Numlock News: July 21, 2023 • Meteorite, Osprey, Greenland
By Walt Hickey
Have a great weekend!
A $25,000 bounty was placed on a meteorite that fell somewhere in the vicinity of the Maine-Canada border, provided that the finder can obtain at least a kilogram of meteor, sending hunters scrambling through the wilderness to try to bag the find. They can be lucrative discoveries, with meteorites ranging in value from 50 cents to $5,000 a gram depending on rarity and type. When a rock is found, what happens is a hunter will bring it to an educational institution, they'll verify and classify it, they'll add it to the comprehensive database of 72,000 such space rocks called the Meteoritical Bulletin, the hunter donates a piece of the meteorite to the institution, and then it's happily on their way to market.
In 2022, the 42 songs that graced the top five of the Hot 100 averaged six songwriters, averaging five men and one woman, but that actually fails to tell the whole story of underrepresentation: Half the songs had an all-male songwriting team, and only one had an all-female team, and that was Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill" which was written in the ‘80s. Since 1958, 74 percent of songs were written by an all-male team, and just 118 out of 3,077 songs that hit top five were written exclusively by women, who over half the time were the women who sang it.
The Japan National Tourism Organization reported that 2.07 million visitors arrived to the country in June, the first time that over 2 million tourists came to the country since February 2020. This comes in spite of a heat wave hitting the country, which is probably fine, because lots of those people are coming from Europe or the Americas, where there is also a heat wave; it’s kind of a global issue right now. Over the course of the first six months of the year, 10.7 million tourists have come to Japan, and while nobody is expecting a repeat of the record 32 million visitors in 2019, that’s a really, really solid rebound for a country that had been seeing a steady rise in visitors for years.
The Chesapeake Bay is a spring feeding and nesting site for osprey, a type of large hawk. Of serious concern to biologists, though, is that the current reproduction rate is down to 0.13 offspring per pair, which is vastly lower than the 1.15 offspring per pair that a population would need to produce in order to sustain itself. What’s believed to be of issue is the industrialized extraction of menhaden, the tiny fish that constitutes the largest source of food in their diet, which researchers say has been overfished. Virginia is the only place on the East Coast that allows menhaden reduction fishing, an industry where the fish are caught en masse and then reduced to oil and fishmeal.
A new poll found that most Americans continue to think that going to space is pretty dope, with 47 percent saying that in the past year they’ve looked at photos from the JWST, watched a meteor shower or space launch, or visited a planetarium or space museum. When setting priorities for NASA, a few selfish things came in pretty high: 60 percent said it’s a top priority to monitor asteroids and objects that could hit Earth, 50 percent said it’s top priority to monitor the climate, and 40 percent said the same about basic scientific research. Things that were lower priority? Just 11 percent said it’s top priority to send astronauts to Mars and just 12 percent said the same about the moon.
A new study published in Science analyzed the sediment, leaves and moss found in a tube of soil and rock found under 4,560 feet of ice on Greenland to try to figure out the most recent time that Greenland was, indeed, a Green Land. The answer, according to an analysis of present isotopes, was 416,000 years ago, give or take 38,000 years, which backs up evidence that Greenland melted at least once in the past 1.1 million years. This came during a period of warming that ran from 424,000 to 374,000 years ago, and caused sea levels to rise five feet. Today, there’s enough ice in Greenland to add 23 feet of sea level rise in the event it melts again.
Universal Studios in Florida is on an expansion kick, with a third Orlando theme park — Epic Universe — slated to open in 2025. This week, the company announced that following that a large area of the park that once hosted attractions like Fievel's Playland and Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster would become an entirely new themed land centered around DreamWorks Animation. When it opens next year in 2024 it will give the internet what it has implicitly been asking for for decades: the opportunity to exist within a fully-sculpted thematic landscape inspired by and immersed in the Academy Award-winning film Shrek.
This week in the Sunday Edition, I spoke to Chris Dalla Riva, who wrote “Swifties vs. Deadheads: A Meditation on Live Music” for his newsletter Can't Get Much Higher. Chris is doing some of my favorite pop culture data journalism right now, and I’m incredibly fond of his music newsletter. We talked about some of his recent hits, including how Taylor Swift is like the Grateful Dead and how track order flags the most popular songs on albums. Dalla Riva can be found at his newsletter, Can't Get Much Higher.
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