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Lights on the track are helping runners shatter world records

Advancements in shoe technology have garnered headlines and stirred controversy recently for the way they boost performance. But three vaunted world records have fallen in recent weeks thanks in part to wavelight technology, a system of flashing lights that helps runners keep pace with record times.

There are no plans to use the lights at high-profile events such as the Olympics or world championships, where runners angle more for titles than for records. But the lights have been deployed in a handful of a single-day meets this year at which chasing world records was the primary target, generating buzz among fans, coaches and analysts.

Some appreciate the visual cues when watching on television or a computer. Others worry that the runners are benefiting from an artificial aid that wasn’t available to previous generations.

“If our activity is sport, our business is entertainment,” Sebastian Coe, president of World Athletics, the global governing body for track and field, and himself a four-time Olympic medalist, said in a telephone interview. “We want things that add to the entertainment value of our sport. Pacing lights adds to our understanding; it gives it a bit of excitement, a bit of jeopardy. That’s really what the sport needs.”

Developed three years ago by Dutch company SPORT Technology, the system was refined and promoted by Jos Hermens, a former distance runner and the chief executive of Global Sports Communication, which represents some of the world’s best runners, including Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele.

Long known as an innovator around the track, Hermens had been tinkering with the idea for years. He employed a similar system years earlier when he broke his own world record in the one-hour run in May 1976. To aid with his pacing, he set up police lights every 200 meters, synced and timed to flash with the world-record pace.

“I knew if I could see the light, I would be behind the schedule,” he said. “If I didn’t see it, I would be okay.”

The new system was designed as a visual guide for spectators and television viewers. But it’s also a valuable training aid and competition tool that helped Gidey and Cheptegei in their recent assaults on the record books. Cheptegei, 24, also broke the men’s 5,000-meter mark, which had stood for 16 years, in August (12:35.36) at a Diamond League event in Monaco that featured the wavelight technology.

The lights are positioned along the inside of the track and can be programmed for any pace. The system features different colors, which could be employed in a variety of ways during training. For the recent world record runs, the green lights indicated the world record pace. They trailed flashing blue bulbs, which illuminated the way for a human pacer.

For the first half of their record-breaking runs, Gidey and Cheptegei benefited from human pacemakers. Also referred to as rabbits, pacemakers are often used in world record attempts, running ahead to establish speed and block any wind. Gidey and Cheptegei ran the remainder

We’ve all thought of building a world from scratch. University of Chicago’s ExoTerra Imagination Lab is doing it

CHICAGO — Picture this scenario: Lifespans are now approximately 115 years. And you have slept for 70 years on a starship with 1,999 travelers to get to a new world — a terraformed planet that will become humanity’s new home.

Welcome to the role-playing game that is ExoTerra Imagination Lab. The idea of Ada Palmer, a University of Chicago associate professor of history, ExoTerra is a way for students, faculty, alumni, gamers and sci-fi/fantasy fans around the globe to connect in pandemic times, Palmer said.

The year is 2412 and you’ve reached a new star system called Abaia, 64 1/2 light years from Earth, and you and other colony colleagues must design the new world from top to bottom — cities, laws and which animals to release into the new ecosystem. As the first wave of explorers, you and your fellow travelers must design a civilization that will welcome the 80,000 future colony members who left Earth 30 years ago and are in suspended animation.

The Earth you left behind in 2301 was still thriving, but its people were hard-pressed to fix the global flaws from humanity’s past. The ExoTerra mission’s goal is to build a better world for colonists.

“UChicago is creating this for the pandemic — to give students something that is exciting and community building,” Palmer said.

Another goal of the project: to be a space for exploring the important problems of our world and propose solutions to them in a way that’s not connected to current politics — from schools to incarceration. The project is in the tradition of “speculative resistance,” Palmer said, a kind of science fiction that focuses on other ways the world could be by using imagined places.

According to Ben Indeglia, Palmer’s lead lab assistant, 500 students and 100 volunteers signed up to be a part of the project. And over a dozen University of Chicago faculty members across various departments signed up for the lab in the fall and winter quarters, meaning their students will participate individually and in groups for grades.

There are creative writing students composing vignettes for characters in the new world, volunteers playing extra characters that the students talk to via text and online, like the head of the United Nations back on Earth, the cast of the nearest colony ship, and the artificial intelligence computer on the ship that likes to ask gamers riddles. Other students are handling the art.

Students will name the planet in the next 10 weeks and use Minecraft to build simulated versions of the capital city. In winter quarter, the ExoTerra team will land on the planet, and characters will start building the capital city. By the spring quarter, some exciting finale stages develop. Palmer said the stakes in the lab will change at different points in the 2020-21 school year, representing different stages of populating a planet.

Videos with 3D graphics will feature prominently, with information about what the planet’s composition is, and there will be moments when a new

‘Jet fighter’ godwit breaks world record for non-stop bird flight

A bird said to have the aerodynamic build of a “jet fighter” has been tracked flying more than 12,000km (7,500 miles) from Alaska to New Zealand, setting a new world record for avian non-stop flight.

a bird standing on top of a sandy beach: Photograph: Juan Carlos Martinez Salvadores/Alamy

© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Juan Carlos Martinez Salvadores/Alamy

The bar-tailed godwit set off from south-west Alaska on 16 September and arrived in a bay near Auckland 11 days later, having flown at speeds of up to 55mph.

The male bird, known as 4BBRW in reference to the blue, blue, red and white rings fitted on its legs, also had a 5gm satellite tag harnessed on its lower back to allow scientists to track its progress. It was one of four to leave together from the Alaskan mudflats where they had been feeding on clams and worms for two months.

a bird standing on top of a sandy beach: Bar-tailed godwits shrink their internal organs to lighten the load on long flights.

© Photograph: Juan Carlos Martinez Salvadores/Alamy
Bar-tailed godwits shrink their internal organs to lighten the load on long flights.

The male bar-tailed godwit, whose standard weight is between 190gm and 400gm, can double in size before a long flight but is able to shrink its internal organs to lighten the load.

Related: Endangered shorebirds unsustainably hunted during migrations, records show

After leaving Alaska, the birds headed south over the Aleutian Islands and on to the Pacific Ocean. The journey is thought to have been prolonged by strong easterly winds, which pushed the group towards Australia.

The satellite recorded a point-to-point flight of 12,854km but the scientists believe that once rounding errors are taken into account the journey will have been around 12,200km. The previous longest recorded non-stop flight by a bird, of 11,680km, was recorded in 2007.

Dr Jesse Conklin, from the Global Flyway Network, a consortium of scientists studying epic migratory journeys, said: “They seem to have some capability of knowing where they are on the globe. We can’t really explain it but they seem to have an onboard map.

“They are flying over open ocean for days and days in the mid-Pacific; there is no land at all. Then they get to New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea where there are quite a few islands and, we might be anthropomorphising, but it really looks like they start spotting land and sort of think: ‘Oh, I need to start veering or I will miss New Zealand’.”

It is not certain but it is believed the birds do not sleep on the journey during which they flap their wings most of the time.

“They have an incredibly efficient fuel-to-energy rate,” Conklin said. “They have a lot of things going for them. They are designed like a jet fighter. Long, pointed wings and a really sleek design which gives them a lot of aerodynamic potential.”

The birds were among 20 caught and tagged by the Pūkorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre, in the Firth of Thames, south-east of Auckland, in late 2019. They are expected to start the return flight in March, flying across Asia where they will feed for a month around the Yellow Sea,

In a world of digital bystanders the challenge is for all of us to design engaging online education

We are increasingly becoming digital bystanders, continually monitoring our different palm-and-TV-sized screens. From dawn to dusk and even in moments of insomnia we turn to digitally communicated news and social media. In the world of education, from primary school to university and beyond, we have realised digital learning is not only an option for learning, but is fast becoming the main option.

Consider this vignette: during the COVID-19 pandemic a family are living in a big city where access to stable digital streams and affordable data bundles is not a problem. Confined to long periods of school learning now moved online, one of the parents asked their daughter about her experience. She says:

It is boring and I learn almost nothing. Teachers give a lot of instructions with little explanation.

She had became a digital bystander. The teacher struggled to engage with all students, and few experienced rich interactions with the teacher.

In the digital world it is not simply about learning the skills (digital self-help manuals and videos are plentiful). Many teachers and professors still argue that a face-to-face experience is more authentic than digitally mediated learning.

The growth of MOOCs (massive online open courses) in recent years has challenged this view. These have gained traction as both free educational offerings and significant business opportunities based on short courses.

Time for a change of mindset

So how do we accommodate this changing digital world? Historically, when railway travel arrived, looking at the world through a window as it sped by was an unnerving experience. So, too, was the fear of being part of or witnessing a railway accident. It took people time to catch up and change their mindsets.

Man looking out of train window as scenery speeding by
Train travel brought about a change of mindset in how we see the world.
Liam Morrell/Shutterstock

The same is true of digitally driven change in education. We cannot take time out from change. What is required is “reflection in action”, as Donald Schon put it, to work out how to adjust to changes.

When we consider our vignette, how can we win the hearts and minds of students and teachers to ensure they both perceive and experience learning online as meaningful and transformative? Is this a question of challenging the traditional mindset described above?

By exploring the ways in which face-to-face learning is translated into online learning, we can start to identify a series of approaches on a spectrum from simple technological substitution to more radical redefinitions of teaching. In this model of substitution, augmentation, modification and redefinition, we tend to find many educators remain firmly rooted in using technology to replace what they already do in the classroom. As a result, the human essence of the teaching experience is lost when mediated via a digital interface.

An example here might be the distribution of electronic classnotes to replace the course textbook. The result is a learning setting that’s clunky compared to the day-to-day user experience of the internet. The mismatch exemplified here in the transition from the physical classroom

Game, Set And Match. The Business Masters Where European Are The World Champions

With his 13th French Open tennis title at Roland Garros this weekend, Spain’s Rafael Nadal has equalled Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam men’s titles. Croatia’s Novak Djokovic, with 17 Grand Slams to his name will need at least another year if he is to catch up on his rivals.

Nadal won his first French Open tennis title in 2005. In the past 15 years, few things in the world of sport have been as sure. When it comes to men’s tennis, Europeans are the Masters of the Court.

There is a similar pattern of European domination in the Masters of Management (MiM). This pre-experience business degree has seen tremendous growth in the last decade, as college seniors and those a year or two out of university look to broaden their skills sets and strengthen their networks rather than wait to do an MBA. With the current economic downturn, many of the leading business schools attending the CentreCourt Specialized Masters Festival on October 13 & 14 are reporting record application volume for this often shorter and more affordable alternative.

In the same year that Rafael Nadal won his first Grand Slam, the Financial Times published its first Masters in Management ranking. HEC Paris took the top spot ahead of French rival, ESCP Business School. There were only 25 schools in the ranking, all of them from Europe (at the time the CEMS global alliance was predominantly made up of European schools).

Fifteen years later, and the FT MiM ranking now includes 90 institutions from across the globe, and sees the University of St Gallen crowned #1 for the tenth consecutive year. Much like Rafael Nadal’s record in Paris, no other school has dominated the top of a business school ranking without interruption for so many years. Back in 2005 the Swiss business school was not mentioned at all. It wasn’t until five years later that St. Gallen’s flagship MA Strategy and International Management program would enter the ranking. And so began the winning streak…

The ranking that grew and grew

Looking back over the last decade and half, a lot has changed. In 2005 when it all began, alongside St. Gallen, there was no London Business School, no Imperial College Business School and no SDA Bocconi in the MiM ranking. More significantly, as already mentioned, there were no schools from North America or Asia Pacific. Fast forward to 2018, and the number of schools taking part in the ranking had reached 100. The Masters in Management has become one of the world’s most sought after graduate business degrees, and competition for a place in the MiM programmes of the top schools is fierce, as my Fortuna colleague and former Senior Admissions at LBS, Emma Bond explains.

France were the early big winners, with HEC Paris at #1

San Antonio company working with military, SpaceX to move cargo anywhere in world in an hour or less

A San Antonio company is partnering with the military and SpaceX to move cargo anywhere in the world in an hour using commercial spacecraft — including vertical-landing rockets built in Texas.

U.S. Transportation Command, which is responsible for moving military personnel and equipment around the world, said it’s working with Exploration Architecture, or XArc, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX to develop “rapid transportation through space” capabilities.

XArc, with six employees, is responsible for determining what’s needed on the ground to launch and land commercial spacecraft around the world.

The collaboration is the latest development in Texas’ still-expanding role in space travel and could help the U.S. military more quickly respond to threats and humanitarian crises around the world.

The aim is to use commercial space vehicles, including SpaceX’s Starship, to deliver payloads anywhere in the world. Starship can carry loads of 220,000 pounds.

“Our role is to understand the ground support infrastructure required to make it happen,” XArc CEO Sam Ximenes said. “What are the ground facilities and cargo standardizations so that it is seamlessly integrated into the (military’s) current logistics system.”

Sam Ximenes is chief executive of XArc. His company is teaming with Houston engineering firm KBR to evaluate three types of rockets.

His company is teaming with Houston engineering firm KBR to evaluate three types of rocket landing areas: rugged sites with no infrastructure, remote sites with limited support and mature sites that have established capabilities.

Related: NASA contractors stake out San Antonio’s place in space

The nine-person team is considering the logistics, including fuel and cargo requirements, needed to support spacecraft around the world, Ximenes said.

“Think about moving the equivalent of a C-17 payload (170,900 pounds) anywhere on the globe in less than an hour,” Army Gen. Stephen R. Lyons, head of U.S. Transportation Command, said in a statement. “Think about that speed associated with the movement of transportation of cargo and people.”

The companies could begin testing ground-support concepts as early as 2021.

In addition to SpaceX’s Starship, XArc’s study is looking at commercial space vehicles under development, including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Horizon and Virgin Galactic’s Stratolaunch.

Founded in 2007, XArc specializes in space architecture and engineering, and it consults on designs for “spaceports, space stations, planetary surface systems and terrestrial space-related facilities,” the company website states.

On A Grunt Style Reckoning: A look inside San Antonio apparel maker’s rowdy past, near-death experience and current leadership battle

“For the past 75 years or so, we have been constrained to around 40,000 feet altitude and 600 miles per hour in our very fastest method of logistics delivery — airlift,” said Navy Vice Adm. Dee Mewbourne, deputy commander of U.S. Transportation Command.

A screenshot from the LabPadre YouTube channel shows the SpaceX Starship prototype as it raises itself 150 meters into the air before lowering back to the ground.

Rockets traveling through space could speed cargo delivery by 10 times.

“It’s time to learn how our current strategies to project and sustain forces can evolve with a new mode of transportation,” he said.

In addition to speed, commercial space lift “eliminates en-route stops or air refueling,” officials said in a statement. “This capability has the potential to be one of the greatest revolutions in transportation since the airplane.”

The no-cost agreement allows

The Latest: RI University Issues Order for Frats, Sororities | World News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The University of Rhode Island has issued a two-week shelter-in-place order for fraternity and sorority houses because of a high number of coronavirus cases.

The school sent the notice Friday in tandem with its Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association.

Students may leave Greek housing only for medical visits and other essential services, such as grocery shopping and essential employment. The students will take classes virtually while sheltering.

Students and chapters that don’t follow guidelines could be suspended or dismissed.

The school says it based its decision on statistics showing a much higher rate of coronavirus positivity among students in Greek housing at over 11% than in total off-campus housing at under 4% or in the total on-campus population at 0.65%.


— President Trump credits antibody drug for quick recovery

— Spain declares state of emergency in Madrid to contain surge

— As virus fills French ICUs anew, doctors ask what went wrong

— British government will announce more support for businesses to retain staff in the coming months if they are forced to close because of lockdown restrictions.

— President Donald Trump says he wants to try to hold a campaign rally in Florida on Saturday, despite his recent COVID-19 diagnosis.

— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at and


ALBANY, N.Y. — A federal judge has refused to block New York’s plan to temporarily limit the size of religious gatherings in COVID-19 hot spots.

U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto issued the ruling Friday after an emergency hearing in a lawsuit brought by rabbis and synagogues who said the restrictions were unconstitutional.

They had sought to have enforcement delayed until at least after Jewish holy days this weekend. The rules limit indoor prayer services in certain areas to no more than 10 people.

The judge said the state had an interest in protecting public safety.

RENO, Nev. — A recent spike in COVID-19 cases at the University of Nevada, Reno is prompting the school to suspend all in-class instruction effective Nov. 30.

UNR officials also are telling most students not to return to residence halls after Thanksgiving.

School officials said Friday they plan for students to return to dormitories for the spring semester and resume a combination of remote and in-class instruction Jan. 25. But during the period in between, all classes will be conducted remotely.

Only students facing extenuating circumstance will be allowed to live in campus housing. In recent weeks, one-out-of-nine of the county’s new cases have been tied to UNR.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Health officials in Alaska’s largest city on Friday recommended up to 300 people associated with a youth hockey tournament quarantine or isolate after “a cluster” of COVID-19 cases were identified.

The Anchorage Health Department said players, coaches and fans from parts of south-central Alaska and Juneau attended the tournament, which was held Oct. 2-4.

The department said it encouraged everyone who attended who does not have

UW baseball team put on NCAA probation, ordered to vacate wins from 2018 College World Series season

Adam Jude

The University of Washington baseball program must vacate all wins from its 2018 College World Series season after the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions ruled that UW provided impermissible recruiting benefits to players’ parents.

The NCAA also announced Friday it has placed the program on a one-year probation and issued a $5,000 fine.

UW athletics said in a news release that it “strongly disagrees” with the NCAA’s ruling and will appeal the decision to vacate wins.

UW says baseball coach Lindsay Meggs self-reported the violations in October 2018. After an investigation, NCAA found that UW paid a total of $7,795 to cover travel costs for the parents of three baseball recruits.

As a result, the NCAA ruled that those three players were ineligible to play for the Huskies in 2018.

Under Meggs, the Huskies advanced to the College World Series for the first — and only — time in program history in 2018, when they finished with a 35-26 overall record.

NCAA rules allow only football and basketball programs to cover travel costs for parents of recruits making an official visit to campus.

“The violations occurred due to a good-faith misunderstanding between former members of the baseball coaching staff and former members of the compliance staff,” the UW release stated. “The former baseball staff members inaccurately thought that the NCAA rule allowing for institutions to pay for parents’ travel in the sports of football and basketball applied to other sports as well, including baseball.”

In addition to the NCAA’s penalties, UW says it has adopted new “corrective actions to strengthen overall compliance measures specific to monitoring travel” and will reduce baseball recruits’ official visits to campus for two years.

“I’m disappointed for our baseball program and for every Husky player past and present who is dealing with today’s news,” Meggs said in a statement. “Since taking over this program, my coaches and I have made it a priority to build and foster a culture of integrity and compliance, and today’s news will not change that.”

According to the NCAA, this is the first “Level I, Level II or major” violation for the UW baseball program — and the first for any UW program since the football team’s 2003-04 saga surrounding then-coach Rick Neuheisel.

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World University Rankings: China is Rising, Europe is Falling, and U.S. Still On Top

Students walk past Wadham College, Oxford University, ahead of the new academic year, amid the coronavirus pandemic in Oxford, Britain, September 17, 2020. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

The Times Higher Education released their World University Rankings for 2021 last month, revealing a few interesting global trends in tertiary schooling.

The University of Oxford has taken the top spot for the fifth year in a row, with Stanford, Harvard, Cal Tech, and M.I.T. rounding out the top five. 

Two of the most interesting stories from this year’s ranking, however, involve the ascendancy of Chinese universities and the decline of those on the European continent. Tsinghua University and Peking University both continue their climb up the rankings, placing 23rd and 24th, respectively. Meanwhile, the European Union can now boast only six of the top 50 universities on the list. This amounts to yet more evidence that the E.U. Commission’s dream of a pan-continental super-state capable of geopolitical rivalry with The U.S. and China is, like Napoleon out of Moscow, receding into the distance. It’s very difficult to achieve and maintain superpower status without global academic supremacy, and we have no reason to think that an ageing, desiccated, and dying Europe is likely to buck this trend. A broad-based brain trust of home-grown, world-beating intellects has been a hallmark of every global hegemon in world history: It’s the sine qua non of geopolitical ascendency in the modern world. 

Which brings us to the United States. By far one of the most infuriating trends on the American right is the prevalent tendency among conservatives to bash and denigrate America’s elite universities. It’s true that they skew left, but so what? Most of the damage done in terms of left-wing worldview indoctrination is accomplished well before kids reach university, in American public schools. If, by the time a student reaches the age of 18, his or her parents are worried that an Ivy League education might radicalize them, then the parents in question probably haven’t educated their children well enough to begin with. Research has born out the fact that, where ideological commitments are concerned, by time freshman year at college begins, the horses have — for the most part — already left the stables. 

Besides, there is hardly a single field in which American Exceptionalism and global dominance is in ruder health than in higher education, as this year’s rankings demonstrate. Nineteen of the top 30 schools on the list are American and only the usual cream of the British crop prevents the USA from having a complete monopoly on the Top 10. 

Conservatives who are convinced of America’s unique greatness shouldn’t let party politics prevent them from acknowledging those areas in which America is uniquely great. Higher education is indisputably one of these areas, and yet conservatives are simply not interested in their country’s achievements in this area. It’s true that most of the faculty and graduates that these schools turn out are progressives, but they’re nevertheless American progressives. The fact that they put their

Mountain Bike World Championships: GB’s Danny Hart bidding for third career rainbow jersey

Danny Hart riding downhill at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.
Watch live coverage of the Mountain Bike World Championships on the BBC this weekend
Coverage: Live on the BBC Sport website, mobile app and Connected TVs (all times BST)
Sat 10 Oct: – X-Country – Women: 11:30-13:00. Men: 13:30-15:30 – watch here
Sun 11 Oct: Downhill – Women: 11:40-13:05. Men: 13:45-15:00 – watch here

Great Britain’s Danny Hart will begin his bid for his third rainbow jersey on Friday at the Mountain Bike World Championships in Austria.

Hart goes in qualification in men’s downhill, with two-time silver medallist Tahnee Seagrave also starting her campaign for a maiden world title in the women’s event.

In the men’s U23 category Tom Pidcock will aim to win his second gold of the week when he lines up in the cross-country final.

Pidcock, a new signing for the Ineos Grenadiers road team, won the electric pedal-assist E-MTB event on Wednesday.

Those riders are among 32 elite and age-group British Cycling representatives who travelled to Leogang for the championships.

Five-time downhill world champion Rachel Atherton, who has not competed in more than a year after snapping her Achilles tendon, had planned to use the event to make her comeback.

However, she decided to withdraw following medical advice that her injury was not ready for competition.

That means Seagrave, who has come second in each of the last two editions, could be Britain’s best hope for downhill gold.

The 25 year-old, though, is also returning from her own injury troubles, having suffered a double leg break and ankle dislocation in a training run earlier this year.

Should Seagrave and Hart successfully navigate Friday’s qualifying they will go in the final on Sunday.

On Saturday it is the turn of the Olympic cross-country discipline, where Annie Last will aim to add world gold to the Commonwealth Games gold she won in 2018.

In the men’s field, 2019 British champion Frazer Clacherty is GB’s only senior representative.

Performance Director Stephen Park said: “We have some strong podium contenders within the squad and having a brand new course adds to the excitement of the event.”

Great Britain Team for the 2020 Mountain Bike World Championships

Cross Country

Elite Men

Frazer Clacherty

Elite Women

Annie Last

Evie Richards

Isla Short

Under-23 Men

Charlie Aldridge

Harry Birchall

Sean Flynn

Tom Pidcock

Under-23 Women

Hattie Harnden

Anna McGorum

Junior Men

Corran Carrick Anderson

Rory McGuire

Junior Women

Anna Flynn

Eleana McGorum


Elite Men

Danny Hart

Charlie Hatton

Bernard Kerr

Laurie Greenland

Matt Walker

Greg Williamson

Reece Wilson

Elite Women

Maya Atkinson

Stacey Fisher

Mikayla Parton

Tahnée Seagrave

Junior Men

Ethan Craik

James Elliott

Dennis Luffman

Luke Mumford

Dan Slack

Connor Smith

Luke Williamson

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