Numlock News: November 9, 2023 • Sphere, Dinky, Lousy
By Walt Hickey
I will be at Flyleaf books in Chapel Hill tonight! Looking forward to seeing folks there.
The results are in, and the Sphere — the gigantic, spherical landmark in Las Vegas that has enraptured the nation’s attention — is losing vast amounts of money very quickly. Built for $2.3 billion, the 366-foot-tall monument to hubris covered in 580,000 LED lights has posted an operating loss of $83.1 million this past quarter, making $4.1 million from U2’s concerts, $2.6 million from advertising and more, and then spending $84.2 million on administrative expenses on top of $7.1 million in other expenses. That being said, this is Vegas we’re talking about, and as they say, the gigantic and disconcerting sphere always wins.
In 2022, the company Hikvision racked up over $2 billion in government revenue from the People’s Republic of China, most of which was in law enforcement contracts. Outside of the People’s Republic, the company Hikvision, which produces surveillance cameras, remains controversial, particularly amid allegations that the embedded AI software specifically targets ethnic minorities within China, such as Uyghurs. The company is attempting to backpedal after a recent training highlighted a feature within the API that specifically allows users to identify individuals based on, and this is a precise quote, "are they an ethnic minority.”
The Three Body Problem
After a new analysis of photographs from the Dinkinesh asteroid, NASA has revealed that the asteroid is, in fact, an asteroid with two different orbiters. It’s not one asteroid, but three little guys! The probe that captured Dinky’s system has traveled 960 miles already, and is part of a 12-year mission. By December 2024, the probe will swing back around Earth to slingshot the entity out to the asteroid belt again, where it’ll visit an asteroid named Donaldjohanson, and then onwards to eight Trojan asteroids from 2027 to 2033.
A new study sought to find out what happened when a group of people took a robust social media break. Essentially, several teens were asked to swear off social media for a week, and while only a fraction managed to avoid social media entirely, after a few days of refraining from social media usage many people managed to find a way to cut back. Most respondents, after a week of no social media usage, managed to cut their consumption down from 3.5 hours per day down to 35 minutes per day. Overall, going detox had no major impacts on users emotional states.
1989 (Taylor’s Version) has wiped out the existing competition, as the original recordings of the 1989 album have seen streams decline by 43.6 percent in the past week. That’s down 36.9 percent from the trailing 12-week average. In general, Swift has been extremely successful at overriding her own work, with the original Red losing 38 percent of streams following the release of Red (Taylor’s Version), and the original Speak Now losing 40 percent of streams following Speak Now (Taylor’s Version). All told, audio streams of 1989 were down 56.4 percent.
A new study gathered lice from 25 different locations, and after extensive genetic analysis found that one round of lice made it to North America somewhere between 15,000 and 35,000 years ago, and that the other batch of lice found their way to North America about 500 years ago. This means that lice reflect the times in which humans came to America: once through the Alaskan land bridge, the other via the Atlantic. This reveals a new link between humankind and our closest companion, no, not dogs.
Antifungal drugs are complicated, and hard to produce. AmB, a large, complex compound, has long been the standard for antifungal drugs, but a new compound described in Nature may have promise when it comes to compounds that can kill fungi and not the organic matter that lives around it. The issue is that fungi look a lot more like human cells than bacteria do, so they tend to be rather hard to kill chemically without killing lots of the good guys around them. The compound in question, Am-2-19, is at least as effective as AmB, and can kill over 500 species of fungi. Most importantly, even at high doses, the drug hopefully does not mess with the liver or kidneys, which lots of other antifungals tend to do.
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