Numlock News: October 21, 2021 • Vikings, Walruses, Giphy
By Walt Hickey
Facebook has been slammed with a £50 million ($70 million USD) fine from the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority after it failed to provide the regulator with information about its acquisition of gifmonger Giphy for $400 million last year. The watchdog thinks that it could raise competition concerns on digital advertising, and Facebook has refused to report all the required information in what the agency describes as a first. The agency also dinged Facebook for another £500,000 after it changed its chief compliance officer twice without consent from the regulator. While a huge, unprecedented breach in the eyes of the Authority, I estimate it’s currently ranked the 87th most significant problem Facebook has right now.
An analysis of the number of papers published in the Journal of Economic Development found that some countries are studied well more than others by the profession. India had 21 papers per billion people, China had 34, Vietnam had 51 and Brazil had 24. Meanwhile, Uganda had 131 papers per billion people, and Chile had a high of 262 per billion. The reason for these research biases are interesting. First, because economists like analyzing fast-growing economies, Chile — which has grown 270 percent in the past 20 years — is an ideal test site, especially because location and time-zone wise it’s not too far from the United States compared to other countries industrializing at a similar pace. Uganda is also interesting given that its official language is English, and it’s the only sub-Saharan African country with more than five papers per billion published in the past two years.
In order to produce a tonne of magnesium you need 35 to 40 megawatt hours of power. Contrast that with the 16 MHW needed to make an equivalent amount of aluminum. Magnesium also has a short shelf life, because it starts oxidizing after three months. About 85 percent of the world’s magnesium production is in China, and here’s the issue, as the country ordered 35 of its 50 magnesium smelters to close through the end of the year and told the other 15 to halve production in order to hit energy targets. This is going to cause some significant problems in the automobile business, because 35 percent of the demand for magnesium is in auto sheet. As a result, prices for magnesium are up a whole lot, and the expectation is Europe will run out of magnesium in a few weeks.
A new study puts blame on logging for losses in the populations of salmon that spend a lot of time in rivers. From 1976 to 2015, the population of steelhead salmon, which spend most of their time in rivers, fell 80 percent, and the coho salmon fell moderately, while the pink salmon who spend most of their time in the ocean stayed steady. Looking at the various things that affect salmon lives, if all the other factors that impact the likelihood of survival stayed steady — temperature, predation, etc. — logging explains 97 percent of the decrease in baby steelhead born per mother fish, plus 98 percent for coho and 99 percent for cutthroat.
Right now 35 percent of energy use in the world goes to constructing and operating buildings, as well as 38 percent of carbon emissions. As it stands, 90 percent of buildings that exist today are going to be standing in 2050. These two facts mean that there should be a considerable push toward adding insulation, repairing leaks, fixing HVAC systems to be more efficient and doing the kind of boring, routine improvements that nevertheless could cut energy use in half. However, that’s not happening: the average annual rate that buildings are getting renovated to cut energy loss is 1 percent. The rate of deep retrofits, which cut energy use by 60 percent, is 0.2 percent in Europe.
Walruses call for aid. Will you answer? The World Wildlife Foundation has soft estimates of the worldwide population of walruses, figuring there are about 25,000 walruses in the Atlantic and 200,000 in the Pacific. However, that’s a ballpark estimate, because walruses are hard to count. They live to 40, they can weigh over 3,300 pounds, they are extremely easily spooked, they hate disturbances and they can stampede if they clock a weird noise. All of this makes it remarkably difficult to surveil them without using satellites. The World Wide Fund for Nature and the British Antarctic Survey are hoping to recruit 500,000 walrus detectives to sort through thousands of images they’re collecting through satellites over the next four years to accurately assess the populations of walruses.
A new study analyzing scraps of discarded wood — as well as a solar storm — allowed researchers to date a Viking encampment in what is now Newfoundland to 1021 CE. The Norsemen hung out there for three to ten years, using the campsite as a base of operations for exploration. Radiocarbon dating of charcoal had put the time of Viking landing in the Americas at 975 to 1020 CE. A carbon-14 spike in 993 CE can be observed in the growth rings of trees as a result of a solar storm, and wood fragments from the site allowed the researchers to see the trees were felled from 1019 to 1024 CE, and another round of calibration gave them the year 1021 CE.
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