The realization that cells are filled with molecules that move like machines fascinates many people. Students who grew up thinking of chemistry as bouncing molecules that did little more than link up and separate have a whole new paradigm to consider: molecules that walk, fold and unfold, spin and operate like ratchets, robots, wrenches and motors. Here are a few recent developments in the world of molecular machines:Brownian walk: Researchers in Science1 reported that myosin, a molecular “walking” motor used in muscle, harnesses the random force of Brownian motion to keep on track. Brownian motion is the random shuddering action of small molecules due to thermal motion in the environment. Like sails in the wind, myosin motors are built in such a way that they can make use of the vector component corresponding to the direction they need to go. “The leading neck swings unidirectionally forward, whereas the trailing neck, once lifted, undergoes extensive Brownian rotation in all directions before landing on a site ahead of the leading head,” said Shiroguchi and Kinosita. “The neck-neck joint is essentially free, and the neck motion supports a mechanism where the active swing of the leading neck biases the random motion of the lifted head to let it eventually land on a forward site.” This way they get a push for free. The authors did not discuss how this mechanism might have evolved.Gut-level machinery: Speaking of myosin, did you know it aids digestion? Your digestive tract is lined with microvilli, tiny projections that vastly increase the surface area of the intestinal membrane that absorbs nutrients. Now, scientists have found there’s a lot more going on in the tips of these projections. Science Daily reported on work at Vanderbilt that showed myosin is concentrated in the tips and appears actively involved in shedding membrane material at the tips. This process of vesicle formation and detachment may inject metabolic enzymes into the passing food material, as well as protect the lining of the intestine from invaders. It’s all done with motors: myosin 1a, “a protein with the potential to generate force and move cargo around in cells.” Matthew Tyska figured that there must be a reason these force-generating motors are concentrated in the microvilli, and sure enough, he found them at work: “It’s a little machine that can shed membrane from the tips,” he said. This could give a whole new dimension to the term bowel movement. Now his group is seeing if a similar mechanism operates in other cellular projections, like the hair cells of the inner ear. See also EurekAlert.Clockworks: A paper in Nature discussed the latest research into the molecular mechanisms behind biological clocks.2 There is not one clock molecule involved, but a host of proteins that form feedback loops in cycles that express and repress certain genes in response to environmental cues. One of the proteins is even nicknamed CLOCK. The article payed particular attention to PGC-1-alpha, a protein that appears intimately linked to both the circadian rhythm and metabolism, affecting the production of glucose, fatty acids and haem (iron-containing molecules). Many questions remain, however. This is clearly a work in progress.Splice and dice: Another paper in Nature used the word “machinery” six times, speaking of the spliceosome.3 “A complex macromolecular machinery in the nucleus of eukaryotic cells is responsible for pre-mRNA splicing,” said Blencowe and Khanna. They described how alternative splicing “is a remarkably efficient mechanism for a cell to increase the structural and functional diversity of its proteins, and it plays many roles in gene regulation” (see 05/20/2007). The way alternative splicing is controlled is by RNA “riboswitches,” including messenger-RNA transcripts that can regulate their own expression with feedback and feed-forward loops. These riboswitches can actually change shape in response to cues, and the shape determines how the gene will be expressed. The authors used the word switch 18 times. Earlier, riboswitches were thought to exist only in bacteria and fungi, but now it appears they may be common in higher animals and in plants. The authors speculated about evolution’s place in this: “It seems plausible that splicing-regulatory riboswitches represent a system that has evolved to coordinately regulate multiple genes in the same biochemical pathway using feedback and, in some cases, feed-forward mechanisms,” they asserted. “Presumably, the rapid kinetics and energy-saving advantages afforded by bypassing protein-mediated regulation explain why riboswitch aptamers have persisted during evolution and function at many levels of regulation of gene expression.” Yet this seems to assume what needs to be proved. They used the presence of these switches, and the advantages they appear to confer, as evidence they evolved, yet provided no details on how that could have occurred by natural selection. By contrast, the evidence they did provide shows the opposite of evolution: between very distant organisms, like fungi and higher plants, the genes involved are “evolutionarily conserved” (i.e., unevolved).Machine language: Two scientists publishing in PNAS sounded like factory planners, but were talking about cells.4 “Experimental and theoretical studies of proteins, acting as motors, ion pumps, or channels, and enzymes, show that their operation involves functional conformational motions,” they said. A few sentences later, the machine talk continued: “Generally, a machine is a mechanical device that performs ordered internal motions that are robust against external perturbations.” They were discussing how molecular machines in the cell, particularly myosin and ATP synthase, are examples of such robustness. “In conclusion,” they said in the final discussion section, “we have shown that motor proteins possess unique dynamical properties, intrinsically related to their functioning as machines.” This recalls a line Scott Minnich said in the film Unlocking the Mystery of Life: “It’s not convenient that we give them these [machine] names; it’s truly their function.” Part of the title read, “design principles of molecular machines.” Yet the authors attributed this design to undirected chance processes of evolution in this statement: “Actual proteins with specific architectures allowing robust machine operation may have developed through a natural biological evolution, with the selection favoring such special dynamical properties.” They ran a simulation of an “evolutionary computer optimization process” and achieved a “artificial elastic network architectures possessing machine-like properties,” but this statement blurs the line between intelligently-selected outcomes and chance.“Machine” language is quite common in the scientific literature. One often finds matter-of-fact discussion of proteins and enzymes as machines. They use energy and perform physical work according to tight specifications. The evolutionary conundrum is: how could functioning machines arise from non-functional matter in motion? Authors of scientific papers typically either ignore the question, or assume evolution did the design work. A more fruitful approach was offered by a biophysicist who wrote Nature last week, suggesting that we “Look at biological systems through an engineer’s eye.”5 R. S. Eisenberg said that when approaching a black box, whether an amplifier in a sound system or an unknown mechanism in a living cell, we should identify the inputs and outputs, the power supply and the device equation. Looking at biological devices with the eyes of an engineer, he said, can lead to fruitful experiments:Complex systems – for example, with many internal nonlinear connections like the integrated circuit modules of digital computers or, perhaps, the central nervous system – may not be easily analysed as devices, no matter how many experimental data are available. But it seems clear, at least to a physiologist, that productive research is catalysed by assuming that most biological systems are devices. Thinking today of your biological preparation as a device tells you what experiments to do tomorrow. Asking the questions in this way leads to the design of useful experiments that may eventually lead to the device description or equation, if it exists. If no device description emerges after extensive investigation of a biological system, one can look for other, more subtle descriptions of nature’s machines.An intelligent design scientist might feel vindicated. No evolutionary theorizing is needed in this approach. Assuming design in the device, and asking engineering questions, can stimulate a fruitful experimental program.1Shiroguchi and Kinosita, “Myosin V Walks by Lever Action and Brownian Motion,” Science, 25 May 2007: Vol. 316. no. 5828, pp. 1208-1212, DOI: 10.1126/science.1140468.2Grimaldi and Sassone-Corsi, “Circadian rhythms: Metabolic clockwork,” Nature 447, 386-387 (24 May 2007) | doi:10.1038/447386a.3Blencowe and Khanna, “Molecular biology: RNA in control,” Nature 47, 391-393 (24 May 2007) | doi:10.1038/447391a.4Togashi and Mikhailov, “Nonlinear relaxation dynamics in elastic networks and design principles of molecular machines,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0702950104, published online before print May 16, 2007.5R. S. Eisenberg, “Look at biological systems through an engineer’s eye,” Correspondence, Nature 447, 376 (24 May 2007) | doi:10.1038/447376a.These papers speak for themselves. Was anybody impressed by the evolutionary storytelling? Was it useful? Did it contribute to understanding in any way? How about, on the other hand, the machine language? Can you talk machine language without assuming intelligent design? Where do you think science is headed? Bye-bye, Charlie.(Visited 6 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
Mohair-producing Angora goats were brought to South Africa from Turkey over 150 years ago.(Image: Rodger Bosch,MediaClubSouthAfrica.com. For more freephotos, visit the image library.) The natural elasticity of mohair stimulates blood circulation while its high absorption rate draws moisture away from the foot.(Image: Cape Mohair)MEDIA CONTACTS • Cape Mohair Neil McCleland firstname.lastname@example.org Denys Hobson +27 21 534 4134 • Mohair South Africa +27 41 48 71386 RELATED ARTICLES • 2009 – The Year of Natural Fibres • Natural fibre takes off • Climate change and camels • Growing the organic business • Botswana revives ostrich farmingWilma den HartighSouth Africa is the world’s leading producer of mohair, a unique natural fibre produced by Angora goats. Now the fibre’s special properties are helping diabetics across the world avoid one of the disease’s most debilitating effects.One of the complications of diabetes, a disease suffered by some 300-million people across the world, is a reduction of blood circulation to the extremities. This causes foot problems such as infections and ulcers and, in extreme cases, can lead to amputation. For diabetics, foot care is crucial.A new range of socks developed by South African mohair processor Cape Mohair offers better foot protection to diabetics worldwide. Called the Medi Sock, it makes us of mohair’s natural elasticity that enhances circulation, and high absorption rate that draws moisture away from the foot.“These are the fantastic attributes of mohair that people don’t always know about,” said Denys Hobson, chief executive of Cape Mohair.Cape Mohair examined similar products sold elsewhere in the world, but none of them were adequate. “We realised that there is a great need for decent socks for diabetics,” Hobson said. Before the product was launched, it was tested for eight months and refined many times over with the help of people living with diabetes.The socks are made from locally produced mohair yarn from Angora goat kids, which provide a fine-textured hair. Coarser mohair will irritate the foot.Neil McCleland of Cape Mohair said the export potential of the sock could lead to the consumption of an additional 30 tons of mohair a year. This will be a significant boost for South Africa’s mohair industry, already considered the world’s leading producer of the natural fibre.The Medi Sock is fast gaining market share and recognition internationally; in the UK it is already considered a product leader. Cape Mohair recently received its 21st bulk export order from the UK, and plans to expand the sock’s market into the US and Europe.South Africa’s mohair industrySo far, conventional uses of mohair have been in the fashion industry, interior design and by craft and industrial fibre specialists. Rugs, blankets, throws and shawls are some of the more well-known mohair products.According to Hobson, South Africa’s well-established mohair industry produces over 60% of the world’s mohair. Some 95% of the fibre is exported to countries such as Italy, China, the UK and France.Production is concentrated in the Eastern Cape province, considered to be the mohair capital of the world: 80% of all South African mohair production comes from the region. The country has two of the world’s major combing mills, where the “greasy” fibre is processed to combed mohair tops. Mohair yarn is manufactured in Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage, in the Eastern Cape.Finished products such as rugs and blankets are also produced in the province, and mostly exported. Interestingly, South Africa is not a large end user of mohair, as the fibre has never been marketed locally.Farming Angoras for 150 yearsAngora goats were introduced to South Africa in the 19th century, but only by lucky chance.According to Mohair South Africa, the goat is believed to originate from the mountains of Tibet, making its way to Turkey in the 16th century.The story goes that in the 1800s a South African farmer in Turkey wanted to establish the breed in his own country. But the Turkish sultan he approached, who knew the value of the goats, was not keen to share his secret. So in 1838 the sultan sent the breeder 12 infertile Angora rams and a single ewe. But unknown to him, the ewe was pregnant, and gave birth to a ram kid. This was the beginning of Angora breeding in South Africa.Over the past 150 years attentive stock management has made the South African Angora goat the dominant producer of fine mohair fleece in the world. Selective breeding has also made the local variety hardier, able to thrive in South Africa’s harsh dry conditions“Good breeding has always been a priority in the sector and farmers have done this to ensure the quality of the wool remains high,” said Hobson. “Farmers’ attention to detail has contributed to sector being held in such high esteem internationally.”In the past two decades world mohair production has dropped considerably, from a peak of 26-million kilograms in 1988 to 5.3-million kg in 2008. Reasons for the decline include the labour-intensive nature of mohair farming, price sensitivity due to fashion trends, and the conversion of South African Angora goat farmland to game ranching.The introduction of game farming in the Eastern Cape has had a negative impact on Angora goat farming in the region, Hobson said. However, some farmers have re-established their operations in the western parts of South Africa. The goats seem to thrive in the region, so much so that in some cases they are replacing the area’s traditional ostrich farming.International Mohair SummitIn celebration of the International Year of Natural Fibres, South Africa will be hosting the inaugural international biennial Mohair Summit from 3 to 8 November in Jansenville and Graaff-Reinet in the Karoo. The event will be attended by local and international growers, buyers, manufacturers, sellers, fashion designers and interior decorators.The United Nations declared 2009 the International Year of Natural Fibres in an attempt to highlight the role that natural fibres play in contributing to food security and poverty alleviation.The use of natural fibres in clothing, household furnishings and industries has declined as a result of the development of synthetic fibres. Synthetic materials such as polyester, acrylic and nylon are widely used because they are cost effective and can be mass-produced. Sadly, competition from synthetic materials has affected millions of people who rely of the production and processing of natural fibre for their income.
Green activists have urged the Chief Electoral Officer of Odisha to initiate measures to stop political parties from harming trees by nailing publicity materials on them during election campaign.Berhampur Sabuja Bahini, an organisation of young environmental activists, has submitted a memorandum addressed to the CEO to Berhampur Sub-Collector Digant Raut on the issue.“Mr. Raut has promised that all trees on public property in and around Berhampur will be protected from being harmed by metal intrusions to put up publicity materials during the election process,” said BSB president Sibaram Panigrahy.BSB activists had some months ago removed nails and other metal intrusions from over 2,000 trees in Berhampur. They had also used herbal remedy to cure wounds caused to the trees by these metal intrusions in a first-of-its-kind effort to save trees in Odisha.According to BSB secretary M. Dilip Kumar, a large number of trees are likely to be harmed during the coming elections. Trees are easiest points to put up advertisement materials. “We want this practice to end all over Odisha.”
N.C. State freshman forward Abdul-Malik Abu was very close with Deah Shaddy Barakat, one of the victims of the Chapel Hill shooting earlier this month. In the wake of the tragedy, Abu posted a touching tribute to Barakat, his wife and her sister on Instagram. At Barakat’s wedding in December, Abu vowed he would beat UNC and Duke for his friend, a die-hard N.C. State fan. Barakat posted this photo to remind Abu after the Wolfpack upset Duke last month. “I’m gonna beat Duke and UNC for you as my wedding gift” @malikabuA photo posted by @arabprodigy0 on Jan 11, 2015 at 12:47pm PST On Tuesday, N.C. State stunned rival North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Abu made sure to let his friend know that he had fulfilled his promise, even if he was no longer alive to see him do it. Thanks Deah for being a special person to all of us. This one was for you your family and and the wonderful people of #WPN !!!!! Love you man #RIP #WeDidIt #iPromisedYouManA photo posted by Abdul-Malik Abu (@malikabu) on Feb 24, 2015 at 7:07pm PSTWhat an awesome way for Abu to keep his friend’s memory alive.[ SBNation ]
ANN ARBOR, MI – OCTOBER 22: Fans watch a Michigan Wolverines flag after a score against the Illinois Fighting Illini on October 22, 2016 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***The image of Charles Woodson walking off the Michigan Stadium field with a rose in between his teeth following the Wolverines’ victory against Ohio State is an iconic one for those associated with the program. One Michigan fan has gotten said image tattooed on their body. Check out this incredible piece of art a Wolverines’ fan recently had done: First tattoo is done. #GoBlue. 〽️ pic.twitter.com/pFwAweC8zt— Honey Breezy (@BHugh_215) March 1, 2015Woodson, the 1997 Heisman Trophy winner, helped Michigan win the Rose Bowl and a share of the national championship that season.
Miss Grange was speaking at the recent opening of the expanded administrative building of the Aquatic Sports Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) at Independence Park, Kingston. Story Highlights “The Ministry has constantly called for sporting associations to join the plan to insure national athletes or those in development squads preparing to represent Jamaica. I make the appeal, persons in my Ministry have made the appeal, but still there are many eligible athletes who have not been registered,” she lamented. Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, is imploring sports associations and federations to enrol eligible athletes in the Government’s Jamaican Athletes’ Insurance Plan. Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, is imploring sports associations and federations to enrol eligible athletes in the Government’s Jamaican Athletes’ Insurance Plan.“The Ministry has constantly called for sporting associations to join the plan to insure national athletes or those in development squads preparing to represent Jamaica. I make the appeal, persons in my Ministry have made the appeal, but still there are many eligible athletes who have not been registered,” she lamented.Miss Grange was speaking at the recent opening of the expanded administrative building of the Aquatic Sports Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) at Independence Park, Kingston.The Sport Minister pointed out that athletes with severe health problems frequently turn to Government for help “and we have provided assistance in just about every case.”“But it is very troubling to realise that some of those very same athletes could have benefited from coverage under the Jamaican Athletes’ Insurance Plan if only they were registered through their associations or federations, or had made direct contact with the Ministry to initiate the process,” she noted.Miss Grange explained that the Jamaican Athletes’ Insurance Plan provides basic group health, life and personal accident coverage for beneficiaries aged six to 70, who are members of a national association or federation.“We spend more than $5 million per month in premium payments for the Plan. Currently, upwards of 1,300 athletes are on the Plan. For Jamaica which is a country that has such outstanding athletes, we should have more than (that number),” she said.Sports persons eligible to be covered under the Plan must be a member in good standing with the national association or federation, and they must be enrolled in the national development programme for a specific sporting discipline.In addition, persons must participate in at least two Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission training sessions per year.“Most important is the fact that an athlete will continue to receive coverage under the Plan while recovering from injury as long as he or she remains on the national squad,” Miss Grange said.She further explained that if the injury prevents the athlete from returning to competition and it is determined by the national association or federation that the athlete will be dropped from the squad, that athlete will continue to receive coverage until that person’s place on the squad is taken.Under the plan, the Group Life Coverage is $2.25 million per athlete; and the Group Personal Accident is $2.5 million for any Accidental Death and Dismemberment or Permanent Total Disablement.
OTTAWA – The federal carbon pricing system for heavy emitters, softened last week to ease the impact on Canadian industry, could be amended even further this fall as Ottawa looks to address competitiveness fears in corporate Canada fuelled by U.S. tax cuts, tariffs and environmental policy roll backs.Environment Canada also now has to consult on the proposed plan with more than a dozen industrial sectors specific to Ontario that weren’t originally expected to be affected by the federal carbon pricing program because Ontario had its own system — now scrapped by Doug Ford’s new provincial government.That includes the auto sector, which is the next possible target for President Donald Trump’s tariffs, and breweries, who are paying more for their cans from the aluminum tariffs Trump has already imposed.Steel, which also had tariffs imposed by the U.S. in June, was one of the industries given the biggest break by Ottawa last week when Environment Minister Catherine McKenna increased the amount of emissions companies can produce before they have to start paying the carbon price. Those changes came after six months of consultations with affected industries who warned the government the proposed system was too onerous and could compel some of them to consider leaving Canada altogether.Manufacturers of steel, iron, lime, cement and nitrogen fertilizer will now have to pay the carbon price only on emissions that exceed 90 per cent of the average emissions in their sector. Other companies that produce more than 50,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases a year, will pay the carbon price on anything over 80 per cent.The original proposal McKenna made in January was to set that cap at 70 per cent for all industry.John Moffet, the associate assistant deputy minister at Environment and Climate Change Canada, said Thursday those changes may not be the last, and that economic pressures facing companies from things like U.S. tariffs are among the factors being looked at.“I would say the government is open to further changes across the board,” said Moffet.Environment Canada officials met with representatives from more than a dozen Ontario industries, including auto and auto parts manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies and a number of chemical firms, last week to begin the process of assessing how their competitiveness might be affected by the carbon price. The federal system will only be applicable in provinces without a federally approved carbon price system of their own.Although Ottawa won’t be assessing which provinces have such plans until September, Moffet said when the original consultations took place, the federal government analysed and consulted industries only in provinces that were expected to use the federal pricing program.The changes to the system have become political fodder for carbon price opponents — particularly the federal Conservatives and their provincial counterparts in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta — who argue that scaling back the program to reduce the impact on business is an admission the carbon pricing system is bad for the economy. They want Ottawa to scrap the entire carbon pricing plan.The government says the plan all along was to set an initial target and then amend it after more specific review, and that the changes made will not have a material impact on the amount of greenhouse gases that will be cut from Canada’s total annual emissions. Moffet said the incentives to reduce emissions remain, even with a higher cap.Corporate Canada may also get help this fall from Finance Minister Bill Morneau, who is spending the summer listening to a wide range of perspectives on Canada’s competitiveness challenges. For months now Canadian businesses have been firing off warnings that Canada is at a deep disadvantage after recent changes like U.S. corporate tax reforms.Business associations want Ottawa to cut corporate taxes in Canada, arguing the U.S. tax changes could end up inflicting more damage on the Canadian economy than the possible termination of the North American Free Trade Agreement.A spokeswoman for Morneau said if he is to make any adjustments, they would be announced in his fall economic statement.The draft regulations finalizing the industrial component of Canada’s carbon pricing scheme are also expected this fall, with the final regulations not expected until the summer of 2019.
FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – After the provincial government only netted $27,000 during last month’s petroleum and natural gas land rights sale, August’s wasn’t much better.In Wednesday’s auction, the provincial government netted just $201,872.37 from the sale of a single drilling license, which was one of only three parcels of land on the auction block. The 777-hectare parcel is located near Montney, just north of Fort St. John. Stomp Energy Ltd. purchased the parcel for $259.81 per hectare.So far this year, petroleum land rights auctions have brought in just $59,670,245.38. That number, while still more than the roughly $33.6 million paid for land rights in 2015 and 2016 combined, is still well below the $173 million the Province earned last year. The next petroleum land rights sale is taking place on September 12th, when four drilling licenses and two leases will be put up for auction.
OSU sophomore forward Marcus McCrary (19) during a game against Michigan on Nov. 4 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. OSU won 3-1. Credit: Laurie Hamame | Lantern PhotographerAnother title is coming to Columbus, this one by way of the Ohio State men’s soccer team, which captured the regular-season Big Ten crown on Wednesday after defeating Michigan 3-1.The Big Ten championship is the third for the program and first since 2009. Senior midfielder and captain Zach Mason said he knew this year’s team would be special.“We have a team full of winners, a winning mentality,” Mason said. “I knew something special would happen this year, and I’m glad it came to fruition.”After a rocky 1-4 start, the Buckeyes finished their regular season with an overall record of 11-5-2 and a conference record of 5-2-1. OSU coach John Bluem said the team’s turnaround is a testament to its mindset.“Even when we were 1-4, the guys didn’t lose confidence. They thought that we were a good team and that we had just been unlucky,” Bluem said. “The fact that they didn’t give up and realized that if we could just get it going, we would be fine, and obviously we did get it going.”The Buckeye seniors, who were honored prior to the game for senior night, were the stars of the night. Mason and midfielder Kyle Culbertson combined for the Scarlet and Gray’s three goals. Mason’s tally was the first of his collegiate career.“Senior night, a couple seniors getting some goals, getting a win, the Big Ten title, I mean it’s a dream come true,” Mason said. Culbertson’s first goal of the evening, and his fourth of the season, occurred at the 25th minute of the first half when the ball bounced to him off a Michigan player 12 feet in front of the net. The strike gave OSU a 1-0 lead.Shortly after, in the 32nd minute of play, a corner kick from senior defender Liam Doyle found Mason on the ground after a deflection, redirecting into the net for his first goal in scarlet and gray.“I went up for the header and I missed it. I fell down on the ball and it went in. It was worth the wait though,” Mason said. “I just started laughing instantly. It’s ironic that I never scored, and it wasn’t a good goal, but it went in.”Culbertson got his second tally of the match in the 55th minute following skillful passing by junior forwards Danny Jensen and Yaw Amankwa. The goal swelled the OSU lead to three goals.“The front four played fantastic, that last goal was just a testament to that,” Culbertson said. “I think everybody touched it, all the front four guys. It was just a great combination play.”The Buckeye defense did its part as well, keeping Michigan off the scoreboard until the 85th minute of play when senior goaltender Chris Froschauer’s bid for an eighth shutout was snapped by Wolverine senior forward James Murphy.“The performance speaks for itself, we’ve given up four goals in our past 11 games,” Bluem said. “Our defense has really been doing the job for us, they’ve been fantastic all year long and we’re playing well at the best time of the season to be playing well.”With the Big Ten regular-season title under its belt, OSU will move on to the Big Ten tournament, where it enters as the top seed. Culbertson said that despite the Big Ten title, the competition is still intense.“Every team in this conference can beat anybody out there, so we are definitely getting prepared and making sure that we know the opponent that’s coming in, and making sure we’re ready to work,” Culbertson said.Bluem said there is still a lot of soccer to be played.“We’ve got the Big Ten tournament in front of us, and it would be great to win that as well. We know that after that, we’re going to advance and play in the NCAA tournament,” he said. “This isn’t the last game of the season, there’s a lot of games left in front of you, let’s just one win at a time and do what we did tonight and if we do it well enough, we’ll win.”The Buckeyes are scheduled to host their first Big Ten tournament game Sunday against the winner of Michigan State and Penn State. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
Junior pitcher Ryan Riga (44) throws the ball during a game against Siena March 14 at Bill Davis Stadium. OSU won, 8-5.Credit: Sam Harrington / Lantern photographerAfter sweeping a winless Siena team over the weekend, the Ohio State baseball team is looking to continue defending its home turf.The Buckeyes (11-6, 0-0) are preparing for their last two non-conference games — against in-state opponents Akron Tuesday and Xavier Wednesday — before kicking off their Big Ten schedule with a weekend series against Michigan State.Senior outfielder Tim Wetzel, who is hitting .417 (10-24) with runners on base, said the team is concentrated on taking things one game at a time.“One thing that is big with this year’s team is we’re just treating every game the same, whether it’s the Big Ten or a midweek game like we’ve got coming up this week. Every game is just as important as the next,” Wetzel said. “We’re not going to jump ahead to the Big Ten this weekend. We’ve got to take care of these two games first.”Coach Greg Beals said he expects his players to bring a lot of energy into both of their games this week.“I just want to see us keep the winning streak going, I want to see the quality of at-bats continue to grow, I’d like to see us hit some extra base hits. If we get some extra base hits, we usually score runs in those innings,” Beals said.Sophomore pitcher Jake Post is slated to start the game against the Zips (7-8, 0-0). After two starts and also coming out of the bullpen as a relief pitcher twice, Post is currently 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA and said he is confident heading into the game against Akron.“They look like a beatable team. If I execute my pitches and our hitters come through and we play good defense, we’ll come out with a win,” Post said. “I just want to go as deep as I can, have a good game, throw good pitches and execute to put the team in a good situation to win.”Numerous freshmen have emerged as key players for the Buckeyes in the early season. The Big Ten announced Monday that freshman pitcher Travis Lakins earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors. Lakins recorded a perfect 1.2 innings pitched in the latter game of a doubleheader with Siena Saturday after striking out a career-high five hitters and only allowing a pair of hits in 3.2 scoreless innings at No. 7 Oregon State Tuesday.Other freshmen producing for OSU include outfielder Ronnie Dawson, who is currently third in the Big Ten with a .393 batting average and leads the team with 22 hits. Freshman pitcher Adam Niemeyer struck out a career-best eight while allowing just one hit over 4.1 scoreless innings of relief against No. 9 Oregon March 7.“They’re huge, we knew that we were going to need them coming into the season big time,” Wetzel said. “The (freshmen) pitching staff has really been stepping up, (Troy) Montgomery and Dawson in the lineup have been huge, we knew that was going to be the case. We’re just excited they’re producing.”Beals said a key to succeeding in the conference is getting the younger players as much playing time as possible.“I think we’ve been able to get production from the younger guys but most importantly, we’ve got them experience and they’ve gotten a good number of at bats, so they’re going to be ready to go now that we start conference play,” Beals said.Beals added that OSU is healthy and ready to make an impact in the Big Ten when the conference portion of its schedule begins this weekend.“Physically, we’re in really good shape so as you transfer from preseason into the conference season, that’s something that’s always a concern and we’re healthy right now,” Beals said.First pitch against Akron is set for 5:05 p.m. Tuesday at Bill Davis Stadium.