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Sounders’ soccer crowd sets off ‘fan quakes’

PNSN team
Members of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network’s team take up their stations for the Seattle vs. Toronto championship soccer match inside the press box at CenturyLink Field. From left are Steve Malone, Elizabeth Urban and Mickey Cassar. (GeekWire Photo / Taylor Soper)

Can Seattle Sounders fans match the Seahawks’ “Beast Quakes” when it comes to making the earth move? Seismologists from the University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network conducted their first experiment to address that question.

Based on today’s results from the Sounders’ MLS Cup championship match against Toronto at CenturyLink Field, soccer fans are definitely holding their own.

“We’re seeing great signals from the crowd,” Elizabeth Urban, a UW student who’s part of the PNSN team, told GeekWire at halftime.

Those signals were most obvious when Sounders fans started jumping together. “At first I thought it was a train going by, but it was very much lined up with when the fans were jumping,” seismologist Steve Malone, an emeritus research professor at UW, wrote in a PNSN blog posting.

And that was with a scoreless first half. The needle moved even more wildly when the Sounders scored two quick goals in the second half.

“Both goals — particularly the second one — really, really showed up well. Very strongly, all the way from here to our station located several hundred yards away,” Malone told GeekWire. “The second goal seemed to be louder … and lasted longer.”

The tremor that accompanied Seattle’s third goal was almost as strong.

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Moon questions earn sports star a NASA invite

Stephen Curry
NBA star Stephen Curry speaks at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2016. (GeekWire Photo / Taylor Soper)

One way to get an tour of Johnson Space Center’s high-security Lunar Sample Laboratory Facility is to question whether people landed on the moon at all. At least that strategy works if you’re an NBA basketball star like Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry.

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AI experts turn soccer videos into ‘holograms’

Computer scientists have trained a neural network to transform the action from pre-recorded videos of soccer games into immersive augmented-reality “holograms” you can shrink down onto a tabletop.

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Basketball star Chris Bosh geeks out over Mars

Boshes and Atlas 5
Chris Bosh and his wife, Adrienne Bosh, pose for a selfie with an Atlas 5 rocket in advance of today’s Mars InSight launch. (Adrienne Bosh via Twitter)

While retired NBA All-Star basketball player Chris Bosh plans his next career moves, he and his wife Adrienne are taking a time out to witness the launch of NASA’s Mars InSight lander from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Based on their tweets, the Boshs are having a great time and firing up the space crowd as well. More importantly, they’re inspiring their children to reach even higher than a basketball rim.

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NFL football trumps the shutdown

AFN network
Staff Sgt. Modesto Alcana manages air times on the American Forces Network at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany, as seen in a photo from 2011. (USAF Photo / Nick Wilson)

When it comes to the U.S. military, football trumps the government shutdown, even without Boeing’s help. The American Forces Network essentially went off the air once this weekend’s shutdown took effect, which suggested that it wouldn’t be airing NFL football playoffs for overseas military families. That sparked an outcry, and an offer from Boeing to “do whatever needed” to get the games on the air. In the end, the Department of Defense gave the go-ahead to revive two channels, AFN News and AFN Sports, and broadcast today’s conference championships. Boeing, meanwhile, got a nice tweet-out from White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

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Thunderboats get a 21st-century makeover

Hydroplane
The Miss DiJulio/J&D’s thunderboat is moved into Lake Washington for this weekend’s hydroplane races. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

The roar of this weekend’s Seafair hydroplane races on Lake Washington reawakens a six-decade-old Seattle tradition – but it also heralds changes for a sport that’s been compared to NASCAR on water.

Seattle has been a hot spot for hydros since 1950, when a made-in-Seattle thunderboat called Slo-Mo-Shun IV set a world speed record on Lake Washingtonand brought the nation’s premier unlimited hydroplane race to Seattle the next year.

Today, the restored wood-and-metal boat rests in Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry. Its builder, Stan Sayres, would probably still recognize the streamlined, souped-up vessels that venture forth from Stan Sayres Memorial Park. But he wouldn’t recognize the technology under the hood.

“It’s quite a bit of difference in the boats, the engines,” said Tom Thompson, driver of the Miss DiJulio/J&D’s U-11.

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British astronaut breaks space marathon record

Image: Tim Peake
British astronaut Tim Peake runs a marathon on the International Space Station’s COLBERT treadmill, with NASA astronaut Jeff Williams keeping watch. (Credit: ESA)

It’s amazing that British astronaut Tim Peake just broke the record for a space marathon, but it’s almost as amazing that there was a record to break.

“The run went better than expected,” Peake wrote today in a blog post after Sunday’s 3:35:21 performance on the International Space Station.

Peake put the traditional marathon distance of 26 miles and 385 yards on the odometer of the station’s COLBERT treadmill (also known as the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill, with an acronym inspired by talk-show host Stephen Colbert). At the same time, about 38,000 other runners were taking on the London Marathon.

Peake’s time wasn’t close to London Marathon winner Eliud Kipchoge’s mark of 2:03:05, but it was an improvement on the only other marathon known to have been run in space.

NASA astronaut Sunita Williams’ 4:24 time still stands as the space marathon record for women, the Guinness Book of World Records announced in an online posting that also hailed Peake’s performance.

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FAA goes long with Super Bowl no-drone zone

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The FAA is spreading the word about the Super Bowl “no-drone zone.” (Credit: FAA)

No means no when it comes to the Federal Aviation Administration’s no-drone zone for Super Bowl Sunday.

Not even CBS, which is broadcasting the big football game between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos starting at 3:30 p.m. PT Sunday, will be allowed to send unmanned aerial vehicles into the red zone, the FAA says.

The red zone is unusually large this weekend: It extends across a 74-mile-wide circle centered on Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., in the heart of Silicon Valley. The FAA’s temporary flight restrictions block out the airspace to a height of 18,000 feet from 2 to 11:59 p.m. PT.

The FAA typically restricts the airspace around sporting events with a seating capacity of 30,000 spectators or more, but for the Super Bowl, the no-drone zone is bigger than usual: 37 statute miles (32 nautical miles) in radius, as opposed to the standard 3.5 statute miles. That’s because the Super Bowl is considered a “special security event.”

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Junior engineers score big with golf club project

Image: Adam Clark
Boeing engineer Adam Clark helped design Callaway’s golf clubs. (GeekWire photo by Alan Boyle)

EVERETT, Wash. – When experts at Callaway Golf sought Boeing’s help to improve their golf clubs’ aerodynamics, Boeing turned to a special breed of engineers: recent hires with a hunger for projects off Boeing’s beaten path.

Some of the engineers didn’t even play golf before they took on the challenge – but now they’re learning.

The result of the collaboration is Callaway’s XR-16 line of drivers, which sport a pattern of chevron-shaped “trip steps” to optimize the aerodynamics of a golf swing. Computerized analysis helped the engineers tweak the club’s shape ever so slightly: By making the air flow just a bit more turbulent at a key point, the engineers reduced the drag encountered during the swing.

“We’ve obviously been working on this problem for many years,” said Evan Gibbs, Callaway’s senior manager for research and development for woods. But for the XR-16, Callaway had only a few months to up their aerodynamic game. That’s why the company turned to Boeing’s engineering-savvy duffers.

The unusual collaboration is arguably the highest-profile success story for Boeing’s Opportunities for New Engineers program, also known as ONE.

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How Boeing helped build a better golf club

Image: Callaway XR16 golf club
Boeing drew upon lessons learned from airplanes to build a better golf club. (Credit: Boeing)

What do aerospace and golf have in common? For the Boeing Co. and Callaway Golf, it’s a new line of golf clubs that have been tweaked to optimize the air flow for a faster, surer swing.

The results of one of Boeing’s most unusual collaborations will hit the market on Jan. 29, in the form of Callaway’s XR16 drivers. (Even the name sounds like an experimental aircraft, doesn’t it?)

The XR16 is a stretch version of last year’s model, redesigned to produce a higher moment of inertia. That keeps the head more stable when a golfer takes a swing. But a bigger head also typically means more aerodynamic drag, which would slow down the swing. That’s why Boeing was brought into the picture.

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