. This is part of an ongoing broader effort to restore confidence in the economy. The South African government will continue to act decisively to address challenges at its key state-owned enterprises to restore public and investor confidence and to ensure that they fulfil their economic and developmental mandates.The WEF Davos forum presents South Africa with a platform to showcase its attractiveness as an investment destination and trade partner; set out plans that are unfolding to secure improved and inclusive economic growth; and contribute to efforts to respond to societal challenges globally.Team South Africa under the leadership of Deputy President Ramaphosa will utilise the opportunity presented by WEF to communicate that South Africa remains open for business and to highlight the work that the government, working together with business and labour, is doing to ensure an improved economic outlook and nurturing for a higher economic growth trajectory.The delegation will also re-emphasise that South Africa has a stable and predictable macroeconomic framework which continues to underpin economic policy, ensuring that the country remains attractive for investment.The team will also be placing emphasis on its plans to transforms the economy to ensure that its citizens enter new jobs and benefit from the new investments attracted in partnership with business and organised labour.Fourteen actions to boost investor confidence were developed in 2017 with specific deadlines with deliverables including to ensure continuity of fiscal consolidation trajectory and the funding and broader reforms in the areas of governance and private sector participation in SOEs as well as finalising outstanding legislation and policy positions to enhance investor confidence.Deputy President Ramaphosa will also hold various meetings with high-level political and business leaders from various countries.The South African delegation includes a broad range of leadership from various sectors of the economy and society, with Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba as the lead minister and coordinator.Deputy President Ramaphosa will be supported by the Minister in The Presidency for Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation, Jeff Radebe; Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel; Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies; Minister of Public Works, Nkosinathi Nhleko and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.EnquiriesTyrone Seale: +27 83 5757 440.Acting spokesperson for the Deputy President of South Africa.last_img read more

Budget 2017 infographic: Where does the money come from? How will it be spent?

first_imgThe lion’s share of South Africa’s 2017 Budget will be spent on basic education – some R243-billion, or around 15.5% of total spending. But where does the money come from? And what are the government’s other spending priorities? Our handy infographic explains.The main sources of money the government spends are taxes and levies.Tough economic conditions have reduced the amount of taxes that will be collected in 2017/18.In order to sustain its spending priorities, the government has proposed raising additional tax revenue mainly from personal income tax and dividend withholding tax. As a result, some, R1.3-trillion is expected to be collected in 2017/18.Here’s a quick overview of where the money comes from, and how it will be spent.Click the image to enlarge.Words: Mary AlexanderDesign: Jae BritsWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa materiallast_img read more

How to Look at a House like a Building Scientist (Part 1: Air)

first_imgThis article is the first in a three-part series on how to use various diagnostic tools to sleuth out problems in buildings. The work I do for Building Science Corporation (Joe Lstiburek’s company, for those who don’t know) involves forensic investigations of moisture-related (or similar) building failures—in other words, sleuthing out problems in buildings. Despite the fancy name, this typically involves crawling around the bowels of commercial and residential buildings to look at the problem areas and determine the causes. These problems may include strange odors that seem to emanate out of nowhere, windows that leak water during rainstorms, indoor swimming pools with rotting walls, freezer warehouse buildings with icicles growing out of the ceiling, mega-mansions with out-of-control humidity levels that are damaging the art collection, and moldy and wet crawl spaces. To solve these problems, a set of eyes and an understanding of building physics are the most important tools. But there are many clues that are not visible—thus the use of building diagnostic tools: the focus of this article. This series will cover a selection of my most-used tools for this type of building science diagnostic work. This is not a comprehensive survey of the available tools—but a look at my go-to items for day-to-day investigations. Also, I am deeply indebted to all of the other practitioners who have shared their knowledge, instruments, and tips/tricks—I can only hope I’m doing a little bit to pay it forward here.RELATED ARTICLESBlower Door BasicsDuct Leakage TestingDiagnostic Tools for Energy-Minded RemodelersEssential Energy-Audit EquipmentAn Introduction to Pressure Diagnostics The series will be broken down roughly into the following topics: Part 1: Air. Using devices that measure air leakage (such as blower doors and duct blasters), differential pressures, and airflow. Part 2: Heat. Using infrared cameras and temperature meters to find thermal bridges, sometimes combined with airflow tools to find air leaks. Part 3: Water. Using moisture meters, water-testing windows, and demonstrating drip edges and slope with squirt bottles. Why air measurements are important Controlling the air inside the building—by limiting air leakage—is critical for conditioning the air, and therefore affects comfort and energy use in buildings. But in addition to carrying heat, air leakage often carries moisture with it, which means that air leaks can lead to a variety of durability problems. Examples of air leakage problems include growing mold on roof or wall sheathing due to outward air leakage in cold climates, or condensation on cold ducts or pipes due to inward air leakage in hot-humid climates. In addition, I’m seeing more and more indoor humidity problems up and down the East Coast, and air leaks are a part of them. When I hear folks complaining about “new buildings being too airtight,” I let them know that I’ve investigated far more problem buildings that were too air leaky rather than too tight. Of course, air is invisible—although you can feel it moving from one place to another, diagnostic tools can tell you a lot more. Air leakage testing A blower door (Minneapolis Blower Door; Retrotec) is a calibrated fan used to measure air leakage in buildings; it is typically installed in a fabric shroud mounted in a doorway (Figure 1). The fan is used to depressurize the building to a known test pressure (typically 50 Pascals), and the airflow (cubic feet per minute or CFM) required to reach that pressure is a measurement of the building’s total air leakage (reported as “CFM at 50 Pascals” or “CFM 50”). Current codes require airtightness testing (see R402.4.1.2 of the IECC). Blower doors are used for both houses and large commercial buildings (although more fans are needed for the latter). Duct testing equipment (for example, Duct Blaster) is used in a similar manner to test duct airtightness. The calibrated fan is connected to a ductwork system, the intentional holes in the system (i.e., registers and grilles) are sealed, and the airflow required to reach a test pressure provides a measurement of leakiness. This series is not intended as a full discussion on the basics of measuring air leakage and how to use the equipment: manufacturers such as the Energy Conservatory and Retrotec have a wealth of information—including great instructional videos which you can find here and here. Incidentally, Duct Blasters are useful for more than ductwork testing. They can also be used to test airtightness of small buildings (such as the cottage in Figure 2), very airtight buildings, or individual dwelling units in multifamily buildings. For reference, a Duct Blasters can test up to 1350 CFM 50, while a Minneapolis Blower Door maxes out at 5350 CFM 50. Figure 1: Testing a house with a blower door. Figure 2: Testing a cottage with a Duct Blaster. Blower doors and pressure difference measurements In addition to testing the overall building’s air leakage, we can use this equipment to create pressures in a building, and learn more about leaks in certain areas or zones. For instance, conditioned, unvented attics (with insulation and air barrier at the roofline), are becoming more common as a way to keep ductwork within the conditioned space and to insulate complicated rooflines. When testing these buildings for airtightness, we often measure the pressure difference (known as delta P or ΔP) across the attic hatch. The ideal condition is shown in Figure 3: with the house at -50 Pascals (Pa) relative to outdoors, if the ΔP across the hatch is 0 Pa, it means that the attic is also at -50 Pa. This indicates that the attic is 100% “inside”—the depressurization of the main portion of the house extends up into the attic, and it is all operating as a single zone of air. Figure 3: Depressurized house with an unvented, conditioned attic, 0 Pascals across ceiling (good). A similar measurement is shown for a vented, unconditioned attic in Figure 4. In this case, the attic is intentionally connected to outdoors with soffit and ridge vents, and we want the ceiling plane to be as airtight as possible. With the house at -50 Pa relative to outdoors, if the ΔP across the hatch is also 50 Pa, it means the attic is at 0 Pa—i.e., the same pressure as outdoors. This suggests the attic is well-vented and/or the ceiling plane is relatively airtight—all excellent for performance. Figure 4: Depressurized house with a vented, unconditioned attic, 50 Pascals across ceiling (good). But most of the time, we see conditions other than these two extremes. For instance, take that same unvented attic we looked at in Figure 3. If we ran the house at -50 Pa relative to outdoors, and the pressure difference across the hatch was 25 Pa (Figure 5), it means that the attic is at -25 Pa. This indicates that the attic is “halfway” between inside and outside. In more precise language, it means that the area of the holes in the roof (from attic to outdoors) is equal to the area of the holes in the ceiling (attic to house). Typically, this is a problem. It suggests that there are big air leaks from the unvented attic to outdoors that we need to fix, given that the ceiling plane is usually not intentionally air sealed in these houses. This usually involves crawling around the attic looking for signs of air leakage. Also, the amount of airflow coming down through the hatch can give you a first gut feel on how an unvented attic is performing—the ideal situation is next to no air from opening the hatch, and the worst case is a gusher of air. Figure 5: Depressurized house with an unvented, conditioned attic, 25 Pascals across ceiling (not good). Another example of this technique is shown in Figure 6: during a depressurization blower door test, we taped off the fireplaces with cardboard to avoid sucking ash into the house. Measuring the pressure drop or ΔP across the cardboard showed that the dampers are not really doing much air sealing, and that the fireboxes were essentially outside. This contributed to the major summertime air leakage in this house, and resulting difficulty of keeping interior humidity under control. In Figures 6-10, I’m using the Energy Conservatory DG-700 Pressure and Flow Gauge. It has since been discontinued. The new model is the DG-1000 Digital Pressure and Flow Gauge. We haven’t upgraded to the DG-1000 yet, but they’ve been out for a while, and well, work. Figure 6: Measuring ΔP across a fireplace seal. Figure 7: Measuring ΔP at an electrical outlet. Figure 7 shows a ΔP measurement at a party wall in a multifamily building—these “burn away” walls are notoriously difficult to air seal and are a problem for getting these buildings airtight. By removing the outlet cover plate and measuring the ΔP across the drywall, we could figure out the problem areas at the party wall, which ended up being the garage connection and the HVAC closet. There is an entire set of techniques for using these types of ΔP or “differential pressure” measurements, called zone pressure diagnostics, but that’s beyond what we can cover here. Indoor-outdoor pressure measurements Air pressures define which way the air moves, and how quickly. Therefore, measuring air pressures during normal building operation can also provide clues to problem conditions. For instance, in southern climates, “buildings that suck” can lead to huge moisture problems from pulling in hot, humid outdoor air. It’s also useful to have a bit more of an intuitive understanding of the pressure measurement of Pascals/Pa that we use. It is a very small unit—one Pascal is about the weight of a fly on the area of a penny. Also, 1 psi is 6895 Pa. Correctly-operating houses normally operate in the 3-5 Pa range, the blower door and duct blaster tests are run at 50 Pa and 25 Pa respectively, and when buildings are pressurized to exclude contaminants, 10-12 Pa is a typical range. When I deal with commercial building facilities managers and ask them whether their building is running at a positive or negative pressure, they sometimes respond, “they added up the airflows and it should be positive.” My response is: let’s measure it directly to figure it out—and plenty of times, adding up the airflows gives the wrong answer. Indoor-outdoor pressure measurements are simple if you can find an operable window or doorway. These ΔP measurements are also important for residential work—for instance, if they installed an oversized kitchen range hood in a custom house without a makeup air system we can measure the net effect. Also, very airtight construction with unbalanced fans (e.g., exhaust-only ventilation) can cause problems. Figure 8 and Figure 9 show measurements of indoor-outdoor ΔP at a door or window. Before anyone gives me grief about the daylight you can see at the window sill, that only affects the ΔP measurement if a house is very airtight, and doesn’t matter for most of these types of measurements. Figure 8: Indoor-outdoor ΔP at a doorway. Figure 9: Indoor-outdoor ΔP at a window. But there are times when a one-time measurement isn’t enough to fully understand what is going on. For instance, on a windy day, it can be next to impossible to tease out the effect of operating fans on house pressures. Also, it can be useful to get a log of operating many mechanical systems (kitchen exhaust, bath exhaust, dryer) in various combinations to determine their effect. In those cases, you can connect Energy Conservatory manometers (pressure meters) to a computer (Figure 10) and use free TECLOG software to graph the pressures in real time, and to observe the effect of changes visually (Figure 11). This creates a computer file that you can refer to and run calculations on later. Figure 10: Using TECLOG to log pressures. Figure 11: TECLOG real-time pressure graph. Air flow indication and measurement In addition to putting a number on pressure differences, it’s often useful to demonstrate where air leaks are, and which way airflow is going. The typical go-to solution is a smoke generator or a smoke pencil—one trick from my colleagues is to connect a vaping pen to a squeeze bulb (Figure 12). I have also heard good things about Cirrus Outdoors smoke generators, but haven’t tried one myself. Figure 12: Smoke pencil from a vaping pen. Figure 13: Kestrel wind (air velocity) meter. To get more precise, wind or air velocity meters (such as Kestrel impeller-based meters, Figure 13) can measure these flows—typically in feet per minute/FPM. You can estimate flows out of HVAC registers by measuring airspeeds and the opening area (called a “traverse”) with these meters. However, I’ve pretty much replaced my Kestrel meter with a tool from the HVAC world—a hot wire anemometer (Figure 14 and Figure 15, Fieldpiece Instruments STA2 In Duct Hot-wire Anemometer). A hot wire anemometer has a fine wire that is heated above air temperature, and the rate of heat loss/cooling measures the airspeed. This tool is exceptionally useful because it has an extension probe that lets me “feel” for air leaks out of arm’s reach. A typical use is to depressurize the building, and put the probe on suspected air leakage locations. Figure 14 is the inside of a metal panel building—this panel seam was leaking despite the double-gasket design. Figure 15 shows measurements of air leaks around a window sill with the trim removed: hot, humid air was getting pulled from the masonry cavity at these openings under the window trim, condensing, and dripping. Figure 14: Hot-wire anemometer air velocity meter. Figure 15: Hot-wire anemometer air velocity meter. HVAC air flow measurements Getting more into the HVAC world, measuring air flow into grilles/exhausts and out of registers/supplies is often useful, especially when doing commissioning (or startup) measurements—is your equipment providing the flow that they said it would? Also, these tools come out when we’re trying to diagnose HVAC-related problems, like hot or cold rooms. The equipment that an HVAC technician would use is a flow capture hood (Figure 16)—it can be used for either supplies or returns (up to a limited size). As a warning, there are plenty of case studies showing that you get wonky results with problems like off-center placement, a register that “swirls” the airflow, or even their effect of “choking off” the airflow by putting the flow hood on the register (see “How Accurate is Your Air Flow Capture Hood Measurement“). A useful tool for exhaust fans is a “flow box” (Energy Conservatory Exhaust Fan Flow Meter, Figure 17) It’s a box with a variable opening, and measuring the pressure inside the box provides the exhaust flow. It is light, quick, reliable, and works well. Lastly, if you’re looking at exhausts, the “toilet paper test”—despite its simplicity—gives some useful information. If the toilet paper sticks to the fan face, you’re probably getting a decent airflow. Figure 16: Flow capture hood. Figure 17: Exhaust fan flow meter. -Kohta Ueno is a senior associate at Building Science Corporation. Photos and illustrations courtesy of the author.last_img read more

Leander Paes, Sania Mirza win US Open opening matches

first_imgSania Mirza and Leander PaesIndian tennis players Leander Paes and Sania Mirza won their respective doubles matches to advance to the second round of the US Open at the Flushing Meadows on Wednesday.Men’s doubles defending champions Paes and Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic needed an hour and 32 minutes to come out on top against Italians Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini.The sixth seeds won the first round 7-6(5), 6-2 and will take on Yen-Hsun Lu (Chinese Taipei) and Jiri Vesely (Czech Republic) in the second.Earlier, women’s doubles third seeds Sania and Cara Black of Zimbabwe had a rather easy opener to win 6-3, 6-0 in only 57 minutes against Czech twin sisters Karolina and Kristyna Pliskova.Sania will play her mixed doubles opener later in the day, with Brazilian partner Bruno Soares, against local pair Tornado Alicia Black and Ernesto Escobedo.last_img read more