Numlock News: March 24, 2021 • Copan, Pandora, Block

By Walt Hickey


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced an upgrade to their hurricane forecasting model, which will for the first time use data from the upper atmosphere, plus some beefed up software upgrades on the supercomputers that run the hurricane forecast in Florida and Virginia. The end result is pretty great, and found a 10 to 15 percent improvement in predicting tropical cyclone track and intensity. The upshot is that the model should add about 36 hours of lead time for preparation and evacuation, which is enormous.

Rebecca Hersher, NPR

What Have The Californians Ever Done For Us?

A new analysis published in Nature Sustainability found that were the state of California to put solar panels on top of its 4,000 miles of canals and aqueducts, they could notch some serious environmental synergy. By putting the shade over the aqueducts, the panels would prevent the evaporation of 63 billion gallons of water each year. This is important because the system serves 35 million people and hydrates 5.7 million acres of farmland, and the system of aqueducts used to pump that water all around is incidentally the largest consumer of electricity in the state. That brings us to the second benefit: all told, those solar panels would generate 13 gigawatts of renewable power, which is half the capacity needed to hit the 2030 decarbonization goal.

Matt Simon, Wired


The re-release of the 2009 film Avatar grossed $44 million over the course of 10 days in China, making another $14 million last weekend after making $21 million in its initial release. As a point of comparison, Disney spent a decade making inroads in China, retooled an earlier animated feature from top to bottom with a Chinese audience in mind, and still only made $41 million from Mulan last September. Avatar seems to have that classic Pandoran staying power, dipping just 33 percent week over week, meaning that the record for highest-grossing Hollywood film in China during the pandemic — now set at the $66 million brought in by Tenet — is fairly achievable.

Jeremy Fuster, The Wrap


A gigantic 199,489 gross tonnage ship has had the kind of traffic mix-up that can reverberate across the entire global economy, with the MV Ever Given suffering a black-out 151 kilometers into the Suez Canal, and then grounding and blocking one of the most important conduits in global shipping. One of the largest of the mega ships in operation, the vessel was en route to Rotterdam from China as the fifth ship in a northbound convoy with 15 more behind it.

Mike Schuler, gCaptain


A new survey of 30,000 workers in 31 countries by the popular gaming and social networking service Microsoft found that 61 percent of business leaders said that they were striving, while just 39 percent said they were surviving or struggling. That 61 percent living their best life is markedly out of step with the entire rest of society — 23 percentage points higher than the average worker — where 54 percent said they are overworked, 39 percent described themselves as exhausted, and straight up 41 percent of people said they are considering just leaving their jobs, a level of burnout not seen since Clipply just up and quit with like zero notice. I swear I saw it happen dude.

Dina Bass, Bloomberg

Home School

Since 2012, the rate of homeschooling in the United States has been pretty steady at about 3.3 percent. Then some stuff happened, and according to the U.S. Census during the period late April to early May 2020, roughly 5.4 percent of households with children reported homeschooling. To be clear this isn’t doing school at home, they adjusted for that, it’s yank-the-kids-out-of-the-district homeschooling. By fall, that number was 11.1 percent of households opting for true homeschooling rather than virtual learning through school.

Casey Eggleston and Jason Fields, United States Census Bureau


Prior to the pandemic, U.S. hospitals used roughly a million nasopharyngeal swabs per year. There were two companies — Puritan and Copan — that made all of them, with Copan making about 60 percent of the swabs. It was a litigious, cramped business with thin profit margins and pretty much zero growth, but then the pandemic happened, and Puritan was the one that was not located in northern Italy, so pretty much overnight they became one of the most important manufactures in America. Like many family businesses, the founders (cousins) have been suing each other for years and have such animosity that the government briefly considered just buying to get past the squabbling. Instead, they threw a quarter of a billion dollars at the problem and, would you look at that, Puritan has made 90 percent of the 195 million swabs the government has bought through January, and now produces about 300 million swabs a month, up from 20 million pre-pandemic.

Olivia Carville, Bloomberg

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