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College football should not expect full stadiums any time soon as COVID-19 likely to impact 2021 season

Dan Mullen was smacked upside the headset this week by COVID-19. Nineteen of his players tested positive the same week Florida’s coach advocated for his administration to allow fans to “pack The Swamp” this week against LSU to foster a “competitive advantage.” Never mind a packed stadium being antithetical to those players’ health — at least for now and probably for a while.

Despite Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recent decree that stadiums can be filled to capacity, University of Florida officials have said they will continue to adhere to safety guidelines. College and professional teams across the state have as well. Mullen will have to find his competitive advantage elsewhere during a global pandemic.

Meanwhile, multiple medical professionals reached by CBS Sports say there indeed a long way to go before we’re sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in full stadiums again.

“I think we should assume that we’re going to be exactly where we are today 11 months from now, until proven otherwise,” said Dr. Michael Saag, UAB professor of medicine and infectious diseases.

Saag is referring to the beginning of the 2021 season, which is 10 ½ months away. Even with a COVID-19 vaccine, these medical professionals say an assumption that this is a one-and-done year for coronavirus inconvenience is misguided.

“The short answer is: Once a vaccine is developed and mass-administered, maybe next [football] season,” said Zach Binney, an epidemiologist at Emory University. “But that depends a lot on the competence of and logistics of a national vaccination itself.”

That is a huge undertaking, according to Dr. John Ervin, who is overseeing some of the nation’s most important COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials at the Center for Pharmaceutical Research in Kansas City, Missouri.

“Until we get a proven vaccine that works, it may be that this [coronavirus] is going to mutate,” Ervin said. “We may have to change to a different vaccine. I think we’re waiting until easily next year until we get on top of this. And then it really has to do with the acceptance of vaccinations. I pray to God that the anti-vaxxers [don’t grow].”

Ervin added that, in a best-case scenario, stadiums will be at capacity next fall. A vaccine could be ready by next year, but there are multiple issues at hand. In order to get back to filling stadiums, the vaccine needs to be widely distributed, and it needs to be determined not only who to let in to those stadiums but how.

Ervin pointed out that team may want to identify who has been vaccinated before admitting them into a stadium. If not, what’s the point stamping out COVID-19? A February soccer match in Italy has already been linked to being the event that spread the virus throughout the country.

“We don’t need more evidence to know [filling stadiums] is a bad idea,” Binney said. “And anyone who says, ‘But they’ll wearing masks,’ I’d encourage you to look at crowd shots of any SEC game this year. Take a deep breath and try saying [that]

Festivals of the future ‘won’t be limited by time and space’: CEO

Post-pandemic music and theater performances are likely to use a hybrid model, according to the chief executive of one of Singapore’s largest arts centers.

Yvonne Tham, CEO of Esplanade, told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” that a mixture of in-person and streamed performances are set to be common in the future.

“Many artists are really open now to what’s known as hybrid, which (means they) may be performing in a particular space in a particular time, but how does that performance have an afterlife? And that’s a question we’ve been asking ourselves even as we’ve been producing lots of digital programs,” Tham said on Monday.

“We’re going to see festivals in future that are not just limited by time and space, therefore what goes on to complement that live experience in the digital space becomes quite important,” she added.

Pre-pandemic, around 3,000 performances took place annually at the Esplanade and it had to close its doors on March 26 due to coronavirus restrictions placed on venues. Since then it created its Esplanade Offstage website so people could continue to watch concerts and other performances and is now gradually reopening some of its venues — its Pip’s Playbox children’s space reopened on October 9, while its Jendela visual arts venue is set to reopen on October 16.

While some performances have continued outdoors, Tham said others work better inside. “We are looking at all ways of reaching audiences, be that in the open air, out in the garden, we are looking at our concert hall venues. Some (performances) they work far better in the concert hall and some in the theater space,” she said.

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Esplanade ran a small-scale in-person ballet show as a trial last month, and Tham said such initiatives had quickly sold out. “That really shows how well (there is) both confidence within the population of Singapore to be out but also the desire for people just to sit in a concert hall,” she said. 

“The work of the arts center is about bringing people together and trying to bring communities together … I think these things are fundamental to being human and they’re not going to go away,” Tham added.

The Esplanade is part-funded by Singapore’s government and also generates income via its restaurants and cafes, and is looking at how it monetizes digital performances. Tham said the organization is in “very close touch” with sponsors as well. “A system of patronage in the arts is very natural in the arts around the world and at a time like that, the question is what (do) the arts do to help societies recover (from the pandemic)? We all know that mental health is a real issue … therefore can we find partners who are

Restoring California’s Forests to Reduce Wildfire Risks Will Take Time, Billions of Dollars and a Broad Commitment | Best States

By Roger Bales and Martha Conklin

Many of California’s 33 million acres of forests face widespread threats stemming from past management choices. Today the U.S. Forest Service estimates that of the 20 million acres it manages in California, 6-9 million acres need to be restored.

Forest restoration basically means removing the less fire-resistant smaller trees and returning to a forest with larger trees that are widely spaced. These stewardship projects require partnerships across the many interests who benefit from healthy forests, to help bring innovative financing to this huge challenge.

The California Wildfires in Photos

california wildfires

We are engineers who work on many natural resource challenges, including forest management. We’re encouraged to see California and other western states striving to use forest management to reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire.

But there are major bottlenecks. They include scarce resources and limited engagement between forest managers and many local, regional and state agencies and organizations that have roles to play in managing forests.

However, some of these groups are forming local partnerships to work with land managers and develop innovative financing strategies. We see these partnerships as key to increasing the pace and scale of forest restoration.

Under contemporary conditions, trees in California’s forests experience increased competition for water. The exceptionally warm 2011-2015 California drought contributed to the death of over 100 million trees. As the forest’s water demand exceeded the amount available during the drought, water-stressed trees succumbed to insect attacks.

Funding is a significant barrier to scaling up treatments. Nearly half of the Forest Service’s annual budget is spent on fighting wildfires, which is important for protecting communities and other built infrastructure. But this means the agency can restore only a fraction of the acres that need treatment each year.

The Benefits of Restoration

Forest restoration provides many benefits in addition to reducing the risk of high-severity wildfires. It reduces tree deaths and provides a foundation for sustaining carbon stored in trees and soil. Removing trees reduces water use in the forest, making more water available for the remaining trees, for in-stream flows and for food production and urban areas downstream.

Increased streamflow also enhances electricity generation from hydropower plants, offsetting use of fossil fuels to produce electricity and contributing to state greenhouse gas reduction initiatives.

Restoring forests reduces the erosion that often follows wildfires when rain loosens exposed soil, damaging roads, power lines and ecosystems and depositing sediments in reservoirs. And it improves rural mountain economies by supporting local jobs.

The French Meadows Forest Restoration Project is an innovative public-private partnership to improve watershed health and restore the landscape’s historic fire regime.Mountain headwater forests are an integral part of California’s water infrastructure. They store winter snow and rain and release moisture slowly to rivers for downstream irrigation and municipal supplies during the state’s dry summers. That’s why supporting forest restoration is also gaining traction with downstream water and hydropower providers.

Residents across the western U.S. had weeks of unhealthy air this summer owing to smoke from wildfires. Short of

Melania Trump is having a hard time distancing herself from the president

The timing of the statement, about the care she is taking to prevent the spread of the virus while her infectious husband returned to the White House, was its own kind of statement. This first lady with what can at times seem like an antagonistic relationship with the press, who rarely gives interviews or deviates from her prepared remarks at public appearances, was following her own playbook.

“It’s extraordinary in history, and it’s a direct contradiction to the way in which he is behaving,” says Myra Gutin, a professor at Rider University and author of “The President’s Partner: The First Lady in the Twentieth Century.” Gutin says she cannot think of any other first lady who’s released a separate statement from her own office so diametrically opposed to the president’s messaging — and with an election less than 30 days away.

“She very well may be responding to criticism of running a lax ship there at the White House based on her husband’s activities, and she wants to say, ‘No, no, no,’ ” says Katherine Jellison, a professor of history at Ohio University who has studied first ladies. “The criticism isn’t just from the press, but the general public. I mean, my social media feed is all about the Trumps and their inner circle acting like modern-day Typhoid Marys.”

A covid-19 quarantine was an excuse for the first lady to lay low, as seems to be her preference, and shrug off appearances for a campaign that is faltering among women and could benefit from her relatively higher popularity than the president’s. And yet, here she was, calling attention to her contrast with her husband, even as they were literally stuck together under the same roof. (He has since left quarantine to work in the Oval Office and resume campaigning).

“My guess is that she’s looking out for her own reputation and trying to distance herself from her husband’s apparently cavalier attitude toward safety precautions,” says Jellison.

Before the pandemic, “distancing” in Washington simply meant rhetorically backing away from some politically toxic figure or behavior. During the covid-19 pandemic, the first lady has made efforts to signal that she takes public-health guidelines seriously even if her husband doesn’t.

This could be seen as distancing, in the traditional sense: the first lady creating some daylight between herself and the president for the sake of her own reputation. Just as easily, it could be an example of Melania Trump using her public persona to project that there is someone sensible in the Trump White House as her husband seeks a second term.

“The health of Residence staff members and their families are a paramount concern to the First Family,” the statement from her office read. It talked about the mask mandate the first lady implemented for residence staff in April and how her office had hired a “well-being” consultant to help maintain the mental health of the folks who vacuum the halls and do the president’s laundry. The president is only mentioned in

Astronomers see a black hole ‘spaghettify’ a star in real time

Artist’s impression of star being tidally disrupted by a supermassive black hole.  

ESO/M. Kornmesser

It’s one of those astounding events that sounds like science fiction, but is just plain science. Astronomers say they were able to capture in unprecedented detail the process of a star being ripped into strips and devoured by a black hole. 

The powerful phenomenon caught the attention of scientists when a new blast of light near a known supermassive black hole was spotted by telescopes around the world. Months worth of follow-up observations made it clear they were seeing the destruction of a far-off sun as it happened.

“In this case the star was torn apart with about half of its mass feeding — or accreting — into a black hole of one million times the mass of the sun, and the other half was ejected outward,” explained astronomer Edo Berger from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, in a statement.  

The violent scene is what astronomers call a tidal disruption event, which happens when a star comes too close to a black hole and gets shredded through a process of spaghettification — basically, the gravity of the black hole is so intense that it stretches whatever comes near vertically into long, thin shapes like pieces of spaghetti as it swallows it all up. 

The event, which goes by the catalog entry AT2019qiz and is the closest such flare ever seen at just 215 million light-years away, was caught early enough that scientists have been able to get a relatively unobscured view of the cosmic carnage before a cloud of star guts pulls a veil over the region.

“We could actually see the curtain of dust and debris being drawn up as the black hole launched a powerful outflow of material with velocities up to 10,000 km/s (22 million miles per hour),” explained Kate Alexander, a NASA Einstein Fellow at Northwestern University. “This is a unique ‘peek behind the curtain’ that provided the first opportunity to pinpoint the origin of the obscuring material and follow in real time how it engulfs the black hole.”

A paper on the discovery was published Monday in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 

The event is so close and clear that Berger says it will help scientists learn more about the powerful forces at work, particularly the simultaneous pull of the shredded star into the black hole and the outward explosion of material from the star. 

“Until now, the nature of these emissions has been heavily debated, but here we see that the two regimes are connected through a single process.”

The hope is that AT2019qiz could be a sort of Rosetta stone for studying and interpreting what black holes have for lunch in the future. One distant day, intergalactic space travelers may even give thanks that this discovery regularly allows them

AP Top 25 poll: North Carolina moves into top five of college football rankings for first time since 1997

History has a funny way of repeating itself, and it’s done that in this week’s AP Top 25 poll. Following a 56-45 win over Virginia Tech on Saturday, North Carolina has moved up to No. 5 in the latest rankings. It’s the first time the Tar Heels have been ranked in the top five since the 1997 season.

North Carolina’s coach that season was none other than Mack Brown. It was the final season Brown spent in Chapel Hill before leaving to take over at Texas, where he’d spend the next 16 seasons before making his way back to Chapel Hill last year.

Elsewhere in the poll, Florida dropped six spots to No. 10 after its 41-38 loss to Texas A&M. The Gators remain ahead of the Aggies, however, as Texas A&M moved up to No. 11 from No. 21 last week. That’s the highest climb any team made in the poll this week.

Miami is the only team to fall out of the top 10 following its 42-17 loss to No. 1 Clemson. Oklahoma State and Cincinnati were the beneficiaries of Miami’s drop, moving up to No. 7 and No. 8, respectively.

Check out the full AP Top 25 poll below: 

  1. Clemson
  2. Alabama 
  3. Georgia
  4. Notre Dame
  5. North Carolina
  6. Ohio State
  7. Oklahoma State
  8. Cincinnati
  9. Penn State
  10. Florida
  11. Texas A&M
  12. Oregon
  13. Miami
  14. BYU
  15. Auburn
  16. Wisconsin
  17. SMU
  18. Tennessee
  19. Michigan
  20. Iowa State
  21. Louisiana
  22. Kansas State
  23. Virginia Tech
  24. Minnesota
  25. USC

Dropped from the rankings: No. 17 LSU, No. 22 Texas

Others receiving votes: Marshall, NC State, Oklahoma, Tulsa, UCF, Boston College, Coastal Carolina, UAB, Utah, Iowa, West Virginia, Army, Memphis, Air Force, Ole Miss, Arizona State, Texas, Houston, LSU, Washington, Missouri, TCU, Virginia, Louisiana Tech, Indiana


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Now Time Travel Can Be Paradox-Free, Thanks To Math

It’s a worry of time travelers everywhere. What if they go back in time and do something terrible, like prevent their parents from meeting or killing their grandfather? Such a time-traveling “oops” could prevent them from ever being born. Therefore, they would have never existed to travel back in time in the first place.

This “grandfather paradox” has had want-to-be time travelers scratching their heads ever since we dreamed of traveling back in time. Does this mean that time travel is not possible? Does it mean that each decision we make creates several different branching worlds? This conundrum may have been cleared up (at least mathematically) by fourth-year undergraduate student Germain Tobar of the University of Queensland.

Time Travel and Philosophy

One way to solve the grandfather paradox? Time travel isn’t possible at all.

This is probably the easiest, yet least fulfilling, of potential solutions. Time travel isn’t possible, let’s wash our hands of any possibility and forget about it. And this very well may be the case.

However, in general relativity, things called closed time-like curves can exist, and are a way to solve general field equations. It’s like stepping on a train, taking a wonderful trip through the mountains, and returning to the same spot you left off, both in space and in time. That means the moment where you step off the train is both in the past and future of when you got on the train in the first place. In a closed time-like curve, an object returns to the same place and time that it was in the past, completing a loop. It’s unclear if closed time-like curves exist in our universe, but if they do, mathematically, they would allow for time travel.

Then there’s option two. In this quantum mechanical model, each choice opens up another universe. If time travelers changed something in the past, they would enter another parallel universe. The original timeline would still exist, one among many branching worlds. In such a model, it might be very hard for time travelers to return to the universe they came from.

Finally – time travel is possible, but time travelers can only do certain things. A time traveler who went back in time, for example, could not kill Hitler, no matter what he tried. This raises all sorts of philosophical problems – does the time traveler still have free will? It’s difficult to say time travel is possible while simultaneously destroying freedom of choice.

Paradox-Free Time Travel

LSU Falls Out of the AP Top 25 for the First Time Since 2017

College football’s defending national champion, the LSU Tigers are out of the AP’s Top 25. After losing to a previously winless Missouri 45-41 on Saturday. The Tigers have fallen to a 1-2 record and are out of the rankings for the first time since 2017. The last defending national champion to be unranked happened 9 years ago with Auburn following Cam Newton’s departure.

LSU lost their star QB Joe Burrow – who was drafted number one overall in the 2020 NFL Draft by The Cincinnati Bengals. Despite Number 17 LSU’s drop, some schools have held steady at the top of the rankings. Clemson remains in the No. 1 spot, with Alabama at No. 2 and Georgia at No. 3. This will now set up an interesting top-three matchup on Saturday when the Crimson Tide hosts the Bulldogs.

The top 5 unranked schools fighting for a spot are Marshal, North Carolina State, Oklahoma, TCU and UCF.

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LSU drops out of college football poll for first time since 2017; Quakes fall

LSU is out of the Associated Press college football poll for the first time since 2017 and is the first defending national champion to drop from the rankings in nine years.

No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia held steady at the top of the rankings Sunday, setting up a top-three matchup Saturday when the Crimson Tide hosts the Bulldogs.

Clemson received 59 first-place votes. Alabama got two and Georgia one. Notre Dame moved up to No. 4 and North Carolina is No. 5.

LSU dropped out from No. 17 after falling to 1-2 with a 45-41 loss at previously winless Missouri. The Tigers had been ranked in 43 straight polls, dating to Nov. 5, 2017. That was the seventh-longest active streak in the nation.

The last defending national champion to be unranked was Auburn in 2011. Following Cam Newton’s departure the Tigers spent much of the ’11 season outside the Top 25, finishing 8-5 and unranked.


Earthquakes lose

3-0 at Portland

Jaroslaw Niezgoda scored two goals shortly after halftime and the host Portland Timbers won their fifth straight match with a 3-0 victory over the Earthquakes.

Felipe Mora added a late goal for Portland (9-4-3), which is tied with the defending champion Seattle Sounders atop the West.

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Quakes, who were coming off a 3-0 win at home Wednesday over Vancouver. The winning streak lifted San Jose (5-7-5) into the playoff picture.

• In other MLS games, Lee Nguyen had a goal and an assist to become the first player with 50 career goals and assists for New England in the visiting Revolution’s 2-1 victory over New York City FC. … Jamiro Monteiro and Sergio Santos scored in a nine-minute span and the host Philadelphia Union beat the Montreal Impact 2-1. … C.J. Sapong scored in his first start in nearly three months, Boris Sekulic had his first MLS goal and the host Chicago Fire beat D.C. United 2-1. … Danny Muskovski scored twice and LAFC edged the visiting Seattle Sounders 2-1 for its third win in four games. … Patrick Mullins scored his first goal of the season and Toronto extended its winning streak to five games with a 1-0 win over host Cincinnati. … Gerso Fernandes and Erik Hurtado scored and Sporting Kansas City rallied to beat visiting Nashville SC 2-1.

NHL: Buffalo became the surprise team to win the Taylor Hall free-agency sweepstakes by signing the 10th-year forward and six-time 20-goal-scorer to a one-year, $8 million contract. Hall joins his fourth NHL organization since being the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft.

• In other moves, the Blues added forward Kyle Clifford on a two-year, $2 million contract; the Golden Knights re-signed forward Tomas Nosek, who returns for a fourth season after signing a one-year, $1.25 million contract; Detroit signed center Vladislav Namestnikov to a $4 million, two-year contract; and Dallas re-signed center Radek Faksa to a $16.25 million, five-year contract.


GOP could lose control of University of Colorado Board of Regents for the first time in 4 decades

The University of Colorado Board of Regents is due for some new blood in 2020 with three positions up for election.

One contentious race has the potential to flip the board majority from Republican to Democrat for the first time since the 1970s. Regardless of party, the nine-member board hasn’t had three newcomers at once since 2008.

“Three new regents on a board of nine is a good challenge in terms of how they become part of the team, who they see as their constituents and dealing with all of the important issues moving forward,” said Glen Gallegos, R-Grand Junction, who serves as board chair.

The regents serve staggered six-year terms. One is elected from each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts and two are elected from the state at large. The board is responsible for governing the four-campus, multibillion-dollar university system, making decisions about how CU spends money and who should be selected as university president when the time comes.

Democrat Callie Rennison, Republican Dick Murphy and Libertarian Christian Vernaza will be facing off in the Democratic stronghold of District 2 to replace incumbent Linda Shoemaker.

Democrat Nolbert Chavez is running unopposed for outgoing Democrat Irene Griego’s seat in District 7.

The District 6 race — covering a wide swath of the north, east and south Denver area — is garnering the most attention, with Republican Richard Murray, Democrat Ilana Spiegel and Unity candidates Christopher Otwell and Robert Worthey competing to replace outgoing John Carson, R-Highlands Ranch.

“The big issue is will the political control of the board flip from Republican to Democrat?” said Ken McConnellogue, CU system spokesman.

CU is one of just a handful of universities in the nation whose governing boards are chosen through partisan political elections. The board has long been criticized for its partisan nature, most recently after voting 5-4 along party lines to name controversial finalist Mark Kennedy the new president last year.

Gallegos said the board usually unanimously agrees on matters, including keeping tuition low, but there are a few issues that wind up with political division.

“There are some things that it pays to be in the majority,” Gallegos said. “It matters a lot, and it matters to a lot of our Democratic colleagues who believe that the board over the years should have been more balanced. It’s the elephant in the room. There are issues that people feel like the majority is always going to win.”

Outgoing board member Griego said a few of those partisan issues revolve around diversity and social justice.

“It’s really been a struggle for us to move some of our agendas forward because we just don’t have the votes,” Griego said. “It’s been 41 years since we’ve had Democrats in the majority, and I believe these last nine years we have avoided really tough conversations because of political agendas.”

During a virtual candidate forum  held by CU Staff Council, CU Faculty Council and CU Anschutz Faculty Assembly last week, Murray and Spiegel shared their ideas about