Numlock News: November 10, 2021 • Barnacles, Ingenuity, Robusta
By Walt Hickey
Roblox, the virtual playground that kids use as their preferred digital locale, made $637.8 million in the quarter ending September, up 28 percent year over year. Daily active users hit 47.3 million, up 31 percent. What’s particularly interesting is while pretty much every other very online company has taken an understandable ding to the DAU as its userbase goes outside and touches grass as the more restrictive requirements of the pandemic subside to vaccines, Roblox saw daily active users increase 43 percent in the first 27 days of October, which subverted expectations.
The Ingenuity aircraft on Mars made another flight, a 128.8-second flight that took the helicopter 400 meters across Mars. The aircraft’s caretakers have been a bit worried given that the density of Mars’ atmosphere fell from 1.5 percent of Earth’s to 1.0 percent over the course of the Martian northern hemisphere’s late winter. Less dense air is troublesome for helicopters, so they cranked up the RPM from 2,500 to 2,800 and tested it two weeks ago ahead of this longer jaunt, its 15th on the red planet.
An analysis of the past 15 years of Last.fm listening data found that the fraction of the year society hands over to Mariah Carey’s manicured hands has been growing ever larger year by year. Once the domain of December alone, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” has been steadily advancing through November and, since 2019 at least, established a temporal beachhead in October. Before the 2010s, Carey’s song saw above-average play on 31 days of the year — you know, the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. By the early 2010s, that increased to around 40 days, and over the past three years it’s hit 78 days, and some fear the carolers dig too greedily and too deep in these Mines of Mariah.
For the 500 billion cups of coffee consumed on earth annually, 99 percent comes from either arabica or robusta and not any of the other 124 known species of coffee. Arabica is about 60 percent of the market, and the cost of the bean is up 43 percent this year. It’s a finicky bean and can only grow in a narrow strip of climes the world over, and the fungal disease called coffee leaf rust is putting it in serious jeopardy. That fungus is the reason we even drink robusta, after it wiped out the entire Sri Lankan arabica crop from 1869 to 1885. This menace, along with climate change, is one reason producers are interested in hardier or more versatile varieties of coffee snatching a larger market share.
Aaron Rodgers, a popular speed runner attempting to set the global record for good will evaporation, was yanked from State Farm ads this past Sunday according to an analysis from an ad-tracking firm. The quarterback, sidelined with Covid-19 and with nearly unrestrained access to the Pat McAfee Show guest booker, has had a tough couple weeks following the revelation that he was actually unvaccinated despite indicating otherwise. While the prior two weekends saw 20 percent of Sunday’s State Farm Insurance ads feature the quarterback, last Sunday saw just 1.5 percent. Looks like this guy’s career is really in… the wheel of fortune.
The total amount of seasonal snowfall is projected to fall by 10 percent to 30 percent by the end of the century, and beyond the obvious problems less water means, it’s also killing winter recreation like skiing and snowboarding by severely shortening the season in lots of places. About 88 percent of ski resorts in the U.S. use snowmaking to keep the ski runs open, and a study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters said the snow season in the American west shrunk by 34 days since the early 1980s. I always wanted us to beat the snowboarders, but not like this, anything but this.
There are over 1,000 species of barnacles in the world, and a small fraction of them spend their lives attached to whales. These barnacles in particular are an enigma to researchers, who have found it nearly impossible to keep barnacles alive after they’ve been collected from whales. They don’t seem to bug the whales — they can even serve as a little bit of an extra punch when whales fight each other — and the people who study them have had very little luck in keeping them alive long enough to study, let alone breed. An individual whale might have up to 450 kilograms of barnacles on them, not all that much for a 30-tonne animal, and understanding the barnacles is seen as a way to understand the hidden lives of whales.
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