Numlock News: July 25, 2023 • Greek, Theater, Asteroids
By Walt Hickey
There are several programs that will accept a decent sum of money from you in exchange for making the indignities of experiencing an American airport modestly more bearable, and they’re getting more popular. TSA PreCheck, which costs $78 for five years, has fueled an increase in the DHS Trusted Traveler program by 44 percent since pre-pandemic levels, with 30 million people now in their own increasingly crowded security line. When it comes to Clear Plus, a program that charges $189 a year to get escorted to the front of the security line at 52 airports, you too can join the 16 million Clear members in their attempt to win the class war.
Bones and All
A new study of marine life published in Science argues that the areas where species live in the ocean are largely defined by how deep their bones dissolve. The areas ranging from 3,800 to 4,300 meters down have lots of animals in them with calcium carbonate shells and skeletons, your classic mollusks and soft corals, while the region 4,800 to 5,300 meters down is home to soft-bodied animals, things like sea cucumbers, that lack calcium carbonate. In between those two regions you get a mix, and that mix depends on the cocktail of temperature, pressure and acidity that forms the point at which calcium carbonate dissolves. Deeper than that point, animals with calcium carbonate shells or skeletons have to constantly rebuild their hard parts; otherwise they’ll straight up dissolve.
According to the National Panhellenic Conference, 125,000 women attempt annually to join a sorority at some 500 different college campuses, an annual event that causes all kinds of consternation among young women in their first year of college. Anywhere from a quarter to a fifth of them don’t get accepted or quit during rush, the worst Greek attrition rate since the Trojan War. Fear not, as a number of consultants have emerged to serve this customer base: One sorority consulting firm, It’s All Greek To Me, charges $600 for a seminar prep and $3,500 for unlimited advising during the process, another charges up to $4,000 for an on-call service during rush, while yet one more charges $1,000 for a Bid Day Bundle and $150 for video calls.
A new survey of theaters found that while capacity, income and average seats sold at theaters across the country have largely returned to pre-pandemic levels — seats sold during the 2022-23 season are at 94 percent of the 2018-19 benchmark season — the percentage of total performances is actually down to 59 percent of the 2018-19 season, barely recovered. That means that while the shows that do go on tend to perform to expected crowds, that’s only because the supply is significantly tighter, there are fewer shows running at theaters across the country and for shorter runs, and that the opportunities to break in for performers and playwrights are getting rarer.
A new analysis of admissions data found that elite colleges giving preference to legacies, athletes and private school students is responsible for a significant disparity in favor of giving admission slots to the top 1 percent of earners in America. For instance, one out of every eight students admitted to a group of elite colleges was a recruited athlete, a rate that slips to one in 20 among the bottom 60 percent of admitted students based on income. The percentage of the studied admitted classes from the top 1 percent was 16 percent over the course of the study, which argues that would have been 10 percent had colleges done away with preferential consideration of legacies, athletes or private school students.
The protein BPI is produced naturally in humans and destroys bacteria that cause disease, including P. aeruginosa, which is especially dangerous in immunocompromised people. Lots of organisms produce BPI, including the toxic scorpionfish called the Korean rockfish, and extracted BPI from that fish has been highly effective at killing a version of P. aeruginosa, that is multidrug-resistant when it comes to other antibiotics. According to the new study, it destroyed P. aeruginosa within 1 to 3 hours.
Three years ago, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft made contact with an asteroid and is believed to have collected at least 60 grams of material in the process. On September 24, that sample container returns to Earth, specifically the Utah Test and Training Range. After landing, teams standing by will remove the heat shield, and then fly the container with the samples to Ellington Field in Houston, where they’ll enter an ISO-5 clean room in Building 31 for extraction.
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