(Visited 32 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Criticisms of the BICEP announcement are coming in, and could overturn the highly-publicized announcement that “inflation” has been discovered.It was supposed to be a shoo-in for a Nobel Prize, but the shoe may not fit. Science Magazine and other sites have announced a potential fatal flaw in the March announcement that a signal confirming cosmic inflation (3/17/14) was detected from the Antarctic instrument site. In “Blockbuster Big Bang Result May Fizzle, Rumor Suggests,” Science Now explains that a crucial factor, foreground microwave “noise,” may not have been subtracted out properly.To subtract the galactic foreground, BICEP researchers relied on a particular map of it generated by the European Space Agency’s spacecraft Planck, which mapped the CMB across the entire sky from 2009 until last year. However, the BICEP team apparently interpreted the map as showing only the galactic emissions. In reality, it may also contain the largely unpolarized hazy glow from other galaxies, which has the effect of making the galactic microwaves coming from any particular point of the sky look less thoroughly polarized than they actually are. So using the map to strip out the galactic foreground may actually leave some of that foreground in the data where it could produce a spurious signal, Falkowski explains. “Apparently, there is something that needs to be corrected, so at this point the BICEP result cannot be taken at face value,” he tells Science.BICEP researchers are not ready to concede the point, however. Clement Pryke, a cosmologist at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and a co-principal investigator for the BICEP team, acknowledges that the foreground map is an important and thorny issue. Part of the problem is that the Planck team has not made the raw foreground data available, he says. Instead, BICEP researchers had to do the best they could with a PDF file of that map that the Planck team presented at a conference. Moreover, Pryke says, conversations with members of the Planck team leave it uncertain exactly what is in the key plot. “It is unclear what that plot shows,” he says.The upcoming Planck map of foreground “could make the BICEP signal go away,” the article says. Since the Planck results will not be published till October, nobody will know if the announcement was a blockbuster or a bust. Meanwhile, the BICEP team stands by their paper.How could a team be so careless as to rely on a PDF file of a map, without knowing what it represents? Was this a rush to publish for fame? It happens. Remember the eagerness in the young cosmologist’s knock on Andrei Linde’s door to see his delight at apparently having his view of inflation confirmed? Scientists have egos like other people. The lure of priority or prize money can trump modesty. Now, all those positivist proclamations could come crashing down. We’ll have to wait and see.
8 February 2010 Johannesburg-based Newtown Projects is turning out makarapas – the decorated miners’ helmets unique to South African football fans – by the hundreds, while retaining the individual, hand-made quality of the product. How they do it offers a simple lesson for local entrepreneurs. On the outskirts of downtown Johannesburg lies a district called Newtown, the focal point of an urban regeneration programme spanning the last six years. If one stops outside one of its most famously refurbished buildings, The Mills, and takes a walk to the back of the building, what awaits is a sports fan’s wonderland. Hundreds upon hundreds of makarapas fill the numerous shelves, cover the walls and lie on tables; being painted, sprayed, bent and dried. The enormous display wall carries the headgear of two of the country’s favourite club teams, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, as well as many more of the 32 teams that will be competing in this year’s Fifa World Cup: Spain, England, Brazil, Honduras – you name it, they’ve got it. Paul Wygers, one of the architects who worked on South Africa’s iconic Constitutional Court building in Johannesburg, started the business, Newtown Projects, in October 2008.Seeing the gap – and taking it After listening to a discussion on radio one morning regarding what small businesses were doing for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, Wygers realised that there was not enough being done to create a unique product for the tournament. “I was in my office and saw a makarapa sitting there, one we had made before we bought this building, and so I spoke to two colleagues of mine in Durban and we decided to make these for the World Cup.” Newtown Projects is based on the idea of creating large numbers of makarapas while retaining the hand-painted images, a unique aspect of the product. Tackling the ‘pinch points’ in the process “After looking at how a makarapa is made, we realised there are two ‘pinch points’ in the process: cutting them, and painting them. So if you can get rid of the pinch point of cutting them, which is the most labour-intensive part of the whole process, you can up the numbers.” Paul and his associates eventually stumbled across a robotic arm to do the job. The arm, housed in Newtown Projects, is similar to the ones used in the motor industry. The most difficult patterns the machine will cut in about three minutes, but the quickest pattern it cuts in less than a minute. This means that the robot can turn out hundreds of makarapas each day. By programming the design into the computer, the operator can cut a number of different makarapas, and hence produce the large array of designs the company offers. For Wygers, this means he can offer more people employment, a key driver behind the starting of the company. “If you are only able to cut 10 makarapas a day, then you are only able to employ two painters. But if you are able to cut 800 a day, you are able to supply enough work to employ 50 people a day, or a 100 people a day. That thing can run for 24 hours, and it can cut 800 to a 1 000 makarapas a day, so we can never employ enough people.”The painters who make the makarapas unique The backbone of Newtown Projects are the painters who make the makarapas so unique with their talented eyes and brushes. Thomas “TJ” Jabulani has been working at Newtown Projects since April 2009, and has become the most senior base-painter on the team. “I was working at the airport before this, I was spray-painting, working on the cars and vehicles, logos and touch-up paint. I like it here, I enjoy the work and the people, and now I have my own Pirates makarapa.” Daniel Molokomme is a 27-year-old artist. “I started as a base-painter because I wasn’t good with the brushes yet,” he says. “I worked my way up, helping the artists when big orders came in. I enjoy art, before this I was in Limpopo doing my artwork there with a couple of friends. “I want to see my makarapas in the stands, and one day people will recall: ‘Hey, this guy did something amazing!’”2010 and beyond At the moment, 35 people are employed by Newtown Projects, but by the time the tournament starts the company will be aiming at having a staff of 40 to 50 people. “What we really wanted to get out of this business, was not only to do something with a uniquely South African product, but at the top of the list was job creation. This is hugely important,” says Wygers. Some local tour operators are already seeing the benefits of such an offering. “We had a guy in here the other day who found out about us,” Wygers says. “He does corporate travel packages and he is bringing a bunch of people over for the World Cup, and they need to be doing things while not watching matches, so one of his ideas was to bring them here to make their own makarapas, with our guys teaching them how to do it.” With plans to expand into the American sports market through baseball and American football, as well as into other sports such as rugby, demand is sure to grow. Source: 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa Organising Committee
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