Numlock News: October 26, 2021 • Oahu, Andy Warhol, Lemurs
By Walt Hickey
Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the death of Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee, the then-richest man in South Korea whose passing triggered an enormous inheritance tax debt. The 12 trillion won ($10.3 billion) owed by heirs to the Samsung fortune is a world record, and sent his heirs scrambling to liquidate positions they held in various chunks of the sprawling corporate structure of Samsung without giving up control of the company. In addition to donating 23,000 art pieces owned by Lee to museums to defray some of the cost, his widow sold 0.33 percent of Samsung Electronics to a bank to pay the tax, his eldest daughter will sell a 1.95 percent stake in software arm Samsung SDS, and his other daughter will sell 1.73 percent of Samsung Life Insurance. His son, Lee Jae-yong, who is on parole after serving half a 30-month prison term for corruption and also de facto runs Samsung, scraped together his end of the tax bill with real estate sales.
New York art collective MSCHF bought a 1954 Andy Warhol drawing called Fairies for $20,000. They are now selling Fairies as well as 999 high-quality, nigh-indistinguishable forgeries that were made using robots to recreate the exact strokes Warhol made, and subsequently artificially aged with heat and light. The going price for one of the 1,000 lots, 0.1 percent of which are bona fide, is $250 a pop. MSCHF grabbed headlines in March when Nike sued them for a sneaker they made in part out of human blood.
Several animals have been found to shed portions of their genome over the course of their lifetime. The black-winged fungus gnat ejects two chromosomes at a point early in their development, chromosomes that only persist thanks to a few germ cells holding on to them. Roundworms from the Ascaris genus lose 5 percent of their genes and those from the genus Parascaris shed 10 percent of them. The genetic dump-off is also seen in vertebrates, with lamprey embryos losing chromosomes a few days after fertilization and the jawless fish losing 12 chromosomes out of an initial set of 96. Obviously this is considered super weird, and scientists have no idea why it happens but are eagerly trying to find out.
Levees Gonna Break
A bunch of stories dropped about Facebook yesterday, but the one that seems like the worst news for the company is that while Facebook’s trouble with Gen Z users have been well-documented, the bottom is also beginning to fall out among Millennial users, and they have not been forthcoming with that data to investors. According to an internal Facebook report from March of 2021, not only did time spent on Facebook per daily active user aged 13 to 17 drop from 30.8 minutes to 25.9 minutes per day year over year, but that figure also dropped from 46.8 minutes to 44.5 minutes among those aged 18 to 29. The number of young adults on Facebook fell 2 percent since 2019 and is expected to fall 4 percent over the next two years, as young people don’t use Facebook to share and send messages. Indeed, among the accounts made by young adults on the platform, 15 percent are believed to be second accounts for existing users.
A new report released Monday by the Springtide Research Institute found that half of people aged 13 to 25 think that religious institutions don’t care about the issues that matter to them. Fully 71 percent of the 10,274 sample said that they care about gay rights, compared to 44 percent who said they thought religious communities care about the issue. This dissonance in values was one reason that just 23 percent of respondents said they attended religious services almost every week or more, which would be considerably less than the 31 percent of adults who said the same in a 2019 Pew Research Center report. By comparison, 32 percent of teens in that report identified as atheists, agnostics, or nothing in particular.
In 1991, an independent power company opened up a coal plant on the island of Oahu, a huge milestone for the Hawaiian island that for decades has been reliant of imported oil. Even then, the plant was outfitted with top-of-the-line equipment to cut air pollution levels, and also came with $2 million of carbon offsets. Today, the coal plant is the largest Hawaiian Electric has, and its days are numbered: the plant must cease operations by next September. That’ll be a burning-of-the-ships moment for Hawaii, which set ambitious green energy goals that necessitate the closure of the sole remaining coal plant in the state, but one that is responsible for 16 percent of the peak demand for Oahu. Lots and lots of people will be watching Hawaii to see how well they execute the transition, which has involved rolling out a wide slate of policies and technical solutions that other places can replicate.
Do You Hear The Lemurs Sing?
A new study published in Current Biology found that the indri lemur is the first known mammals beyond humans to demonstrate a sense of rhythm. While lots of mammals make sounds and plenty of them sing, most don’t resemble music because they lack a rhythm or tempo. In Madagascar, the calls of the indri lemur have attracted scientific attention because they are really loud and rather varied, and their songs are used to help distinct groups identify and communicate with each other. An analysis of 636 individual lemur songs from 20 different groups found they often broke into a 1:1 or 1:2 rhythmic ratio, betraying a musical acuity and proving that the “I Like To Move It Move It” segment of the 2005 animated Ben Stiller film Madagascar basically had the verisimilitude of Planet Earth’s best. Given that it’s been 77.5 million years since lemurs and humans’ last common ancestor, rhythm likely emerged independently, showing that while nature abhors a vacuum it craves a bop.
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