Numlock News: August 9, 2023 • Underground, Beast, Bites
By Walt Hickey
The Perseverance rover’s small helicopter, Ingenuity, completed its 54th flight on Mars last week. That was the first time that it’s flown since July 22, when the 53rd flight ended unexpectedly early. Flight 53 was originally planned to fly 136 seconds, but only managed to fly for 74 seconds, which is obviously troubling in any kind of helicopter but exceedingly so in a helicopter that is stationed on another planet. That unexpected abort was triggered by a LAND_NOW program, the objective of which is pretty much exactly what you’d expect, landing the helicopter when something seems off. Flight 54, a quick, 25-second jaunt, ensured that everything was still operational.
The Heart of the Cards
Trading card games are still an incredibly hot market, both among buying up new cards as well as those attempting to flip them on secondary markets. Professional Sports Authenticator, which evaluates the quality and value of trading cards from sports to Pokémon, is still fielding more requests for trading card grading than ever: In July, PSA saw 514,000 trading cards, which is five times the number of game cards graded only just two years ago.
Two federal agencies, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency as well as the Treasury Department, are fighting over a single 143-year-old portrait of Hugh McCulloch, who was both the first ever comptroller of the currency as well as a two-time Treasury secretary. The OCC claims that the painting was loaned to Treasury in the 1980s during the transition between the Reagan and Bush administrations, but Treasury claims otherwise. There’s only one known portrait of the man — the Treasury paid George Peter Alexander Healy $500 for the portrait in 1881 — and based on that the Treasury says it’s technically theirs, even though they paid for all the nascent OCC’s expenses then. Today, comptrollers still get portraits to the tune of $30,000 to $40,000, but those are paid for by industry group the American Bankers Association.
Badger, Badger, Badger, Badger
A new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences calculated that 59 percent of species on the planet live in the soil for at least one part of their lives, a significant upward revision compared to the previous estimate of about 25 percent. The animals that most relied on soil for their habitat were potworms, where 98.6 percent of species spend their lives in soil, while the class of animals that least relied on the life subterranean was mammals, where 4 percent do so.
Research out of Emory University links increased temperature to an increased likelihood of snakebites, thanks to the higher levels of reptilian activity that come with warmer temperatures. From 2014 to 2020, the study looked at 5,032 people treated in Georgia emergency rooms for snakebites, including 3,908 venomous ones, and found that for every 1 degree Celsius rise in outside temperature, the likelihood a Georgian goes to the ER for a snakebite goes up 6 percent. Temperatures in Atlanta are up an average of 3 degrees Celsius since 1930, and the city experiences an additional six heat waves per year than it did 60 years ago. This means that we’re in for a new, exciting, and very bitey side effect of climate change.
Just a week after getting sued by business partner and YouTube phenomenon MrBeast over shoddy hamburgers in his MrBeast Burger line, the company Virtual Dining Concepts has filed its own $100 million lawsuit alleging that the star failed to uphold his own side of the bargain, and damaged the company’s reputation. The 172 million-subscriber social media star partnered with the company to spin up 1,500 burger locations, essentially ghost kitchens that make burgers and are licensed under his brand. The issue that emerged is that 1,500 independently-operated ghost kitchens in over 45 states and 10 countries ended up meaning wildly inconsistent quality across different branches, according to critics and the original lawsuit. In their countersuit, Virtual Dining Concepts alleges that MrBeast is essentially trying to shake them down and push them out, dumping on them on social media.
In every single state, it is significantly cheaper to fill up an EV battery than it is to fill up an equivalent vehicle’s gas tank for an equivalent number of miles. An American driving the national average 14,000 miles per year stands to save $700 on fuel costs with an electric sedan or SUV, and $1,000 for a pickup, according to Energy Innovation. In places like Washington state, where gas is expensive and electricity is comparatively cheap, an electric pickup truck will save $80 on every fill-up compared to a comparable internal combustion pickup. Even where that value is inverted, where gas is cheap and electricity is pricey, EVs still save money, with the same EV pickup in New Hampshire saving $23 per fill-up.
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