Last week, we presented you with eight reasons the Ravens would beat the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. Not to brag, but, well, we totally called that one. We’re feeling pretty confident about this upcoming Super Bowl game, too — and here’s why:
The streets of Baltimore were packed last night, but the Ravens’ road to the Superbowl wasn’t a smooth one. Let’s take a quick look back over how we got here — “here” being on the cusp of a Superbowl victory, of course.
Even the most ardent Ravens fans were nervous before this weekend’s playoff game in Denver. (“No way. I don’t think we’re gonna win it guys, I’m sorry,” says the kid in the video above, who might be the most intense Ravens fan I’ve ever seen.) And so, the screams of victory were even louder, at least in my house. Some of our favorite fan reactions are below:
“I watched at a sports bar in Fresno, CA and they got pretty tired of hearing me scream. Caw. Caw regardless. Caw forever.” — Jenn Wasner, musician (Wye Oak, Flock of Dimes, Dungeonesse)
In these posts, we’re usually celebrating the work of scientists and academics at the major local research universities; this week, we’ve decided to shift our focus a bit and look at what’s going on in the world of high school research. Let me guess what you’re thinking: Um, is “high school research scene” even a real thing? As proof positive, we offer up Jack Andraka, a freshman at North County High School in Crownsville, who invented a new method for identifying pancreatic cancer — one that’s much cheaper, faster, and more accurate than the test that’s currently in use.
Andraka came up with the idea for his dip-sensor test last year, and emailed hundreds of local doctors and professors — most of whom completely ignored him, presumably because he was in ninth grade. But Johns Hopkins pathology professor Dr. Anirban Maitra decided to take a risk and let Andraka use his lab. After a few months of tweaking, Andraka perfected a dipstick sensor that tests levels of mesothelin, a pancreatic cancer biomarker, in blood or urine. The test is cheap (3 cents), quick (5 minutes), and effective; officials at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (which Andraka won, natch) said that his method resulted in over 90 percent accuracy. There may even be wider applications for the idea — perhaps detecting lung and ovarian cancer, or testing a person’s resistance to chemotherapy drugs.
Andraka walked away from the Intel competition with the top award and $75,000 worth of prize money. And it seems that brains run in the family — his brother, Luke, won $96,000 in prizes at the same competition two years ago for his project on acid mine drainage’s effects on the environment. “For some reason, we’re not a super-athletic family. We don’t go to much football or baseball,” said the boys’ mother, Jane Andraka (she’s an anesthetist; their father, Steve, is a civil engineer). “Instead we have a million [science] magazines so we sit around the table and talk about how people came up with their ideas and what we would do differently.”
Maitra, Andraka’s mentor, expects big things from him in the future: “Keep that last name in mind. You’re going to read about him a lot in the years to come. What I tell my lab is, ‘Think of Thomas Edison and the light bulb.’ This kid is the Edison of our times. There are going to be a lot of light bulbs coming from him.”
The last time we talked, the NCAA men’s lacrosse tournament was about to begin, and three Maryland teams were vying for the top spot. Now it’s time for the final four teams to head to Foxborough, where the Loyola Greyhounds will face Notre Dame and the University of Maryland will take on Duke. (Unranked Maryland destroyed Johns Hopkins, the number two seed, in the quarterfinals. It was painful.) This is where things start to get very, very intense.
So intense, in fact, that wagers are starting to be made. The staff at Loyola Magazine has cut a deal with their counterparts at Notre Dame Magazine that “when the Greyhounds win on Saturday,” the Indianans will send over a box of kielbasa and some South Bend Factory chocolates. (In the off chance that Loyola loses, Notre Dame will receive some crab cakes. But we can’t imagine that’ll happen.) This matchup promises to be a dynamic one: Loyola has a killer offense, with two attackmen who’ve scored 45 or more goals this season; Notre Dame is famed for its defense. But, according to Baltimore Sun sportswriter Mike Preston, Maryland is actually the team to watch… and perhaps to beat: “Of the four remaining squads, the Terps play with the most emotion, which is why they have been so inconsistent through the years,” Preston writes. But “they’ve got more motivation going in than any other team.”
Both the USILA Coaches Poll and the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media Poll named the so-far undefeated Hopkins team as the best in the nation. This is exciting, sure, but it’s also nothing new for the Blue Jays. There have been 390 weekly polls issued by the USILA since 1973, and Hopkins has ranked in the top 10 in 367 of those polls. The team has won all eight of its games this season, its top streak since 2005.
Currently, the team Hopkins has the most to fear is the University of Massachusetts, whose undefeated 7-0 record earned it second place in the USILA poll and third in the Nike/Media Poll. Also in the top five of both polls was fellow Baltimore lacrosse powerhouse Loyola, which is also undefeated at 8-0.