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How Little We Know What Lies Below

first_img 1David Stevenson, “Earth science: Inside history in depth,” Nature 428, 476 – 477 (01 April 2004); doi:10.1038/428476a. This article may come as a shock to those who took high school physical science and were accustomed to boring, confident-sounding textbook drawings and films about the earth and how things work.  (Geologists working the surface of the earth have their own problems, too: see 10/09/2003 entry).  Notice how little is known.  The origin of the earth’s magnetic field, vital to life as we know it and dropping in strength rapidly, has them still at square one.  Plate tectonics, after 50 years the dominant paradigm, is still poorly understood (especially in terms of operation over long ages).  The size, chemical makeup and viscosity of the core and mantle are matters of conjecture by armchair scientists trying to get their models to work.  And if you were told the earth’s heat comes from radioactive decay, thus rendering Lord Kelvin’s upper limit on the age of the earth obsolete, were you aware that estimates are off by a factor of two?     Stevenson jokingly teeters on the edge of “repealing the first law of thermodynamics,” which he knows, of course, would be absurd.  But there is another boundary no secular geologist would dare cross, even if they are willing to challenge everything else, and that is the assumed old age of the earth.  Even if there is no way to explain the rapidly-depleting magnetic field, even if plates cannot be kept moving that long, and even if there is more heat coming out of the crust than known sources permit, that is one parameter not open to question, because it would not allow enough time for Darwinian evolution from molecules to man.  And if evolution did not occur, the alternative is unthinkable.  (Also, no geologist would risk the scorn, ridicule and ostracism associated with being labeled a young-earther.)(Visited 8 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Those cutaway views of the earth, with its core, mantle and crust, make nice diagrams in textbooks.  But without a Hollywood-style probe and time machine to the center of the earth, how do we know what’s down there, and how it got that way?  We know surprisingly little, admits David Stevenson (geologist, Caltech) writing in the April 1 issue of Nature.1  He poses a series of unanswered questions: The basic divisions of Earth’s internal structure (crust, mantle and core) have been known for a long time.  But the evolutionary path that gave us this structure, and that provides the dynamics of plate tectonics, volcanism and magnetic-field generation, remains poorly understood.  Why do we have plate tectonics?  What is the nature and extent of melting deep within Earth?  How does the core manage to keep generating such a richly complex magnetic field? These questions were addressed at a recent workshop on earth’s deep interior.  From Stevenson’s viewpoint as a participant, “it is evident that we need a better knowledge of the processes that govern deep-Earth history, and the material parameters that control those processes, before any kind of ‘standard model’ can be constructed.”     One parameter that cannot be violated in modelmaking is the First Law of Thermodynamics, the principle that energy cannot be created or destroyed (a scientific law with no known exceptions).  Yet the earth has been losing heat through its crust; that heat must come from somewhere.  Geologists invoke heating caused by radioactive decay to arrive at estimates of earth’s steady-state heat output over geologic time.  [Radioactivity supposedly overcame Lord Kelvin’s argument from thermodynamics that the earth could not be as old as evolutionists claim; see 02/02/2004 commentary.]  But Stevenson admits there are not enough radioactive sources known, and little is also understood about the viscosity of the mantle, despite the simple models: Models of this kind are easy to construct and boringly monotonic.  Furthermore, they cannot explain the widely accepted factor-of-two ratio for current Earth heat output to current radiogenic heat production.  Our planet was more eventful than these simple models allow.  Whereas Earth scientists have no desire to repeal the first law of thermodynamics, they are willing to challenge almost everything else.  Recently, major disagreements have emerged in attempts to understand the energy budget of Earth’s core, and there are still many uncertainties over how to incorporate the effects of plates, water, melting and layering into our picture of mantle circulation. One topic on which there is “publication activity … but no consensus” is earth’s magnetic field.  Presumably, electrical currents in the fluid mantle keep it running, and the inner core is one of the “main contributors to the energy budget available to the dynamo,” but there are problems sustaining this dynamo for 4.5 billion years (see 12/15/2003 entry): Standard evolutionary models have difficulty explaining how the inner core has existed for more than the past billion years or so, yet Earth’s magnetic field has existed throughout most of geological time.  There is no direct evidence on the age of the inner core, and the dynamo may operate without an inner core.  Still, it would be surprising if it were a recent feature of Earth’s structure.  This is one of several reasons why some scientists wonder whether there is an additional energy source in the core. Stevenson suggests some additional radioactive elements that might supply the missing energy to power the dynamo, but each candidate is not without problems, such as how you get the elements to separate from their ores during core formation.  Maybe it was a non-radioactive energy source, like gravity.     Plate tectonics is another puzzle often oversimplified but still poorly understood.  Even if they get convection models to work in the present, can those processes be extrapolated back billions of years? It is an unfortunate feature of simple models of convection that they can mimic many of the characteristics of plate tectonics, but cannot explain some essential features of plates.  The danger of these simple pictures is that they may not provide an adequate predictive framework for how plate tectonics evolves through geological time.  Some models suggest possible solutions, but the lack of agreement between these various approaches means that we are not close to a final resolution. The lack of agreement has led to “provocative ideas” on these subjects.  Stevenson is hopeful that models that incorporate water and carbon dioxide in the mantle and core might help, but at this time they have a “poorly understood effect on melting in the mantle.”  We need more information and new ideas, he concludes, as he meekly suggests one preliminary line of inquiry: It seems likely that we will not understand the origin of Earth’s magnetic field until we know how the mantle controls heat flow in the core.  But we cannot understand the mantle side until we have a better understanding of plate tectonics.  This may in turn depend on understanding Earth’s water cycle.  Could it be that magnetism, like life, depends on water?last_img read more

South African rugby in 2004

first_img10 January 2005South African rugby in 2003 and South African rugby in 2004 belonged not one year apart – there were light years between them. Thankfully for the game’s legions of fans, the shift in fortunes was in the right direction.The aftermath of the World Cup failure in 2003 and questions of racism in the sport led to a changing of the guard that runs the game, and a change of Springbok coach that most would surely agree has proved to be a great success.Brian van Rooyen took over from Rian Oberholzer as CEO of Sarfu. While his autocratic style and occasional about-faces on issues have not endeared him to all, it cannot be denied that the game is in a healthier state under Van Rooyen than it was before he took over at the top.The decision to appoint Jake White to coach the Springboks proved to be a masterstroke. From an atmosphere of distrust – an “us against them” laager mentality – and poor results on the field, the Boks have evolved into a united team that has produced the kind of results that the demanding South African rugby fan, justifiably or unjustifiably, demands.2004 brought with it South Africa’s second Tri-Nations title in the tightest-fought competition to date as each team won twice at home and lost twice away from home.The Springboks, though, came close away from home and, very encouragingly, found an attacking edge that saw them top the try-scoring charts and with that earn enough bonus points to sneak the win ahead of Australia, with New Zealand in third place.It was, indeed, a remarkable turnaround from the directionless, angry rugby of 2003.Let’s take a closer look at the stars of 2004.Player of the Year: Schalk BurgerThis choice is an easy one. It is hard to argue with the four major awards the all-action blond-haired flanker won. Burger was named South African Player of the Year, the International Rugby Players’ Association’s (IRPA) Player of the Year and the IRPA Best Newcomer, as well as – the cherry on the top – the IRB International Rugby Player of the Year.So, why did he win all those awards? Probably at the top of the list of reasons would be Burger’s performances in the Tri-Nations when, up against some of the finest loose forwards in the game, he dominated the competition with powerful, industrious and effective performances that many would have thought impossible for such a big man (1.93 metres tall and 106 kilograms).The man dubbed “the Incredible Schalk” added a new dimension to the play of loose-forwards just when it seemed the standard couldn’t really be improved on.After all, in the Tri-Nations alone, there were already recognised world-class players such as George Smith, Phil Waugh, Richie McCaw and Marty Holah. Yet Burger, at age 21, turned the Tri-Nations on its head.He also enjoyed a very good Super 12 competition, but his play suffered later in the year when the Springboks undertook yet another end-of-season tour – this time of the United Kingdom and Argentina – that drained the last bit of energy left in the tired bodies of players who had begun their competitive fixtures way back at the end of February.One must question, as has been done many times before, the wisdom of such tours.Special mention: Victor MatfieldVictor Matfield and Jake White got off to a shaky start – no doubt some of the problems were due to a contractual dispute the Blue Bulls’ lock had with SA Rugby – but White also believed Matfield was capable of better performances than he had delivered so far in his career.On that point it would appear that the Bok coach was right, because Matfield lifted his game to new heights in 2004.He is a remarkably gifted athlete for such a big man, and if there was one guarantee in the Springboks’ matches it was that Matfield would win his lineout ball, while giving the other teams fits when they had the put-in to the lineout. As the year wore on his command of the lineouts became more imperious.Where Matfield lifted his game considerably – and it helped that he was partnered by his very physical Blue Bulls teammate Bakkies Botha when playing for the Boks – was in the tight phases. In the past he had been accused of spending too much time away from the rucks and mauls, but in 2004, it seemed, Matfield found a good balance.He produced a very skilled game in all departments, all over the field, and his Tri-Nations winning try against Australia at the Absa Stadium in Durban provided possibly the biggest highlight of the year for South African fans.Most overlooked player: Ettienne BothaThe player who, in my book, deserves special mention wasn’t considered good enough to make the Springboks squad in either the Tri-Nations or the end-of-season tour.Blue Bulls’ centre Ettiene Botha set the domestic scene on fire with a string of electrifying performances that helped catapult the Pretoria-based team to a successful defence of their Currie Cup title.Give Springbok coach Jake White his due, he stuck by the players that served him well in the Tri-Nations when he selected the team to tour at the end of the year, but after Botha’s scintillating season, surely he could have won a place as one of the five centres in the team.The thing is, Botha’s sustained excellence was on display week after week against the very players that White selected ahead of him. It didn’t drop off when he was confronted by a “big gun”, and he regularly made game-changing breaks or scored game-changing tries.Botha’s 18 tries – one short of Carel du Plessis’ record of 19 – were something to behold, and it was somewhat disturbing that he wasn’t considered good enough to make the Springbok squad yet he was good enough to be named Currie Cup Player of the Year.There is something about that decision that doesn’t sit right. Either Botha didn’t deserve the award, or he deserved to be awarded his national colours; in my opinion, it’s clear he deserved the award. Enough said.Best Test performance: SA vs New Zealand (Ellis Park, Johannesburg)The Springboks’ best performance of the year came in front of the side’s talisman, Nelson Mandela, in front of a full house of expectant fans at Ellis Park. Their 40-26 victory over the All Blacks was their first over the Kiwis since 2000, and it also put the Boks in position to win the Tri-Nations title, which they went on to do with a good win over Australia in Durban the following week.It wasn’t just the fact that South Africa won that resonated with the fans, but the manner in which they achieved the victory. It is not every day that the All Blacks are beaten, and it is certainly a rare feat to score five tries against the New Zealand national team. Add to that the fact that Percy Montgomery had an off-day with the boot, and the Boks could have reached 50 points.Yet it wasn’t a runaway victory. Six minutes in, John Smit and co found themselves 10-nil behind after the visitors had scored a penalty and a brilliant try by Mil Muliaina, which Andrew Mehrtens converted.Marius Joubert, though, pulled the Springboks back into the contest with the first of his three tries, which equaled the record against the All Blacks, previously set by Ray Mordt back in 1981 in the infamous flour-bomb Test.South Africa managed to open up a six-point gap at 19-13 after further tries from Breyton Paulse and another from Joubert, but the Kiwis clawed their way back through a penalty by Andrew Mehrtens, who made it 19-16.Montgomery put South Africa 22-16 in front with a penalty, but the New Zealanders retook the lead when Joe Rokocoko sliced through SA’s defences for a try that Mehrtens goaled, to make it 23-22 New Zealand.Back came the Boks, with Montgomery nailing a penalty to give SA a 25-23 lead. Mehrtens made it a one-point game with another penalty that put the All Blacks 26-25 ahead, but then came a grandstand finish from South Africa.First, Joubert punched a huge hole in the Kiwi defences and then popped up a pass for Jean de Villiers to put South Africa back in front at 30-26. Importantly, it was the Springboks’ fourth try of the match, which secured for them a bonus point; at the conclusion of the competition it would be bonus points that secured the title for South Africa.Then Montgomery extended the South African lead to seven points with a long-range kick and then, with only four minutes left, Jacques Cronje, on as a substitute for Joe van Niekerk, set up Joubert for his third try, which he dotted down under the uprights.Montgomery’s conversion made it 40-26 to the Boks, and a whole nation once again believed that the Springboks could be world beaters.The victory over the All Blacks also meant South Africa became the first holders of the new Freedom Cup, which was introduced to celebrate 10 years of democracy in the rainbow nation.Worst Test performance: SA vs England (Twickenham)This was one of those games; it had barely started and one could see that England would win for the sixth successive time over South Africa.The Springboks could do little right, making rhythm-breaking error after error. And up front the big Bok pack was strangely incapable of dealing with the driving mauls of the English. Even in the tight phases, the Boks were on the back foot. Clearly, from the start of the game, this was a team that was out of sorts.England were without the commanding figure of Jonny Wilkinson at flyhalf, but his replacement, Charlie Hodgson, blossomed behind a dominant pack to contribute 27 points in a convincing 32-16 England victory.For the third match in succession on the end-of-season tour, South Africa looked tired but, worse than that, it appeared they had not yet adjusted to the conditions, and facing the world champions that sealed their fate.On a positive note, Bryan Habana came on late in the game and scored a try with his first touch of the ball. In the next game against Scotland, the flying newcomer would confirm his massive promise with a two-try effort.That ray of light at the end of the contest, though, couldn’t hide the fact that it was by far South Africa’s worst test performance of 2004.Newcomer of the year: Bryan HabanaBryan Habana began the season starring for the South African under-21 team at the World Cup. Although they were well beaten 49-27 by eventual winners New Zealand in pool play – the Kiwis would go on to crush Ireland 49-17 in the final – Habana showed his pace with a hat-trick of tries as NZ outscored SA seven tries to five.Habana didn’t play in the Super 12, but later in the season, when he cracked the nod for the Lions’ Currie Cup team, he excelled, crossing the tryline 10 times and showing a devastating burst of speed that left defenders floundering in his wake.The champions, the Blue Bulls, liked what they saw of him in the Currie Cup and moved to sign him for the 2005 season, where the potential of his pairing with Ettienne Botha is huge.Springbok coach Jake White recognised something special in Habana and pulled him into his Tri-Nations squad, where the versatile backline speedster had a chance to reap the benefits of the Springbok experience.He wasn’t a first choice option on the Boks’ end-of-season tour, but when he came on as a substitute against England he scored with his first touch of the ball. Against Scotland the following week he touched down twice.Not only that, Habana impressed with his very physical defence despite his being somewhat undersized by today’s standards of centres and wings.After a draining tour, far too late in an extended season in which many stalwarts struggled to find form, it was clear that the find of the tour was Bryan Habana. And when one considers that he started the season playing for SA under-21, and missed out on Super 12 action, it was definitely a case of a meteoric rise for him.Coach of the year: Jake WhiteHeyneke Meyer deserves mention for leading his Blue Bulls to a convincing defence of their Currie Cup title, but Jake White takes this honour because he brought back the world’s belief in Springbok rugby. It is hard to argue with his award as IRB International Coach of the Year. It was an one he richly deserved.The quick turnaround of people’s perception of the Boks – from the bad boys of world rugby to the exciting new talent – is down to White’s vision in identifying the right players, and his ability to communicate what he wants to those players. Some recent Springbok coaches failed miserably in that vital aspect of their job.By the end of the year, White had led the Springboks to nine wins and four defeats. The successes included victories over New Zealand for the first time since 2000, over Australia, Ireland (twice), the tough Pacific Islanders, Wales (twice), Argentina and Scotland.All the losses were away from home, to New Zealand by two points, to Australia by four points, to Ireland by five points, and in the sole really disappointing game of 2004, by 16 points to England.Obviously away form is something the Boks need to work at, but the signs are good that the team is moving in the right direction. Thanks, Jake.Provincial upset of the year: Griquas vs Sharks (Kimberley)Griquas are usually tough customers in Kimberley, but heading into their clash with the Sharks they had been thrashed 79-31 at home by Western Province and 63-6 by the same team in Cape Town. They had lost six of eight matches. The Sharks, meanwhile, had downed WP 29-18 in Durban.When the final whistle blew on the Griquas versus Sharks encounter, however, it was Griquas who came away with four points and a 33-24 win. And they were full value for their victory.Just how Griquas managed to pick themselves up and beat the most consistent team in the Currie Cup over the past decade is difficult to understand, but they clearly didn’t take a step back for the visitors.Both teams managed three tries apiece, but with the Griquas’ pack forcing the Sharks onto the back foot, the Natalians made plenty of errors for which they were made to pay by the accurate boot of Braam van Straaten.Even so, the home side’s win came after they fell 10-0 behind, which goes to show how much they eventually dominated the contest.Provincial game of the Year: Blue Bulls vs Western Province (Pretoria)The two teams met in the final round of the round robin competition in Pretoria and Western Province needed a positive result to clinch second spot on the log. It proved to be an epic encounter, with both teams scoring five tries in a 36-all draw as Province achieved their aim.Played in front of a packed stadium of 52 000, the match had it all, including Ettienne Botha scoring twice to show the Springbok selectors – to no avail – that he belonged in the green and gold.Early on the Blue Bulls led 14-0 thanks to those two Botha tries, but when Bulls’ hooker Danie Coetzee was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes the visitors made the champions pay in a big way.They ran in four tries while he was off, all just before half time, to take a good-looking 26-14 lead into the break. First it was Breyton Paulse going over, followed by De Wet Barry, Jean de Villiers, and Marius Joubert.The Bulls, however, who before the game had been accused of fielding a second-string line-up because they had rested some of their stars (they would qualify top of the table regardless of the outcome), had no plans to lie down and surrender.They came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, taking the fight to Western Province in the forwards. Pedrie Wannenberg and Warren Brosnihan pulled the Bulls back into the contest with tries for the Blue Bulls, and when Morne Steyn landed a penalty with four minutes left the scores were level at 29-all.Western Province, desperate for the points they needed for a home semi-final, hit back with a great try that was rounded off by De Villiers near the uprights. The successful conversion from Gaffie du Toit put WP 36-29 ahead, but the Blue Bulls were not done.They attacked mightily, forcing Province to concede penalty after penalty, which resulted in two yellow cards, for prop Pat Barnard and lock Johan van Zyl.The home team then made them pay, carrying the ball through 14 phases, prodding and prying left and right until Western Province finally ran out of defenders and Steyn flew over for the try. His conversion leveled the scores at 36-all and brought down the curtain on a great contest.Feel-good moment of the year: SA wins the Tri-NationsAfter the troubles of 2003 – Kamp Staaldraad and the World Cup wipeout – South Africa’s return to rugby respectability was confirmed when the Springboks clinched the Tri-Nations title in Durban in front of a deliriously happy crowd.I was lucky enough to be in the crowd that day. The energy of the expectations and hopes was electric, and when those dreams were realised with a 23-19 win over Australia the feel-good vibe that erupted was a joy to experience.The Tri-Nations title proved that the talent in South Africa that everyone knows exists can be moulded into a winning Springbok team, something that had become a little unclear in recent years.Optimism is now the key word for South African rugby fans as they cast their eyes to 2005.2004 Currie Cup Log 1. Blue Bulls 562. Western Province 463. Cheetahs 454. Lions 455. Sharks 336. Griquas 287. Pumas 238. Eagles 13 Currie Cup Top Scorers Willem de Waal (Cheetahs) 192Derick Hougaard (Blue Bulls) 188Braam van Straaten (Griquas) 143Nel Fourie (Lions) 138Conrad Barnard (Sharks) 137Gaffie du Toit (Western Province) 97 Currie Cup Top Try Scorers Ettienne Botha (Blue Bulls) 18Egon Seconds (Western Province) 13Giscard Pieters (Pumas) 12Bryan Habana (Lions) 10Breyton Paulse (Western Province) 10John Daniels (Lions) 9Frikkie Welsh (Blue Bulls) 9 Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Transportation is key for the future of U.S. agriculture

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Agriculture in the United States has long benefitted from having the best transportation infrastructure in the world.There are a number of key transportation projects going on right now that can help build upon and secure this advantage in the future. One important current transportation infrastructure measure is the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015 that would extend federal highway funding for the next six years.The House and Senate are working to send the bill to the White House for a signature before federal transportation funding expires on Nov. 20.“Eighty percent of America’s corn crop is trucked to market, so this issue affects all of us,” said Chip Bowling, National Corn Growers Association president. “Safe roads and bridges allow us to get our products to market quickly, safely, and efficiently. When roads and bridges aren’t properly maintained, it’s not just a nuisance — it puts our safety at risk and hurts our bottom lines.”The longer-term nature of the bill is very important for projects at the state level around the country, according to Mike Steenhoek, of the Soy Transportation Coalition.“It is very important for Congress to provide some kind of predictability of what their intentions and strategies will be for improving our nation’s surface transportation system. Building bridges and roads and maintaining them is very capital intensive and requires years of planning, but unfortunately Congress has responded to that need with unpredictable short-term legislative actions. What the states are requiring is a federal partner that is predictable. I would rather have the federal government be predictably good than sporadically great,” Steenhoek said. “It is important for them to come along side the states in order to preserve, maintain and improve the surface transportation system. The fact that Congress is actually getting close to a multi-year bill is a step in the right direction.”There was an effort to get the bipartisan Safe, Flexible and Efficient (SAFE) Trucking Act included in the bill that had broad support from agricultural organizations.“Unfortunately there were some missed opportunities. This SAFE amendment would have offered some enhancement and benefits for agriculture but Congress failed to embrace that opportunity,” Steenhoek said. “The legislation would have allowed states to permit six-axle, 91,000-pound semis on their interstate system. On our side we had facts and data. The other side had the opportunity to confuse, marginalize and frighten — and they used that very effectively. They simply made the statement that increased weight limits equal a more dangerous system. Unfortunately for many members of Congress that is all they needed in order to vote against that amendment.“The facts are that if you increase the weights with that extra axle, the stopping distances are actually less. You also have a given amount of freight transported by fewer trucks and less congestion and less probability of accidents. Unfortunately this requires more explanation and conversation with members of Congress who are really not open to it. The amendment was defeated. This issue is not going away, though. The U.S. economy continues to demand more trucking — about a 50% increase between now and 2040 — and Congress needs to address how we are going to adjust to this increased demand and congestion in a safe responsible way. This amendment was a missed opportunity for agriculture and many other industries, but overall it is good to have a bill moving along.”At the same time transportation is being discussed in Congress, the world is watching as the massive expansion of the Panama Canal is being completed.“The Panama Canal expansion will be completed by the end of this calendar year and will open for business in April of 2016. This is one of the links in our logistics chain and as it gets stronger and more robust, it will provide opportunities to U.S. agriculture. With the expansion in the Panama Canal, we will be able to load ocean vessels that hold easily 500,000 more bushels of soybean per vessel. A typical ocean vessel today is loaded with 2.1 or 2.2 million bushels, so adding 500,000 bushels is substantial. This is just shaving cents off the eventual delivered price at a time when agriculture is facing some headwinds from a strengthening U.S. dollar, a devaluation of the Brazilian Real, and a softening economy in China. This is a wonderful opportunity to provide benefits to U.S. agriculture by making our transportation system more efficient and making ourselves more competitive in the international marketplace.”last_img read more

Ohio grown hard cider back on the menu

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Northeast Ohio is getting a new homegrown, culinary offering courtesy of some down-to-earth sweat and determination.“I hesitate to say the first, but definitely one of the first farm cideries in Ohio since Prohibition,” said Matt Vodraska, of Bent Ladder, LLC. Bent Ladder is a new offshoot of Rittman Orchards & Farm Market, a family business that has grown in recent years to become a household name for homegrown fruits and vegetables locally, offering a plethora of foods from their bucolic slopes in Wayne County.Vodraska is the next generation of his family to be involved in the business. He grew up with fruit, moving from their Ohio fruit farm at the age of 12 to Washington state, later to Tennessee, all before the family came back to the Buckeye state 12 years ago to take over a rundown patch of land where they’ve since seen their business thrive. Matt certainly didn’t always picture himself coming back to the fruit life. He went to school to be a photojournalist, but life called him back to the orchard and 10 years ago, the idea of making wine and hard cider from their fruit became viable. It’s been a roller coaster ever since and Bent Ladder wine and hard cider mill is now opening its doors.“Ohio is actually really interesting when you talk about wine and hard cider,” Vodraska said. “There’s been a great proliferation of wineries in the past 20 years here. Before the 1920s, Ohio grew more grapes than anybody.”History, as we’ll learn, has played a great role in shaping not only the current state of the business, but the purpose of apples in particular down the years.With regard to Cider, “Ohio is really lagging behind the other fruit growing regions in the rest of the country. Washington, Oregon, New York — they all have burgeoning cider industries. I mean people are even doing great things in that state up north. Ohio is the only major fruit growing part of the country that doesn’t have a cider presence…yet.” said Matt, with an emphasis on the yet. “Hopefully the example we’re trying to set will encourage development of the cider industry here in the years to come.”Rittman Orchards sits on over 120 acres of hilly Wayne County land where the family and their employees grow fruits of all kinds. And grow they do — the farm boasts over 80 different varieties of apples. Those range anywhere from heirloom varieties to the modern day kind, though Matt said if he were to choose the most popular variety among customers, Honeycrisp would take the prize.“There are over 40 acres of apples that I have at my disposal for cider making – with both traditional and experimental hard cider varieties,” he said.With over 80 varieties at the operation’s disposal, many may wonder if certain apples are better for specific uses. The answer is yes, but the reasoning reaches back to the history of the everyday kitchen.“Until the late 1930s, with the proliferation of household refrigerators, there really wasn’t the concept of fresh fruit all year. People were eating fresh apples maybe a two or three months of the year. The rest of the time, apples were being consumed in the form of a processed food like applesauce. Canned fruits were prominent since the late 1800s, but before that it was strictly hard cider. So any of these varieties developed before the turn of the last century were good cider apples,” Vodraska said.“All of our heirloom varieties, though they’re good for eating, their true purpose was really as cider apples.”That fact is evident in his product. “I’d drink this all day,” he said as he sipped a hard cider from a blend of early American varieties. “This is what our forefathers tasted. This is the way cider is supposed to taste.”The production of such notable wines and hard ciders is hard work, but worth it he claims. “You can’t cut corners when you create a great product. We don’t believe you can growing exceptional fruit and we surely don’t believe you can crafting a product of the land.It takes quite a few apples to a make that glass of hard cider.“If you’re lucky, about 150 gallons per ton of apples. That works out to about 10 apples in a glass of cider,” Matt said.The process of turning the fruit into hard cider starts with cooling it down to 32 degrees, reducing disease risk and other unfavorables.“A lot of cider gets bad rap as being something that is half rotten and such — we don’t use anything like that. We use good, sound apples. Could be dinged up, but aren’t rotting.”Apples are then hosed down to remove debris from the field before being beaten by machine where the cell walls break down and the apple begins to release juice.The pumice is taken to the press where an inflatable bladder gently presses the juice. The machine that does it at Bent Ladder is of a European type, an example of Vodraska’s dedication to keeping the taste genuine through each step of the process. He would argue the popular American “rack and frame” press uses much higher pressure, and can result in some “off flavors” down the road.“The less you abuse the fruit, the better your end product will be,” he said. “So we try to keep everything as gentle as possible in the course of the operation.”The juice is extracted from the press and pumped into the tank room — an impressive sight as large, stainless steel food-grade tanks line the space.The cider is left to settle in a holding tank for 24-48 hours due to some particulate being left over from the extraction process. Enzymes help aid in the settling. After 48 hours, the cider makers transfer the liquid to another tank where it’s populated with a chosen yeast strain, all depending on the flavor profiles desired.“We add enzymes when we grind the apples to help the juice start to flow more freely.  They continue to work in the juice by breaking down the natural pectins and allowing solids to precipitate out.  We use the term “inoculate” when referring to the addition of a yeast strain to the must,” Vodraska said. ‘Must’ refers to a juice that is destined for cider/wine.“That’s where you really start making your mark as a cider maker,” Vodraska said. “But really, you can’t make great wine or great cider in the cellar. Anybody that tells you otherwise is lying. Great wine and great cider is grown. So I just try not to screw up my brother’s work.”And it truly is a family business. Though Matt has taken on the responsibilities of making wine and bringing artisan hard ciders back to Ohio, his family has been busy in the traditional operation. He and is older brother Chris, who is heavily involved on the growing side, join their parents Dale and Peg — all of which stay busy this time of year.On the day this reporter visited with Matt, it happened to coincide with his birthday, but there were no balloons to be found. “We don’t celebrate birthdays during harvest,” he said with a smile.The family has put notable amount of effort into making their Ohio home productive again, ripping out the old orchards and replanting the property since 2005. More recently, work towards winery supply was taken up.“Its an ongoing process. We put the large apple and peach orchards in during the 2005 planting season but we have added multiple orchards in the years since.  We are now more in upkeep mode as we have had to start replanting again,” he said. “We started planting grapes 7 or 8 years ago. You don’t see any production at all for the first three years. Year four you might get a very light crop, but it’s not until five or six years down the road that you start getting any sizeable production, in terms of both quantity and quality. It’s similar to apples. You aren’t really going to get much crop for three or four years out of an apple tree either, even the dwarf varieties we grow.“We’ve been selling our grapes to other wineries in the area for the past few years. They’ve won some awards using our fruit, so we know we are on the right track.”Bent Ladder has also allowed the family to diversify their business, a smart option according to Matt.“This place serves as sort of a backup. Bad things happen in Ohio in terms of weather. We’ve had hail damage a couple years — windstorms, torrential rains — just awful things. So we can take damaged fruit that would otherwise be unmarketable for fresh market and process it into cider. It’s definitely an insurance policy. ”That doesn’t mean cider fruit is below par by any means, Vodraska said. The cider maker takes too much pride in his work to put out anything below excellent. And with things getting going, he hopes to take his beverages on the road this spring in terms of competition.“I will be set to offer by mid-October about eight or nine different ciders. By the end of winter, I’ll have released a half dozen kinds of wine as well. My full lineup will probably be around 12-15 ciders and about 10 different kinds of wine.”The business has also made their way onto the city scene in the form of locally focused restaurants.“We’ve developed a lot of really good relationships with the locally oriented chefs in Cleveland who’ve all expressed an interest and desire to serve a locally produced cider.”Visitors, of course, are welcome to the cideries’ impressive tasting room, which is nothing to scoff at. The tasting area revolves around a large window, overlooking the picturesque property of Rittman Orchards. The tables were built by local Amish and some walls inside are made with repurposed barn siding formerly in use around the area. The tasting room is not to be mistaken with a full-fledged restaurant. It revolves around the crafted beverages with cheese boards and fresh breads, in the traditional vein.“The next few weekends, we’ll be doing limited hours from 12-9 on Fridays and Saturdays. We’ll start into more regular hours three or four days a week sometime in October.”Matt hopes to introduce a new cider variety every week or two through the fall, in order to keep the offerings fresh and to give visitors another reason to return, though he mentioned the size of the operation isn’t something he sees changing down the road. The family is happy keeping “artisan quality” at the forefront of their business description.last_img read more

Unified Communications: Saved by the Cloud?

first_imgUnified communications was a notable absent In Gartner’s top 10 strategic technologies for 2010. For years, the idea of a common platform for seemingly all communications seemed bewildering. Cisco CEO John Chambers said that even CIO’s were unsure what unified communications really meant. But now here it is raising its flag once again with predictions from ABI Research that the unified communications market will jump from $302 million in 2008 to $4.3 billion by 2014. Seems like a big jump? Not really if you compare it to what at least one other analyst group is predicting.Interestingly, the reason for the growth may be in part due to cloud computing, which not surprising is the number one technology on Gartner’s list for 2010.For years, unified communications has held promise as a product or suite of products that had a unifying user interface that, according to Wikipedia, would integrate real-time communication services “such as as instant messaging (chat); presence information; IP telephony; video conferencing; call control and speech recognition with non real-time communication services such as unified messaging (integrated voicemail, e-mail, SMS and fax).”Over the years, camps divided as people grappled with the idea of how all these technologies come together. Cisco recently dumped the term “unified communications,” in favor of “Cisco Collaboration.” They are smart over at Cisco. Collaboration is definitely the new black. There’s not a lot new behind the curtain but collaboration has an edge to it that is getting the attention of the enterprise.But now comes along cloud computing and the vendors seem to be learning that perhaps unified communications should be treated as a service.Vendors like Cisco are teaming up with SaaS services like Salesforce.com and VOIP providers such as Skype. The potential proves to In-Stat that the market for unified communications will jump to $39 billion by 2013. It may be easy to poke fun a the hype around cloud computing these days. But there is actual proof that whatever you want to call it, cloud computing is playing a significant part in the growth of unified communications. Services that interconnect across devices and provide the capability for collaboration are emerging in a variety of flavors. More proof of what is to come? Aire-Spring represents a new breed of telecommunications companies. They are also one of the fastest growing operators. The comany has built an IP network from scratch. The company is processing 4 billion calls annually.Those are big numbers fitting for a market that is just about to burst. Related Posts alex williams 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now Tags:#Analysis#enterprise#Trends center_img Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of… IT + Project Management: A Love Affair Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo…last_img read more


first_imgOn the Final day of last week’s X Blades National 18 Years and Under Championships, volunteers who had contributed to the tournament were publicly acknowledged by Touch Football Australia centrefield at the BCU Coffs Harbour International Stadium.Touch Football Australia National Media Coordinator Karley Banks provides this special insight into one the vital cogs in our Technical Volunteer army, with an inside look at the work performed by the Director of Elite Programs Cathy Gray, and respected National Selectors Les Wellbourne, and Karen Larose within the High Performance Youth Program.Please click on the below attachment to read the full story.Related Filesselectors_story_-_18s_2007-pdflast_img read more

TIFF 2018 How the film festival hopes to fix a broken industry

first_img Twitter Advertisement Advertisement TIFF is an organization caught in the middle of this turbulent social moment, an event both dedicated to celebrating a broken industry – and to fixing it. As the new festival unspools, TIFF has just appointed a woman, the American indie film champion Joana Vicente, as its co-director; it can report another increase in female directors on its program, and it is continuing a new initiative promoting women’s careers in film: In 2018, the festival is a more female-centric organization offering an increasingly diverse lineup. So, TIFF has the #MeToo wind in its sails, but is the voyage ahead just a late-summer pleasure cruise or a long trip to different shores? Harvey Weinstein, Bryan Cranston and Neil Burger at a TIFF party in 2017. LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment center_img It’s September and Hollywood has come to town. The stars dutifully twinkle at the parties celebrating their premieres. At the Thompson, Nicole Kidman is spotted with George Clooney; at the Citizen, Jessica Chastain appears with celebrated screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. And at the Cactus Club, Benedict Cumberbatch, star of a new movie called The Current War, is photographed alongside his producer, super mogul Harvey Weinstein.That was TIFF 2017. A year later, a new crop of actors is promoting a new crop of films but Weinstein, who now faces six sexual assault charges in New York, will not be in attendance. Meanwhile, celebrity hunters debate whether actors Casey Affleck, who settled two sexual-harassment claims out of court in 2010, or Emile Hirsch, convicted of attacking a woman at party in 2015, will show their faces on the red carpet when their new films are unveiled. Their names did not appear on a guest list released to media last week.It has been 11 months since The New York Times and The New Yorker outed Weinstein as an alleged sexual predator, unleashing hundreds of similar accusations that used the social-media hashtag #MeToo to tear the veil off widespread sexual harassment in the entertainment and media industries. And there are still many days when sexism in the film business seems intractable. Every other film with a female lead or a female director refers to #MeToo in its media material, but male characters still account for most protagonists in big-budget Hollywood movies while less than a quarter of those productions employ female directors, writers, or cinematographers – a number that hasn’t changed since the 1990s. Facebook Advertisement Login/Register With:last_img read more

If Modi wins, there will be no poll after 2019: CM

first_imgNEW DELHI: Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday claimed that if the BJP forms the next government at the Centre, Narendra Modi will become prime minister of the country forever as there will be no election after the 2019 polls. Kejriwal said he is convinced that if the Modi government wins the 2019 elections then these would be the last elections and they will change the constitution, just as Sakshi Maharaj has claimed.While making the allegations, Kejriwal appealed to the people to ensure the defeat of the saffron party. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murder”Today, every patriot should have only one motive to stop the Modi government from coming back to power again at any cost… if they (BJP) come to power in 2019, he (Modi) will be the prime minister forever,” he said. If Modi becomes the prime minister again, there will be no election in the country, warned Kejriwal. He was speaking at a function to unveil a book “Vada Faramoshi”, a compilation of replies under the Right to Information Act to queries on the Central government’s works. The book was written by Neeraj Kumar, Sanjoy Basu and Shashi Shekhar. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsHe said that the present situation of the country is scary because when a citizen asks questions or raises his voice against the government, he is termed as “anti-national”. Commenting on the recent viral video of a Muslim family being brutally beaten by goons, he said that it is being done in the name of Hindutva although nowhere in Hindu religion is written to beat the Muslims or for that matter anyone. Comparing the situation to the one prevailing in Germany during Hitler’s rule where people were beaten publicly if they raised their voices against Hitler’s regime, he said “we are facing the same conditions in our country today. Minorities are beaten up if they ask any questions about the government and its actions.” The chief minister made the claim referring to the recent incident involving a “brutal” attack on the members of Muslim family in Gurugram, and said the people from minority community were being “beaten up, harassed and murdered today without any fault”. “Today, anyone who questions the Modi government is labelled an ‘anti-national’,” he added. The seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi will go to polls on May 12.last_img read more

SBI puts NPAs worth Rs 424 crore on sale via auction

first_imgNew Delhi: State-run State Bank of India (SBI) said on Tuesday that it has put non-performing assets (NPAs or bad loans) worth Rs 423.67 crore on auction to recover unpaid dues. The accounts — Kamachi Industries owes Rs 364.80 crore and SNS Starch has Rs 58.87 crore due – to SBI, the bank said. The bidding for these properties will start on April 25. SBI, the country’s largest lender, has been active as well on NPA recovery channels outside the insolvency process . Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal The bank is looking to sell all of these stressed assets on a 100 per cent cash-basis, but the actual realisation will depend on the reserve price and bids received from the buyers. The SBI has seen its asset quality improve in the current fiscal. The percentage of its net NPAs eased to 3.95 per cent in the third quarter of the last fiscal, from 4.84 per cent in the previous quarter. Last month, the bank had put NPAs worth Rs 6,169 crore on auction.last_img read more