Numlock News: January 5, 2022 • Artificial Reef, Incredible Hulk, Chevrolet Impala
By Walt Hickey
Fanatics, the largest seller of licensed sports apparel in the world, last year made a daring play to scoop up the long-term exclusive rights to baseball cards out from under longtime trading card producer Topps. It worked, and a plan to take Topps public through a special purpose acquisition company at a valuation of around $1.6 billion was scuttled, and the entire trading card business was swiftly reshuffled. Now, Fanatics has reached a deal to buy the Topps trading card business for $500 million. The Bazooka Candy Brands business will remain with the current owners, but Fanatics is getting the company with infrastructure to produce trading cards as well as around 350 Topps employees with expertise in the business. This also brings Fanatics several rights it lacked, like UEFA, F1, Bundesliga and the Disney trading cards. The Fanatics Trading Cards company, yet to print a single card, was worth $10.4 billion last year.
A copy of Incredible Hulk #1 has sold for $490,000 at auction to a private collector. The book tells the origin story of the Hulk, where scientist Bruce Banner is exposed to gamma rays and becomes a horrible monster when he loses his temper, a Jekyll and Hyde for the post-Bikini Atoll atomic testing era. The book is most remarkable because the Hulk is yet to get his iconic green hue and is uncharacteristically grey. Upon printing, the grey came out in different colors across different pages, and Marvel decided to switch up the palette to green for the sake of consistency. That printing issue also means that Incredible Hulk #1 is pretty tough to come by, as high-graded copies are rare because of the smudging of the grey on the cover.
Last year was a tough one to get a new car, with supply crunches and logistical issues pushing car buyers to increasingly desperate ends to get their hands on a new set of wheels. We know this, because in the final months of 2021 GM sold nine Chevrolet Impalas. The set of events that must get into motion for a desperate customer to purchase a new Chevrolet Impala, let alone nine such people, are ridiculous: In 2018, Chevy announced they’re ceasing production of the Impala, and the last one was made in February 2020, meaning that the Impalas purchased were upwards of 18 months old. Further, the design of that 10th generation Impala can be traced all the way back to 2012, meaning that the nine factory-new Impala buyers were purchasing a 10-year-old design that rolled off the production line just before the pandemic started.
Two new dogs just dropped, as the American Kennel Club has added the Russian toy and the mudi to its list of recognized purebred breeds. The mudi is descended from Hungarian sheepdogs, and is a medium-sized shaggy dog well-suited for all kinds of work, while the Russian toy was bred from English terriers that the Russian aristocracy took a liking to in the early 1700s. To be recognized, a breed must have 300 dogs of the breed in at least 20 states. With the two additions, now the AKC recognizes 199 breeds.
They pulled it off! The fifth and final membrane of the James Webb Space Telescope’s sunshield was pulled tight yesterday at 16:58 GMT, a huge success for the telescope and one of the most anxiety-inducing steps of the telescope’s unfurling. In order to detect the infrared light it’s designed to see, the telescope must be very, very cold to keep its own infrared glow low. The shade that will be cast by the sunshield will lower the temperature in the environment around the mirrors and instruments to minus 230 C. The next step for the observatory’s team is to unpack the mirrors, the largest of which is 6.5 meters wide
Setting aside their extractive purposes, oil rigs involve submerging a whole lot of durable infrastructure into areas where invertebrate life needs such hard structures to glom on to and live. As a result, an oil rig can be the surface on which millions of lives rely, becoming artificial reefs over the course of their useful life. When decommissioned, oil rigs often go on to have a second life as artificial reefs. More than 500 oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico have been reefed since 1984, though reefing is voluntary and still comparatively rare. Before 2016, only 11 percent of decommissioned platforms in the Gulf were reefed; the rest were removed and towed in and all the living things that were on it either fell off or died. With California weighing the removal of its offshore oil platforms, the fate of the submerged superstructures is under discussion.
The future is in plastics, at least for the fossil fuel business, which is staring down long-term diminishing demand for its oil products in other sectors. Meanwhile, the fracking boom has fueled a boomlet in plastics due to new surpluses in feedstock, which has pushed more plastic packaging — mainly polyethylenes and polypropylenes made from natural gas — on to the market. Whereas plastic used to be a convenient outlet for the byproducts of refineries, often now it’s the objective goal, such as in the Zhoushan Green Petrochemical Base in China where crude oil goes in and plastic and chemicals come out. By 2030, if plastics production keeps pace with industry projections in the U.S., the greenhouse gas emissions of plastics production will be more than that of coal-fired power plants, and by 2050 the plastics industry might be 15 percent of global carbon budget. On average, 1.89 metric tons of carbon dioxide and equivalents are produced for every metric ton of plastic produced.
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