Numlock News: November 21, 2022 • The Walking Dead, Galactica, Quectograms
By Walt Hickey
Sports gambling is legal in 31 states and Washington D.C., and it’s been a massive financial windfall for the gambling companies. In the first half of this year Americans placed on the order of $8 billion a month in legal sports bets, up from south of $1 billion a month three years ago, and by 2026 some analysts think it’ll hit $20 billion a month. For what it’s worth, the gambling corporations got that windfall for a song comparatively: Since 2016, FanDuel and DraftKings donated $2.6 million to federal politicians and political parties and spent $114 million on state ballot measures to legalize betting.
Facebook parent company Meta proudly revealed a large language model for science built from training on 48 million examples of scientific articles, websites, lecture notes and more. It was designed to be a shortcut for researchers, to be a study guide, and to write code and articles. It also lasted three days before it was ripped off the internet because it was going viral for being biased and for generating obvious falsehoods with a confident scientific demeanor that was rife for seamless distribution of gussied-up misinformation and bullshit.
The Walking Dead
Last night saw the final episode of The Walking Dead hit airwaves, the 177th episode of the horror-themed soap opera to air since its premiere on Halloween of 2010. Its rise and decline came during a fascinating era for cable television: While the first season averaged 5.24 million live viewers over its run, the show gained a real head of steam, with audiences growing 32 percent in the second season, 56 percent the third season, and 24 percent in the fourth, peaking at an average of 14.38 million same-day viewers in season five. The show’s audience began to wane at the midpoint, but its run is really impressive, as only a few cable shows have managed to run that long.
The world is poised to generate something like a yottabyte of data annually by the 2030, which is 10 raised to the 24th power bytes, or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes. That’s a lot of bytes, but it’s also a problem, because we actually never figured out what comes after “yottabyte,” like what 10 to the 27th power or 30th power is. Well, that was addressed, as representatives from the General Conference on Weights and Measures have figured out some new prefixes in the first update since 1991. Ten raised to the 27th will have the prefix “ronna” and then raised to the 30th will have the prefix “quetta,” while 10 raised to the negative 27th power will have the prefix ronto and 10 raised to the negative 30th power will be quecto. In this manner, Earth weighs roughly one ronnagram and an electron weighs one quectogram, and it feels like The Walking Dead has been running for one quettayear at this point.
Many artists are releasing shorter songs as the incentives in the music industry change to favor streaming and short video apps. The percentage of top 10 hits that are less than three minutes long is up to 38 percent this year, up from just 4 percent in 2016. Artists want to minimize the skip rate as much as possible on streaming platforms because platforms with lower skip rates get priority on them, and they also get paid by the song, not the second, so as a result the incentives are to not shy away from short songs.
In other news from the International Bureau of Weights and Measures confab, the world will drop the addition of “leap seconds” for when the exact atomic time begins to deviate from the actual count as a result of the slower rotation of Earth. Leap seconds will no longer be added starting in 2035. The leap second was first introduced in 1972, and since then 27 of them have been added when deemed necessary to ensure that atomic time and astronomical time don’t deviate by more than a second. This doesn’t mean that the deviation will be allowed to expand uncontested indefinitely, it just means that the new threshold will be larger than a second, meaning fewer annual tune-ups and fewer, bigger jumps.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission voted last week to remove four dams on the lower Klamath River, the conclusion of two decades of negotiations and advocacy from Native American tribes and conservationist allies. It will be the largest river restoration project in the history of the United States, reopening 400 miles of spawning habitat that was locked away to endangered salmon and fish in 1918. Starting in 2024, the reservoirs between the four dams will be drawn down between salmon runs, and then in mid-2024 demolition on the smallest dam will begin, with October 2024 slated to have the river open for the return of salmon to their spawning habitat.
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