Not every player has taken quite the same path as Dwight Howard, who ranks No. 18 in the 2010s and is now on his seventh team of the decade after being traded away from the Wizards this summer. But James, for instance, has played for three teams this decade — the Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers — while only one No. 1 player of the previous three decades — Kevin Garnett, who starred for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Boston Celtics during the 2000s — played for more than one team. The reality of today’s league is stars hop teams far more often than their counterparts did in earlier eras, controlling their own destinies rather than letting team executives slide them around like pawns on a chessboard.It’s a trend NBA commissioner Adam Silver seems keenly aware of — if powerless to change, particularly with regard to the many deals that appeared to be made before the league’s mandated free-agency period was set to begin.“My sense in the room today was, especially when it comes to free agency and the rules around it, that we’ve got work to do,” Silver told reporters last week, after the league’s board of governors meetings. “And as I said, it’s still the same principles of fair balance of power and a sense that it’s a level playing field. I think that’s what teams want to know. I think they’re put in difficult situations because when they’re sitting across from a player and whether it’s conversations that are happening earlier than they should or frankly things are being discussed that don’t fall squarely within the collective bargaining agreement, it puts teams in a very difficult position because they are reading or hearing that other teams are doing other things to compete.”Even incentives put into place to theoretically curb player movement, such as larger maximum contracts (both in guaranteed length and total money) for players re-signing with their most recent teams, have failed to stop them from packing up and leaving town. Durant, for instance, left $57 million on the table to sign with Brooklyn rather than return to Golden State. Leonard gave up at least $80 million (!!) — if not even more — relative to what he could have gotten from a supermax deal with the Spurs, and about $30 million compared with what the Raptors could have given him by signing with the Clippers.Today’s stars, as ESPN’s Rachel Nichols perfectly put it, can’t be bought. They’ve proven that they’re willing to give up mind-boggling sums of cash in order to make their own decisions.Is all of this good for the league? Judging from the reaction on social media or in search traffic — where the NBA got playoff-level attention during the first week of July — the game’s popularity has seldom been higher, and the craziness of this offseason has only helped. I’ve said before that, if you view the modern NBA through a player-focused lens, it makes the most sense as a gigantic real-life soap opera. The concept of franchises is just incidental to all that, merely providing structure for the individual drama.Of course, if you are a fan of a team, it hurts to see your favorite players leave. The Raptors did everything they possibly could to retain Leonard’s services, but they reportedly had practically no chance of re-signing him even as they were winning the title. Although the players should owe no loyalty to team owners (err, “governors”) beyond the contracts they sign, from a fan’s perspective it seems to make little sense to root for any specific NBA team. Even if a team is lucky enough to acquire a superstar, it’s far from guaranteed he would stay more than a season or two in today’s climate.But the other side of that coin is that it’s more possible than ever for downtrodden teams to land a superstar in the first place. The Nets and Clippers have spent more of their histories as laughingstocks than contenders, particularly since both were seen as the “little brothers” in their markets (behind the Knicks — LOL — and Lakers). The franchises were not traditional free-agent destinations. But as stars become more focused on setting up the right situation for themselves and the players they want to play with, even teams without a history of snagging big-name players can make themselves an attractive option. It’s a different way of doing business — but in today’s era of superstar team-hopping, it might just be the new normal.Check out our latest NBA predictions. Dear NBA Diary,Remember when NBA players wearing different jerseys was new and novel? When you’d experiment with weird trades in NBA Live’s franchise mode, knowing that nothing so crazy as, I don’t know, Russell Westbrook in a Houston Rockets uniform or Kevin Durant as a Brooklyn Net would actually happen? And when the first wave of truly wild moves — such as LeBron James joining the Miami Heat in 2010 — did actually happen, do you remember the way our minds were blown as we imagined superstar combinations we’d never seen before?All of that is old news in 2019, now that we’ve seen countless Big Threes and even Hamptons Fives. If James signing to play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh was groundbreaking and Durant joining the Golden State Warriors still managed to shock, we’re pretty desensitized to huge names heading for new places by now. Yes, Kawhi Leonard becoming an L.A. Clipper was a big story, but mostly because of what it means for next season’s championship chase — not because the idea of him in a different jersey was all that tough to comprehend. (We’d just finished watching the longtime Spur win a title in a Toronto Raptors jersey anyway.)This is the era of player empowerment, as it’s recently been designated, and NBA players are placing a major premium on freedom of movement and choice of teammates. You can see this in the sheer number of different franchises for which top players suit up, relative to in the past. From the 1980s through the 2000s, a top 25 NBA player of a given decade (according to consensus Wins Created)1Which combines Box Plus/Minus, Win Shares and Player Efficiency Rating into a single consensus measure of player performance, scaled to absolute wins added. played for 1.99 teams during a 10-year span, on average. During the 2010s, however, the average top 25 player has played for 2.76 teams. And that bump in franchises played for holds across most of the ranking slots from No. 1 to No. 25, if we plot them out in a chart: Keep track of the chaotic NBA offseason with our Free Agency Diary.
Acura RDXThe third-generation Acura RDX squeaks into the top ten list with larger proportions, plenty of interior space and better handling than its predecessor. Forward collision warning with collision mitigation braking, adaptive cruise control that works even in low-speed traffic, lane-keeping steering assist and road departure mitigation are all standard across the board. Like its MDX counterpart, the RDX is available with the A-Spec styling package.The RDX sports a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine. Output is stated at 273 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, and it’s mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. The new RDX is built in East Liberty, Ohio. 2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison: A tougher off-roader 0 Honda RidgelineAgain keeping the status quo, the Honda Ridgeline maintains third place on the American Made Index. This crossover-that-looks-like-a-truck provides a better ride than a traditional pickup and gets an awesome lockable trunk right in the floor of the bed. And it doesn’t do the truck stuff too badly, either, as it’s able to carry 1,860 pounds of payload and tow 3,500 pounds.The Ridgeline is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 good for 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. That is channeled through a six-speed automatic transmission with available all-wheel drive. It’s built in Lincoln, Alabama. 81 Photos General Motors Chevrolet Honda Jeep Acura 2020 Kia Telluride review: Kia’s new SUV has big style and bigger value 49 Photos 3 Tags Tags 2019 Honda Pilot Elite: A smoother, tech-rich crossover SUV 2020 BMW M340i review: A dash of M makes everything better 2019 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison: An off-road animal Chevrolet CorvetteMoving up from the 10th-place slot last year is the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette. While we’ve all been ogling the new mid-engine Corvette, it’s easy to forget what a performance bargain the current-generation ‘Vette is. From the base trim to the Grand Sport to the bonkers ZR1, the Corvette is an American icon.My preference is for the Grand Sport, which strikes a perfect balance between everyday drivability and canyon-carving performance. The 6.2-liter V8 puts out 460 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. You can get it with a seven-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission, but the kicker is the borrowed chassis and aero parts from the beefier Z06. Like I said, perfect balance. The Corvette is made in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Honda OdysseyThe feature-rich Honda Odyssey minivan also retains its number-two slot from last year’s list. While the 2019 model doesn’t see any changes from last, it’s still a darn good choice for families on the go with reconfigurable seats, Wi-Fi and an excellent rear-seat entertainment system. The Cabin Watch video system lets parents keep an eye on their little darlings without turning around in their seats, while Cabin Talk amplifies their voice so no yelling is required.The Odyssey is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 rated for 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. Most trims get a nine-speed automatic but the top Touring and Elite trims now use a 10-speed automatic with stop-start technology. The Honda Odyssey is made in Lincoln, Alabama. 2019 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport loves to hustle 2019 Acura RDX A-Spec: Sharp handling, sharper looks 2019 Honda Ridgeline review: Light duty, heavy punch 52 Photos 2019 GMC Sierra Denali review: So close to greatness 2019 Honda Passport: A well-rounded midsize offering 2019 GMC Canyon: A fancier Colorado Honda PassportThe Honda Passport is a new (well, reborn) entry to both the Honda lineup and the American Made Index. This midsize crossover comes to the fray with great driving dynamics and plenty of tech like the standard Honda Sensing suite of active safety features. An available 8-inch touchscreen gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as a Wi-Fi hotspot.Under the hood is the stalwart 3.5-liter V6 producing 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. However unlike the Ridgeline, the Passport sends that power through a nine-speed automatic transmission. Having said that, just like the Ridgeline, this is the only powertrain available. The Honda Passport is built in Lincoln, Alabama. 71 Photos Chevrolet ColoradoMaking its debut in the top 10 is the Chevrolet Colorado. Shown here in the tough ZR2 Bison off-road spec, the Chevy Colorado is an excellent truck and one of the two midsize pickups you can get with a diesel engine. Adding to the ZR2’s two-inch lift and front and rear locking differentials, the Bison gets beefier skid plates (trust me, that’s a good thing), steel bumpers and integrated recovery points. Heck, you can even get a snorkel.Base models get a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with a six-speed manual transmission, but a more popular choice is the 3.6-liter V6 gas engine with 308 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Meanwhile, the 2.8-liter diesel pumps out 186 horsepower and a delicious 369 pound-feet of twist and is mated to a six-speed automatic. The Chevy Colorado is built in Wentzville, Missouri. Autonomous Vehicles Auto Tech,Enlarge ImageIt’s all in a day’s work for the Jeep Cherokee, the most American-made car in 2019. Jeep With high trade tensions looming and increasing talk of tariffs, more and more consumers are looking to buy American. Cars.com has released its annual American Made Index, showcasing companies that use the most American-sourced parts and labor in their vehicles. The results may surprise you.Cars.com analyzed more than 100 US-built vehicles for five key data points: manufacturing location, parts sourcing, US employment, engine sourcing and transmission sourcing. You might think something like the Ford F-150 would top the list, but it drops from its No. 5 spot for 2018 and out of the top 10 completely. Even the first-place holder, the Jeep Cherokee, is a pretty global product. It’s a Jeep, sure, but that brand is part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, an Italian-owned business.Cars.com surveyed 1,000 people and found that half are concerned about automotive import tariffs, with 41% saying they are unsure if tariffs would make them more likely to buy American. Either way, we’re big fans of all the vehicles on this list. These days, buying American doesn’t necessarily mean sticking with a US-based automaker. 10 Photos Enlarge ImageNext month, this autonomous pod will empower blind veterans in England. Aurrigo As autonomous mobility inches closer to widespread use and garners more headlines along the way, it’s easy to dream of a life of convenience. But it’s even easier for folks to forget that there is a whole subset of people for whom self-driving car tech will be more than mere convenience, it will change their lives — the disabled community.One of autonomy’s biggest selling points for the public is its potential to reduce the number of vehicle accidents and fatalities worldwide significantly. But in addition to the convenience possibilities and life-saving potential, UK autonomous mobility company Aurrigo is demonstrating how driverless pods can revolutionize the lives of blind people.Beginning in April, The Telegraph reports, Aurrigo will roll out a six-month beta test in collaboration with Blind Veterans UK that will provide driverless pods that will ferry visually impaired veterans around the charity’s rehabilitation campus at a blistering 15 mph.The beta test will allow Aurrigo to assess how blind riders interact with voice controls to improve the company’s future driverless cars, which use GPS and ultrasonic sensors to navigate the world.”So many of the blind veterans we support say that not being able to drive is one of the most significant things that hits you when you lose your sight,” said retired Maj. Gen. Nick Caplin, chief executive of Blind Veterans UK. 2020 Hyundai Palisade review: Posh enough to make Genesis jealous 9 Photos 2019 Honda Odyssey offers plenty of room and features for families Honda PilotDropping down to seventh place for 2019 is the Honda Pilot. Like its two-row Passport sibling, the three-row Pilot offers parent-focused technology like Cabin Talk as well as myriad standard driver-assistance features through the Honda Sensing tech suite. Honda’s largest crossover offers up nearly 84 cubic feet of cargo space. Honda’s 3.5-liter V6 engine shows up again, making a serviceable 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. Touring and Elite trims get a nine-speed automatic transmission while lower trims have to make do with a six-speed auto. The Honda Pilot is made in Lincoln, Alabama. 18 Photos 68 Photos 69 Photos 2019 Honda Ridgeline: The commuter’s pickup truck Post a comment GMC CanyonIf you’re looking for a slightly fancier version of the Colorado that’s more focused on luxe than dirt, check out the GMC Canyon. The top Denali trim gets standard heated and ventilated front seats as well as a heated steering wheel. Maximum payload capability is 1,665 pounds while max towing is a fairly healthy 7,600 pounds.The Canyon is available with the same 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, 3.6-liter V6 or 2.8-liter diesel as the Chevrolet Colorado. It’s also built in Wentzville, Missouri. Acura MDXMoving up one slot to sixth place on the American Made Index is the non-hybrid variant of the Acura MDX. With its SH-AWD system, the MDX is one of the better handling midsize luxury crossovers, and for 2019 the company gives us the A-Spec treatment with a new front fascia and side skirts, 20-inch wheels, wider exhaust tips, unique gauges, a new steering wheel, carbon fiber trim and various Alcantara interior touches.However, both the standard and A-Spec models get a 3.5-liter V6 engine, rated for 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque going through a nine-speed automatic transmission. The Acura MDX is made in East Liberty, Ohio. Share your voice More From Roadshow 26 Photos Mercedes-Benz Vision Urbanetic Concept hits the Las Vegas Strip at CES 2019 2019 Acura MDX adds new features and an A-Spec model 2019 Jeep Cherokee can handle the rough stuff Share your voice Comments Car Industry 12 Photos More From Roadshow Jeep CherokeeKeeping its top-of-the-list placement, the Jeep Cherokee is 2019’s most American-made car. Refreshed for 2019, the compact crossover now features more tech, better cargo space and a slightly tweaked look. It’s available in no fewer the nine trims, including the off-road specific Trailhawk and a fancy-pants Trailhawk Elite.For 2019, the Cherokee gets a new 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine with 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, though naturally aspirated I4 and V6 choices are also available. Regardless of engine, a nine-speed automatic transmission gets the power to the pavement — or dirt as the case may be. The Cherokee is made in Belvidere, Illinois.
“We found that a general rule applies to a dynamic system that relies solely on communication (pheromones) and social cooperation,” Oettler told Phys.org. “This system depends on two features. One is routing information that decays over time and needs to be refreshed, thus making the system flexible. And second on behavioral flexibility by the worker ants that carry this information. A path can only be adjusted by worker ants that do not follow this path, but rather take alternative routes (that they advertise), which may be faster (or slower) than the already established path.”Oettler added that the speed with which information decays is crucial to this system, so the results here may be adapted to information routing problems.The researchers noted that Wasmannia worker ants also resemble humans in this way, since humans have also been found to follow Fermat’s principle when forced to cross surfaces with different qualities. One clear example is when a lifeguard has to find the fastest way to traverse both beach and water in order to reach a drowning swimmer. The researchers also noted that several other factors likely influence why ants choose the paths they do. For instance, the results here suggest that ants prefer to move along edges of borders (in real life, for example, ants are often seen walking along the edges of a sidewalk). Landmarks facilitate orientation, and for ants this could mean that lower amounts of pheromone are needed to mark trails when combined with the physical cues. This is one area that the researchers hope to study more in the future.”We have only shown the outcome of this process,” Oettler said. “In the future we want to study the dynamics of the trail pheromones, their active compounds and evaporation rates. We want to perform behavioral tests with synthetic compounds and detect perception thresholds of individual ants. We also want to study the early dynamics of trail formation over time.” Explore further A ‘refracted’ trail of Wasmannia auropunctata workers at the medium border between smooth (white) and rough (green) felt. The position of the food is on the rough felt. The density of workers on the rough felt is higher than on the smooth felt because travel speed is lower. In addition, it appears, although not very obvious, as if the ants on the rough felt ‘float’ on top of the felt hairs, indicating the difficulty of walking on this substrate. Credit: Simon Tragust. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. (Phys.org) —Ants have long been known to choose the shortest of several routes to a food source, but what happens when the shortest route is not the fastest? This situation can occur, for example, when ants are forced to travel on two different surfaces, where they can walk faster on one surface than on the other. In a new study, scientists have found that ants behave the same way as light does when traveling through different media: both paths obey Fermat’s principle of least time, taking the fastest route rather than the most direct one. Besides revealing insight into ant communities, the findings could offer inspiration to researchers working on solving complex problems in robotics, logistics, and information technology. More information: Jan Oettler, et al. “Fermat’s Principle of Least Time Predicts Refraction of Ant Trails at Substrate Borders.” PLOS ONE. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0059739.g001 http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0059739 The researchers, Jan Oettler, et al., from institutions in Germany, France, and China, have published their paper on using Fermat’s principle of least time to predict ant trails in a recent issue of PLOS ONE. The scientists experimentally studied the behavior of the little fire ant, Wasmannia auropunctata, one of the world’s 100 most invasive species. They collected three colonies, each containing several thousand workers and multiple queens, from different sites in Israel. They put the ants in plastic boxes without food, and then connected each box to its own foraging arena where cockroaches were provided as food in the corner opposite from the entrance. The surface of each foraging arena was split in half, and each half was covered by a different material. The researchers experimented with combinations of three materials that differentially affected the ants’ average walking speed: rough polyester felt (1.73 mm/s), smooth polyester felt (2.97 mm/s), and polyethylene glass (4.89 mm/s). When ants forage, they deposit pheromones to build a trail, and favorable trails become reinforced with increased usage.Given the ants’ average walking speeds on different materials, along with information on the distances across the foraging arena and the angle defining the shortest path (the straight line) between the entrance and the food, the researchers predicted the angle at which the ants would cross from one surface to the other if they chose the fastest path. In accordance with Fermat’s principle of least time, this angle can be thought of as the angle of refraction, similar to how light refracts at a certain angle at the boundary of two media in which it travels at different speeds. Robot ants successfully mimic real colony behavior The researchers calculated the fastest path as predicted by Fermat’s principle of least time (dotted yellow line), which is not the direct path. In this example, the ants can walk faster on Surface 1 than on Surface 2. Credit: Jan Oettler, et al. Journal information: PLoS ONE Copyright 2013 Phys.org All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without the express written permission of Phys.org. The researchers found that the ants’ paths closely matched those predicted by Fermat’s principle of least time and did not follow the most direct route. In other words, the ants accounted for the different walking speeds on the different surfaces and traveled a longer distance on the surface where they could walk faster. Citation: Ants follow Fermat’s principle of least time (2013, April 1) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2013-04-ants-fermat-principle.html