LUXEMBURG, Wis. – A 76-year-old driver still competing weekly and a trio of former track promoters will be inducted into Luxemburg Speedway’s Hall of Fame at the third-mile clay oval Friday night, Aug. 18.1968 track champion Jerry Muenster of Green Bay, along with Luxemburg Tri-Star Speedway promoters Debbie and Kelly Hafeman and Ralph Aschenbrenner will be ushered into the track’s Hall of Fame.Tri Star Promotions promoted weekly racing at Luxemburg for 13 seasons from 1989 through 2001. During their tenure the track boasted some of the highest weekly IMCA car counts nationwide and Kelly Hafeman is a former IMCA Modified champion.Despite being two full generations older than most of his fellow racers the 76-year-old Muenster is the only holdover driver still competing from the track’s coupe days. Muenster still competes weekly at Luxemburg in an IMCA Modified.There will be plenty of wheel-to-wheel action that night as well. The Quietwoods RV Gambling Man’s Stock Car Special will take place along with the annual John Soukup Memorial SportMod Special. Soukup, a racer from Sturgeon Bay, lost his life to cancer five years ago.Racing action and HOF induction ceremonies will be called by Tom Wagner. IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sunoco Stock Cars, Karl Chevrolet Northern SportMods and Mach-1 Sport Compacts are on the evening card, which starts at 7 p.m.The tales of Tri Star Promotions, along with Muenster and his son Eddie Muenster’s racing careers will be featured in motorsports author Joe Verdegan’s third book Life In The Past Lane – The Next Generation, which will be released Dec. 2 at Titletown Brewing in Green Bay. Verdegan’s first two books, Life In The Past Lane – A History of stock car racing in northeast Wisconsin from 1950-1980 and Wisconsin International Raceway – Where The Big Ones Run are both on sale under the grandstand.
Jordan Michaux scored four times to lead The Who’s to a hard fought 5-4 victory over Multi Scoregasms Sunday in the final of Jackson’s Hole Christmas Tournament Competitive Division at the Soccer Quest Indoor Facility.The event is an annual event that allows soccer grads from the area to play in tournament during the Christmas Holiday season.The final matched the two undefeated squads in the Competitive Division — the Who’s winners of the B pool against Multiple Scoregasms, tops in the A pool.Multiple Scoregasms opened the scoring when Ryan Lewis neatly found his way through The Who’s defence before drilling a shot past keeper Shelby Tett. Two quick goals by Michaux put The Who’s into the lead before Heather Stewart was the recipient of a great pass before drilling a shot past Scoregasms goalie Mitch Melanson.In the second half Titouan Chopin, an attacking midfielder with Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency program annd brother Jules, who plays university ball for Simon Fraser Clan, tied the game before Michaux went to work, scoring the winner and insurance marker to march The Who’s to victory.Melanson, on a goalie rush, scored the final goal for Multiple Scoregasms.In the Recreation Division, Abacus defeated Red Dog 5-1.Abacus won the round robin draw with 35 points.Red Dog edged out Missile Toe in round robin play by a single point to advance into the final.
Brattleboro, Vermont is fortunate to have a long history with solar water heating. When I moved to the area in 1980, the company Solar Applications had been installing solar hot water systems for five years, and a spin-off company, Solar Alternatives, was manufacturing quality flat-plate solar collectors—many of which are still in use in the area. While Solar Alternatives closed down in the 1980s with falling energy prices and the end of solar tax credits, Solar Applications, has continued to install and service solar water heating systems for more than thirty years.Frenchman Alain Ratteau, who founded Solar Applications in 1975, sold his company this year to Andy Cay, and it has been renamed Integrated Solar Applications. When interest in solar waned in the mid-80s, my friend Alain shifted most of his focus to oil or gas space heating (specializing in the more sophisticated systems), but I was always impressed that he maintained the company name Solar Applications and maintained a deep commitment to renewables. Alain works with the new company and is helping to establish it as a premier provider of not just solar water heating systems, but also solar space-heating, solar-electric, micro-hydro, wind, and biomass. Visit the company on Spring Tree Road (past the Marina Restaurant).Most solar water heating systems consist of one or more flat-plate collectors mounted on a roof or separate rack through which potable water or another heat-transfer fluid is pumped. This fluid circulates to a storage tank where the solar-heated fluid passes through a heat exchanger to heat water in the tank. With “closed-loop” systems, the heat-transfer fluid—usually a mix of water and nontoxic propylene glycol antifreeze—remains in the collector all the time. In other systems, referred to as “drainback systems,” plain water is used in the collector, and when the collector gets too cold, the water drains back into a small tank in the house.Other systems operate passively by “thermosiphoning” (the principle that heated water rises naturally). With this approach, more common in warmer climates, potable water in the collector naturally circulates into a storage tank located above the collector.A fairly recent option with some solar water heaters is a solar-electric (photovoltaic) panel to power the circulation pump. In this case, the PV panel serves as both the pump’s energy source and the controller. When the sun is shining and the PV panel is generating electricity, the pump operates and water is heated; when there isn’t enough sunlight to power the circulator pump, the solar water heater shuts down—it’s a simple control system.No matter what type of solar water heating system is used, in our climate it is generally used as a “preheater” for a conventional water heater—which can be either a storage-type water heater or an on-demand (tankless) water heater. The standard water heater, which could be electric or gas-fired, boosts the water temperature as needed.Don’t expect a solar water heater to provide all your hot water. A well-designed and properly sized system in our climate may provide all of the summertime hot water, but it is likely to provide less than half of what you need during the winter months. Some homeowners combine solar water heating with a heat exchanger in a wood stove—so that they’re heating their water primarily with renewable energy sources year-round.To maximize the percent of hot water your family can obtain from the sun, it’s important to conserve hot water use: install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators; insulate your hot-water pipes; buy a top-efficiency dishwasher and only wash full loads; and consider washing clothes in cold water.Installers of solar hot water systems in the area include Integrated Solar Applications in Brattleboro (257-7493), Gary MacArthur in Marlboro (257-7026), John Kondos of Home-Efficiency Resources in Spofford (603-363-4505), Green Energy Options in Keene (603-358-3444), and the Greenfield Solar Store (413-772-3122). Somewhat farther afield are groSolar in White River Junction (802-374-4494, www.grosolar.com) and Solar Works, Inc. in Montpelier (800-339-7804, www.solarworksinc.com).
As difficult as it is to meet the requirements for Passivhaus certification, builders and designers have a great deal of leeway in how they approach it. There are just a few big hurdles to clear, including limits on how much energy the building can use and how airtight the building envelope must be.Exactly how a builder accomplishes this is not spelled out. As long as the building meets the standard, it can win certification, either from the Passive House Institute U.S. (PHIUS) or its European counterpart, the Passivhaus Institut (PHI).At the North American Passive House Network conference last month in Portland, Maine, two designers with very different outlooks detailed their Passivhaus projects, demonstrating that many roads can lead to the same destination.One of them, Andrew Michler, took the unusual step of avoiding foam insulation in the house he designed in the mountains of Colorado: none under the slab, none in the walls, none in the roof.The other, New Mexico architect Vahid Mojarrab, chose components made with rigid foam as a way of achieving Passivhaus performance economically and reliably.Is one better than the other? It all depends on how you look at it. In New Mexico, the aim is to compete in a spec marketIf Michler had the luxury of working on a guest house on his own property, and the time to feel his way through some of the building details, Vahid Mojarrab faced a completely different set of challenges: How to build to the Passivhaus standard with a labor pool familiar only with conventional techniques, and do so quickly and efficiently enough to stay competitive on price.Mojarrab knows the production housing market well. He’s built more than 1,200 houses in Colorado, New Mexico, and California but was first introduced to the Passivhaus standard five years ago in a training program in Champaign, Illinois. “It just made sense to me to be able to take advantage of the airtightness and some of the basic science to achieve a high-performance building,” he said by telephone a week after the Portland conference. “When I came back to Santa Fe, we started investigating how we could incorporate that.“Obviously, the real estate market was in a downturn, so it was really hard to be able to go into the market with something so different and ask more money for it when people where looking around with really depreciated real estate all around the country, especially in our area.”Mojarrab’s plan was to stick as closely as possible to familiar building practices so crews wouldn’t have to learn an entirely new way of construction. He had two other advantages: an investor named Bob Schneck who was wanted to collaborate with Mojarrab to advance Passivhaus building in the region, and energy modeler and “Passivhaus optimizer” Graham Irwin of Essential Habitat in California. The answer: Cellulose, mineral wool, and a crawl spaceMichler’s two-story, 1,200-square-foot house in Masonville, Colorado, is built with 2×4 structural walls insulated with mineral wool batts, taped plywood sheathing, and 14-inch-deep Larsen trusses insulated with cellulose and Roxul Drainboard, a rigid mineral wool insulation.Exterior above-grade walls are rated at R-65 to R-85, depending on how thick they are. Their unusual depth made it impossible for Michler to find an insulation contractor willing to dense-pack them with cellulose. He ended up doing it himself, using weed mat to contain the cellulose between truss cavities, and OSB shelves to divide wall cavities into spaces no more than 7 feet tall to reduce settling.The roof, framed with I-joists, is insulated with a combination of mineral wool batts and cellulose to R-75 (see the section drawing for more details).Michler built the house over a crawl space. The concrete stem walls are insulated on both the inside and outside with Roxul Drainboard to R-40, and the floor consists of 16-inch-deep I-joists insulated with blown-in cellulose to R-58. OSB provides the air barrier.“A lot of people gave me hell for having a crawl space,” Michler said, because it raised concerns about moisture and mold. Although the crawl space will have to be monitored, the design looks viable in the relatively dry climate where he lives.Other details:The windows are triple-glazed Intus units with a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.51 and a U-factor of 0.14.Whole-house ventilation is provided by an Air Pohoda heat-recovery ventilator connected to an earth tube.A 2-kW photovoltaic array (off-grid).Domestic hot water from a solar-electric preheater tank and a 92% AFUE Noritz on-demand propane heater.Heat comes from domestic hot water system, which feeds both a radiant loop in a wall separating the living room from the bathroom in the middle of the house, and a heat coil in the supply side of the heat-recovery ventilator. The HRV runs continuously, drawing 30 watts of electricity to move 62 cfm.A phase-change material called BioPCmat M51 is installed on two walls to help even out spikes caused by solar heat gain.The blower door test measured air-tightness at 0.45 air changes per hour at a pressure difference of 50 pascals (ach50). Michler built the house for $220 per square foot. Time running out to make the right choicesWhat troubled Michler was “the legacy of toxicity” that foam insulation represented. He objects to its high embodied energy, the global warming potential of its blowing agents, and the extremely slow payback of using large amounts of it in a building. Spray polyurethane foam has more than 100 times the greenhouse gas potential as cellulose, he told a conference panel; expanded polystyrene has as much as 18 times the embodied energy as cellulose.“What are the chemical impacts of what we’re doing right now?” he asked.“The industry has kind of baffled us with bullsh**, the foam industry,” he said by telephone, “where they can kind of say, ‘We’ve done this better,’ while totally ignoring all the other science and other issues with their product and then call it green because it’s less damaging. The whole idea with Cradle to Cradle is that you don’t create products that are less damaging; you create products that are more beneficial.“If we’re looking at turning around the ship, so to speak, we don’t have 60 years; we don’t have 15 years. We really have to start talking about the impact of our building sector at this moment,” he continued. “In that sense, I don’t see the race as a marathon, as we often talk about it for payback periods, but as a sprint from start line to finish line.” Start with typical local practice and work with thatBecause of building requirements in Santa Fe, builders were already used to adding a layer of rigid foam insulation on exterior walls. “What we did,” Mojarrab said, “was to take that detail and just bumped it up.”Instead of adding 2 inches of EPS, they added 10 inches of EPS in the form of a panel faced on one side with OSB — half of a structural insulated panel. The 2×6 exterior walls were air-sealed by taping the Zip panels before the SIPs went up, creating an air barrier where it would stay protected from plumbers, electricians, and other subs. With blown-in cellulose in cavities, and the 10 inches of EPS over the sheathing, total wall R-values are 61.“It has to be taped; it has to be taken care of a little bit,” he said of the Zip wall system. “The construction approach has to adjust a little bit, but it wasn’t really a drastic measure. Nobody looked at our details and said, ‘We cannot build this. Oh, it’s so expensive.’”Mojarrab placed 4 inches of EPS insulation beneath the slab. In the roof, he used another 10-inch thick, one-sided SIP in addition to blown-in cellulose in the I-joist framing for a total R-value of 97.Mojarrab’s VolksHouse 1.0 (meaning “People’s House”) came in 6.5% below normal construction costs and was appraised for 35% more than similarly sized houses in the same area.Some of the construction details:Domestic hot water: Solar thermal with an electric backup and an 80-gallon tank.Heating and cooling: A Mitsubishi Mr. Slim ducted minisplit heat pump rated at 8,100 Btu/hour for cooling and 10,900 Btu/hour for heating.Whole-house ventilation: UltimateAir energy-recovery ventilator.Windows: Optiwin. Southern exposure, solar heat gain coefficient of 0.63 and a U-factor of 0.11; east, north and west elevations, solar heat gain coefficient of 0.53 and a U-factor of 0.11.The blower door test measured air tightness at 0.3 ach50.Mojarrab built the 1,700-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-story house for $165 per square foot. It is certified by PHI and also won a New Mexico “Emerald” rating, which Mojarrab says is similar to a LEED-Platinum rating. For Michler, a first-ever Passivhaus designMichler has been living off the grid in the mountains outside of Fort Collins, Colorado, for 20 years. He’s done lots of retrofit work, and built a few houses, but about five years ago, during a construction dry spell, he veered into consulting and writing. He hopes to publish a coffee table book on high-performance building sometime next year.A few years ago, Michler interviewed William McDonough, an influential architect and writer who published a book called Cradle to Cradle in 2002 in which he advocates benign, waste-free design. The interview was pivotal for Michler. When he began designing a guest house for his Colorado property, one of the most important considerations became the selection of the materials that would go into it.Foam insulation manufactured with petrochemicals wasn’t on his list. Although it’s commonly used in many parts of a high-performance house, Michler decided he didn’t want it. “McDonough makes a fantastic case that we really need to look at what a resource is, in general, and not just think about attributes but think about the long stretch,” Michler said by phone a week after the conference. Foam was an important building componentMojarrab’s decision to make rigid foam insulation integral to his design was an easy one. “The reason that we used the EPS for the performance of the building was that it was an easy way to get the performance very quickly,” he said. “We are dealing with production housing, so the people who are building the houses are not very sophisticated. They just put this stuff together.”Using the half-SIPs on exterior walls was very familiar to the crews he worked with. “It’s the detail they are used to,” he said. “They’re not unfamiliar with it, so it can be executed again and again with great success.”Mojarrab continues to tinker with his designs and reduced the amount of rigid foam insulation in subsequent designs. But he thinks it will be difficult to eliminate foam entirely, especially beneath the slab and in the roof assembly.“As we are proceeding, we are really refining our walls,” he said. “I can’t argue with Michler or anyone else when they say that foam doesn’t have any place in their buildings, but at the same time I feel like I’d rather use it for insulation than burn it in my car. It’s available to us. Our builders get it. It makes a better building. Why not use it until we come up with a better solution?”Then, too, there are the pressures of the production housing market in which Mojarrab is working. “What we try to do in all of our projects is to optimize it, to make every dollar count,” he said. “That’s production building. Every dollar counts in overall construction costs.”
Tags:#autonomous vehicles#connected cars#featured#Internet of Things#IoT#Self-Driving#self-driving cars#top#Waymo IT Trends of the Future That Are Worth Paying A… For Self-Driving Systems, Infrastructure and In… Related Posts 5 Ways IoT can Help to Reduce Automatic Vehicle… Break the Mold with Real-World Logistics AI and… Andreas Kohn Today it might seem that “self-driving” cars are just around the corner, with companies such as Google, Uber and Apple investing billions in developing cars that can safely drive passengers without human intervention. But despite this promising early work, the truth of the matter is that we are still likely a decade or more away from seeing true self-driving cars with full driving automation capabilities commercialized.But despite this promising early work, the truth of the matter is that we are still likely a decade or more away from seeing true self-driving cars with full driving automation capabilities commercialized. See also: New study shows just a few driverless cars can ease trafficThe technology still needs to develop, and the regulatory environment for self-driving cars needs to be built from the ground up. If you are expecting to soon have a self-driving car take you home after a night out, to the airport for a business trip, or to grandma’s house for the holidays, don’t hold your breath.However, unlike the self-driving car, the connected car has moved out of the lab and onto our roads and highways. In 2015, auto manufacturers delivered approximately ten million vehicles – approximately 10% of all new vehicles – with embedded connectivity. This figure is expected to increase to 30% of 100 million new cars by 2020, and by 2025, all cars sold in developed markets will include an embedded telematics solution.This increase in the delivery of connected cars is being driven by the significant benefits connected cars offer to car owners, including improved safety, security, navigation, infotainment and maintenance services, as well as new types of insurance and electric vehicle-specific services. In addition, connected car services have the potential to transform the relationship between automakers and drivers, from one characterized by a one-off transaction to a much stronger relationship characterized by on-going engagement. Given these benefits to drivers and automobile manufacturers alike, why have we not seen a stronger automobile manufacturer push behind the connected car until recently? The reason is that previously, automobile manufacturers seeking to produce connected cars faced several challenges – specifically support for evolving mobile networks, the ability to provide ubiquitous coverage, and the ability to cost-effectively scale connected car deployment. Still many challengesBut new mobile and IoT technologies have enabled the challenges that need to be overcome, which is why we are now seeing a rapid uptick in automobile manufacturers’ roll-out of connected car platforms, such as Volkswagen’s Car-Net platform.As far as the mobile networks needed to keep connected cars connected, they are always evolving – in fact, just as major mobile network operators have announced plans to roll out new 5G LTE networks over the next few years, many have also announced that they will shut down their 2G networks. If automobile manufacturers want their connected cars to deliver continuous, seamless service over the expected life of the car, they need connected car technologies that can support changes to mobile networks over time. However, new LTE technologies – such as 5G LTE — enable new mobile networks to be backward compatible. So, as long as automobile manufacturers deploy solutions based on LTE, they will be able to manage any network transitions that occur over at least the next ten years.In addition to supporting current and future network changes, automobile manufacturers need to ensure that they can provide drivers with connected car services that are ubiquitous – drivers will not tolerate services that are not available nearly everywhere they drive. For this to occur, connected cars have to be able to be able to always maintain their connection to a mobile network service provider. To do this, automobile manufacturers need to be able to support all available mobile technologies and frequency bands in a given region and certify with the region’s various network operators responsible for cellular coverage in those markets. In the past, it was difficult to find technologies that offered these capabilities. Today, manufacturers can secure connected car networking technologies that can support all bands in a given region and are certified to meet multiple operator agreements. In fact, connected car platform providers can now even provide manufacturers with platforms that are able to switch to the best available network. With these new technologies, connected cars can easily switch networks, providing drivers with not only ubiquitous coverage, but the best possible connection available in a given region. Of course, in addition to delivering a connected car that supports network evolution and offers ubiquitous availability, automobile manufacturers needed to be able to add connected car capabilities without dramatically increasing the price of their cars. This was difficult in the past, as automobile manufacturers had to integrate processors, modems, and memory from a multitude of suppliers if they wanted to build a powerful connected car platform. Moreover, applications built for such custom platforms would need to be reconfigured to be used on other platforms. Disrupting at century-old business modelAll these issues raised the costs and risks associated with deploying powerful connected car platforms, slowing their commercialization. However, with the rise of the IoT, automobile manufacturers can secure affordable turn-key connected car platforms with open-source OS and application frameworks that make it easy to support applications built for other platforms. Such turn-key, open-source platforms have enabled automobile manufacturers to cost-effectively deploy more powerful connected car platforms.These new connected car platforms, along with support for mobile network evolution and the ability to provide ubiquitous availability, have enabled automobile manufacturers to break through the barriers that previously slowed them from commercializing connected cars. With these obstacles overcome, we are now seeing more connected cars rolled out, and the beginning of a change in the way automobile owners view both driving and their relationship with their car’s manufacturer. Finally, while the connected car constitutes a major disruption to the automobile industry by itself, it is also helping accelerate the development of the technology and knowledge needed for the next big disruption in the industry – self-driving cars. For example, connected car technologies will enable self-driving cars to communicate with driving infrastructure and other cars, and improve their navigation capabilities, making them safer and more efficient. It might not be soon, but a self-driving car future is coming, and the connected car will help us pave the way there.The author is Director of Marketing, Automotive at Sierra Wireless.
DMK MP Kanimozhi.A special Supreme Court bench will on Monday hear the bail plea of DMK MP Kanimozhi and Kalaignar TV MD Sharad Kumar in the 2G spectrum scam case after two of the judges recused from hearing the matter.Kanimozhi is likely to face some tough time in convincing the court to grant her bail as the case will be heard by a bench headed by Justice G S Singvi, who has been monitoring the case since the beginning and had asked searching questions to the government on the role of several influential people in the multi-crore scam.It would be the last hope for DMK chief M Karunanidhi’s 43-year-old daughter Kanimozhi, who has been in jail for almost a month, after her plea was rejected first by the special CBI court and then by the Delhi High Court.Kanimozhi and Kumar have been accused by the CBI to be involved in the illegal transaction of Rs 200 crore to Kalaignar TV which was alleged to be a bribe given by a telecom operator which had benefited in the scam.The CBI in its affidavit filed in the apex court opposed their bail pleas on the ground that if released, they could tamper with evidence and influence witnesses.Earlier two judges — P Sathasivam and A K Patnaik — before whom the matter was listed had recused themselves from the high-profile case.Instead, Justice Singhvi, whose bench has been monitoring the case, will tomorrow hold a special hearing along with Justice B S Chauhan to decide the bail.advertisementAccording to informed sources, justices P Sathasivam and A K Patnaik conveyed their decision to recuse to Chief Justice S H Kapadia, following which he constituted another bench.Opposing the bail plea, the probe agency contended in its affidavit that Kanimozhi and Kumar were key conspirators and Rs 200 crore transferred to Kalaignar TV was part of the “bribe” amount and not a loan as claimed by the accused.The central agency submitted the special CBI court and later the Delhi High Court carefully evaluated material evidence and other factors to refuse bail to them.The apex court had on June 13 agreed to hear their bail plea and asked CBI to explain where the Rs 200 crore, allegedly diverted to DMK-owned Kalaignar TV in 2G scam, has gone and also to file a response on their bail pleas in a week’s time.The court had also asked CBI to come out with a status report on the loss to the state exchequer due to the award of 13 licences to one of the telecom operators and trial proceedings in the CBI special court.Kanimozhi and Kumar had moved the apex court seeking bail on June 10 challenging the Delhi High Court verdict that rejected their bail on the ground that they have strong political connections and the possibility of them influencing witnesses cannot be ruled out.- With PTI inputsFor more news on India, click here.For more news on Business, click here.For more news on Movies, click here.For more news on Sports, click here.
Chelsea set their price for Bayern Munich target Callum Hudson-Odoiby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveChelsea are demanding big money from Bayern Munich to sign Callum Hudson-Odoi.The Mirror says Chelsea have told Bayern to stump up £40million if they want to sign Hudson-Odoi.The German giants are believed to have had a bid of £20m rejected after being impressed by the 18-year-old.The Stamford Bridge club appear ready to sell the teenager – but not on the cheap.Hudson-Odoi was promised first team opportunities this season but has found playing time limited under Maurizio Sarri. TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
REVEALED: Chelsea give up Hazard option as part of BVB Pulisic dealby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveChelsea have scrapped their option for Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Thorgan Hazard.BILD says in talks with Borussia Dortmund to sign Christian Pulisic, Chelsea agreed to write off their first refusal clause for Hazard.BVB see Hazard as a replacement for Pulisic and weren’t prepared to sell the American to the Blues unless they agreed not to compete for the Belgium international.Hazard confirmed recently, “Yes, Chelsea has a say in what happens to me. But that’s governed by the clubs.”However, the Blues will now allow BVB to move for the midfielder without any counter offer. TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
APTN National NewsCanadian Saulteaux actor Adam Beach took to time to talk about the Idle No More movement while promoting the second season of Arctic Air that airs on APTN.“I feel Idle No More is a change of consciousness within all of us, especially for Native people, to stand up for ourselves, not play the victim,” said Beach.He’s reached out to Chief Theresa Spence multiple times and visited her over the holidays. He said he sympathizes with Spence who has been on liquid only hunger strike since Dec. 11.“My friends are taking care of her and they’re letting me know how she’s feeling,” he said. “I visited her at Christmas to bring that Christmas cheer and peace and harmony in the world we live in. I wanted her to know that someone, like myself, is watching and cares and I want to help in any way.”Season two of Arctic Airs begins later this week.Beach said fans of the show won’t be disappointed.
So far, these investigations have primarily looked at the exterior of the baseball.Broadly, MLB baseballs — which are produced by Rawlings in Costa Rica — are made of three components: an exterior shell of cowhide, a winding of several layers of yarn, and a core of rubber-coated cork, also known as a “pill.”To analyze possible changes to the inside of the ball, particularly the core, “ESPN Sport Science” purchased one new ball from Rawlings and seven game-used baseballs from eBay, confirming their authenticity through MLB’s authenticator program.2Contractors working for MLB affix a tamper-resistant hologram sticker to balls that they personally witness being used in the game. The sticker includes a serial number that can be entered into the MLB authenticator program to confirm that the ball is real and to find out which game it was used in.The eight baseballs we tested were split into two groups: an “old group” of four balls used in games played between August 2014 and May 2015, and a “new group” of three balls used in games played between August 2016 and July 2017, plus the brand-new ball. The aim was to see if the internal composition of the baseballs had changed in ways that would affect the ball’s performance.3This sample is admittedly small, but according to the Kent State scientists we worked with, it’s sufficient to determine statistical significance in the two groups.The balls were first analyzed by Dr. Meng Law, Dr. Jay Acharya and Darryl Hwang at the Keck School of Medicine at USC using a computerized tomography, or CT, scan. This test is typically used to look inside a human head or body, but in this case, it allowed Dr. Law’s team to examine the interior of the baseballs without cracking them open and destroying them.Initial CT imaging showed that baseballs in the same group had a negligible variation in internal properties.When comparing the new and old groups, however, there was a clear difference in the density of the core.In an MLB baseball, the core consists of four parts: a cork pellet at the center, surrounded by a layer of black rubber held together by a rubber ring where the halves meet, all of which is then molded together in a layer of pink rubber.Dr. Law’s team isolated the density difference to the outer (pink) layer of the core, which was, on average, about 40 percent less dense in the new group of balls.While other parts of the ball showed slight differences in density and volume, none were as noteworthy as the changes to the core. On 6,105 occasions last season, a major leaguer walked to the plate and hammered a baseball over the outfield wall. The 2017 season broke the home run record that was set in 2000 — the peak of the steroid era — when players hit 5,693 homers, and it built upon the remarkable 5,610 that were hit in 2016. It was a stunning display of power that played out in every MLB park almost every night. And with spring training underway in Florida and Arizona, MLB’s power surge is showing no sign of letting up.But while we now know what caused the spike in home runs at the turn of the century — even if we didn’t at the time — the reason for the most recent flurry of long balls remains an unsolved mystery. Any number of factors might have contributed to the home run surge, including bigger, stronger players or a new emphasis on hitting fly balls. But none of those possibilities looms larger than the ball itself.MLB and its commissioner, Rob Manfred, have repeatedly denied rumors that the ball has been altered in any way — or “juiced” — to generate more homers. But a large and growing body of research shows that, beginning in the middle of the 2015 season, the MLB baseball began to fly further. And new research commissioned by “ESPN Sport Science,” a show that breaks down the science of sports,1ESPN owns FiveThirtyEight. suggests that MLB baseballs used after the 2015 All-Star Game were subtly but consistently different than older baseballs. The research, performed by the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California and Kent State University’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, reveals changes in the density and chemical composition of the baseball’s core — and provides our first glimpse inside the newer baseballs.Looking inside the balls and testing their chemical composition revealed that the cores of recent balls were somewhat less dense than the cores of balls used before the 2015 All-Star Game. The newer cores weigh about a half a gram less than the older ones, which might be enough to cause baseballs hit on a typical home run trajectory to fly about 6 inches farther. That alone is hardly enough to explain the home run surge of recent seasons, but when combined with previous research finding that baseballs began to change in other small ways starting around the same time, it suggests that a number of minor differences may have combined to contribute to the remarkable upswing in home run power we’ve witnessed since 2015.Asked about these findings, MLB noted that it had commissioned a group of scientists and statisticians to investigate any changes to the ball, and that the committee would issue a report on its research soon. According to Alan Nathan, one of the physicists on the commission, the task force found that all the characteristics that MLB regularly measures, including the weight, circumference, seam height and bounciness of the ball, were within ranges that meant variations in the baseballs were unlikely to significantly affect home run rates. MLB declined to provide the data supporting these assertions.Independent investigations by FiveThirtyEight, publications like The Ringer, and Nathan himself have shown differences in the characteristics of the ball and the way it performs. Research has shown that balls used in games after the 2015 All-Star Game were bouncier and less air resistant compared with baseballs from the 2014 season, when players hit a relatively modest 4,186 homers, the fewest since 1995. (Nathan noted that MLB does not regularly measure air resistance.) Taken together, these changes would result in a ball that would come off the bat at a higher speed and carry farther. While investigations have been able to show that the baseball behaves differently in recent years, no one had looked inside the ball to see if there was evidence of changes to the way the baseball is constructed. It’s not just that the inside of the ball looks different — the chemical composition of the cores appears to have changed as well. After being tested at the Keck School, the same set of balls were sent to Kent State University. There, researchers at Soumitra Basu’s lab in the Chemistry and Biochemistry department cut open the balls to examine the cores using a thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). This test essentially cooks a material to see which parts parts of it vaporize at which temperatures. Using that information, researchers can create a molecular profile of a given material.This test showed that the pink layer of the core in baseballs from the new group was, on average, composed of about 7 percent more polymer than the same area in baseballs from the old group. Additionally, an analysis with a scanning electron microscope showed that the same layer in the new balls contained, on average, 10 percent less silicon, relative to the amount of other ingredients in the pill. According to the Kent State researchers, these chemical changes produced a more porous, less dense layer of rubber — which explains the results seen in the CT scan at the Keck School.It may not seem obvious, but these slight changes in the chemical composition of the core could have an impact on how the balls played once they were sewn up and shipped to major league teams. Less dense cores could mean lighter baseballs. The cores of the new balls weighed, on average, about 0.5 grams less than the cores from the old group. This difference was statistically significant, which means it’s highly unlikely that it was due to sampling error. The overall weight of the balls also dropped by an average of about a 0.5 grams between groups, but, unlike with the cores, this difference was not statistically significant.4The ball as a whole weighs much more than the core alone, and there was more variation in the weight of the full baseballs than in the weight of the cores, both of which meant that the bar for statistically significant variations in weight was higher for the whole baseball than for just the core.Half a gram isn’t much — it’s only about the weight of a paperclip. A tiny change like this might add only about 6 inches to flight of a baseball hit on a typical home run trajectory, according to Nathan’s calculations. But the timing of these changes to the weight and density of the core coincides with a much larger boost to the bounciness of the baseball. According to a previous analysis performed by The Ringer, that increase in bounciness alone would add around 0.6 mph to the speed of the ball as it leaves the bat and add roughly 3 feet to the travel distance of a fly ball — enough to make the difference between the warning track and the stands.On top of the fact that the balls became bouncier as the core itself changed, previous research at FiveThirtyEight showed that they also became less air resistant. The decrease in drag is probably a result of a smaller, slicker baseball with lower seams. The change in air resistance could add an additional 5 feet to the travel distance of a fly ball. Combine all these factors together — a lighter, more compact baseball with tighter seams and more bounce — and the ball could fly as much as 8.6 feet farther. According to Nathan’s calculations, this would lead to a more than 25 percent increase in the number of home runs. Asked whether these changes in combination could have significantly affected the home run rate, MLB declined to comment.In actuality, home runs spiked by about 46 percent between 2014 and 2017, which means that the changes to the ball could account for more than half of the increase. The remainder could be reasonably chalked up to a philosophical shift among MLB hitters, who are likely swinging upward to maximize the number of balls they hit in the air and are not shy about the increase in strikeouts that may come with that approach.MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has repeatedly denied that the baseball is juiced. On numerous occasions, he has said league testing found that baseballs continue to fall within the range that MLB designates as acceptable, and he recently said that MLB testing showed the balls to be fundamentally the same. But even if the baseballs still meet the league’s manufacturing guidelines, their performance could change enough to double (or, theoretically, halve) the number of home runs hit in a year.In fact, in January of 2015, Rawlings filed a patent application for a manufacturing process that would allow it to produce softballs and non-MLB baseballs5The patent applies to balls with foam cores, which might be used in softball or youth-league baseball, for example, but does not apply to the type of baseballs used in MLB, with layers of yarn around a cork-and-rubber core. that were as bouncy as possible while still falling within the manufacturing specifications set by the league. This type of ball is constructed quite differently from MLB baseballs, so there’s no indication that this patent means Rawlings is deliberately manipulating major league baseballs in this way, but it demonstrates that it’s at least theoretically possible for balls to be “fundamentally the same” while also performing differently than they have in the past.Kathy Smith-Stephens, senior director of quality and compliance at Rawlings, said that no change had been made to the baseballs but that “natural variation” occurs in the manufacturing process. She noted that they “continuously tweak” — though later in the interview she asked that we say “continuously refine” — the manufacturing process in an effort to reduce variations, but said that Rawlings’ internal testing had shown no difference in the ball’s weight or bounciness.Evidence that the baseball is at least partially responsible for the last few years’ spike in the home run rate mounted throughout the summer of 2017 and reached a peak during October’s World Series. In those seven games, the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers smashed 24 homers, including eight in one game. In the wake of this power display, Manfred asked all 30 teams to start storing baseballs in a climate-controlled room and commissioned a task force of scientists and statisticians to investigate whether the ball was juiced in 2017. Our own research, combined with controlled tests from three separate academic laboratories, strongly suggests that the physical properties of the ball have changed. Taken together, all these studies give us a lot of evidence to suggest that today’s baseballs differ in meaningful ways from those of a few years ago. In other words, there are many questions for Manfred’s committee to address.Special thanks to Sean O’Rourke, Dr. Cynthia Bir and Nathan Beals for additional research assistance.