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Bruins Win, Vancouver Riots, Rest of Canada Vomits

June 16, 2011 5 comments

Vancouver riots from June 15, 2011. Via Mashable.

It was a sad scene in Vancouver last night.

After a disappointing loss to the Bruins, the Vancouver Canucks lost in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Boston Bruins took home the most awesome of sports trophies, and y’know what? They deserved it.

The Canucks showed throughout the series that they lacked the grit, determination and heart required to be NHL Champions.

Boston, on the other hand, fought back from a 2 game deficit to win in Game 7. Good for them.

But the Bruins excellent play was overshadowed by the embarrassing display of some Canucks fans after the game.

As the rest of Canada watched, all we could do was shake our heads.

It is unfair to blame the entire city of Vancouver for the behaviour of a small number of ass-holes, but the blemish to Canada’s pride will not go away soon.

I’m ashamed that the people in these videos call themselves “Canadian”. The Stanley Cup Finals is when Canada is supposed to shine. It is when our nation and our game gets attention on a world-wide stage.

Instead, drunken losers have stolen the spotlight by acting like overgrown children playing with fire.

The situation is made worse by the fact many people have been hurt. Lacerations and even stabbings have been reported at the local hospital, further making these events a giant hit to our national pride.

But as I said, it is important not to blame an entire city for the actions of a relative few. In fact, a Facebook group called ‘Post-Riot Cleanup – Let’s Help Vancouver‘ currently has over 14,000 members.

So it is a dark day for Canadians. We try so hard to live up to our reputations of polite, mild-mannered yet fun-loving people. And although we do love beer and hijinx as much as the next guy, we rarely act like total morons like those rioters in Vancouver.

But on the bright side, the next hockey season is less than 4 months away :)

 

Its Official! Go Jets!

May 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Its official. True North Sports and Entertainment is about to have a press conference to announce their purchase of the Atlanta Thrashers.

They have already told the Winnipeg Free Press that the deal has been finalized.

The sale still has to be voted on by the Board of Governors in a few weeks, but that vote is expected to go smoothly.

Also, the name of the team won’t be announced today. That seems to indicate to me that the team will not be called the ‘Jets’, but will take on the name of Winnipeg’s current AHL affiliate team, the Manitoba Moose.

But that is speculation. What is for sure though, is that Canada now has 7 NHL teams.

Awe. Some.

Chess Boxing. Yeah, Chess Boxing

March 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Apparently, Chess-Boxing is a real thing. And frankly, it sounds awesome. (Via Wired)

It works like this: Each player is allotted 12 minutes of chess-playing time each. So the two competitors play 4 minutes of speed chess. If nobody wins in that 4 minutes, they box for 3 minutes.

If nobody gets knocked out, they rest for a minute and then play another 4 minutes of speed chess. This continues until somebody gets checkmated or their clock cleaned.

Below is a preview of an upcoming chess-boxing match between Bjorn Jónsson (whose sense of modesty is one of his defining qualities), and Daniel Thordarson (who is employing the ‘Pavlov’ method of training).

Is it wrong that the first two people I thought about chess-boxing were Screech Powers and that Russian guy from Valley?

Happy Birthday Hockey!

March 3, 2011 1 comment

While the exact origins of the greatest game on the planet (and Canada’s national game) are very much disputed, the very first organized hockey game took place 136 years ago today!

According to a media missive written by Earl Zukerman in The Globe and Mail today, the  first game was played at Victoria skating rink in Montreal on March 3, 1875.

Fancy Ball at the Victoria Rink, Montreal, 186...

Fancy Ball at the Victoria Rink, Montreal, 1865 - Image via Wikipedia

It was also the very first game which used a wooden puck instead of a rubber ball. Yet another claim to fame of the game is it was the first instance of a hockey brawl, at least according to Wikipedia:

This fighting was not between the on-ice combatants, rather, it was between the hockey players and spectators and members of the Skating Club. Members of the Skating Club were opposed to the use of the skating rink for hockey as it took away hours from other skating activities and it damaged the ice quality.

Whenever I write about a topic that is not quite science related, I find a very vague way to link it to something scientific; because science is, of course, all around us! (possibly the nerdiest thing a person can say). So I actually found this article published today that does a pretty decent job explaining some of the physics of ice skating. It’s actually quite a complicated system, with many different concepts playing a role.

Regardless of when and where it originated exactly, hockey remains Canada’s undisputed national pastime.

Go Leafs!

How To Build Your Own Energy Balance Product

March 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Sport enhancement products are big business. Even if they don’t work.

Take for example products like Power Balance or Q-Ray, which are designed to work with your body’s “energy field” to increase balance and performance.

The Power Balance bracelets contain holograms. Their FAQ page describes how they work:

The thin polyester film hologram is programmed through a proprietary process, which is designed to mimic Eastern philosophies that have been around for hundreds of years.

Convinced? You shouldn’t be, because they don’t work. Even Power Balance released a statement in Australia noting that there is no scientific evidence to corroborate any of their claims. (Which is probably why their website now states that “there is no assurance it can work for everyone.”)

So how do they become so successful? Check out this promotional video:

My favourite part is when he says it only has to be “within 1-3 inches of your body’s energy field”. The amount of woo makes my head spin!

They will actually perform their balance test at trade shows etc, and you know what? It actually works! But not because of the holograms.

Its simple physics, as explained in by Rhett Allain of Wired here in quantitative physics calculations, or explained visually in the following video demonstration:

It all has to do with what direction you push on the subjects arm. It is not noticeable to the subject, but the person doing the pushing knows exactly what they are doing. Nothing at all to do with the bracelet (or crown, in this case).

So there you go. Now you can make your own energy bracelet or hat or shoe or under-pantaloons and get rich!

Happy Superbowl!

February 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Well the pre-game madness has already started, though we are still about 5 hours from kickoff.

I’ll be rooting for the Packers. Mainly because the Steelers beat the Seahawks (my team) in the Superbowl a few years ago. Thus, I hate the Steelers.

A variety of psychics have been making their predictions. Probably the most accurate prediciton, however, would be Gamespot running a simulation game between the Packers and the Steelers in Madden NFL 11.

Unfortunately, the Steelers won that simulation. But thankfully as anyone in science knows, simulations rarely, if ever, match actual results. If somehow they do match then you get a lot of attention. Somewhat similar to psychic predictions. But that is a topic for another time.

So, Go Pack!

Go Seahawks!

January 16, 2011 Leave a comment

QWest Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks. Via Wikimedia Commons

I’m a Seahawks fan. I know I’m from Canada, but the Seahawks have been my time for years.

Last week, something really cool happened. The Seahawks beat the defending Super Bowl Champs the Saints. But the crowd also did something awesome.

Seattle’s home stadium is known to be the loudest in the league. More false start penalties per game (an average of 2.2 per game) occur at Qwest Field than any other stadium.

After Marshawn Lynch’s incredible touchdown run, the noise from the stadium registered on a seismometer run by the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, mounted about 100 yards away.

In about 20 minutes, the Seahawks play the Bears in Chicago, so no home field advantage. I still predict a Seahawks win though!

 

We’re Gonna Crush ’em! Then We’re Gonna Analyze The Data!

January 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Concussions are a major problem in all contact sports, and the NFL is turning to technology to help understand and prevent these injuries.

A pilot program is being set up in which accelerometers will be placed in the helmets of players to measure the force from these impacts, the Washington Post reports.

The program will also put accelerometers into mouthpieces and earpieces to get a larger data set to the force experienced in different parts of the head.

The biggest problem in understanding exactly what type of hit causes a concussion is the variability. Said Kevin Guskiewicz, a committee member and chairman of the department of exercise and sport science at the University of North Carolina,

We are currently not where we’d like to be in understanding what an 80-G impact means relative to a 40-G impact. . . . My point has been all along if we don’t start somewhere – like now – we’ll never know,

The data could not only help players learn to better protect themselves, but also lead to the development of better helmets.

There is a helmet which has been in development for about 8 years, called the Gladiator, which reduces force of impact by 20 – 25 percent. Beyond that, however, no new developments are on the horizon.

I love it when sports and physics intersect in a post.

Minnesota Blizzard From Spaaaaaaace!

December 14, 2010 1 comment

Blanket of Snow covering South Dakota, southern Minnesota, eastern Iowa, northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin and Indiana - Click to Enlarge (Courtesy: NASA/JPL)

On Saturday December 11, 2010 over 40 cm of snow fell in the Minnesota area. NASA’s Terra satellite captured this awesome image of the snow.

This is the same storm that caused the Metrodome, home of the Minnesota Vikings to collapse.

This forced the Vikings to play their game in Detroit. It didn’t work out so well for them…

“There’s Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life.”

December 2, 2010 2 comments

That’s what was postered on the side of buses in Toronto, Calgary and Montreal last year. And they are planning to do it again.

The Centre for Inquiry (CFI) is launching a campaign which would see similar ads on the sides of buses in Toronto starting in January, pending final approval from the Toronto Transit Commission. This  year’s campaign is “Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence”, and compares the belief in God and Allah to the belief in Bigfoot and Tarot reading.

Photo From Centre for Inquiry

The campaign’s website says:

Why is belief in Big Foot dismissed as delusional while belief in Allah and Christ is respected and revered? All of these claims are equally extraordinary and demand critical examination

Assuming they get approval to run the ads in Toronto, the CFI hopes to move the campaign into other major Canadian cities. 

Justin Trottier, national executive director of the Centre for Inquiry said about the campaign
 
I’d love it if everyone saw the ads and know the point of the campaign is to emphasize not the kind of knee-jerk debunking to anything suspicious but that we’re interested in a genuine debate, a conversation about so-called extraordinary claims. We’re not here to mock people who believe in these claims
 
But of course, there is mixed reaction from both the religious and atheist communities. Many religious leaders felt that the ads were designed to ridicule people’s faith. Others felt that their beliefs can stand atop the belief in Bigfoot, so a discussion on the topic would be welcome.
 
Some in the scientific and atheist communities felt that the ads were too confrontational, and that this was not the proper way to elicit a discussion on these topics.
 
My opinion is that extraordinary claims certainly do require extraordinary evidence. Bigfoot, psychics and the like all need proof before we can accept them as facts. But religion is built on faith; the belief without proof. I maintain my right to believe in a God or not, just as the rest of the world should. Challenging those beliefs on a bus is not a proper forum for this discussion.
 
Furthermore, if people want to worship a God I do not believe in, it is not my place to challenge them about it. They have as much right to believe as I have not to believe. However, if religion starts to influence government policy, then it definitely becomes fair game to argue the proper place of religion in politics. Thankfully, this is not as big a problem in Canada as it is in the USA.
 
I’d love to hear what  you guys think about this issue, so please take a second and answer this poll below, or leave a comment.