Mystery of magic hockey hands starts and ends at the head

York University kinesiology Professor Norman Gledhill recently established one of the things that sets hockey players apart, reported The Globe and Mail Oct. 18. He’s the man behind the fitness testing at the NHL’s annual scouting combine, and in testing more than 300 players discovered something about their wingspan. The distance from fingertip to fingertip is typically in direct relationship to height from head to toe, although roughly 15 per cent of people have a shorter wingspan than their height; the rest have a larger one, and the maximum variance is typically two or three inches. Among hockey players, roughly 15 per cent have a wingspan less than their height, but those whose arms are longer are much longer than in the general population, as much as seven or eight inches greater than their height. “I’m not sure that hockey players have bigger hands on average than you or I, but we can say their reachability is greater, and that surely has an impact on things like stickhandling and generating power from a slap shot,” he said. Read full story.

How one entrepreneur is revolutionizing the food industry
Mathematician and University of Toronto Professor Isabel Hoffmann’s company, TellSpec, is developing a laser-driven, handheld spectrometer that analyzes the food on your plate, in your fridge or at the supermarket for chemicals, gluten, dyes, allergens, neurotoxins, moulds and bacteria. . . . Last fall, over dinner with a former colleague, York University math Professor Stephen Watson, Hoffmann described her vision of a handheld food scanner. Watson said it couldn’t be done – until Hoffmann found a Toronto firm that makes spectroscopic scanners the size of a computer chip. If the hardware was easy, the software was not: Hoffmann needed a database that could accept multiple inputs and learn as it grew. So Watson joined as a co-founder, drawing on his unpublished mathematics work to create the patented “learning algorithm” that is the heart of TellSpec, reported the Financial Post Oct. 21. Read full story.

Rape culture: What do Steubenville, Rehtaeh Parsons and frosh chants have in common?
For the time being, it’s no surprise young people are confused, says Noa Ashkenazi, an adviser at the Sexual Harassment Prevention Education Office at the Centre for Human Rights at York University. “Consent is nowhere. It’s nowhere, but rape culture messages are everywhere. I do feel like I’m fighting a Goliath sometimes,” she said in the Toronto Star Oct. 19. Ashkenazi teaches workshops on consent, which are attended by about 30 students, both male and female, every month. . . . About one in four college-age women will be sexually assaulted at some point during their time at university. In response, many schools are beefing up security, but critics say what’s really needed is more education. Read full story.

Has China failed key test?
It’s still to be seen whether the newly inked Hefei Statement, outlining the ten characteristics of contemporary research universities – signed earlier this month by leaders of nine elite Chinese universities – will prove in any way significant. Qiang Zha, a professor of international education at York University, said there’s reason to be optimistic that it might represent a step forward, reported Inside Higher Ed Oct. 21. . . . “The Hefei Statement is another step forward because the statement uses very explicit wording about academic freedom,” Zha said. But there’s one big caveat, he added: the use of the adjective “responsible”, as in, “the responsible exercise of academic freedom”. You would never find such a modifier in a Western document on this topic, Zha said. Read full story.