Numlock News: April 8, 2021 • Box Tops, Knives Out, Muons

By Walt Hickey

Knives Out

A pair of sequels to the hit murder mystery film Knives Out has sold to Netflix for $469 million, a colossal sum for the rights to two followups to the 2019 film. The first movie, which starred Daniel Craig and Ana de Armas, made $311 million on a $40 million budget. This deal will send about $100 million to director Rian Johnson and another $100 million to Craig himself. Craig has said he is moving on from the James Bond franchise following the release of the forthcoming No Time To Die, freeing up his schedule to film Knives Out 2: Presumably Someone Found Time To Die And Now It Is Up To Benoit Blanc To Solve It, working title.

Adam Epstein, Quartz


General Mills has transitioned its Box Tops for Education program, which began in 1996 and has since shoveled almost $1 billion to schools from parents and kids who clipped box tops and sent them in to be redeemed for a 10 cent contribution to their school each. Since 2019, the program doesn’t actually require box tops to be sent in, and involves a mediocre mobile app that requires parents to scan receipts. As of 2018, the average payout per school was $750. But school earnings went down by a third in 2020, and consumers are worried that the implicit trade-off — General Mills incentivizing their products in exchange for a charitable rebate — has become quite explicit, with the user information collected by the app giving the conglomerate direct access to myriad consumer data about their customers for a dime at a time.

Lora Kelley, The Atlantic


On Monday the United Kingdom saw its National Grid Electricity System log its greenest hour ever, with low carbon energy sources making up 80 percent of the power generation. At 1 p.m. on Monday, carbon pollution for each unit of electricity consumed was just 39 grams of carbon dioxide, the lowest level on record, with wind power supplying 39 percent of the energy mix, solar 21 percent, nuclear 16 percent and biomass 4 percent. Just 10 percent of the power came from gas plants and none from coal.

Roger Harrabin, BBC


A new set of projections for the grocery industry point to shifts in what people will be buying in places where the pandemic begins to subside, and what is projected to endure long after. Meat may be in trouble, with the category 50 percent more likely than the average to see a decrease in sales when restaurants reopen, followed by herbs and spices, which are 46 percent more likely to see a drop in sales compared to the rest of the store. Other pandemic hits — condiments, packaged bakery and dairy — may also see hits as people hit restaurants more often and cook at home less.

Lauren Manning, Food Dive


A new study offers hope for the approximately 1 million people in the United States who are addicted to methamphetamine, a notoriously difficult addiction to treat. Other addictions like alcoholism or opioid misuse have approved meds to treat them, but meth does not. A new study has found a regimen of two medications has demonstrated promise in terms of treating meth addiction, so much so it’s now become the first line treatment within the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs system. The treatment uses bupropion, which raises dopamine levels and has been prescribed for smokers looking to stop, and naltrexone, an opioid blocker. In a trial with 403 heavy users, 13.6 percent of those who took the medication tested meth-free three quarters of the time during a six-week period, well north of the 2.5 percent given placebos.

Claudia Wallis, Scientific American


According to YouTube, during the last quarter of 2020 between 0.16 percent and 0.18 percent of all video views on the platform were of content that broke its rules, which is down 70 percent from the same quarter of 2017. That’s great, but a consideration of the sheer scale of YouTube illustrates the extent to which even a fifth of a percent is still an alarming amount of misinformation, white supremacy, harassment and extremism. There’s over 1 billion hours of YouTube video watched every day, and 0.18 percent of that is still millions of hours of harmful content remaining.

Gerrit De Vynck, The Washington Post


Particle physicists have discovered a fascinating little inconsistency with how much the muon subatomic particle wobbles in a magnetic field. The experimental value found a deviation from the current theorized value, a difference of .00000000251. That’s very tiny, but coupled with a 2001 result at Brookhaven National Laboratory, is a 99.997 percent confidence that the observed deviation is not a coincidence. What that specifically means is that there seems to be other forces acting on the muon not in the Standard Model, though it’s just shy of the threshold with which particle physicists are ready to call something a discovery. What it actually means is all your friends who were deeply excited about the Higgs boson now have a new thing to bring up at parties, which is outstanding news given that parties may very well become a thing again.

Sabine Hossenfelder, Scientific American and Daniel Garisto, Scientific American

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