Tag Archives: spot

Canada clinches 2022 men’s curling Olympic spot with Bottcher’s key win over Norway

Canada’s Brendan Bottcher downed Norway’s Steffan Walstad 6-4 in the men’s world curling championship Thursday — an important win for the host country.

The victory ensured the Canadian rink a spot in the playoffs, thus qualifying the country for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The World Curling Federation confirmed to CBC Sports that Canada clinched following the match.

  • Watch and engage with CBC Sports’ That Curling Show live (Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET; Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET; Sunday 5 p.m. ET) featuring the men’s curling championship on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

The top six teams at the conclusion of the preliminary round Friday remain in contention for the world title while qualifying for the Olympics.

The top two seeds earn byes to Saturday’s semifinals. Sergey Glukhov’s Russian Curling Federation team and Sweden’s Niklas Edin locked down those semifinal berths with 10-2 records Thursday.

John Shuster of the United States earned a playoff spot with a 9-3 record.

Scotland’s Bruce Mouat and Canada are tied at 8-4, and Norway and Switzerland’s Peter de Cruz are both 7-5 . They will battle for the three remaining playoff berths Friday. Canada caps the round-robin against Germany (4-8) on Friday.

Teams third through sixth in the standings will compete in qualification games with winners reaching the final four. The medal games are Sunday.

WATCH | Bottcher clips Walstad for key victory:

Canada clinches playoff spot in the men’s world curling championship and qualifies for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing with Brendan Bottcher’s 6-4 win over Norway’s Steffen Walstad. 0:42

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With Olympic spot hanging in the balance, Canadian curlers pushed to the edge at men’s worlds

There was a time, not that long ago, when Canada arrived at the men’s world curling championship and there were those games littered across the schedule you could basically pencil in a win for the Canadian curlers.

There were those “they should” win games — free spaces on the bingo card. 

But those days are over. And it’s been proven this week.

Canada is on the verge of missing the playoffs at the event, but more importantly, missing a prime opportunity to qualify for the 2022 Olympics.

  • Watch and engage with CBC Sports’ That Curling Show live (Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET; Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET; Sunday 5 p.m. ET) featuring the men’s curling championship on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Brendan Bottcher and his team out of Edmonton have been the mark of consistency for years. They’ve been one of the best teams in the world. To make it to four consecutive Brier finals, finally breaking through with a title this year, is no small feat. 

But an international event with the weight of the maple leaf pressing down is a different beast entirely. And Bottcher and company are teetering on the edge. 

With a 7-4 record and two games left in the round robin, Canada finds itself in a must-win situation Thursday night (9 p.m. ET) against Norway, and then in its last game against Germany on Friday. The top six teams in the round robin advance to the playoffs and qualify for Beijing. 

WATCH | Russia collects 1st win ever against Canada at worlds:

After Canada skip Brendan Bottcher made a runback double takeout to score three to force an extra end, Russian skip Sergey Glukhov scored a single as Russia defeated Canada for the first time at the world men’s curling championship. 2:21

Nothing is easy

It looked like Canada would easily clinch a spot. But then Wednesday happened.

Canada lost to the Russian Curling Federation for the first time at the event. Just a day earlier they lost to Korea for the first time as well.

And then in a stunning collapse Wednesday night, Canada was outscored 7-1 in the last three ends against Sweden to lose 9-7. 

It’s gotten uncomfortably tense now. 

The rest of the world has been gaining on Canada for years. The rhetoric the past decade was that international teams were gaining on Canada. They’re on the same level as Canada now and the pressure has hit a different levels. 

Since the 2018 Olympics, when the Canadians failed to podium for the first time in the history of the Games, there hasn’t been a lot of gold to talk about. 

For as dire as the situation has gotten, this is not a time to panic for the Canadians. Bottcher is known for his steely resolve and calm demeanour. He showed it again last night in the post-game interview, his voice steady and his tone relatively optimistic.

“We really need to compartmentalize today. We actually played quite a few really good ends of curling as a team,” Bottcher told reporters. “We made a lot of really good shots. When we get back on the ice tomorrow [Thursday] it’s got to be a brand new game”

We’ll learn a lot about the character of this team in the coming days. And past history shows they’ll meet the moment. 

There’s no question it’s been a wild and somewhat wacky bonspiel to this point. Consider where Switzerland, reigning bronze medallist at the Olympics and a formidable opponent, sits. The Swiss are at five losses heading into the last two days of the round robin. Nobody could have predicted that. 

It’s almost unfathomable to consider either Canada or Switzerland having to compete in a last-chance Olympic qualifier but here we are. 

WATCH | Canada collapses against Sweden:

Niklas Edin scores 4 in the 10th end and lifts Sweden to a 9-7 victory over Canada’s Brendan Bottcher. Sweden sits alone in first place while Canada falls to 6th place. 1:21

Bottcher team resilient

Bottcher’s team knows how to be resilient having lost three consecutive Brier finals, only to rise from the granite ashes this year to win the national championship. The rink is going to have to dig deeper than even before to string together what could become a memorable comeback if it’s able to make it, not only into the playoffs, but a medal game.

But should Bottcher’s team falter the rest of the way though and miss this chance at the Olympics, all is not lost for Canada. 

A last-chance qualifier has been scheduled for this upcoming December, with exact dates and a location yet to be announced. There will be anywhere from nine to 11 teams competing and will include either three or four spots, depending on where host China finishes the rest of the way at the men’s world championship.

The Canadian Olympic curling trials are scheduled for late-November in Saskatoon to determine what team would potentially represent Canada at the Games. But who that team would be could get messy. 

It’s something Canadian curlers and Canadian curling fans don’t even want to have to consider.

It’s pretty simple to avoid. Just win the rest of the way. 

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Canada’s Jonathan David scores twice as Lille reclaims top spot in French league

Canadian forward Jonathan David scored two late goals as Lille beat Marseille 2-0 to stay top of the French league on Wednesday.

David, from Ottawa, scored in the 90th minute and again two minutes into injury time. The northern side remains two points ahead of defending champion Paris Saint-Germain, which won 1-0 away to Bordeaux.

Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda kept out shots from United States forward Timothy Weah and David in the second half to frustrate Lille.

But the veteran France No. 2 spilled an angled shot from Jonathan Ikone in the 90th and David finished from close range.

Defending champion PSG was missing Kylian Mbappe through suspension and was without the injured Neymar, while striker Moise Kean was ruled out after testing positive for the coronavirus earlier Wednesday.

Winger Pablo Sarabia filled in and scored in the 20th minute when he turned in Idrissa Gueye’s cross from the left.

Bordeaux winger Hatem Ben Arfa should have equalized against his former club when he ran through in the 70th, only to shoot just wide of the left post.

The top three sides all won 1-0, with Lyon edging out Rennes at home to stay one point behind of PSG.

Lyon is now four points clear of fourth-place Monaco after it lost 1-0 at Strasbourg for a first defeat in 13 league games.

There are 10 rounds left.

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Finding the ‘sweet spot’ between freedoms and restrictions post-vaccination

When U.S. President Joe Biden’s press secretary recently reminded people that they’ll still have to physically distance and wear masks even after vaccination, it sparked a backlash among some conservative pundits on social media who slammed her for such a pessimistic message.

The comments by Jen Psaki “will discourage people from getting vaccinated and will land among many as demoralizing goalpost shifting — counter-productive imo,” tweeted Guy Benson, a U.S. political pundit and Fox News radio host.

Robby Soave, a senior editor for the libertarian magazine Reason wrote that it’s “a demoralizing and excessively cautious point to keep emphasizing” and that “health officials are at risk of criminally underselling the miracle of the vaccines.”


 

Psaki isn’t alone in noting that preventive measures will have to continue even after vaccinations.

Timothy Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in health law and policy at the University of Alberta, points out that the World Health Organization, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all state that mask wearing will have to continue even after vaccination due to uncertainty about whether the COVID-19 vaccines prevent transmission of the coronavirus.

However, some experts are suggesting it would be beneficial for public health officials to strike a more optimistic tone.  

Emphasize hope, experts say

They say that at least among groups who’ve been vaccinated, some physical distancing measures may be relaxed, and that advising those who’ve been vaccinated that they can’t change their behaviour may carry its own risks.

In an article in The Atlantic last month, Julia Marcus, an epidemiologist and professor at Harvard Medical School, wrote that it may be time for public health officials to emphasize the hope that vaccines are bringing. 

While scientists are still learning how much vaccines reduce transmission of the coronavirus, “the evidence shows that their efficacy against disease is phenomenal,” she wrote.

The risk isn’t eliminated, but close contact between two people is safer if one has received a vaccine, and safer still if both are vaccinated, she said. 

Not all human interactions take place in public, Marcus wrote.

She cautioned that advising people to continue with extreme preventive measures after vaccination, even in the privacy of their own homes, can create the impression that vaccines offer little benefit at all, which she said isn’t true.

“Vaccines provide a true reduction of risk, not a false sense of security. And trying to eliminate even the lowest-risk changes in behaviour both underestimates people’s need to be close to one another and discourages the very thing that will get everyone out of this mess: vaccine uptake.”


Telling people they can’t reduce some measures imposed due to COVID-19 once they’ve been vaccinated risks creating the impression that vaccines don’t offer any benefits, some experts caution. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

The unintended consequences of such messages, she wrote, may dissuade people from taking the vaccine and also sap the public’s hope.

Michal Tal, an immunologist at Stanford University, said there are still a lot of uncertainties surrounding the vaccines, including whether someone who is vaccinated, while themselves protected, may still be capable of spreading the virus to someone not vaccinated. 

“We still need more time to find out if the vaccines are preventing spread. It’s possible that even those vaccinated in the early stages of the roll out will need to continue to wear masks until everyone has had a chance to get vaccinated.”

‘Sneak peek’ of life after COVID

However, Tal believes Marcus makes a good point about the need to emphasize hope and said that health officials need to do a better job with their messaging.

While in public, those vaccinated early in the roll out will still need to wear a mask, she said, but that’s just until community transmission rates and new variants are under control.

Also, she said vaccinated individuals can overwhelmingly take comfort in the fact that they enjoy protection from serious disease or death. 

Meanwhile, in private homes, healthy, fully vaccinated individuals can start to let their guard down and get a sneak peek of what it will be like after this is all behind us, Tal said.

“If you are asking me: in your own private living room, a group of five who have all been vaccinated, could you step it down a notch and feel more comfortable? Well, of course you could.”

“But if you’re out and about at the grocery store and you’re around people who haven’t had a chance to be vaccinated yet, should you keep that mask on for solidarity and for risk reduction of those around you? Yes.” 


While in public, those vaccinated early in the roll out will still need to wear a mask, experts say, but only until COVID-19 community transmission rates and new variants are under control. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Balance key in COVID communications

Samantha Yammine, a neuroscientist and science communicator, said that there’s a certain way to convey the need for continued mask wearing and distancing from a behavioural science standpoint.

“Motivation is key to anything we do. If there’s too much despair, people will feel helpless. They won’t follow guidelines,” Yammine said. 

But if there’s too much hope and everything seems rosy, she said, people won’t feel any need to follow guidelines either.

“There’s this sweet spot of balance.”

While vaccines are not going to be the instant hero, Yammine said they are another tool in the toolbox, and just as masks enabled people to be safer with others indoors, vaccines, too, are another layer of protection. 

“So they should enable us to have a little more wiggle room when we’re doing our daily risk calculation.”


Some experts say more should be done to celebrate the scientific achievement that COVID-19 vaccines represent. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Not enough celebration of vaccines

Caulfied, the Canadian researcher, said the creation of COVID-19 vaccines have “kind of been undersold” and we haven’t done enough to celebrate this particular scientific achievement. 

“This is like the moon landing,” he said.

And when it comes to messaging about preventive measures for COVID-19, he said it’s good to lead with the positive. 

“I think we can say this: The vaccine is incredible. I think it’s going to take us where we need to go. We need everyone to get vaccinated,” he said.

“At the same time, there are still uncertainties. And therefore, we’re asking you to continue to mask.”

Caulfield said most scientists would likely agree that for those individuals who have been vaccinated, the evidence is signalling that the risk of transmission is definitely lower.

“But this isn’t the message that we want to send out there right now,” he said.

“Right now, public health officials are asking us, even when vaccinated, to continue to take those precautions, even around, you know, other vaccinated individuals.”


Scientists say there will come a day when COVID-19 restrictions are a thing of the past, but that health officials should be clear about what it will take to get there and offer some hope. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Two targets to meet

However both Caulfield and Tal, the immunologist, said they certainly see a light at the end of the tunnel, when mask wearing and physical distancing could be a thing of the past.

Tal said two targets need to be met: low community transmission where the risk of catching COVID in public is very low, and when enough people are protected through vaccination and herd immunity. 

“There are days ahead where where we can forget all about these masks and get back to, you know, this kind of social behaviour that we’re all missing.”

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Astronomers Spot Potentially Artificial Radio Signal From Nearby Star

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(Credit: sharply_done/Getty Images)
In 2015, Billionaire Yuri Milner launched the Breakthrough Listen project, an effort to scan the million closest stars for radio signals that could indicate intelligent life. Astronomers working on the project have announced the discovery of just such a signal from Proxima Centauri, which is just 4.2 light years away. We don’t yet know what this signal is, but there’s a (very) small chance it could have alien origins. 

Breakthrough Listen uses radio telescopes like the Parkes telescope in Australia or the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia. These instruments regularly record what look like signals from space but are actually due to local interference from Earth. In April and May of 2019, the team caught something different — a narrow beam transmission around 980MHz that lasted 30 hours. The signal, dubbed BLC1, also appeared to shift in such a way that it could have been coming from a planet orbiting the star.

The team is still preparing a paper that the scientific community can scrutinize, but there are a few reasons to be excited here. Proxima Centauri is the closest star to our solar system, and in 2016, researchers announced the discovery of an Earth-like exoplanet orbiting in the habitable zone. Later, astronomers spotted a second, larger planet farther out in the solar system. So, it’s theoretically possible there’s life on one of those planets, particularly the one in the habitable zone. 

The Green Bank Telescope used by Breakthrough Listen.

However, it’s still far too early to start celebrating the discovery of alien life. BLC1 is a candidate signal that needs to be analyzed, and if we’re being realistic, it’s doubtful that intelligent aliens live in the next solar system over. The Milky Way galaxy has an estimated 300 million exoplanets and is almost 14 billion years old. To find another intelligent species existing at the same time as us just a few light years away would be exceedingly improbable. If said aliens are also using radio frequency technology at the same time as we are, that’s an even bigger coincidence. 

This is not the first signal that could be interpreted as having artificial origins. The famous “Wow” signal detected in 1977 by SETI researchers is another example. That one didn’t pan out, but BLC1 could be the first serious contender in decades. If this isn’t it, well, there are a lot more stars out there. The only way we’re going to find them is to keep looking. 

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Canadian Alphonso Davies makes history by earning a spot on FIFPRO World 11

Canadian Alphonso Davies’ remarkable year continued Thursday when he became the first North American player ever to be voted onto the FIFPRO Men’s World 11.

It was a vote of approval from his peers. FIFPRO which represents some 65,000 pro soccer players worldwide, said 15,878 took part in voting for the 16th edition of the men’s World 11.

The 20-year-old Bayern Munich fullback was the first North American male to make the initial list of 55 players with the most votes. He went one better Thursday at the Best FIFA Football Awards, joining the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos on the World 11.

“Christmas came early this year,” Davies said on social media. “Thank you to everyone who voted for me. Keep working hard and chasing your dreams.”

Davies edged Bayern teammate David Alaba by 275 votes, the closest race in positional voting.

Davies 3rd youngest to be voted on team

Davies is the third-youngest player to be voted onto the World 11. French forward Kylian Mbappe was 19 years old when he was honoured in 2018. Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt was four days younger than Davies when he voted to the team in 2019.

Bayern teammates Robert Lewandowski and Joshua Kimmich also made this year’s top 11. So did Thiago Alcantara, who left Bayern for Liverpool after winning the Champions League.

Lewandowski, a prolific goal-scorer for the German champion, was named Best FIFA Men’s Player over Ronaldo and Messi. England defender Lucy Bronze, who joined Manchester City from France’s Lyon in 2020, took top women’s honours over Denmark’s Pernille Harder (Chelsea) and France’s Wendie Renard (Lyon).

It was a big night for Bayern. Manuel Neuer was named Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper while Hansi Flick was runner-up to Liverpool’s Juergen Klopp for Best FIFA Men’s Coach.

Club president President Herbert Hainer called it “a proud day for FC Bayern.”

“The fact that Lewandowski, Joshua Kimmich, Alphonso Davies and our former player Thiago were chosen for the World 11 shows the terrific overall performance of our team,” he said in a statement.

WATCH | Davies’ dash leads to audacious assist in Champions League quarters:

The defender is absolutely mystified by a series of hypnotizing moves by Alphonso Davies in a beautiful drive and dish assist. 1:31

Ronaldo and Messi were voted onto the World 11 for a record 14th consecutive year. Ramos made the team for the 11th time.

Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) received the most votes followed by Brazil goalkeeper Alisson Becker (Liverpool) and Ramos (Real Madrid).

Davies, from his left fullback position, has won worldwide praise for his pace and athleticism while helping Bayern fill its trophy case.

So far in 2020, he has won the Champions League, German league title, DFB Cup and UEFA Super Cup. He was also named Bundesliga rookie of the season for 2019-20.

Off the field he was voted the Canadian Men’s Player of the Year and was co-winner of the Lou Marsh Trophy, presented by the Toronto Star to the Canadian athlete of the year.

Davies returned to action last week after tearing ankle ligaments in Bayern’s 5-0 win Oct. 24 over Eintracht Frankfurt.

Canadian defender Kadeisha Buchanan, who plays for French powerhouse Lyon, made the list of 55 top women vote-getters for the FIFPRO World 11.

Buchanan was previously named to the inaugural FIFPRO Women’s World XI in 2016 as a 20-year-old — which also made her the youngest player voted onto the team.

The FIFA Awards also paid tribute to Canada captain Christine Sinclair for topping the all-time world goal-scoring list in 2020. The 37-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., now has 186 goals to her credit.

FIFPRO WORLD 11

Men

Goalkeeper: Alisson Becker (Liverpool FC, Brazil).

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool FC, England), Alphonso Davies (FC Bayern Munich, Canada), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool FC, the Netherlands), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid, Spain).

MIidfielders: Thiago Alcantara (Liverpool FC/FC Bayern Munich, Spain), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City, Belgium), Joshua Kimmich (FC Bayern Munich, Germany).

Forwards: Robert Lewandowski (FC Bayern Munich, Poland), Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona, Argentina), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus, Portugal).

Women

Goalkeeper: Christiane Endler (Paris Saint-Germain, Chile).

Defenders: Millie Bright (Chelsea, England), Lucy Bronze (Manchester City/Olympique Lyonnais, England), Wendie Renard (Olympique Lyonnais, France).

Midfielders: Barbara Bonansea (Juventus, Italy), Veronica Boquete (AC Milan/Utah Royals, Spain), Delphine Cascarino (Olympique Lyonnais, France).

Forwards: Pernille Harder (Chelsea/VfL Wolfsburg, Denmark), Tobin Heath (Manchester United/Portland Thorns, U.S.), Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal, the Netherlands), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign, U.S.).

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World Cup champion Alex Morgan scores 1st goal for Tottenham from penalty spot

Alex Morgan scored her first goal for Tottenham in a 3-1 victory over Brighton on Sunday as the London club won its first match of the Women’s Super League season.

The American World Cup winner, who made her Tottenham debut last month after giving birth in May, scored her team’s third goal from a penalty in the 84th minute.

“Alex has been building up her time on the pitch over the course of the last couple of months,” Rehanne Skinner said after her first game as Tottenham manager. “For her, she’s getting more and more back to where she would probably want to be.”

Tottenham opened the scoring when Morgan was fouled and Kerys Harrop swung the free kick into the top left-hand corner of the goal in the 11th minute.

WATCH | Alex Morgan records 1st goal for Tottenham:

American World Cup winner Alex Morgan scores on a penalty in the 84th minute as her Tottenham Hotspur club went on to defeat Brighton & Hove Albion 3-1. 0:31

Brighton levelled from a 33rd-minute penalty after Allana Kennedy’s high foot caught Brighton’s Aileen Whelan. Inessa Kaagman fired powerfully inside the right post to make it 1-1.

In the 63rd minute, Angela Addison took the ball past two Brighton players and the goalkeeper to slot into the bottom right-hand corner and brilliantly restore Spurs’ lead.

Morgan is among a group of American players to have moved to English soccer for this season, with Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis at Manchester City, and Tobin Heath and Christen Press at Manchester United.

Tottenham has six points after eight rounds.

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PS5 Temperature Measurements Reveal Potential Trouble Spot

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There’s some evidence that the PlayStation 5 may get very hot in one specific place while gaming, and while this seems to be causing no problems at the moment, gamers who live in hot climates and/or lack air conditioning should pay attention.

According to the PS5 device teardown at Gamers Nexus, most of the device temperatures are excellent in all cases, though temperatures drop moderately if you remove both plates from the device. This is scarcely surprising, as even well-ventilated PCs will typically also show slightly improved temperatures if you run them case-open. None of the temperatures GamersNexus recorded at any point on the PS5 raised any eyebrows, with one noteworthy exception:

The RAM temperature at the bottom of the machine is positively scorching, and this only improves modestly with the panels removed. The problem here is that the bottom module isn’t in contact with the PS5 heatsink. This explains the thermal differential between the bottom VRAM and the rest of the system.

Is This a Problem?

Unknown. Maximum operating temperature of the relevant GDDR6 module, according to Micron, is 105C. At the very least, we’d say that the PlayStation 5 is walking perilously close to the maximum safe operating temperature. Companies also do not necessarily guarantee that a product run at or near maximum safe operating temperature year after year will have exactly the same lifespan as products that are not run at these temperatures. High, sustained operating temperatures are harder on all electronic devices, not just the PlayStation 5. This is one of the reasons that PC gamers tend to pay a lot of attention to temperatures — dust build-up is a not-uncommon cause of gaming PC instability, especially if there are no signs of hardware failure or driver conflict.

The ambient temperature of GamerNexus’ test room was 21.9 – 23.2 Celsius. At 30C (about 86F) you’d be as close to the operational limit of Micron’s GDDR6 as you ever really want to get without specific assurances that a given chip is intended to operate for long periods of time at the temperature in question.

It’s worth being aware of this if you are forced to set your PlayStation 5 in an area with poor ventilation or higher-than-ambient temperatures, possibly due to sharing the space with other electronics. Any device will destabilize if it exceeds its safe operating temperature, and the bottom RAM chip on the PS5 is close enough to its safe operating range that it’s conceivable for room configuration to create a problem, particularly once we start considering the long-term impact of dust.

I don’t want to make it sound like PlayStation 5’s are going to start dying. But I have no idea if Sony was aware of this and found no problems with the configuration, or if the company made a mistake. It’s the kind of problem that might be correctable (or at least ameliorated) with a very small heatsink mounted to the VRAM chip itself, but I do not know if that kind of aftermarket modification will even be possible given the construction of the system chassis and its internal clearances. It seems odd for Sony to bother cooling one RAM module and not the other, but the company may have found that both ICs were actually running at safe tolerances and only cooled one of them because there was no practical way not to, given where it was placed relative to the other PS5 components.

I can tell you that I would not be happy to discover that my PC’s RAM or components ran this close to their manufacturer-defined safe temperatures, but not whether this represents a material flaw that will impact the longevity of the console.

Hat tip to NoteBookCheck for surfacing this.

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Canadian judo stars Klimkait, Deguchi face high expectations in battle for 1 Olympic spot

Following a seven-month pandemic layoff, Jessica Klimkait needed just 81 seconds to get the validation she needed.

The Canadian judoka’s quick and decisive win over Helene Receveaux of France at Grand Slam Budapest in late October propelled her to the top spot in the world rankings for the 57-kilogram category.

In the process, Klimkait, 23, leap-frogged fellow Canadian and reigning world champion Christa Deguchi in the standings as judo made its return to competition. 

“To probably do one of the best tournaments that I’ve done in a very long time was a lot of validation to what I was thinking and the kinds of things that I was doing throughout the last four or five months,” Klimkait told CBC Sports, putting aside any concerns over being prepared to fight athletes from other countries who didn’t face the same level of training restrictions during the pandemic.

WATCH | Klimkait reaches top of podium in Budapest:

23-year-old Jessica Klimkait of Whitby, Ont,, defeated Helene Receveaux of France to capture gold in the 57-kilogram category at the judo Grand Slam competition in Budapest. 8:44

A silver lining had already materialized for Klimkait when the sports world hit the pause button in March.

The Whitby, Ont., native and Deguchi, 25, who lives and trains in Japan, were just months away from a fight-off for Canada’s lone Olympic quota spot in their category when Klimkait suffered a knee injury.

“It honestly was [good timing] because I needed those two or three months to fully recover and if the year continued as normal, I definitely wouldn’t have been able to train as normal,” Klimkait said. “I wouldn’t have been able to compete and I had a fight-off with [Deguchi] that I don’t think I would have been able to prepare for.”

Due to the Olympics being postponed until 2021, Klimkait, now fully recovered, and Deguchi are back on the same collision course to have that fight-off no later than early July — a winner-take-all scenario that will see one of them qualify for the Tokyo Games and the other left behind.

A matter of depth

Judo Canada high-performance CEO Nicolas Gill — himself a two-time Olympic medallist — acknowledges this is a good problem to have, but at the same time, his expectation is for one of them to be standing on the podium.

“[Those are] great stories both ways. At the end for us — and what I keep repeating — whoever goes needs to medal,” Gill said. “If not, we would have sent the wrong one. Whoever goes, still has to be our best chance of medalling.”

Gill dismissed the suggestion of having one of either Klimkait or Deguchi change weight classes so that both might compete in Tokyo. He said he would never put the organization ahead of the athlete.

“We would do that only if it helps the state of making weight,” Gill said. “That’s the only time we would force somebody to move up — if we feel there is danger for the athlete, but not for strategic positioning.”

Fight-off will determine Olympic fate

Other than meeting on the world stage in numerous important matches (5-0 in favour of Deguchi), the compatriots might as well be strangers — occasionally training together throughout the year, but mainly seeing each other at competitions.

Klimkait says this makes Deguchi as dangerous as any other top opponent.

“It’s a bit of a mental battle every time I do step on the mat [with Deguchi] because I know what it means to win against her and I know what it means to lose against her,” Klimkait said. “In the end, only one of us is going, so that’s always been in the back of my mind when I’m competing against her.”

Given that countries can only send one athlete per category, Judo Canada has no choice but to sit back and watch who wins.

“The idea to have a head-to-head matchup is to really pick who’s better in the month leading into the Olympics,” Gill said. “Putting our best athlete at that time in the Olympic field to increase the chance of performance.”

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Astronomers Spot Earth-Sized Rogue Planet Wandering the Galaxy

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Astronomers have identified more than 4,000 exoplanets orbiting other stars but just a few “rogue planets” wandering the galaxy without a star to call home. A new study claims to have spotted one of these worlds, and it may be a small, rocky world like Earth. If confirmed, the planet known as OGLE-2016-BLG-1928 would be a major milestone in our efforts to spot these unattached worlds. 

While scientists believe rogue planets are common throughout the universe, they’re very difficult to find. We currently lack the technology to directly image exoplanets in most instances, so we can only locate them by observing the stars they orbit. The dearly departed Kepler Space Telescope single-handedly detected more than 2,500 exoplanets, and that number continues to rise as scientists analyze its data. Kepler used the transit method, which involves watching stars for dips in brightness as a planet passes in front of them. Scientists have also used radial velocity measurements of stars to look for small wobbles caused by the mass of planets. 

Without a host star, spotting planets gets a lot harder. The Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) project found the potential rogue planet using gravitational microlensing, which superficially similar to the transit method. This approach monitors the light from a distant star in hopes a massive object like a planet will pass in front of it. While the star and planet may be many light-years away, the planet bends or “lenses” the star’s light from our perspective on Earth. This can reveal the foreground object’s mass and size, but only if you happen to be looking in the right place at the right time. 

This light curve indicates a massive object passed in front of the star.

Andrzej Udalski of the OGLE project notes that you could watch a single star for a million years and only see a single lensing event. Luckily, Udalski and his team didn’t have to go one star at a time. They used the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, which scans millions of stars in the direction of the galactic center on a daily basis. In analyzing this data, the OGLE team spotted a lensing event dubbed OGLE-2016-BLG-1928. At just 42 minutes long, it’s the shortest such detection ever recorded. That suggests the planet, if indeed that’s what it is, would be somewhere between the size of Earth and Mars. 

The team believes this object is a rogue planet because there are no known stars to which it could be connected. The data also showed no light sources within eight astronomical units of the lensing event. Other researchers will need to confirm this object is a planet before it goes in the history books, but if current theories are right, there are uncountable millions of similar objects out there just waiting to be discovered.

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