Numlock News: July 23, 2021 • Pokémon, New Moon, Marsquakes

By Walt Hickey

Have a wonderful weekend!

Crabs

Jumbo lump crab meat that would typically go for $18 to $22 per pound wholesale is now going for $60 per pound, a tripling in price for a popular summer favorite. There’s a shortage of blue crabs coming out of the Chesapeake Bay, which sees wide fluctuations in the prevalence of the crustacean. The 405 million estimated population in the winter of 2020 dropped to 282 million in 2021, when the population of juvenile crabs fell to the lowest level since 1990.

Rob Hotakainen, E&E News

Pokémon Go

In June, Pokémon Go had 3.6 million players in Japan, which while down from the 11 million players logged after its initial launch five years ago, was still good enough to make it the second-largest mobile game in the country. Worldwide, the game made $1.4 billion in the year through June 2021. That’s $300 million more than it made in its first year of operation, when its user base was much higher.

Kohei Fujimura, Nikkei Asia

Marsquakes

NASA’s InSight lander has logged north of 700 marsquakes since operation began in 2019, which is less than the researchers behind the lander anticipated. InSight was able to use some of those marsquakes to learn more and more about what’s going on beneath the Martian surface, and new research details what the interior of the red planet likely looks like. The liquid core of Mars is believed to be a mixture of lighter elements like hydrogen, oxygen, carbon and sulfur, and to have a 1,137-mile radius. That core is surrounded by 990 miles of mantle, and then 14 to 44 miles of crust. Contrast that with Earth, which has a 780-mile radius solid inner core of iron and nickle, then 1,370 miles of liquid outer core, then 1,800 miles of mantle and zero to 60 miles of crust.

Robert Lee Hotz and Merrill Sherman, The Wall Street Journal

Carjacked

The Markup found records of at least 124 ride-hail and delivery drivers who have been carjacked in the United States over the past year and a half. Over the course of the pandemic there was an increase in carjackings reported across the country, but based on the available data, ride-hail drivers are at an elevated risk. In 75 of those cases — over 60 percent — the attacker was connected with the victim by the app. In some cases, the assailant used a gift card to set up a fake account to lure the target in. Neither Uber nor Lyft responded to allegations that they didn’t help the drivers, who are considered independent contractors, following the carjackings.

Dara Kerr, The Markup

Parking

Road traffic was up 55 percent in the United States compared to a year prior, and vehicle traffic is beginning to reach pre-pandemic levels. May saw 273.9 billion miles driven by individual motor vehicles in the U.S., which was nearly back to the 286.1 billion miles logged in May 2019. All those drivers means an increase in parkers, which means that apps designed to help people locate parking in crowded cities are finally showing signs of life again.

Priya Anand, Bloomberg

Debt

A new study put the amount of unpaid medical bills held by collection agencies at $140 billion last year, up from $81 billion according to a similar analysis carried out in 2016. The analysis looked at 10 percent of all TransUnion credit reports and found that about 18 percent of Americans have medical debt that has been sent to collections. Over the period from 2009 to 2020, the largest source of debt owed to collection agencies became medical debt. The $140 billion, to be clear, is not an estimate of medical debt; that figure is far higher, as the $140 billion is merely the debt that has been passed along to the vultures.

Sarah Kliff and Margot Sanger-Katz, The New York Times

Twilight, New Moon

The European Southern Observatory has analyzed observations of two Jupiter-like planets orbiting a star 400 light-years away. The planets — working titles PDS 70b and PDS 70c — were discovered in 2018 and 2019 respectively, but the new look at PDS 70b has found something especially remarkable and never-before seen in an exoplanet: a disc around the planet. The researchers believe they have spotted a moon in the process of forming around the planet. Now that they believe they have found a developing planetary system, it could give insight into the creation of our own, particularly once the ESO completes construction of the forthcoming Extremely Large Telescope in Chile, which will up the resolution.

Daisy Dobrijevic, Space.com, European Southern Observatory

This past week in the Sunday edition, I spoke to Francesca Tripodi, a senior researcher at UNC Chapel Hill who wrote “Ms. Categorized: Gender, notability, and inequality on Wikipedia” which was published in the journal New Media and Society. For this study, she spent years interviewing and researching Wikipedia’s gender gap, exploring how the flagged for deletion system makes it harder to get more women on the internet’s encyclopedia. I’ve dropped the paywall for this fascinating interview, go check it out!

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