New RIKEN chief pledges to restore public faith in Japanese lab system

first_imgTOKYO—On his first day on the job as the new president of RIKEN, Japan’s network of national labs, Hiroshi Matsumoto pledged to follow through on his predecessor’s plans for addressing shortcomings that created an environment for research misconduct. “We need to instill high standards of research ethics among individual scientists,” he said.Meeting reporters this evening, Matsumoto briefly outlined other initial priorities, saying he will visit all the widely scattered sites under the RIKEN banner to listen to researchers’ concerns and gather information firsthand. At an institutional level, a challenge he faces will be taking advantage of RIKEN’s new status as a national research and development institute, which promises more flexibility in managing operations, including the ability to recruit world-class researchers with competitive compensation and support.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Matsumoto is taking over as RIKEN tries to put the STAP scandal behind it. A brash claim of a new, easy way to create stem cells by a RIKEN team unraveled over the past year as a series of investigations concluded there was research misconduct, fraudulent papers (now retracted), lax oversight, and, finally, that the cells never existed. The fallout included the suicide of a renowned scientist who co-authored the papers, the resignation of the lead author, penalties for senior co-authors, a reorganization of the institute involved, and a lot of bad press for RIKEN. Matsumoto said that he intends to rigorously follow through with implementing an action plan developed by a committee advising his predecessor, Nobel laureate Ryoji Noyori, who stepped down in the middle of his third 5-year term. The plan encompasses a collection of countermeasures intended to prevent the recurrence of such misconduct.An engineer who specialized in space plasma physics, Matsumoto, 72, spent his entire academic career at Kyoto University, save for stints as a visiting researcher at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, in 1975 and at Stanford University in 1980. He was the principal investigator of the Plasma Wave Instrument on the Geotail satellite, a joint mission of Japan’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Science and NASA. Launched in 1992, Geotail is still gathering data on Earth’s magnetosphere. Matsumoto was president of Kyoto University for a 6-year term that ended last August. He has also served on the government’s Committee on National Space Policy.At today’s press conference, Matsumoto echoed themes from a message posted on RIKEN’s website. He wants researchers to recognize that their efforts must benefit the citizens of Japan and worldwide society. “The challenge will be finding the right balance between giving researchers freedom and ensuring contributions to society,” he said.last_img read more

Low turnout in constituencies with star candidates

first_imgBarring one, many constituencies in Maharashtra which boasted of candidates with star appeal failed to attract voters for the Assembly elections. Worli, from where Shiv Sena’s Aaditya Thackeray made his electoral debut, registered an almost 5% dip in voting percentage from 55.75% in 2014 to 50.20% on Monday.Nagpur South West, the constituency of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, registered a drop of around 6% from 56.23% in 2014 to 50.37% this time. State unit president of the BJP, Chandrakant Patil, who has shifted from Kolhapur to Kothrud in Pune, may find the going tough with the constituency seeing a major drop of around 9% voters. In 2014, 56.53% electorate exercised their franchise, which has come down to 47.20% this time. Mr. Patil had initially faced opposition from the Brahmin community after the BJP refused the ticket to sitting party MLA Medha Kulkarni.In Parli in Beed where the Munde cousins — Pankaja and Dhananjay — are fighting it out, the voter turnout has gone down to 70.12% from 71.12% in 2014. The battle has become personal and emotional after Mr. Munde allegedly made objectionable comment against Ms. Munde and her supporters filed a police complaint. Mr. Munde too has filed an FIR against the BJP’s social media cell for distorting his speech clip.The only star seat which registered an increase in turnout was Karjat-Jamkhed in Ahmednagar district, where NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s grandnephew Rohit is making his electoral debut against State minister Ram Shinde (BJP). In 2014, the constituency recorded 66.11% voting which has gone up to 71.49% this time.last_img read more

Opponents know what I’m capable of: Chris Gayle

first_imgWest Indies destructive batsman Chris Gayle is all pumped for the forthcoming ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup saying that the bowlers know about his capabilities and they know he is the ‘most dangerous batsman’.”Youngsters coming at my head – it’s not as easy as it was like one time before. I was quicker then. But they’ll be weary. They know what the Universe Boss is capable of. I’m sure they will have it in the back of their mind, ‘Hey, this is the most dangerous batsman they’ve ever seen in cricket’,” Cricket.com.au quoted Gayle, as saying.Gayle is also very confident in saying that opponents are scared of him, however, they just opt not to admit this on camera.”Can’t you tell? You go ask them. Go ask them on camera. They’re going to say, no, they’re not scared.But you ask them off the camera, they going to say, ‘Yeah, he’s the man. He’s the man.’ They’re going to say, ‘he’s the man’,” he said. “But they won’t say it (on camera), they won’t be frank and upfront and say, ‘Listen to me straight up, Chris Gayle is the man,” he added.Universe Boss Gayle has hammered 326 sixes in Indian Premier League (IPL), most by any player. Surprisingly, no other player has even reached the 300-mark as the second positioned batsman, AB de Villiers has just 212 sixes.The 39-year old also said that it is hard to quit if you enjoy the sport while expressing that it is just the World Cup title which will satisfy him.advertisement”If you’re enjoying it, it’s always easy (to keep playing) and I’m enjoying it. I’ve been having a lot of fun on the field, and it’s a great bunch of guys as well – that’s important,” he said.”There’s nothing to go out there and prove, the only thing that would be nice is to win the World Cup,” Gayle added.West Indies will compete with Pakistan for their first World Cup 2019 clash on May 31.Also Read | World Cup 2019: Buttler is England’s dangerman, says PontingAlso Read | India knocked out of Sudirman Cup after 0-3 loss to ChinaAlso Seelast_img read more

Mets Women’s Open Champions

first_imgThe Sydney Mets are the Women’s Open’s Champions, after beating the South Queensland Sharks 5-4 in a tight match at the 2009 X-Blades National Touch League.The Mets, with a raft of Australian representatives, had defeated the Barbarians in the semi-final, whilst the Sharks, who had Australian captain Sharyn Williams plus other Australian representatives in their ranks, beat the Rustlers in a tight encounter.The Sydney Mets had first touch of the ball, and scored straight away. Bojana Marli latched on to the end of a cut out pass to score. The Sharks then scored immediately after, through Roxy Winder, to level the scores after just a minute.The cut out pass was the play of the day early in the match, with two of the first three tries coming from them.The third touchdown, scored in the very next set, was the second from a cut out ball, and Maribel Ziade scored to give the Mets the break.It was not until the 17th minute that there was another score, this time The Sharks’ Emma Giarola scoring after some quick running from the half. The start of the second half mirrored the first, this time however the Sharks scored in the first set, through Kristy Brennan, who latched onto another cut out ball. Two minutes later, a good run from Nicky Albery gave Leah Opie a touchdown and brought the Mets back onto level pegging with the Sharks.Some quick hands by the Mets just a minute later put Marli over the line again, to get her double and give the Mets  the lead.Mets captain and Australian representative Louise Winchester was the next to score, after some great work from fellow Australian representative Seline Thornton, and gave the Mets some breathing space, taking them two points ahead.It was short-lived, however, after some great ducking and weaving and switching play from the Sharks to put Shae McLeaod through with a minute and a half left on the clock.Unfortunately, the Sharks could not score again, giving the Mets the title of Women’s Champions at the 2009 X-Blades National Touch League.last_img read more

Australian Open: Novak Djokovic advances to semis after Kei Nishikori retires hurt

first_img Abreshmina S Quadri MelbourneJanuary 23, 2019UPDATED: January 23, 2019 15:39 IST Australian Open 2019: Novak Djokovic advanced to semis after Kei Nishikori was forced to retire just 52 minutes in the match. (Reuters Photo)HIGHLIGHTSNovak Djokovic will take on Lucas Pouille in the Australian Open semisDjokovic’s quarter-final ended in 52 minutes as Kei Nishikori retiredDjokovic stayed on course for a record 7th Australian Open titleIt was a disappointing end to a fighting campaign from Kei Nishikori while Novak Djokovic advanced into the semi-finals all fresh after a victory over Kei Nishikori. Nishikori retired with a right thigh problem while trailing 1-6, 1-4 in the quarter-final of the Australian Open at the Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday.Nishikori has spent over 13 hours on court prior to this match but none saw this coming. Djokovic had also come into the match at the back of a physical four-set victory against Daniil Medvedev in the fourth round.Even though Djokovic was sorry for Nishikori and the crowd for not having a full match, he joked that “this is what the doctor orderer”. Djokovic’s next opponent will be France’s Lucas Pouille.Pouille, just prior to Djokovic’s match, defeated Milos Raonic 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-4 in three hours and two minutes. Considering how long his opponent played on Wednesday, Djokovic would cherish the relief to his body was afforded in the quarter-final. Kei Nishikori received treatment on his right knee after the 1st set loss to Novak Djokovic. (Reuters Photo)Djokovic came into the match with a bang on attitude and managed to break Nishikori right away. Nishikori fought and fought but Djokovic was just too strong.Nishikori even took a medical time-out after the first set loss with the trainer massaging his right thigh. Nishikori got his thigh tightly strapped but the effect lasted only for a while before he lost his movement again.Djokovic got through Nishikori’s serve once more and the Japanese decided that the pain was too much.advertisementBye for now, @keinishikori.We hope to see you next year!#AusOpen pic.twitter.com/Od8K1Vj45a#AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 23, 2019Djokovic is a 6-time champion in Melbourne and will be looking for a record 7th Australian Open title.Also Read | Karolina Pliskova shocks Serena Williams to enter semi-finalsAlso Read | I didn’t choke on match points, Pliskova played her best tennis: Serena WilliamsAlso Read | Watch how an insect scared Naomi Osaka during Australian Open quarters winFor sports news, updates, live scores and cricket fixtures, log on to indiatoday.in/sports. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for Sports news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Tags :Follow Novak DjokovicFollow Kei NishikoriFollow Australian Open Australian Open: Novak Djokovic advances to semis after Kei Nishikori retires hurtAustralian Open 2019: Novak Djokovic made it to the semi-final in Melbourne Park after Japanese star Kei Nishikori retired with a thigh problem, trailing 1-6, 1-4.advertisement Nextlast_img read more

Wimbledon champion Simona Halep honoured with Star of Romania and Patriarchal Cross

first_imgWimbledon champion Simona Halep honoured with Star of Romania and Patriarchal CrossSimona Halep became the first Romanian to win a Wimbledon singles title after stunning seven-times champion Serena Williams in the final last week.advertisement Next Reuters BucharestJuly 16, 2019UPDATED: July 16, 2019 19:30 IST The Wimbledon 2019 was Simona Halep’s second Grand Slam title (Reuters Photo)HIGHLIGHTSSimona Halep beat Serena Williams 6-2 6-2 in the 56-minute women’s singles finalIt was Halep’s second Grand Slam title following her triumph at Roland Garros in Paris last yearRomania’s presidency and the Orthodox Church awarded Halep their highest distinctionsRomania’s presidency and the Orthodox Church awarded Wimbledon tennis champion Simona Halep their highest distinctions on Monday while hundreds of fans cheered her home after she blitzed American legend Serena Williams at the weekend.Halep, 27, became the first Romanian to win a Wimbledon singles title after stunning seven-times champion Serena Williams 6-2 6-2 in the 56-minute match final on Saturday.”I played my chance. I did the best I could and that’s why I managed to win,” a beaming Halep told reporters at Bucharest international airport, clutching her trophy and flowers as fans shouted “Bravo, Simona!”.”I’ve been staying focused on my tactics … Serena is the best player of all times.”It was Halep’s second Grand Slam title following her triumph at Roland Garros in Paris last year.The presidency awarded her the Star of Romania while the church gave her the Patriarchal Cross.”I always make the sign of the cross and believe in God because nothing can be done without the help of God,” Halep said last year after winning in Paris.Also Read | WTA rankings: Simona Halep returns to top 5 as 15-year-old Coco Gauff soarsAlso Read | It was the best match I’ve ever played: Simona Halep after maiden Wimbledon winAlso Read | Simona Halep downs Serena Williams in one-sided final for maiden Wimbledon titleFor sports news, updates, live scores and cricket fixtures, log on to indiatoday.in/sports. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for Sports news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byrohan sen Tags :Follow Simona HalepFollow Wimbledon 2019Follow Serena Williamslast_img read more

Exploring Mikmaq Heritage in Debert and Belmont

first_imgA team of geologists and archaeologists is about to start looking for ancient sites in the Debert-Belmont area of Colchester County where the early ancestors of the Mi’kmaq once lived. The sites are the earliest evidence of human settlement in the province, and are considered to be of provincial, national and international significance. The province will provide $93,800 for the project, which is part of an ongoing effort by the aboriginal community to protect and interpret the Mi’kmaq presence in the Debert area. The project will be managed by the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq. “Evidence of Mi’kmaw history that might have been lost forever will be saved, thanks to this partnership project with the province,” said Don Julien, executive director, Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq. “The research will help us protect the archaeological sites where our Mi’kmaw ancestors once lived.” The Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage will invest $48,800 and the Office of Aboriginal Affairs will provide $45,000 to identify Debert’s early Mi’kmaq archaeological sites from the Paleo Period, approximately 11,000 to 12,000 years old. The project includes creation of an inventory of the sites, study of the findings, and development of plans to ensure their preservation. “It is important that we identify and protect sites which will help current and future generations better understand the history and culture of our Mi’kmaq residents,” said Michael Baker, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. “This project is an important part of preserving Nova Scotia’s rich cultural and natural heritage,” said Rodney MacDonald, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. “We are investing in this vital work through the Nova Scotia Historic Places Initiative, a program that identifies and celebrates sites that have historic significance in our communities.” Earlier this week, a team led by the Department of Natural Resources started exploring the area to identify and map land forms from the Paleo Period. Land formations and waterways were very different 12,000 years ago. By knowing how the landscape looked in the past, archaeologists can determine more precisely the location of ancient places. The research will be used to identify and map the boundaries of archaeological sites. A site management plan will be developed to ensure preservation and protection.last_img read more

Doctors providing medically assisted death gather for first national meeting

first_imgVANCOUVER – Doctors who provide assisted death are meeting for the first time since the service became legal in Canada to discuss how some eligible patients are not getting the help they need to end their lives because of confusion over one phrase in the right-to-die law.Dr. Jonathan Reggler, a family physician in the Vancouver Island community of Courtenay, said he has helped about a dozen people die since last June.Reggler, a member of the Canadian Association of Medical Assistance In Dying Assessors and Providers, said physicians and other health-care professionals including nurse practitioners are gathering in Victoria on Friday and Saturday to discuss a set of adopted clinical guidelines based on their shared experiences.The one-year-old law that allows doctors to end the lives of people whose natural death is “reasonably foreseeable” is the subject of a constitutional challenge by two terminally ill women who say they’ve been denied the service because their death is not imminent.Reggler said guidelines developed by the association that represents “hundreds” of health-care practitioners providing assisted death across the country include a recommendation to replace the term “reasonably foreseeable” with “reasonably predictable.”Clinicians use the term predictability when assessing the course of a disease based on a patient’s condition and other factors including age and frailty, he said.“‘Reasonably foreseeable’ is not a term used in clinical medicine,” he said, adding ‘predictable’ allows medical professionals to more clearly understand the law, which he believes has so far been misinterpreted, leading to inequity in services in various provinces.“There is enough expertise within the profession and particularly within (the association) that we can move away from doctors turning to lawyers to help them understand what it means and start to see it as ordinary clinical practice,” he said of medically assisted death.Reggler said other agreed-upon guidelines include doctors not using rigid time frames regarding prognosis of a patient’s condition because that is specifically precluded from the law.However, he said some facilities have used strict limits on the maximum length of prognosis, denying eligible patients a medically assisted death.A Health Canada senior policy analyst will also make a presentation at the meeting about reporting requirements and seek input from assisted-death doctors who have found the documentation process too onerous, Reggler said.Payment for assisted dying services will also be on the agenda, he said, adding there is currently no billing codes for the service that often includes travel time to visit patients who are unable to come for appointments.“My understanding is that in Nova Scotia, for example, none of the physicians actually carrying out medical assistance in dying have received any funding at all,” he said.Presenters at the two-day meeting will include doctors from across the country as well as lawyer Joe Arvay, whose case involving client Kay Carter resulted in a landmark Supreme Court of Canada ruling in 2015, leading to the right-to-die law.The top court directed that medical assistance in dying should be available to consenting, competent adults with “grievous and irremediable” medical conditions that are causing enduring intolerable suffering.There was no requirement that the condition be terminal or that a person be near death.— Follow @CamilleBains1 on Twitter.last_img read more

Need to harness technology innovation to help the poor stressed at UN

“We must provide incentives to various stakeholders, including the private sector, so that they do indeed focus their efforts on the needs of poor people,” Deputy-Secretary-General Louise Fréchette told the “Global Roundtable Forum on Innovation and Investment.” The purpose of the meeting was to discuss ways in which science and technology, and especially information and communications technologies (ICTs), could help meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).Stressing that developing nations were the least likely to have taken advantage of technology because of lack of resources, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Jose Antonio Ocampo said that science and technology should help “cure diseases, address environmental concerns, communicate across great distances, and empower people to realize their human potential.”Bringing technology to the poor will require new political will and additional finances, said Mr. Ocampo who is also acting as Chair of the UN ICT Task force.President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, who chaired the Forum, said the development promise of science and technology “remains unfulfilled for the poor of the world.” Strengthening educational institutions and research and development organizations in the developing countries and their effective linkages with industry is therefore “vital,” he added.Figures relating to the “digital divide” made for “grim reading,” with 1 billion people in the world without telephone access, and 800,000 villages or 30 per cent of villages worldwide without any kind of connection, said Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi. At the same time, people in the developed world own 13 times more personal computers than 85 per cent of the world population, he said.Building scientific capacity and promoting technological adaptation for science and technology are part and parcel of the UN MDGs, which seek to slash a host of socio-economic ills, such as extreme poverty, hunger, and preventable diseases, by 2015. read more

Immunization gamechangers should be the norm worldwide says UN health agency

Getting back on trackMany of the successes achieved last year resulted from strengthened leadership and accountability at all levels¬ – national, regional and global.“When countries and partners establish and enforce clear accountability systems, measure results and take corrective action when results are not achieved, gaps in immunization can be closed,” added Dr Okwo-Bele. Last year, the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) identified 5 factors to achieving significant results in immunization coverage: quality and use of data community involvement better access to immunization services for marginalized and displaced populations strong health systems access to vaccines in all places at all times In strengthening the quality and use of data, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution last year on vaccine pricing, which called on countries to provide their vaccine prices to WHO. The agency’s database currently contains 1,600 vaccine price records on almost 50 different types of vaccines from 42 countries, but also from international buyers such as the procurement platform available in the WHO Region of the Americas and from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), making it the largest international vaccine price database. Because prices paid for vaccines represent a large share of countries’ immunization budgets and the prices of new vaccines are higher than those of traditional vaccines, the agency noted that costs represent a strong barrier to countries introducing new vaccines. The UN World Health Organization (WHO) announced that during World Immunization Week 2016, which begins Sunday, it will be highlighting recent gains in immunization coverage, and outlining further steps countries can take to meet global vaccination targets by 2020. “Last year immunization led to some notable wins in the fight against polio, rubella and maternal and neonatal tetanus,” says Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, in a press release. “But they were isolated wins. Polio was eliminated in one country, tetanus in three, and rubella in one geographical region. The challenge now is to make gains like this the norm,” she added. According to WHO, immunization averts two to three million deaths annually; however, an additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided if global vaccination coverage improves. Today, an estimated 18.7 million infants – nearly one in five children worldwide – are still missing routine immunizations for preventable diseases, such as diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus.In 2012, the World Health Assembly endorsed the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP), a commitment to ensure that no one misses out on vital immunizations. Despite gains in vaccination coverage in some regions and countries the past year, global vaccination targets remain off track.WHO noted that only one out of six targets is on track – the introduction of new or underutilized vaccines in low- and middle-income countries. During the past five years, 86 low- and middle-income countries have made 128 introductions of the following vaccines: Hib-containing vaccine, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), rotavirus vaccine, human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV), rubella and inactivated polio vaccine. The target is to introduce one or more new or underutilized vaccines in at least 90 low- and middle-income countries by 2015.Game-changers in immunizationLast year reportedly saw some major breakthroughs. India joined Cambodia, Madagascar and Mauritania in eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus. It also improved coverage of the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis-containing vaccines (DTP3) to 83 per cent.Despite challenges imposed by Ebola, including for routine immunization coverage, the African Region became one-step closer to being certified polio-free with the removal of Nigeria from the list of polio-endemic countries. As recently as 2012, the country accounted for more than half of all polio cases worldwide. Now, only two countries – Afghanistan and Pakistan – remain polio endemic.The Region of the Americas became the first to eliminate rubella, a contagious viral disease that can cause multiple birth defects as well as foetal death when contracted by women during pregnancy. Additionally, five years after the introduction of an affordable conjugate meningitis A vaccine, immunization of more than 230 million people has led to the control and near elimination of deadly meningitis A disease in the African “meningitis belt” that stretches from Senegal to Ethiopia.New vaccines against dengue, Ebola and malaria have the potential to be game-changers in immunization in the near future. For example, through a “ring-vaccination” strategy, the Ebola vaccine is being given to anyone who has come into contact with a person infected with Ebola, as well as contacts of theirs.And, the new polio vaccination regimen, with the withdrawal of type 2 oral polio vaccine in 155 countries this month, represents a critical step towards a polio-free world.“Although the world has seen some achievements in immunization, global vaccination coverage has stalled the past few years,” said Dr Flavia Bustreo, WHO Assistant Director-General Family, Women and Children’s Health and Vice-Chair of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance Board. “Far too many opportunities to reach unvaccinated children and close the immunization gap are still being missed every day.” Reducing missed opportunities To improve vaccination coverage, WHO is calling on countries to reach more children missed by routine delivery systems, especially those living in countries, districts or areas where less than 80 per cent of them are receiving vaccines or those living in countries affected by conflicts or emergencies.More than 60 per cent of children who are unvaccinated live in 10 countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Uganda and South Africa.Equally, when a child or adult who is unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated visits a health facility for any reason, their vaccination record should be checked by healthcare workers and they should be given all vaccines they are missing. However, recent field assessments in American and African Regions have shown that between 23 and 96 per cent of eligible children who visited a health facility for vaccination or for medical care, left the health facility without receiving the vaccine doses they needed.“These children are not what we would consider ‘hard-to-reach’ or underserved populations,” said Dr Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele, Director of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals at WHO. “Children who are already present in health facilities are easy wins in improving vaccination coverage.” Women wait to have their children vaccinated against polio in a health centre in Erbil, Kurdistan region of Iraq. Photo: UNICEF/Anmar read more

Researchers sexism fears are putting womens health at risk scientist claims

first_imgThe research is then generalised and widened out for women, despite there being evidence gender “matters fundamentally, powerfully and pervasively”.Scientists have widely failed to highlight the differences for fear of being “a pariah in the eyes of neuroscience mainstream”, possibly to the detriment of women’s health, it was claimed.According to The Times, neurobiologist Larry Cahill, from the University of California Irvine, said for years the assumption had been that “once you get outside of reproductive functions, what you find in males and females is fundamentally the same and therefore there is no reason to study both sexes – and beyond that it is not good to study females as they have pesky circulating hormones”.He added that the last two decades had proven the assumption as “false, false, false”. “The heart of the resistance is the view that if neuroscience shows males and females are not the same in brain function, we are showing they are not equal. That is false,” he said. The heart of the resistance is the view that if neuroscience shows males and females are not the same in brain function, we are showing they are not equalProfessor Larry Cahill Scientists have widely failed to highlight the differences for fear of being “a pariah in the eyes of neuroscience mainstream”, it has been claimedCredit:Cultura Creative (RF) / Alamy Stock Photo Scientists’ fear of being labelled sexist is putting women’s health at risk because researchers have ignored crucial gender differences in the brain, it has been claimed.Male and female brains react differently to drugs when it comes to some conditions, such as strokes, but research predominantly concentrates on men, the guest editor of this month’s Journal of Neuroscience Research said.   Scientists have widely failed to highlight the differences for fear of being “a pariah in the eyes of neuroscience mainstream” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. One example Prof Cahill gave was Alzheimer’s, where apoptosis – the process of programmed cell death – occurs differently in men and women. Scientists looking into the process and coming up with drugs to deal with the illness “would damn well be aware of the differences”, he added.It was added that in some drugs testing cases, these generalisations may have instead put men’s health at risk. Lazaroids, a rejected stroke treatment, may have worked for men but was deemed as no longer working after being used on both sexes.Eric Prager, the editor of the journal, said in the future any submissions would have to state the sex of the subjects used, as well as an explanation of why this is the case.last_img read more

Eyewitness describes Whitehall terror arrest suspect looked relaxed

first_imgEyewitness Chris Kacyk recalls the arrest of the man suspected of plotting to carry out a terrorist attack in Westminster on Thursday. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img

LETTER HPV Vaccine for boys right thing to do even if

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedOp-Ed: HPV vaccines are safe, all children should be immunized with itNovember 8, 2017In “Opinion”Latin America, C’bean record over 28,000 cervical cancer deaths annuallyFebruary 1, 2019In “Health”“Life is a big deal” – Min Lawrence at HPV awareness concertOctober 15, 2017In “Health” Dear Editor:In 2010, as Minister of Health, I announced the HPV Vaccine Initiative. In 2011, we launched the HPV vaccine Initiative for girls 9 to 11 years old. The Initiative’s implementation was launched with a simple ceremony at the Grove (East bank Demerara) Health Center. I spoke at the launching. Among the persons present was the Regional Health Officer, who at the time was Dr. Karen Cummings, now the Minister in the Ministry of Public Health. Amusingly, this HPV Initiative has been launched, at least, three more times since May 2015. This week, the Minister of Public Health, Ms. Volda Lawrence announced that the HPV Vaccine Initiative will be extended to boys. This is a necessary move and I commend the Ministry of Public Health. In commending them, I urge that this announcement is not merely more talk, since the roll out of the Initiative to include boys is now, at least, three years late.At the time, the PPP Government invested in the HPV Vaccine Initiative because global research had shown HPV was, and is, a common virus that infects both men and women. Studies show that HPV is so common that 8 out of 10 people will get an HPV infection at some point in their lifetime. HPV infections can cause cervical cancers in women, cancers of the back of the throat, known as oropharyngeal cancer, cancer in the anus, in both women and men, and penis in men. Cancers of the back of the throat have now surpassed cervical cancer as the most common type of cancer caused by HPV. Unlike cervical cancer in women, there are no recommended screening tests for the other types of cancers that HPV causes, so they may not be found until they cause health problems. The HPV Vaccine Initiative, therefore, was more than an Initiative to stop cervical cancer. While best known as a critical strategy in the fight against cervical cancer, HPV vaccines are now seen as a potent tool in the fight against several cancers. This is why, we must spare no effort to ensure universal access to HPV vaccines for our children and other vulnerable groups.The Minister of Public Health’s announcement that the HPV Vaccine Program will be extended to boys is correcting a grave mis-step since this progressive move is already more than three years late from the timeline established in 2010, when I was Minister of Health. At the time, we promised HPV vaccine would become part of the immunization program by 2011, starting with vaccination of girls age 9 to 11 years. Parents of girls 12 to 15 years old were encouraged to bring in their daughters for vaccination also. At the time, we established 2015 as the start date for extending HPV vaccination to boys between 9 and 11 years old. The announcement by the Minister that the program will now include boys is a case of “better late than never”.When we outlined the details for the roll out of the HPV vaccination initiative at the Initiative’s launching at the Grove Health Center, beginning with girls 9 to 11 years old in 2011 and including the vaccination of boys by 2015, we also announced by 2020, we would begin providing HPV vaccines for women 20 to 40 years old who did not have the HPV vaccines, which would be the vast majority of Guyanese women of that age group. Interestingly, the US started the adult women HPV vaccine program in 2018. When we launched the HPV Vaccine Initiative in 2011 with its rollout details, the initiative was one of the most ambitious HPV Initiatives in the World.Vaccinating boys with the HPV vaccine is a critical step forward and even though Guyana missed the original timeline of 2015, Guyana still is in the forefront of developing countries when it comes to HPV vaccines. This was an important strategic move by the Ministry of Health in its fight against cervical cancer, but since then, it is a critical initiative in the overall anti-cancer fight. Once we have universal access to HPV vaccines in Guyana, we have a good chance of reducing the incidence of cervical cancer by greater than 70% by 2030 and also to have a prevention success in the fight against other cancers. It is, therefore, encouraging that Guyana is implementing the program, as originally envisaged, even if it is disappointing that the timelines have shifted. I encourage the Ministry of Public Health to hasten forward with the  timelines.In making the announcement, the Minister did not update the citizens of our country with the status of HPV vaccination for girls 9 to 11 years old. If the program has been effective, the vast majority of girls between 11 and 18 years old at this time should be HPV immunized. The Ministry of Public Health needs to update the country on the HPV-status of girls between the age of 11 and 18 at this time. Does the Ministry have any data? We need to know. Guyana cannot simply be launching the program every year without updating citizens about progress made in immunizing our children, both boys and girls, with the HPV vaccine. It is like spinning our wheels, and not going anywhere.Dr. Leslie Ramsammy read more

Fake Juventus player exposed

first_imgDionicio Farid Rodriguez deceived everyone in Mexico by pretending he played for JuventusThe 19-year-old, who comes from a town called Teotitlán de Flores Magón with just 8,500 residents, invented a life that involved him being a Juventus footballer.Rodriguez created a fake Instagram account and gained 16,000 followers after adding photos of himself donning the Juventus jersey.He even edited images of a current Juventus academy prodigy in Joao Serrao from Portugal.Libertad Digital reports that Rodriguez claimed Juventus discovered him in the United States, where he was about to sign for an unnamed MLS team.Thanks to his apparent status as a Juventus prodigy, Rodriguez had interviews with the media in Mexico to discuss his experiences with the Old Lady.Romelu Lukaku, Inter MilanLukaku backed to beat Ronaldo in Serie A scoring charts Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Former Inter Milan star Andy van der Meyde is confident Romelu Lukaku will outscore Cristiano Ronaldo in this season’s Serie A.Rodriguez stated that he played as a centre-back for the Juventus youth team and even scored 10 goals, three of which came in the Uefa Youth League.The fraud also allegedly played for Mexican clubs Lobos BUAP and Pumas de la UNAM, while also claiming he had featured for the national team at U20 level.Dionicio Farid Rodríguez, el impostor mexicano que se hizo pasar por jugador de la Juventus https://t.co/du6XF8hced pic.twitter.com/oDr4CNHWit— sosdependencia (@sosdependencia1) October 10, 2018last_img read more

And Were Off — The Texas Redistricting Trial Starts Today

first_imgIllustration by Anneke Paterson / Todd WisemanDid Texas target voters by race? No, the state says — even though they admit to drawing maps in a partisan way, which is something courts have allowed in the past.The curtains are rising on the redistricting case in Texas today as three federal judges in San Antonio begin a week-long trial centered on a crucial question: Did the state intentionally weaken voting rights for millions of Texans just because of their skin color? With 2018 elections coming into sight, the clock is ticking — and the trial could set the stage for shaking up races across the state. Here’s what you need to know: • How did we get here? After fresh census data came out in 2010, the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature drafted new political boundaries. Minority rights groups immediately raised a red flag, calling the new state and congressional maps discriminatory toward Latino and black voters across Texas. A court drew temporary maps ahead of the 2012 elections in response; lawmakers formally adopted those in 2013 and the state has used them ever since. • The issue flared this spring when the same three judges heading the trial this week dealt two blows to the state. They first ruled that three of Texas’ 36 congressional districts were drawn illegally. The judges took issue with the state’s House map a month later, saying the political boundaries intentionally discriminated against minorities statewide and in particular districts. • The divide: Texas wants the trio of judges to dump the legal challenge of the maps. Minority rights groups want the maps — which they argue were meant to be temporary — redrawn before the 2018 election cycle. Did Texas target voters by race? No, the state says — even though they admit to drawing maps in a partisan way, which is something courts have allowed in the past. Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court is about to consider another major redistricting case challenging maps drawn to gain partisan advantage. • Tick tock. If the judges order new maps, it would send lawmakers scrambling to create new ones without delaying the upcoming elections. If the involved parties aren’t happy with the eventual ruling, the case could head to the U.S. Supreme Court, potentially altering timing for candidates in the 2018 election cycle. The trial is expected wrap up Friday or Saturday, but it’s unclear when the judges will rule. Sharelast_img read more

Watch a RealLife Nissan GTR Car be Driven With a DualShock 4

first_img The Gran Turismo series is best known for how realistically it portrays racing. There is even a GT Academy where players of the game learn how to drive real-world race cars. Now, Nissan (a founder of GT Academy) has taken things to the next logical step. To celebrate the upcoming release of Gran Turismo Sport, made one of its GT-R cars drivable with a PlayStation controller.The remote-controlled car was operated by Jann Mardenborough. Not only is he a huge fan of Gran Turismo, but he is also a graduate of GT Academy. He controlled the car while riding inside of an R44 Raven II helicopter. This way, he was able to see the entirety of the Silverstone’s National Circuit as he “drove” the car. His fastest lap was 1:17:47. He managed to get an average speed of 76mph with a top speed of 131mph. The GT-R (or GT-R/C as this version of the car was dubbed) tops out at 196mph. This particular car is a standard 2011 GT-R from the same year Mardenborough won GT Academy.“The response from the car when using the controller was far more engaging than I thought it would be,” said Mardenborough in today’s press release. “JLB Design has done an incredible job at making everything respond really well. Steering, acceleration, and braking were all intelligently configured, allowing for the controlled application so I could really get a feel through the corners and hold it steady down the fast straights.”AdChoices广告As explained on Jalopnik, the DualShock 4 controller was connected to a microcomputer that transmitted signals to the GT-R/C. There were six computers situated in the back of the car that communicated between the car and controller up to 100 times per second. Robots inside the car controlled steering, transmission, throttle, and brakes. In the helicopter, Mardenborough used an LCD display to judge speeds. Two operators on different radio frequencies could remotely control the car’s breaks and cut power in case anything went wrong.Anything is possible with technology, and this is certainly a very cool effort by Nissan. Hopefully, they will allow others to race cars with PlayStation 4 controllers in the future. I know I’d love to give this a shot.Gran Turismo Sport will be released exclusively on PlayStation 4 on October 17.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. These Are the Games You Should Check Out in OctoberSony Shouldn’t Release Any PS4 Exclusives This Holiday Season Stay on targetlast_img read more

Outbound passenger count crosses 4000 at Bagdogra Airport

first_imgKolkata: The outbound passenger load at Bagdogra Airport has crossed the mark of 4,000 on Sunday.With a sharp increase in the passenger load at Bagdogra Airport, the outbound passenger count on Sunday was 4,011.It may be mentioned that recently, the announcement of two additional flights of AirAsia from the airport had come and it had taken the total number of flights to 26. The two additional flights are connecting Bagdogra directly with Delhi and Kolkata. Also Read – Heavy rain hits traffic, flightsAccording to the experts, the passenger load is expected to go up further with the summer vacation approaching, as people will choose to visit Darjeeling and Sikkim with schools and colleges remaining closed. It may be recalled that the Mamata Banerjee government has waived the tax on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) and it has helped increase the number of flight operations from Bagdogra. Moreover, the development of necessary infrastructure for tourism in North Bengal has also ensured a constant flow of tourists in the region. A large section of tourists now prefer flights to reach their destination, as it saves time. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Merc, 2 B’deshi bystanders killedIt was on February 23 that Bagdogra Airport set a new record of crossing the 2 million passenger count in the last fiscal. Moreover, the Chief Minister herself was the 2 millionth passenger, when she took a flight from Bagdogra Airport to return to Kolkata after her North Bengal tour.Bagdogra Airport had witnessed a record increase of passengers by 53 percent in April-December in 2017, compared to that of the corresponding period in 2016, when around 10.61 lakh passengers had availed flights from the airport from April to December. In 2017, the figure went up to 16.28 lakh, which is an increase of over 50 percent. With the increase in passenger count, better passenger amenities have also been ensured at the airport.last_img read more

Folk Festival to be icing on cake for Hill tourists this season

first_imgDarjeeling: With peace and tranquility returning, tourists are again making a beeline for the Darjeeling and Kalimpong Hills. This time there is an added attraction for the tourists visiting the Hills, as the 2nd edition of the Kalimpong Darjeeling Folk Festival is all set to be flagged off on October 26 in Kalimpong.The 3 day festival is part of the Rural Craft & Cultural Hub initiative of the department of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises & Textiles (MSME&T), in collaboration with UNESCO. Video documentation of the cultural heritage of 16 Hill communities will also be released at the festival. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeThe MSME&T department has developed 10 Rural Craft Hubs in association with UNESCO, which benefit 3,000 handicraft artisans. It is also in the process of developing Rural Craft and Cultural Hubs (RCCH) across 15 districts, which would benefit an additional 12,000 rural artisans. The endeavours are aimed at strengthening grassroot level creative enterprises in the state. “The West Bengal Khadi and Village Industry Board (WBKVIB) has supported many such Hill communities in Kalimpong and Darjeeling. They will be supporting them with Folk Centres. MOUs have been inked with the communities and the process of land identification for the Folk Centres is underway. Already, 5 communities have identified or donated land,” stated Nirmalya Roy, manager of Banglanatak dot com. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killed”Video documentation of the cultural heritage of all the 16 Hill communities has also been prepared. The DVDs will be released at the festival” added Roy. “The DVDs are very special as they contain the cultural brief of the Darjeeling and Kalimpong region, covering lifestyle, food habits, costumes, scripts and other cultural elements of these communities,” said Roy. The communities include Mangar, Dhimal, Tamang, Lepcha, Rai, Khas, Bhutia, Tibetan, Limbu, Sarki, Bhujel, Newar, Gurung, Kami, Damai and Sherpa. Albaluna, an international band from Portugal, will be the star attraction of the festival. Different Hill communities will also present their unique cultures, songs and dances. “The cultural aspect of any destination is a major attraction. Such initiatives go a long way in promoting a place and people. It is a welcome move,” stated Samrat Sanyal, a tour operator.last_img read more

Machine Learning for March Madness Is a Competition In Itself

first_imgThe tricky part for statisticians is determining not only which variables are relevant to predicting a team’s performance, but also the importance or weight of each variable relative to the others. In this respect, Todisco says he found strength of schedule, a team’s number of assists, and three point defense percentages to be strong indicators of a team’s future performance.The biggest benefit of using machine learning to create his bracket, Todisco says, is that it “takes the human bias out of it.” For example, he says, “my model said [Loyola] had a 60 percent chance of beating University of Miami, which I would never have thought of without machine learning.”Who Rates the RatersThe adoption of machine learning techniques isn’t just limited to the amateur bracketologists in the Kaggle competition, however. In August, the NCAA announced it was scrapping the Rating Percentage Index (RPI), a system it had used since 1981 to create the official ranking of the 353 Division I men’s basketball teams. In its stead it would use the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET), a new rating system that was developed using machine learning methods. In the five years since Machine Learning Madness started, Sonas says the number of entrants to the competition has nearly tripled. This year, 955 competitors are vying for a total of $25,000 in prize money that will be distributed to the creators of the five most accurate brackets. But to take home the grand prize it’s not merely enough to have the most accurate bracket. Participants must also have predicted the outcome of their bracket with a high degree of certainty.Before the NCAA tournament begins, Machine Learning Madness participants are given access to a massive trove of data that includes basic information like the scores for every Division I basketball game dating back to 1984, team box scores dating back to 2002, and all the team rankings from dozens of different rating systems collected by Massey. This means that participants can use machine learning to do their own regression analyses and create their own rating systems. If they don’t feel like digging into basketball stats, they can use machine learning “ensembling” techniques to analyze the results of the dozens of already existing rating systems.Regardless of their technique, participants must predict the outcome of each of the roughly 2,000 possible NCAA tournament games. In addition to predicting the winner and loser of each possible matchup, the competitors must also declare how certain they are of this outcome on a scale from zero to one. Points are awarded to participants based on a log loss scale, which means that high levels of certainty for incorrect predictions are severely punished and vice versa. Thus, for example, if I predicted that Virginia will beat Purdue with 0.9 certainty and Purdue ends up winning, I will lose exponentially more points than if I had predicted that outcome with, say, 0.6 certainty.Michael Todisco, a data scientist at the event marketing software company Splash, entered Machine Learning Madness for the first time last year. He says he’s always been an analytically minded sports fan and entered the competition on a whim. After Villanova trounced Michigan to win last year’s national championship, Todisco says he was surprised to learn that he had won Machine Learning Madness and would be taking home the $25,000 first prize. A team’s RPI is a number that is supposed to quantify its relative strength compared to other teams in the division. This number is calculated by combining the team’s winning percentage (calculated as the number of games won divided by the number of games played), its opponent’s winning percentage, and the winning percentage of its opponent’s opponents, while also taking into account whether those wins occurred at home or away (home wins count for less than away wins). Nothing but Net (Works)The whole point of machine learning is to find meaningful trends among the noise. So using these techniques to predict NCAA champions makes perfect sense. Over the last few years, a steadily growing number of data scientists have competed in Machine Learning Madness, which invites participants to leverage machine learning techniques to create their NCAA tournament brackets. The contest is hosted on Kaggle, a Google-owned platform that is a cross between Stack Exchange and Github specifically designed for data scientists.Machine Learning Madness was launched in 2014 by Jeff Sonas, the owner of a database consulting firm who also designed a chess ranking method, and Mark Glickman, a statistician at Harvard. Sonas and Glickman had previously organized Kaggle competitions around chess tournaments, but “it was a relatively obscure area so we [realized] we would have greater outreach if we did a more popular topic like March Madness,” Sonas says. This year, 47 million Americans will spend an estimated $8.5 billion betting on the outcome of the NCAA basketball championships, a cultural ritual appropriately known as March Madness. Before the tournament starts, anyone who wants to place a bet must fill out a bracket, which holds their predictions for each of the 63 championship games. The winner of a betting pool is the one whose bracket most closely mirrors the results of the championship.For most people, making a bracket is a way to flex their knowledge of collegiate basketball and maybe make a few bucks by outguessing their colleagues in the office betting pool. But for the mathematically inclined, accurately predicting March Madness brackets is a technical problem in search of a solution.In the past few years, the proliferation of open source machine learning tools and robust, publicly available datasets have added a technological twist to March Madness: Data scientists and statisticians now compete to develop the most accurate machine learning models for bracket predictions. In these competitions, knowing how to wield random forests and logistic regression counts for more than court smarts. In fact, knowing too much about basketball might hurt your odds. Welcome to the world of Machine Learning Madness.What Are the OddsBetting and sports have always been closely linked, but as the size of professional and collegiate leagues ballooned during the later half of the 20th century, predicting the outcomes of sporting competitions became exponentially more difficult. In 1939, just eight teams competed in the inaugural NCAA basketball tournament, which would make the odds of filling out a perfect bracket around one in 128. When the tournament expanded to 16 teams in 1951, those odds were lowered to one in 32,768, but this is still pretty good compared to your chances of filling out a perfect 64-team bracket today, which is around one in 9.2 quintillion. There’s an important caveat here, however. These odds are calculated as if each team had a 50-50 chance of winning each game in the tournament, but in reality, some teams have a clear advantage over their opponents. For example, in the first round of March Madness the highest ranked teams (the first seeds) are pitted against the lowest ranked teams (the sixteenth seeds) in each division. Given that a sixteenth seed has beat a first seed only a single time in the history of March Madness, the outcomes of these games can be considered a given. As calculated by Duke University math professor Jonathan Mattingly, treating the outcomes of these games as guaranteed wins for the one seeds increases the odds of selecting a perfect bracket by six orders of magnitude to a measly one in 2.4 trillion. Todisco says it did take awhile to figure out which machine learning approach would work best for the relatively limited amount of training data. The approach he eventually chose was a random forest algorithm, which basically uses decision trees to probabilistically model all the possible outcomes of the tournament to arrive at a prediction. Using the algorithm, Todisco was able to see how altering the values of various parameters affected the accuracy of his model’s predictions; he could fine-tune the model by slightly altering the parameters each time it was run.At the heart of any March Madness model is the team ranking, an ordinal list based on the ratings of the constituent teams. These ratings are a few variables. The most obvious is a team’s win-loss record and some rating systems are based entirely on this metric. But trying to predict the results of a game like basketball using only a team’s win-loss record is a bit like trying to perform surgery with a hammer. It ignores a lot of details that are important for accurately assessing the relative strength of two teams. For example, a team that only wins by one point is much more evenly matched with their opponent than a team that wins by 30 points. If you were to make a prediction based only on the results of a game without considering its point spread, you might overestimate the likelihood that the victor will win again. The RPI was used by the NCAA championship selection committee to help determine which teams would compete in the tournament each year and how those teams would be seeded in the tournament. In theory, anyone filling out a March Madness bracket could simply look at the NCAA’s official ratings to determine how the tournament would play out. There would be upsets, of course, but if you just picked the NCAA’s highest ranked team in each bracket, your results should be pretty close to the actual results in the tournament.The reality, however, was much different. In fact, the NCAA’s official rating system produced the second worst March Madness results of the 75 different rating systems tracked by the sports statistician Kenneth Massey in 2017. Although the inaccuracy of the official rating method had been criticized for years, it wasn’t until just before the start of this year’s collegiate basketball season that the NCAA revealed it would be using the NET rating system to help select teams for the tournament going forward.The NCAA didn’t respond to my request for comment, but according to a press release describing the new system, it incorporates far more variables into its system for calculating a team’s rating. In addition to winning percentages, NET also factors in a team’s strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin (capped at 10 points), and “net offensive and defensive efficiency.” In a break with tradition, the NCAA hasn’t released the exact formula for the new rating system, but it did say the model was optimized using machine learning techniques that used late-season games, including tournament games, as training data.Machine learning is a field that is both full of promise and woefully overhyped. We’ll have to wait to see the final results of the NCAA championship to determine whether it helped to create a more accurate official ranking, but if Machine Learning Madness has proved anything, it’s that the future of collegiate basketball is as much about building networks as cutting down the nets. In short, you have a far better chance of winning the Powerball jackpot—one in 300 billion—than you do of filling out a perfect March Madness bracket. The challenge for statisticians, then, is developing mathematical models that improve these dismal odds as much as possible. Tournament modeling or “bracketology” is a nearly alchemical process that involves identifying the most important factors in a team’s success and combining these elements in such a way that they produce the most accurate possible prediction about a team’s future performance.These models will never be perfect, of course. There’s simply too much randomness in the system being modeled—players get injured, rosters change, coaches quit, and so on. This “noise” is something that no model will ever be able to fully anticipate. “The point is to try to find the trend and be more accurate than if you’re just going with your gut,” says Tim Chartier, an associate professor of mathematics at Davidson College, where he teaches a class on bracketology. “There’s only so much you can expect out of the model and then you just have to watch it play out with the randomness taking effect.” According to Todisco, the hardest part about the contest was the small amount of data available to train machine learning algorithms and the outsized role that luck played in the predictions. When it comes to machine learning, more data is almost always better. And while Todisco bemoaned the lack of March Madness data for training machine learning algorithms relative to training them for other tasks, it’s a far more complete dataset than most sports statisticians were working with only a few decades ago. More Great WIRED StoriesDJs of the future don’t spin records—they write codeThe true dollar cost of the anti-vaccine movementFerrari built the track-slaying P80/C for a single customerLong before selfies, people wanted to share picsWhat it’s like to be thrown in jail for posting on Facebook👀 Looking for the latest gadgets? Check out our latest buying guides and best deals all year round📩 Want more? Sign up for our daily newsletter and never miss our latest and greatest storieslast_img read more