Plants Outsmart Darwin

first_imgThere are wonders in plants that continue to be uncovered with the tools of science.  Two recent papers in PNAS lend support to the feeling that plants are smarter than assumed.Trash collection:  Humans usually only employ one trash collection service, but plants have two.  Four Chinese investigators found redundant pathways in plant cells for removing misfolded proteins.  Writing in PNAS,1 they characterized endoplasmic reticulum associated degradation (ERAD), “an integral part of the ER quality-control system that removes toxic misfolded proteins via ubiquitin/proteasome-mediated degradation” (see 11/24/2010).  They found two genes that “function redundantly” to ensure this essential process does not fail.  The genes are conserved (unevolved) in yeast, plants, and humans.Portable generators:  Humans know it is handy to have a power source, like a battery, when you’re away from the power grid.  Plants know that, too.  German scientists found that plants use potassium as a local energy source in their vessels.  Here’s what their abstract said in PNAS about how plants exploit the multi-functional potassium ion.2The essential mineral nutrient potassium (K+) is the most important inorganic cation for plants and is recognized as a limiting factor for crop yield and quality.  Nonetheless, it is only partially understood how K+ contributes to plant productivity.  K+ is used as a major active solute to maintain turgor and to drive irreversible and reversible changes in cell volume.  K+ also plays an important role in numerous metabolic processes, for example, by serving as an essential cofactor of enzymes.  Here, we provide evidence for an additional, previously unrecognized role of K+ in plant growth.  By combining diverse experimental approaches with computational cell simulation, we show that K+ circulating in the phloem serves as a decentralized energy storage that can be used to overcome local energy limitations.They called this the “potassium battery.”  They described how the model plant Arabidopsis “taps this ‘potassium battery,’ which then efficiently assists the plasma membrane H+-ATPase in energizing the transmembrane phloem (re)loading processes.”Neither paper explained how these systems might have evolved.  The paper on ERAD degradation of misfolded proteins only mentioned that the genes are conserved, and speculated in passing about the functional differences of the ERAD genes in plants vs humans.  Another PNAS paper by Harvard biologists, however, did speculate about misfolded proteins as a source of evolutionary innovation.3  Studying how yeast cells handle misfolded proteins, they recognized that there is a fitness cost involved, as if an oarsman suddenly disabled on a rowing team makes the others have to work harder.  What does this have to do with evolution?  Not much, apparently, and maybe less: it appears to constrain evolution, not advance it:These results underscore the distinct and evolutionarily relevant molecular threat of protein misfolding, independent of protein function.  Assuming that most misfolded proteins impose similar costs, yeast cells express almost all proteins at steady-state levels sufficient to expose their encoding genes to selection against misfolding, lending credibility to the recent suggestion that such selection imposes a global constraint on molecular evolution.Selection against misfolding is a form of stabilizing selection – a “running in place” process that tries to maintain the status quo, not the kind of evolution Darwin envisioned.  If most mutations lead to toxic misfolded proteins, plants need to be smart enough to get rid of them quickly and systematically, not tinker with them in random searches for new functions.    One can look in vain in this paper for any suggestions supporting old Darwinian ideas of progress, tinkering or innovation.  Quite the contrary: “Our study illustrates the value in isolating and quantifying the consequences of protein misfolding to understand their relative contributions to molecular evolution and cell biology,” they said in conclusion.  “The results support hypotheses that assume that misfolded proteins impose a selective cost independent of protein function and a model of protein quality control in which a small interacting set of proteins responds specifically to misfolded proteins in the eukaryotic cytosol.”  In the set of “hypotheses that assume that misfolded proteins impose a selective cost,” is there any reason to exclude intelligent design?1.  Su, Liu, Xia, Hong, and Li, “Conserved endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation system to eliminate mutated receptor-like kinases in Arabidopsis,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print December 27, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pas.1013251108.2.  Gajdanowicz et al, “Potassium (K+) gradients serve as a mobile energy source in plant vascular tissues,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print December 27, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1009777108.3.  Geiler-Samerotte et al, “Misfolded proteins impose a dosage-dependent fitness cost and trigger a cytosolic unfolded protein response in yeast,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print December 27, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1017570108.These papers have intelligent design shouting and Darwin whimpering.  Respect your garden by acknowledging the design so clearly evident, and honoring the Designer.  Don’t insult your plants by thinking they got where they are by unguided, directionless, chance processes of evolution.  It would be like insulting professionals for a job well done by shrugging your shoulders and saying, “Stuff happens.”(Visited 9 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Photo library: Business and industry 12

first_img{loadposition tc}Click on a thumbnail for a low-resolution image, or right-click on the link below it to download a high-resolution copy of the image.» Download Business & Industry contact sheet (1.8MB) » Download full image library contact sheet (10.5MB) East London, Eastern Cape province: New Mercedes Benz cars await export on the docks of the harbour, below the factory. Photo: Rodger Bosch, MediaClubSouthAfrica.com » Download high-res image East London, Eastern Cape province: New Mercedes Benz cars await export on the docks of the harbour, below the factory. Photo: Rodger Bosch, MediaClubSouthAfrica.com » Download high-res image East London, Eastern Cape province: New Mercedes Benz cars await export on the docks of the harbour, below the factory. Photo: Rodger Bosch, MediaClubSouthAfrica.com » Download high-res image East London, Eastern Cape province: New Mercedes Benz cars await export on the docks of the harbour, below the factory. Photo: Rodger Bosch, MediaClubSouthAfrica.com » Download high-res image Uitenhage, Eastern Cape province: The Volkswagen South Africa plant in Uitenhage is the largest vehicle factory in Africa. Photo: Volkswagen South Africa » Download high-res image Volkswagen South Africa vehicles for export. Photo: Volkswagen South Africa » Download high-res image Uitenhage, Eastern Cape province: The Volkswagen South Africa plant in Uitenhage is the largest vehicle factory in Africa. Photo: Volkswagen South Africa » Download high-res image Uitenhage, Eastern Cape province: The Volkswagen South Africa plant in Uitenhage is the largest vehicle factory in Africa. Photo: Volkswagen South Africa » Download high-res image Uitenhage, Eastern Cape province: The Volkswagen South Africa plant in Uitenhage is the largest vehicle factory in Africa. Photo: Volkswagen South Africa » Download high-res imageBUSINESS AND INDUSTRY 12: {loadposition business}Having trouble downloading high-resolution images? Queries about the image library? Email Janine Erasmus at janinee@mediaclubsouthafrica.com.last_img read more

Vented Crawlspaces and the Psychrometric Chart Are Not Friends

first_imgReally, the argument about whether you should vent a crawlspace in a humid climate is over. Advanced Energy’s research project from 2002 proved that closed crawlspaces outperform vented crawlspaces.A quick look at the psychrometric chart below shows that the argument should never have existed in the first place. (Click the image to see an enlarged version.)The psychrometric chart tells allWhat’s going on here is that we’re starting at the blue dot to the right of the arrow. It’s a summer day, the outdoor temperature is 90°F and the relative humidity (RH) is about 53%. I chose that RH because here in Atlanta, we have a good number of hours with the dew point at about 70°F and don’t spend a lot of time above that number.By looking all the way to the left of the chart, where the relative humidity is 100%, you can read the dew point. RELATED ARTICLESBuilding an Unvented CrawlspaceGBA Encyclopedia: CrawlspacesHow to Insulate a Basement Wall CAD Details from the GBA Library: Building Plans for Conditioned CrawlspacesFine Homebuilding: Sealing a CrawlspaceAn Open Discussion on Closed CrawlspacesAdvanced Energy’s Crawlspace Web SiteCrawlspace Remediation Strategies from CMHC Building Science Corp.: Conditioned Crawlspace Construction, Performance and Codes The point of that blue dot is that when that air comes into the crawlspace, it cools down. I chose 80°F as the temperature it reaches in the crawlspace. By looking at the relative humidity curve it lands on, you can see that it went from 53% to about 70% RH.That is not a good number at which to keep your RH, because it’s where mold growth can start taking off. The more time your crawlspace spends at 70% RH or higher, the more likely you are to have mold growing.Of course, the final RH of the air in the crawlspace is determined by the RH that the entering air gets to (once it cools) and the mixing of the two air masses. Still, the trend is clear. In a humid climate, when you bring outdoor air into a vented crawlspace, its relative humidity goes up.Vented crawlspaces have moisture problemsVented crawlspaces can also get cooler than 80°F. I took the photo of the hygrometer below on a warm August day here in the Atlanta area, and you can see that the air was about 70°F with 92% RH.And then there’s the evidence, of course. If you’ve spent any time in vented crawlspaces, you know — and your lungs and nose know — that they have problems. The photo below is from one I was in last month. Duct leakage exacerbates the problem here.You can’t just seal up every crawlspace you see, however. If the crawlspace has atmospheric combustion appliances, for example, you need to deal with that issue first. For the best guidance on how to do this right, go to crawlspaces.org, Advanced Energy’s website on the subject, and download their 75-page pdf file.Allison Bailes of Decatur, Georgia, is a speaker, writer, energy consultant, RESNET-certified trainer, and the author of the Energy Vanguard Blog. You can follow him on Twitter at @EnergyVanguard.last_img read more

PH gets bronze medals in table tennis, javelin throw

first_imgEvalyn Palabrica also secured a bronze in women’s javelin throw in athletics.On the same night, athletics top bet Eric Cray got gold and silver in 400m hurdle and 100m dash, respectively.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout LOOK: Venues for 2019 SEA Games UPLB exempted from SEA Games class suspension SEA Games: PH’s Alisson Perticheto tops ice skating short program MOST READ LATEST STORIES View comments Philippines got medals from table tennis and athletics to hike its bronze medal haul to 12 in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games Tuesday night.Richard Gonzales won a bronze medal for the country in the table tennis men’s singles, a first for the sport so far.ADVERTISEMENT PH billiards team upbeat about gold medal chances in SEA Games PLAY LIST 03:07PH billiards team upbeat about gold medal chances in SEA Games05:25PH boxing team determined to deliver gold medals for PH00:45Onyok Velasco see bright future for PH boxing in Olympics00:50Trending Articles01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games03:04Filipino athletes share their expectations for 2019 SEA Games02:25PH women’s volleyball team motivated to deliver in front of hometown crowd01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games SEA Games in Calabarzon safe, secure – Solcom chief Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC 50 million could watch Mayweather-McGregor in the US alone LIST: Class, gov’t work suspensions during 30th SEA Games Read Next WATCH: Streetboys show off slick dance moves in Vhong Navarro’s wedding Catriona Gray spends Thanksgiving by preparing meals for people with illnesseslast_img read more

Chot Reyes blasts Gilas after loss to Alab in tuneup

first_imgChot Reyes. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/ INQUIRER.netGilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes minced no words in blasting his wards following their 81-76 loss to Alab Pilipinas in a exhibition game Saturday at Meralco Gym.“We sucked big time. If we play like this we better not even go to Japan, we have no chance,” a disappointed Reyes said.ADVERTISEMENT Japan ex-PM Nakasone who boosted ties with US dies at 101 QC cops nab robbery gang leader, cohort Read Next Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH MOST READ “We better find a way to fix that. Hopefully, we have enough time. That’s something we need to fix, even before we think about Japan.”Reyes commended Alab, which he think dominated Gilas in all aspects of the game during their scrimmage.“Credit to Alab, they came in they were very prepared. They outplayed us, they outfought us, they outhustled us, they outshot us. I can’t think of one positive thing in today’s ballgame,” he said.Help is on its way for Gilas with naturalized player Andray Blatche set to arrive on Monday.ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. center_img CPP denies ‘Ka Diego’ arrest caused ‘mass panic’ among S. Tagalog NPA Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman: I was abused by doctor Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games Stronger peso trims PH debt value to P7.9 trillion View comments LATEST STORIES With one week of practice already under its belt, the Philippine national team struggled to fend off Alab, .Only Jayson Castro and June Mar Fajardo were able to crack double-digits for Gilas, which allowed Alab import Reggie Okosa to have his way down low in the closed-door tuneup game.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutGilas was listless and Reyes didn’t have the gall to point out any silver linings from the exhibition game less than two weeks before the 2019 Fiba World Cup qualifying duel against Japan on November 24 in Tokyo.“No positives at all. We need to improve on a lot. We need to learn how to play basketball. With the way we played, we looked like we don’t know how to play basketball. We can’t shoot, we can’t defend, we can’t rebound,” he said.last_img read more

10 months agoJorginho reveals Sarri importance in Chelsea move

first_imgAbout the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your say Jorginho reveals Sarri importance in Chelsea moveby Freddie Taylor10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveJorginho has admitted Maurizio Sarri made it easier for him to join Chelsea over Manchester City.The midfielder joined the Blues from Napoli at the last second following Sarri’s appointment also from the Serie A giants.And the 27-year-old says he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to reunite with his former manager.He said: “I think it is easier for me because I know how he [Sarri] works and I know what he wants from me on the pitch. It has made me coming here easier.”I think he has already changed a lot. You can see that on the pitch, we’ve improved but there is still room for improvement. We need to keep going, keep improving but keep our feet on the ground and who knows, hopefully, we’ll be able to win something.” last_img read more

Kara Alloway Torontos most loved and hated Housewife

first_imgAdvertisement Advertisement Advertisement OK, the show. Ever since the local spinoff of the monster-Housewives franchise began its woozy run on the Slice channel in March, one thing has been made abundantly clear: without Kara, would there even be a show? Let’s be real. The centre of much of the YYZ hoo-ha — some might call her a villainess — she’s been Topic A, B and C. So much so that when the rest of the ladies are not talking about Kara, they’re talking about not talking about Kara.Joan, Jana, Roxy, Gregorianne and Ann. They sotto voce about Kara. They game-theory about Kara. They even bond through Kara — there being nothing like a common foe to bring womankind together, after all. Login/Register With: LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Facebook Kara Alloway is planning a family trip to Machu Picchu this summer.Having held down the maiden season of The Real Housewives of Toronto — complete with its share of spats, squabbles and psychological warfare — how hard can it be? Compared to the show, the old Inca Trail sounds like a cake-walk.“I’ve always wanted to go,” the tele-socialite says over a meet recently at Soho House. Twitterlast_img read more

The Thunders Problems Are Fixable

We’re only one-fifth of the way through the NBA season, but for those of you scoring at home, the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks — teams that acknowledged they’d be rebuilding after failing to make it work with their all-star forwards — have better records than reigning MVP Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder, who were expected to be contenders after their blockbuster trades for Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.Just as mind-boggling: Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis in Indiana and Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott in New York — swapped for George and Anthony — are outplaying the big names they replaced, a notion that’s becoming harder to ignore as the season wears on.All of which raises two key questions: What are the Thunder doing wrong, and what fixes are needed to solidify the team as a top challenger to the Warriors out West?At the start of the season, the conventional wisdom suggested that the Thunder would be among the league’s most dominant offenses while sporting a mediocre defense. But the opposite has been true: The defense is doing the heavy lifting while OKC’s ball-dominant stars figure out how to not only coexist, but also thrive as a trio.Only a few possessions into the Thunder’s season-opener, against the Knicks, the team’s dazzling defensive ability was on display.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/thundersequence.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.When its defense is set, the club can force several extra passes by rotating seamlessly, forcing the opposing team to string out possessions.1Going into Wednesday’s games, opposing teams took a little more than 18 seconds, on average, to complete a possession against the Thunder defense after a made basket, according to advanced-stats site Inpredictable — tied for the NBA’s third-highest mark. With perhaps the NBA’s two best perimeter defenders (George and Andre Roberson) and a physical rim protector (Steven Adams), the Thunder — who rank third overall in defensive efficiency — will likely be among the stingiest, most disruptive defensive clubs all season.But as games drag on, that defensive dominance often fades. Oklahoma City leads the league by a country mile in defense in the first quarter, surrendering just 84.5 points per 100 possessions. But that number falls off with each additional period, going from 99.1 in the second quarter (fourth in the league) to 104.5 in the third (18th) to 109.8 in the fourth (24th). It increases to a whopping 147.7 in clutch situations, when games are within 5 points during the final five minutes of play (dead-last in the league).One key reason this happens: The aggressive defense that the Thunder use doesn’t work as well once Billy Donovan starts putting in backups, who lack the length and athleticism that the starters have. Oklahoma City relies heavily on switches — when players swap defensive assignments on the fly in hopes of neutralizing the opposing team’s pick-and-roll strategy — a scheme that functions fine when the first group is on the floor. But the slightest change, like Raymond Felton spelling Westbrook or Alex Abrines checking in for standout defender Roberson, can throw things out of whack.Notice, in the video below, how Felton opts to switch instead of staying with San Antonio’s Patty Mills. The swap leaves the 6-foot-1 Felton covering Rudy Gay, who is 7 inches taller — a mismatch that the Spurs immediately attack: Pau Gasol throws a lob to Gay over Felton’s outstretched arm.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/loboverfelton.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Another issue: Oklahoma City’s starting unit becomes an offensive liability in late-game scenarios if the team is behind. The group struggles to create good looks for itself in the closing minutes of contests, partly because of how teams are able to ignore Roberson, one of the NBA’s worst shooters. Watch here, in the final eight minutes of a tight game with the Clippers, as Roberson is left alone at the 3-point line — he doesn’t even look at the basket before passing the ball. Defenders don’t even bother to follow him out there; he is a career 26 percent shooter from deep and is 49 percent from the line.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/homealone.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Yet the biggest question facing the Thunder at the moment is the obvious one: Can all three of the team’s star scorers play together, or are they doomed to function as three individuals who wear the same jersey?George and Anthony were brought in to ease Westbrook’s burden — last season, the Thunder were largely a one-man show on offense and Westbrook broke the single-season usage rate record — and to give a club that couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn2Even when Thunder players were left wide open last season — meaning 6 feet of space or more — they only made 32.5 percent of their 3-point attempts. That was the worst mark in the NBA. some reliable shooting.But unlike the teams in the West they’re chasing — the Warriors, Spurs and Rockets — the Thunder aren’t synchronized on offense yet. Data from Second Spectrum highlights that Oklahoma City throws fewer passes than any other NBA team. And the club leads the league in isolation rate, according to Synergy Sports Technology, meaning that Thunder players go 1-on-1 more frequently than members of any other team. Each member of Oklahoma City’s star trio essentially takes the same number of shots each game, a rationing that would be great if it didn’t look as though Westbrook were harnessing his offense to make it that way. (Donovan suggested that Westbrook’s struggles this season stem from his trying too hard to make his new teammates feel at ease.)This isn’t the end of the world for the Thunder. Their 7-9 record is underwhelming, but their net rating and point differential suggest that they should have about three or four more wins than they do — a sign that things may begin to break their way. Beyond that, there’s some precedent to suggest they will be fine.The 2010-11 Miami Heat club that united LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh had some things in common with this season’s Oklahoma City team. In addition to boasting a top-10 defense, the Miami trio struggled to play off one another until closer to the middle of that season.James, for instance, shot worse when Wade was on the court, and Wade shot poorly when sharing the floor with James. Both players shot better when playing with Bosh, but Bosh’s shooting declined when playing alongside either of his star teammates. (Anthony shoots far worse when playing with either George or Westbrook; Westbrook shoots considerably worse with George and slightly worse with Anthony; George shoots slightly better when playing with either one of his teammates.) For Miami, the trends began easing toward the end of 2010, and the Heat ended up making a run to the finals.The Thunder are probably banking that some of the offensive woes — Westbrook, Anthony and free-agent signing Patrick Patterson are all shooting career-worsts from the field — will fix themselves. But other methods might help the team’s ball movement and create better looks. Westbrook and Anthony have enjoyed huge success in 1-4 pick-and-roll sets (1.15 points per direct screen, according to Second Spectrum3The league average on such plays is 0.92 points.) and could turn to that more frequently. And it’s worth watching to see whether Donovan, who has implemented a handful of misdirection screen sets that involve all three stars (or just two when one is taking a breather), dials up more handoffs to get the players going downhill more often — a play type that the Thunder have used sparingly so far this season.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/movementthunder.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/pghandoffscreen.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.It’s still a bit too early to panic about the Thunder, even if they are playing sub-.500 ball and dropping close games. Based on what we’ve seen from their defense, if and when their offense gets going, it should transform them into the contender so many people thought they’d be this season.Check out our latest NBA predictions. read more

NHL Players Arent At The Olympics So Who Are These Guys

Germany1,429527 Many of these players have passed their prime, like Team USA stalwart Brian Gionta, who has more than 1,000 career NHL games on his resume. Others are simply out of NHL work: James Wisniewski, who last played significant NHL minutes in 2014-15, was released by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2016 after failing to impress on a tryout contract. He’s playing abroad now — in the second tier of the German league.To be fair, much of the age disparity can be accounted for by the fact that those early rosters had to be comprised of amateurs, which largely meant college players.1The IOC changed the rule to allow professionals in 1988, although the NHL didn’t agree to stop its season and release players until 10 years later. And it’s not as though those kids were stiffs — the 1988 team alone boasted players like Brian Leetch, Chris Terreri, Kevin Stevens, Craig Janney, Tony Granato and Mike Richter. The 2018 team features some college players who have the potential to go on and have fruitful NHL careers — Harvard’s Ryan Donato, for example — but the majority of the roster is made up of guys who’ll never get another sniff (or never got a sniff at all).This trend is worldwide: Each team has at least one skater with NHL experience on its roster, and six teams (Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Russia, Sweden and the United States) can count at least 1,000 combined NHL games played in their ranks. In total, the tournament boasts a combined 17,419 NHL games played. Czech Republic1,330649 You probably know this by now, but when the puck drops next week in Gangneung, South Korea, there will be no current NHL players on the ice. And whether it’s the NHL’s fault for being overly cautious and stingy or the International Olympic Committee’s fault for being stubborn — to be sure, it’s a mix of both — the fact remains the same: Pyeongchang 2018 will be the first Winter Olympics since Lillehammer ’94 not to feature a men’s ice hockey tournament stocked with players from the world’s best hockey league.The dearth of North American household names in the men’s tournament has a lot of people wondering if the games will even be worth watching. Every game will be contested while Americans and Canadians are about to go to sleep, are already asleep or are just waking from sleep. North Americans have been forced to ask themselves some important questions, such as: Is it really worth sacrificing sleep to watch a bunch of players you’ve never heard of battle it out for gold? And who are these guys anyway?This decision by the NHL, of course, makes Olympic hockey closer to what it was for decades when the league didn’t release its professionals. In 1980 in Lake Placid, the U.S. rallied behind a bunch of largely anonymous kids from the ranks of college hockey, and it became the country’s greatest Olympic moment. So maybe this is a good thing?A closer look at the rosters in South Korea this month will put a damper on such optimism. Teams are not exclusively bringing a collection of their brightest youngsters from the amateur ranks. They’re bringing something else: players plucked from the NHL scrap heap.You might think that the exclusion of the NHL would bring the average age of Team USA down from previous years, but the 2018 roster is older on average than those from Sochi in 2014 and Vancouver in 2010 — 29.4 versus 27 and 26.6, respectively. In fact, this is the third-oldest Team USA roster in the past 38 years. Canada5,4442,140 Switzerland67157 Olympic Athlete from Russia2,5651,955 Slovenia364 Total IN NHL No current NHLers, plenty of former NHLersOlympic rosters with the most NHL experience and points accumulated Norway14530 Source: NBC Olympics, Hockey-Reference.com TEAMGAMESPOINTS Total17,4197,379 Slovakia593377 United States3,0831,216 Finland48452 South Korea272 Sweden1,612370 Team Canada leads the way with 2,140 NHL points and 5,444 NHL games among their Olympians. Those numbers may seem impressive until you realize that the equivalent numbers from the Canadian team in Sochi — the one with Sidney Crosby and Co. — were 8,400 NHL points and 12,936 NHL games.2Through the 2013-14 season.The Olympic rosters are clearly lacking star power. The one exception is the roster for Team Russia — er, Team Olympic Athlete from Russia — which boasts two forwards who each played more than 800 NHL games and scored more than 800 career NHL points: Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk.Kovalchuk is a former Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy winner, and Datsyuk won three consecutive Frank J. Selke Trophies between 2008 and 2010 as the league’s best two-way forward. Each Russian has some very good hockey left in his legs. They’re also the reason the Russians are the odds on favorites to win the tournament.Team Russia is also bringing Kontinental Hockey League star Sergei Mozyakin along to South Korea. Aside from current NHL sniper Alexander Radulov, no other player has won the KHL scoring title in the past decade. The KHL isn’t exactly the NHL, but it’s not exactly a beer league either: It’s the world’s second best hockey league, and 91 of the tournament’s 300 players currently play there. Russia’s games alone should be reason enough to tune in next week.As for the rest? Among the non-KHL cadre, 203 players play across 17 professional leagues spread throughout North America, Europe and Asia; five play NCAA Division 1 hockey; and one — Gionta — is currently not playing any competitive hockey at all. Some teams rewarded players who choose to play their professional hockey on home soil: Every Russian player plays in the KHL, every South Korean player plays in Asia League Ice Hockey, and every Swiss player plays in the National League.3A lot of NHL superstars — including Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin and Joe Thornton, to name a few — skated in the National League during the lockout of 2012-13. They did so because it is a very good hockey league.But other teams seem to prefer a more well-rounded bunch: The U.S. roster features players from seven professional leagues and a handful of college studs.4And Gionta. And the Slovenian roster features players from 11 leagues across Europe — from the Alps Hockey League to the Czech Extraliga (they know how to score pretty in the Czech Extraliga) to all three divisions of professional German hockey.5This tournament may not feature the world’s top talent, but no one could argue it’s not well-traveled.The NHL’s absence dictates that this won’t be the deepest or most talented group of hockey men ever assembled at an Olympics, but those North Americans willing to stay up late or wake up early will get to see a lot of players they’d never otherwise get to see. read more