Numlock News: November 16, 2022 • Satellites, Cabs, Maple Sap
By Walt Hickey
New York City cabs are cranking up prices and reverberations are going to be felt across the entire livery business. In New York, taxis will see the metered rate jump from $2.50 to $3 baseline. The mileage unit rate will increase from 50 to 70 cents, the overnight and rush hour surcharges will each jump, as well as the surcharges to JFK and Newark airports. As a result, the average taxi ride will jump from $15.97 to $19.62. The rideshare competitors have also hiked their prices in the wake with pay rates increasing 7 percent per minute and 24 percent per mile.
Driscoll’s Inc, the massive cultivator and distributor of berries, has applied technology from Google’s innovation lab X to apply their Mineral A.I. product towards developing new varieties of berries. The process as it stands is laborious: to develop a new berry variety, it takes a minimum of five years, where 25,000 plants with genetic diversity are grown and winnowed down to 250 plants, which are cloned, replanted and then analyzed until a winner is determined. Right now, the process requires a lot of humans looking at a lot of plants and counting a lot of berries. The new innovation is using rovers to roam the fields, using sensors and new A.I. tech to discern the health and yield of different plants.
BlueWalker 3 is a communications satellite owned by AST SpaceMobile and it’s causing endless consternation for astronomers. Once the 64-meter satellite unfurled its antenna array, its brightness spiked by a factor of 40, and it’s considerably brighter than any of the Starlink satellites that have already sparked the ire of the astronomy community. While it’s far from the brightest man-made object in the sky — the International Space Station is considerably brighter — it’s very public knowledge of where the ISS is, while the BlueWalker 3 is just the first prototype of a future constellation of 168 larger satellites.
Silkworms are one of the earliest animals that people tried to domesticate and cultivate, with their intersection with humans coming 7,500 years ago, prior even to the domestication of the horse. Up to a trillion silkworms are raised a year, making them the second-most abundantly cultivated animal on the planet, behind only honey bees. Each silkworm produces a single strand of silk that’s 915 meters long. Now, the domesticated silkworm is a different species — Bombyx mori, compared to the Bombyx mandarina — than its wild cousin.
Beer is mostly water, about 90 percent so, but the composition of that water has long defined its unique flavor. The Czech Republic’s mineral-free water led to pilsners, pale ales and IPAs stemmed from the high calcium and sulfate levels in waters in parts of England. Some brewers today are actively adjusting the taste of their beer by changing that water, from coconut water to seawater. One brewer is using maple sap: it takes 40 gallons of sap to make a gallon of maple syrup, and Lawson’s Finest uses the syrup waste product of partly boiled sap to make an ale.
The formation of new businesses is still up, growing 1.2 percent in October in the United States. That month there were 432,834 business applications, roughly flat compared to the 430,737 applications filed in the same month of 2021 and up substantially from the 298,523 applications filed in October of 2019. The expectation is that numbers will decline a bit over coming months, as new businesses contend with rising interest rates, but at the same time the newcomers will have a potentially easier time to attract employees as startup costs decrease.
The ball that was punched by Diego Maradona in a World Cup quarterfinal between Argentina and England in 1986 will go to auction today, with an estimated sale price of $3.6 million. It’s one of the most controversial World Cup moments of all time, when Maradona scored a definitive goal with his head and, as he described it, “the hand of God,” which in this particular scenario was technically also his hand.
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