Jamaican Michael Gardener, representing the Caribbean team in the Wray and Nephew Contender 2016 Series, makes his debut as a professional boxer tonight. Gardener will face USA boxer José Guzman, over five rounds in the fifth week of competition at the Chinese Benevolent Association auditorium. Fight time is 9.30 p.m. and the contest will be broadcast live on Television Jamaica. Last week the series heated up considerably when Guyanese boxer Revlon Lake fought a bruising battle against Anthony Woods from The Bahamas to take a majority decision, and tonight’s fight promises to be in the same vein. The 22 year-old Gardener is faced with a huge task, in this his debut, but he and his camp have stated that they are very confident of victory, despite the fact that Guzman, who is 27, is a seasoned professional with 20 fights on his rÈsumÈ. It is not an impressive one, as he has won six, lost 13, and had one draw, but the fact is that he has been a professional since 2006. He last fought on March 5, losing to John Hernandez in New York over six rounds. Gardener has been one of Jamaica’s best amateur boxers and has been a champion in both the welterweight and middleweight divisions. He has represented Jamaica in overseas competitions several times and is known to be a hard-hitting boxer. His major fault as an amateur was that being primarily a counter-puncher, he had the tendency to react and fight back rather than lead and be aggressive. As a result, he was usually coming from behind, and in a three-round fight, he therefore, found himself in trouble on several occasions. Over five rounds, he has some more time, but he still cannot afford to lose the early rounds as catching up would be difficult. The tactics that he uses tonight will be very important if he is to make a successful debut. He has good punching power, but his opponent, who was born in Puerto Rico and who has been living in the Bronx, New York, for some time, is quite likely to be very aggressive, so the ingredients are there for an exciting contest. The winner tonight moves into the quarter-final, and will be one step closer to the Contender 2016 title and first prize of $2million. The runner-up takes home $500,000, third place $250,000 and fourth place $200,000. In the next stage of the competition, the boxers will still challenge each other over five rounds, but the semi-finals will be over seven rounds, and the final in July will be a 10-round contest.
(Credit: Fraunhofer Institute for High-Speed Dynamics)What happens when you’re hit by something going 15,000 miles per hour? Total obliteration, more or less.That’s a very real scenario that spacecraft engineers must keep in mind every time they put something in space. Collisions with objects in orbit are rare, but they do happen. In the past, paint chips have left craters in the space shuttle and a French satellite was disabled in 1996 after its gravity-gradient boom was severed by a chunk from an exploded rocket.Shields Up!To protect expensive spacecraft, shields are in order. And not just any hunk of metal will do. Objects in space are moving fast — craft in low-Earth orbit whizz by at around 17,000 miles per hour — and we can’t make a single shield thick enough to protect against that kind of speed. So, engineers have turned to something called a Whipple shield, named for its creator, Fred Whipple. Instead of a single layer of material, a Whipple shield relies on several, each separated by empty space.The outermost layer is designed to break apart when hit, shattering the projectile at the same time. The resulting cloud spreads out the force of the impact across a greater surface area, decreasing the force at any one point and increasing the chances that the inner layer will hold. Many spacecraft today, the International Space Station included, utilize Whipple shields.You can see a Whipple shield in action in the video from the European Space Agency. It shows a 2.8 millimeter aluminum bullet shot from a gas gun impacting the shield. The bullet is traveling around 15,000 miles per hour, but it doesn’t manage to penetrate the thin secondary shield. The reason is clear — upon impact with the first layer the bullet gets totally vaporized, robbing most of its destructive power. The shield is a fiber metal laminate, or thin layers of metal held together by a composite.Updated versions of Whipple shields use fillings of Kevlar or Nextel ceramic fibers between layers to add even more protective power. And as an added benefit, the shields are far lighter than conventional armor would be, though they do make the spacecraft a bit bigger.The one downside, of course, is that Whipple shields are pretty much a single-use product. Once the first layer has been breached, the shield won’t work anymore. But, because impacts in orbit are still so rare, the chances of being hit twice in the same place are exceedingly low. And, for now, that’s enough.