Durant leads Warriors to tight bounceback over Pelicans

Kevin Durant scored 30 points to bring his Golden State Warriors to a bounce back win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Durant added 17 rebounds, six assists, and two steals and blocks apiece defensively.

“I just didn’t want us to get outrebounded, ” said Durant after the game. “[Golden State head coach, Steve Kerr] told me that I could try to lead this team in rebounding and I’m trying to do my best to help out.”

Even Durant was outplayed, however, by Pelicans star, Anthony Davis. Davis scored 45 points, grabbed 17 rebounds, added three rebounds and also amassed two steals and blocks apiece.

“[Davis] had it going all night, shooting over double-teams, making all these tough fade-aways,” admitted Durant.

Durant would eventually block a layup from Davis at a critical point in the fourth quarter of the game. Durant would convert his own layup on the other end of the court, essentially ending the game.

“I just tried to make a winning play for the team,” recalled Durant. “I had no doubt in my mind that if he had gotten it off, he would have made that one, so I just tried to make a play.”

Steph Curry assisted Durant in the win, scoring 23 points, including four three pointers and adding seven assists, albeit with four turnovers. Klay Thompson added 28 points in the victory. For the Pelicans, Davis was aided by guard, Tim Frazier, who scored 21 points, grabbed six rebounds, and added 10 assists.



ALMA spots newly forming triple star system

Astronomers using the ALMA telescope have snapped a clearer picture of a triple star system still beginning to form.

Gizmodo explains that the developing star system, named L1448 IRS3B, is no older than 150,000 years, which makes the system a newborn in its cosmic time frame.  The protostar system is made up of three developing stars embedded in a disk of gas and dust.

The image captured by ALMA is the best image yet taken of a developing triple star system.  The newly detailed look at L1448 IRS3B is allowing astronomers to determine that the system contained two stars at first which were later joined by a quickly forming third star.

It has been noted that multi-star systems can contain stars that form in their own protostellar disks.  In the case of L1448 IRS3B, all three stars are drawing off a shared disk of material.

The diameter of the entire triple system is about 800 astronomical units (AU), encompassing a space about eight times the diameter of our solar system.

“Large-scale fragmentation refers to multiple stars that form more or less independently from each other with thousands of AU separation,” John Tobin of the University of Oklahoma said.  “Small-disk fragmentation happens on a few hundreds of AU scales in a disk of material that is orbiting around a young star that has already formed.”

One star, thought to be the system’s newest member, lies at a distance of about 183 AU from the others and appears to shine more brightly.

It appears that instability overtook the system at some point and caused fragmentation in the protostellar disk, causing the outlying star to form.

Further study of the triple star system will help astronomers understand more about how star systems form and evolve.

The study was published in the journal Nature.


‘Alien signals’ from stars may be chemical signatures

Researchers from Université Laval in Quebec claim to have detected stellar signals that they believe are most likely from intelligent extraterrestrials.  Other astronomers point to the likelihood that the signals are caused by the stars’ chemical composition or by equipment malfunction.

Astronomy Magazine reports that the new study considered data collected by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey which revealed a number of stars emitting rapid light bursts.  The study team believes that such signals are most likely caused by some form of extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI).

“We find that the detected signals have exactly the shape of an ETI signal predicted in the previous publication and are therefore in agreement with this hypothesis,” the paper reads.  “The fact that they are only found in a very small fraction of stars within a narrow spectral range centered near the spectral type of the sun is also in agreement with the ETI hypothesis.”

Another explanation for the stars’ bursts is that the signals may be caused by uncommon chemical compositions in a handful of stars.

The readings could also have been caused by instrumental optics or introduced to the data files during data reduction.  Minute flaws in detectors, telescope movements, atmospheric interference and the process of wavelength calibration can all produce unwanted signals.

More study of the light bursts will need to be conducted to draw further conclusions.  One source of scrutiny will be the Breakthrough Listen initiative, a worldwide survey hunting for signs of alien life.

Breakthrough Listen released a statement noting that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It is too early to unequivocally attribute these purported signals to the activities of extraterrestrial civilizations.”

The study has been accepted into Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.


New study says universe expands at constant rate

A new study challenges the idea that dark energy is causing the universe to expand at an accelerating rate.

Tech Times reports that a group of researchers studying supernovae found evidence that the universe is expanding at a constant rate.

Evidence for an accelerated expansion surfaced in 1998 when scientists looked at the light emitted by Type 1a supernovae.  It was widely accepted that the light of such supernovae is constant within Type 1a events, and analysis of the light given from different distances showed a universe expanding so rapidly that scientists assumed something undetected was causing the accelerated expansion.  Dark energy has since been thought to be the cause of the unexplained expansion.

For the new study, researchers looked at data concerning 740 Type 1a supernovae.  Scrutiny of the data led the team to conclude that the universe is not expanding at an accelerating rate after all, but is instead expanding at a steady pace.  In this scenario, no dark energy would be needed to drive the expansion.

The team argues that the previous study which resulted in the dark energy theory used outdated models unsuited to the analysis of today’s collection of data.

“There exists now a much bigger database of supernovae so we can perform rigorous statistical tests to check whether these ‘standardiable candles’ indeed indicate cosmic acceleration,” the study authors wrote.  “Taking account of the empirical procedure by which corrections are made to their absolute magnitudes to allow for the varying shape of the light curve and extinction by dust, we find, rather surprisingly, that the data are still quite consistent with a constant rate of expansion.”

The idea that the universe is expanding at a constant rate was widely accepted before the introduction of the dark energy theory.

The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.


New 49ers DC O’Neil didn’t have good reputation in Cleveland

The San Fracisco 49ers have hired Jim O’Neil to be their defensive coordinator — but he didn’t leave a great impression at the Cleveland Browns where he formerly served as coach.

O’Neil, who will serve under new head coach Chip Kelly after Kelly was let go from the Eagles, has a strong reputation as a defensive coordinator, helping to improve Buffalo’s defense in 2013 and boosting the Browns’ defense to a respectable one in his first year in Cleveland, according to a report.

But 2015 proved to be a disaster for the Browns, as the team got worse on defense and players told a reporter it was O’Neil’s fault. Specifically, the players complained that the Browns’ defensive linemen were being told to play based on how the offensive linemen were playing them, leaving the linebackers to basically guess how the defensive line would rush. Apparently, this flaw was repeatedly used against the Browns by other teams, and it was especially bad in run situations.

O’Neil, however, told reporters that it was up to the players to do their job and execute their roles.

In addition, the Browns faced a number of injuries to star players, including Joe Haden and veteran Donte Whitner. And the 2014 defense had a great secondary but a bad rushing defense, so even a slight decline in the pass coverage could result in a tumble in their defensive rankings.

But the report also put forward the possibility that O’Neil was good sometimes because of other coaches’ success, not his own.


Barbie unveils new body types

Barbie is trying to get with the times, this time by offering different body types including “tall” and “curvy.”

In the past, Barbie has been a one size fits all doll, which was fine during the peak of its popularity in the latter half of the 20th century, but as the public has gotten more diverse, so have tastes in dolls. Now, Mattel is offering a number of different versions to counter criticisms that the company holds up an unrealistic body image for girls, according to a New York Times report.

In addition, the new body types of curvy, tall, and petite will also come with different skin tones, hair styles, and eye colors.

Mattel has been struggling with plummeting sales for Barbie, its iconic brand, and is trying to make the doll more relevant. Mattel is trying to draw from a wider demographic than it has in the past.

The efforts to do so began last year when Mattel unveiled more skin tones and facial structures for its Fashionistas line.

But the writing may be on the wall for the company. Barbie has been around for 57 years and sales have continued to dive year after year. Third-quarter sales in 2015 were down 14 percent from the same period last year.

Barbie may be past its due date, with kids increasingly turning to electronics and games and away from traditional toys like dolls.

Mattel has been taking a stab at the electronics market, creating “Hello Barbie,” an interactive talking doll.

Mattel has been working on marketing too, creating an “Imagine the Possibilities” ad that shows little girls picturing themselves in various professions.


Will Cespedes opt out of his Mets contract next winter?

Yoenis Cespedes has signed a massive deal to re-up with the New York Mets after they brought him aboard last season for a run at the World Series. But there’s questions over whether he’ll opt out of the deal next winter.

The Mets signed the slugging outfielder to a three-year deal for $75 million, and the contract allows Cespedes to reenter the market in 2017, potentially allowing the team to sign him for less — but he may not, and if Cespedes regresses, the Mets could be way overpaying him for the last two years, according to a Fox Sports report.

Cespedes posted an OPS of over 900 last year, making him one of the best hitters in the game, but in the past he has posted below .800 in 2013 and 2014, so if he regresses in 2016 he may not want to test what could be a weaker market in 2017 and stay with his contract with the Mets.

Of course, the Mets probably didn’t expect him to repeat last season’s numbers anyway, but Cespedes could be worth far more than $25 million based on last season’s numbers, the report argues. Even a regression may put him at the figure in his contract in terms of value.

Also, overpaying is not as big of a deal in Major League Baseball, where there is no salary cap. If owners pay a few million dollars more than a player is worth, the only reason it would affect fans if the owner was stingy — and Mets ownership probably isn’t.

The bigger concern could be the length of contract, and since that’s not an issue, the situation is a good one for the Mets and Cespedes.


Penguins win third consecutive game, beat Devils 2-0

The Pittsburgh Penguins have been on a bit of a roll lately, and are headed into the all-star break with a three-game winning a streak after a 2-0 win over the New Jersey Devils last night.

Sidney Crosby and big offseason acquisition Phil Kessel both scored for the Penguins, and Marc-Andre Fleury got his 42nd career shutout.

Not only are the Penguins on a three-game winning streak after beating the Canucks and Flyers as well, but they are a solid 9-3-4 in their last 16 games. The Devils’ own five-game streak ended with the loss.

Crosby scored on the power play in the first period and Kessel scored in the second, and the Penguins relied on Fleury to hold the fort the rest of the way. He made 25 saves on the night.

The win resulted in the Penguins leap-frogging over the Devils for the last wild card slot. Both teams have 55 points, but the Penguins have the edge because they have played two fewer games.

Kessel, acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs, was supposed to make the Pittsburgh offense the most feared in the East, presenting a positively lethal power play with Crosby, Malkin, and Kessel. However, this is only the fourth time Crosby and Kessel have scored in the same game, and the Penguins have scored just 121 goals this season, putting them ahead of just five other teams in the Eastern Conference — and four of them are at the very bottom of the standings.

However, the Penguins have looked better as of late as their latest winning streak shows — the question is whether it will carry through the rest of the season.


Carolina Hurricanes pound Chicago Blackhawks 5-0

The high-flying Chicago Blackhawks are looking pretty vulnerable lately, getting shut out for the second time in three games Tuesday night.

The Blackhawks, who have a Western Conference-leading 70 points, lost 5-0 to the lowly Carolina Hurricanes. The team also lost 4-0 to the Florida Panthers a few nights before (with a 2-0 win over St. Louis sandwiched in between), bringing the team back down to Earth after winning 12 straight. Still, they hold a comfortable lead in the Western Conference.

The Blackhawks remained three points back of the NHL-leading Washington Capitals, despite having played seven more games.

Riley Nash scored two goals for the Hurricanes, and Jeff Skinner had a goal and assist as the Blackhawks couldn’t figure out how to score against the Carolina defense, and the reigning Stanley Cup champions pulled starting goaltender Corey Crawford for Scott Darling after allowing three goals.

Eddie Lack was the winning goaltender for Carolina, making 26 saves to backstop a victory. Crawford made 13 saves before Darling came in.

The Hurricanes are a hot team at the moment, going 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. They have beaten the Blackhawks in both matchups this year.

The Hurricanes were fast out of the gate, scoring three goals with several minutes left in the first. Chicago was unable to get going, allowing another goal and failing to score one of their own by the time the horn sounded.

The Blackhawks played the first game of a four-game road trip. They will next visit the Colorado Avalanche, followed by the Phoenix Coyotes and Dallas Stars.

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Thousands of sharks arrive at Florida beaches

It’s enough to make one cancel a vacation early: the sight of thousands of sharks swimming about near the beach in Florida. But there’s no need to be alarmed, as it happens every year.

Blacktip sharks swarmed the shallow waters near West Palm Beach, and photos have been circulating on social media from high above looking down on the crystal blue waters swarming with little black dots, according to a report.

This is not unusual. Blacktip sharks typically migrate in large groups to the Florida coast. They’ll start arriving in December and then head back north in April.

It represents a good opportunity to tag the sharks and conduct aerial surveys so scientists can watch any changes in the migration patterns and general population of blacktips, helping us learn more not just about the sharks themselves, but about the ecosystem they populate.

Researchers have found that in the past when the sharks eventually go north, they stop at the Carolinas. But that’s changed lately, with some blacktips reaching as far as Long Island. Scientists think this may be due to climate change.

Also, the blacktips have been arriving later. The sharks hadn’t started arriving in huge numbers until this month, when usually they arrive in mid-January at the latest.

Blacktip sharks subsist on a diet of small fish. They probably go to the beach to keep away from larger sharks that prey on them.

Blacktip sharks have been responsible for a number of attacks on humans, most likely because of the presence of food making them aggressive. The blacktip shark has been declared a near-threatened species by the IUCN because it is caught by fisheries for its meat, skin, fins, and liver oil.