Numlock News: May 31, 2023 • Angelsharks, Acela, Splash Mountain
By Walt Hickey
In 1973, Tenerife on the Canary Islands finished a massive infrastructure project that today would be considered dubious at best, hauling in 240,000 tonnes of Sahara sand to build a beach that would draw in tourists. In what can only be described as a complete accident, they actually kind of knocked it out of the park on that one, as the sheltered beach has become a haven for the strenuously overfished and generally docile angelsharks, which have been decimated by the bottom trawling industry. It was only a decade ago that the Canaries were found to have a solid angelshark population, much of which was around the Playa de las Teresitas, that fake beach they made in the ‘70s. Today, shark diving in the Canaries has become a $24 million market, due in no small part to the accidentally effective tourist trap they built.
The number of television series produced in the United States that are based off of books has been steadily increasing over the past several years. In 2019, according to Ampere Analysis, 33 television series were adaptations of a book, a figure that rose to 48 series in 2020 and then again in 2021, finally rising to a remarkable 77 television series based on books in the year 2022. Given the WGA strike, it’s unclear what that figure will be this or even next year, but it’s a sign that even on television executives are getting more conservative and going with tested, preexisting intellectual property, much like their colleagues on the film side have been doing.
While heat pumps — which extract heat from the outside and pump it into interiors to warm things up — are becoming increasingly popular for individual homeowners, in some parts of the world colossal heat pumps are working on a municipal scale. For instance, German company MAN Energy Solutions has a heat pump that can bring 2.5 million liters of water from 20 C to boiling in less than four hours, a remarkable thermodynamic accomplishment. The largest they’ve got is a 48 MW unit that is designed to heat thousands of homes, with two of the devices getting installed in Esbjerg, Denmark, to transfer heat from seawater to the municipal heating system and then on to 27,000 homes. The poster child for this kind of system is Stockholm, which has seven heat pumps that have an aggregate capacity of 215 MW, but plenty of cities are getting in on it, with Vienna getting a three pump 55 MW system operational this fall.
One Thing at a Time by country artist Morgan Wallen has hit its 12th week in a row at the top of the Billboard 200 list of albums, which is the most consecutive weeks at No. 1 for a country album since Billy Ray Cyrus’ Some Gave All was at No. 1 for 17 consecutive weeks in 1992. The record hit 129,000 equivalent album units, down just 4 percent week over week, the bulk of them — 121,000 — from streaming. That’s also the most weeks atop the chart since the Titanic soundtrack hit 16 weeks in 1998. One thing potentially giving the album legs is Billboard’s emphasis on streaming coupled with the fact that this is a 36-song album, a shotgun-style approach to hitmaking that appears to be working rather well three months into the run.
Amtrak is testing the units that will gradually replace the existing Acela, attempting to roll out the state-of-the-art trains on what can generously be described as old track. The 28 new Acela trains are intended to be run at a top speed of 160 miles per hour, but have so far been capped at 90 miles per hour during testing as the operators ensure the train can operate properly with the current overhead wiring and balance. There are currently 20 Acela train sets in operation, so the new fleet’s expanded size will mean more flexibility and more trips. The new Acela will also hold 386 passengers a pop, an increase of 27 percent compared to today’s higher speed rail.
The Splash Mountain ride in Disneyland has finally closed Tuesday after three years of the company saying that the ride will be shuttered and adapted to become a The Princess and the Frog-themed attraction by 2024. Developed in the late 1980s, the ride adapts the story of Song of the South, best known as “the movie so racist that it’s literally the only thing you can be categorically certain that the Mouse will never, ever, do a soulless live-action remake of,” and is in fact the primary reason Michael Eisner gathered his finest engineers in the desert to construct the Disney Vault. While Disney usually has a big sendoff on the day of a ride’s closure, that was not the case here, so you’ll just have to wait for the Defunctland to have a proper sendoff.
The New York City Council voted in February to accelerate the ban on buildings using No. 4 heating oil, phasing out the fuel by July of 2027, ahead of the 2030 original ban date set a decade ago. Fuel oils are graded No. 1 through No. 6 based on boiling point, thickness and weight, and the No. 6 oil was phased out in 2015. As it stands, No. 4 is currently the dirtiest heating source available in New York City, used in 2,800 buildings and a major source of air pollution. The city itself will phase out No. 4 in its own buildings by 2025.
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CORRECTION: A previous edition of this newsletter provided the incorrect first name for Michael Eisner.
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