Numlock News: March 3, 2022 • McFlurry, Clones, Klamath
By Walt Hickey
Kytch, a startup that designed a small device that can be installed on McDonald’s McFlurry machines to keep them in operating order, is suing McDonald’s for $900 million in damages after the fast food company told franchisees to quit using Kytch. The McFlurry machines are made by McDonald’s supplier The Taylor Co., and are notoriously finicky: According to the McBroken real-time tracker, currently about 10 percent are out of service. The Kytch device is said to troubleshoot the machines using a smartphone app, which saves franchisees the costs of having to call in Taylor every time the machine is on the fritz. In November 2020, McDonalds emailed every one of their franchisees and advised them to stop using them immediately.
A team of 20 thieves using fireworks have robbed the Paris-based set of Lupin, the Netflix show, stealing around $300,000 worth of equipment in late February. This came a day after thieves similarly robbed the set of Netflix’s The Crown, stealing $200,000 worth of props, 350 items that included gold and silver candelabras and a replica Fabergé egg. While it will be a little funny when the thief attempts to fence what they very well may believe to be one of the 57 remaining legitimate Fabergé eggs, it’s unclear why they didn’t attempt to get an easy six-figure haul from Netflix the easy way, by selling them a true crime documentary about a fraud, not actually doing one. Netflix is committed to investigating and stopping future incidents, which is weird, because they usually wait for something to run for two seasons before unceremoniously cancelling it.
The San Diego Zoo funds the Frozen Zoo, which is a repository of 10,500 tissue samples and genetic information on about 1,224 species, many of which are endangered. One beneficiary of this record is the black-footed ferret, which two years ago became the first North American endangered species to be genetically duplicated. It’s so endangered it’s been declared extinct on two separate occasions, and their current population is only about 600. Those 600 are descended from just seven ferrets, which is a problem because genetically speaking most members of the species resemble siblings and cousins. One sample in the Frozen Zoo came from Willa, a black-footed ferret who lived decades ago and had no offspring, meaning her genetic material would be an excellent new addition to the population. Today, the ferret that resulted from the cloning procedure — named Elizabeth Ann — is doing great, and this spring the scientists tasked with overseeing the breeding project of the black-footed ferret will begin the program with her. There’s also a second sample from a different ferret which they’re also potentially looking to genetically resurrect.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has given a green light to dismantle four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River in California, a decades-long goal of local Native American Tribes and advocates of restoring the salmon fisheries that the dams have interfered with. The four hydroelectric dams have a combined 411 feet in height and generate 686,000 megawatt-hours annually. In 2016, an act of Congress created the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, which would take ownership of the facilities and oversee their removal, which had been pursued by the Karuk, Klamath and Yurok Tribes as well as the states of California and Oregon.
Last month the memory manufacturers Kioxia and Western Digital announced that a materials contamination at two shared manufacturing facilities was jeopardizing their output to the tune of 6.5 exabytes of flash storage, a shortfall of 6.5 billion gigabytes worth of 3D NAND flash memory. Those two companies together controlled 33 percent of the market for memory in 2020, so this was a pretty substantial chunk of global computing we’re talking about. The good news is that Kioxia announced they’d resumed normal operations at the plants, having figured out the source of the issue.
Plant-based meat manufacturers Beyond Meat and Maple Leaf Foods have reported disappointing earnings lately as the explosive growth seen in the past three years for the artificial faux-meat has abruptly stopped. Beyond Meat reported a 19.5 percent drop in U.S. retail sales in its fourth quarter earnings, which it attributed to more competition and a reduction in consumer stockpiling. At Maple Leaf, sales of plant-based meat rose 59 percent in 2019 and then 75 percent in 2020, but only grew 1 percent in 2021.
A new vaccine for malaria was approved last October, and is poised to have a positive impact in places where malaria sickens 241 million annually, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa where 95 percent of cases take place. It’s the first vaccine for a parasite, which in and of itself was a tricky bit of business; parasites are multi-cellular animals, vastly more sophisticated than single-celled bacteria and not-even-alive viruses that have been historical success stories for inoculations. Parasites have genomes that are 500 to 1,000 times the size of viruses and single-celled organisms, and malaria is a real pain in particular, able to display 60 different proteins and switching them to evade detection in the immune system. The efficacy of the malaria vaccine was 50 percent in its pilot implementation, which is a lot of lives that can be saved once combined with existing malaria control measures.
Thanks to the paid subscribers to Numlock News who make this possible. Subscribers guarantee this stays ad-free, and get a special Sunday edition. Consider becoming a full subscriber today.
The best way to reach new readers is word of mouth. If you click THIS LINK in your inbox, it’ll create an easy-to-send pre-written email you can just fire off to some friends.