Numlock News: July 16, 2019 • Nanosilver, Speeds, Swans
By Walt Hickey
After another weekend at the box office where the film racked up $2.8 million worldwide, Avengers: Endgame is merely $7.16 million behind the $2.788 billion box office record (not adjusted for inflation) set by Avatar. Avengers has made $851 million domestically and $1.9 billion internationally, with $629 million in China alone. This is a crucial process that is seemingly designed specifically to spite James Cameron and also notch a record through sheer force of will alone, and I respect that.
The U.S. is skyrocketing up through the ranks when it comes to average mobile download speeds, jumping a huge three spots too — wait, really? — 40th ranking worldwide. It’s even worse when it comes to upload speeds, as the U.S. has fallen 21 spots since 2018, down to a dismal 94th place. While download speeds are up 24 percent and uploads are up 13 percent, basically the rest of the world has been getting better at a much faster rate.
Lots of apparel companies are rolling out clothes that don’t need to be washed because they’re treated with antimicrobial oils or nanosilver particles that reduce odor. The advantages are clear: not only do I get to live my best life and embrace a future I’m calling “Schlub Elysium,” washing clothes is also a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, with one McKinsey study finding 1 pound of clothing emits 11 pounds of greenhouse gasses, with a Levi’s study finding 40 percent of the climate impact of a pair of jeans is notched after manufacture when it’s in consumer hands. Still, there are some perils here; “silver-impregnated fabric” holds to the good-but-not-great industry standard of 50 washes before it starts releasing those potentially toxic nanoparticles into a wash.
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I Don’t Care If I Ever Come Back
Foul balls can be really dangerous, with one 2014 estimate from Bloomberg suggesting 1,750 fans per year are injured by baseballs hit into the stands. Serious recent injuries have motivated some fans to push for expanding the netting that protects fans in the immediate area around the infield. A new analysis of the most foul-heavy game at the 10 most foul-heavy parks — 906 foul balls all told — found 454 hit zones protected by netting while 452 hit places in the foul ball zones with no such protection. Looking only at balls that were hit at speeds of 90 miles per hour or higher, 71.8 percent landed somewhere on the sidelines in areas not typically protected by netting, including all line drives that were hit at 90 miles per hour or more.
It’s long been speculated that birds play a role in spreading fish to new ecosystems, but how exactly that gets pulled off has remained mere speculation. A new proof-of-concept study found that the eggs of two species of killifish — found in mangrove swamps — can not only survive days out of the water, they can also survive getting consumed by birds, digested, and then ejected. The researchers mixed the eggs with corn feed and fed them to swans; upon examination of the swan poop, the researchers discovered five live killifish eggs, including one which hatched into a tiny fish after 49 days after 30 hours in a swan.
South Asia derives about 70 percent of its water from a few short months in monsoon season, and a rough year could spell an access crisis in a densely populated part of the world. The frozen peaks of the Himalayas provide meltwater for 1.65 billion people. Parts of India — specifically Chennai and its 8 million residents — are in the grips of a water shortage, with the city seeing 55 percent less rainfall this last monsoon season than average. Chennai and the two neighboring districts were once known as the lake districts, with more than 6,000 lakes, ponds, and reservoirs, but today there are only 3,896. Part of this is due to simple mismanagement — 90 percent of India’s freshwater goes to agriculture, particularly water-intensive exports like cotton and rice, and leakage alone causes a third of India’s water to exit the system.
The delivery company Instacart has lower-than-typical ratings from the gig workers who work on contract to make the app’s grocery deliveries, a forthcoming study found. An online survey of food delivery workers on the various apps found that — on a 1 to 7 scale — the average Instacart worker rated 3.4 when it came to the app being fair to them compared to an average of 5 for other delivery apps, and reported job satisfaction at an average of 3.5 compared to 5 from others. Part of that may be that Instacart’s couriers are penalized for turning down deliveries they perceive to be not worth the pay.
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