Numlock News: January 28, 2022 • Spice, Bubbles, Craters
By Walt Hickey
Have a great weekend!
A new $240 million financing round has propelled Kim Kardashian’s line of underwear, Skims, to a $3.2 billion valuation, double the value of April 2021. The line of clothes has expanded from its initial purview of shapewear to a full kit that also includes underwear, pullovers, robes and turtlenecks, with shapewear accounting for less than a fifth of the overall sales and underwear amounting to over half. Sales last year hit $275 million and are projected to hit $400 million this year. The Winter Olympics next week will be a major moment for Skims, where it’ll outfit the American team in loungewear and undergarments.
The latest numbers are in, and NBCUniversal’s streaming service Peacock lost $1.7 billion in 2021, up from a $663 million loss in 2020. There is some good news, as the revenue for Peacock was $778 million, up from a paltry $118 million in 2020, and Peacock’s up to 9 million paid subscribers, which is nice if a little slower than the desired pace, with a total of 24.5 million monthly active accounts. There’s a tidal wave of red on the ledger coming, though: Last year Peacock spent $1.5 billion on content, a figure that rises to $3 billion this year and one that is expected to hit $5 billion in coming years, a content spend that would put it behind competitors like Disney but slightly ahead of peers such as Numlock.
Bring It Around Town
A new study in the journal Physical Review Fluids found that bubbles made out of water, plastic microparticles and glycerol can have lives that extend well beyond the typical couple of seconds for a normal bubble. It’s all in the technique: In your typical bubble of soap and water, the gravity at the bottom of the bubble means that the film on top thins, and primes it to rupture. The new technique creates remarkably durable bubbles; the plastic particles keep the water evenly thick, and the glycerol sucks moisture out of the air, which helps replace the water lost by evaporation. One bubble survived 465 days before popping, the longest bubble ever produced under normal atmospheric conditions.
In July of 2020, the Redwoods League bought a 523-acre area of Mendocino County for $3.55 million with the intention of preserving the acres of redwood forest in perpetuity. On Tuesday, the group announced they had donated and transferred ownership of the land to a consortium of 10 Northern California tribal nations focused on conservation, and that the area will be renamed Tc'ih-Léh-Dûñ, “fish run place” in the Sinkyone language, and that the land has been granted a conservation easement that limits use of the land. The original land purchase was funded by Pacific Gas & Electric Company, which also contributed a $1.13 million endowment to support the 200 acres of old-growth redwoods.
Bring The Heat
Spicemaker McCormick’s purchased Frank’s RedHot in 2017 alongside French’s mustard for a total of $4.2 billion, a daring move deeper into what’s become the booming hot sauce category. Hot sauce sales are up 54 percent since 2015 to $5 billion globally. The biggest player is Lao Gan Ma, a chili oil that’s big in Asia, but stateside you’re looking at Tabasco, Frank’s, and in third place Cholula, which was itself bought by McCormick’s for $800 million in 2020. Beyond the hot sauce part of the business, the spice company has had a rollercoaster couple of years, with its sales popping 55 percent in spring of 2021, and the supply chain issues roiling the world definitely presenting a headache for a spice company that needs 14,000 raw materials from 80 countries to run its business.
Lampreys are survivors. They’ve existed longer than trees, they’ve survived five mass extinctions and they have remained functionally unchanged for 66 million years. The Pacific lamprey at one point was the largest biomass of anything in the freshwaters of the Pacific Northwest, beating out even the iconic salmon, but about 90 percent of their numbers have been wiped out. A lamprey count at one station on the Eel River in Northern California has seen the figure drop from 11,000 in the 2010s to less than 100 in 2020 and just four lampreys in 2021.
In 2015, a Falcon 9 rocket took off from Cape Canaveral to take the Deep Space Climate Observatory satellites to a LaGrange point over a million kilometers from Earth. After the rocket did a long burn, there was a bit of a Newtonian conundrum emerging: The second stage of the rocket didn’t have enough fuel to return to the atmosphere, but also didn’t have enough energy to escape the Earth-Moon system and yeet into the stars. This meant it’s been in a big, goofy orbit since then. But that’s all expected to change on March 4, when the orbit is poised to intersect with another satellite, a big one, one we call The Moon. The rocket’s gonna crash into the moon. The current dry mass of the rocket is 4 metric tons and it’ll hit the moon at 2.58 kilometers per second, and given my extensive experience playing Lunar Lander at Barcade I can assure you that’s going to be a difficult maneuver to pull off gently. The good news is that there will be several orbiters ready to collect observations of the impact crater of the first time a piece of space hardware unintentionally crashes into the moon. You know what they say: shoot for the L2, for even if you miss you’ll hurtle through space and eventually smash into the moon.
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