Numlock News: April 4, 2022 • Hyporheic Zone, Morbius, Marine Snow
By Walt Hickey
The Jared Leto movie Morbius, which tells the origin story of a benchwarmer-tier Spider-Man villain, made $39.1 million domestically this weekend, which was in line with the lowered expectations for the film following some pretty dismal reviews. The movie cost $75 million to make, and that’s before the marketing spend was factored in, so it’s got to get those numbers up if it wants any expectation of hitting profitability. There’s really nothing quite like “A Moon Knight television show came out the same week as a movie about Morbius the Living Vampire” to sum up the current depth of the superhero content mine. The movie calendar is only going to get busier, with Sonic the Hedgehog 2 launching this coming weekend in the U.S., after making $25.5 million this past weekend in 31 overseas markets.
The WWE, fresh off its marquee Wrestlemania promotion, is attempting to shore up its recruitment of college athletes into the ring. Led by Paul Levasque — Triple H, to some — the WWE is assessing dozens of college athletes who could have potential as wrestlers. Previously, this was a no-go for wrestling, as college players were forbidden from accepting compensation, but now that NCAA athletes can profit from their names, the WWE is snapping up college talent for its development of future performers. The first, Olympic gold medalist wrestler Gable Steveson, was soon followed by 15 more student-athletes signed in December. That’s a sizable chunk of the 90 people in the WWE development program, and company leadership wants to up that to 130.
California hydropower generation was down 48 percent in 2021 compared to the ten-year average, and 2022 is looking just as bad if not worse. The math’s pretty simple here: You can’t run a hydropower generating plant if you lack the hydro to power it. This is a problem, as hydropower remains an important component of renewable energy transitions, making up 19 percent of California’s generation in 2019 and 17 percent of the world’s energy generation in 2020. The other issue is that hydropower is reliable and constant, whereas other green energy sources fluctuate with the sun and wind, meaning that when hydropower generation is taken offline, it’s usually replaced not with wind or solar but rather natural gas and imports.
Drywall is a versatile and necessary component of a lot of construction, and globally in 2020, 8.4 billion square meters of drywall was sold around the world, which is about one Delaware’s worth of plasterboard. It uses a lot of gypsum, which is an emissions-intensive material to obtain, but alternatives are in development, including one that’s made from agricultural waste and a lime-based binding agent. Globally, buildings are responsible for 38 percent of emissions, and in the United Kingdom plasterboard is responsible for 3.5 percent of the nation’s emissions annually.
Rivers are more than just the obvious flowing water, and people working to revive rivers in urban areas have increasingly been drawn to the hyporheic zone, which is the river underneath the river. Basically, the waterlogged earth around a river is also a part of that river: It’s teeming with life like crustaceans, worms, insects and more, and the water even flows in that dirt albeit at a rate far, far slower than the river as a whole. Destroying water systems when building cities is common: Philadelphia buried 73 percent of its streams, and Baltimore buried 66 percent of them. When you make a stream into a channel — install hard and impervious surfaces to steer it — you cut off the hyporheic zone, and that’s got people working to restore rivers thinking about how to reconnect the streams to their floodplains.
Marine snow is the cascade of small little particles of organic matter and waste that exist in the oceans, motes of matter that bring the nutrients of the surface to the depths below. It’s increasingly got plastic in it now. The estimate is that in 2010, the oceans produced 340 quadrillion bits of marine snow, and that could transport some 463,000 tons of microplastics from the surface to the seafloor every year. It’s becoming part of the ecosystem: You can tell when humans existed based on the layer of microplastics in the seafloor left behind by this steady dusting.
Feral hogs have been found in 42 states, one of which is California, which has been having an incredibly difficult time of dealing with them. Feral pigs have been found in 56 of the 58 counties in California, with only San Francisco and Alpine County on the Nevada border not having any left. Nationally, the pigs — which are hybrids of domestic pigs and the European wild boar, and are insatiable and have no natural predators — cause $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion in damage annually. They produce four litters a year of up to 18 piglets, and their growth is looking exponential.
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