Numlock News: November 18, 2021 • Rich Dogs, Qubits, Snaps
By Walt Hickey
A villa on Biscayne Bay in Florida went up for sale for $31.75 million, and the dog that owns the eight-bedroom house stands to reap a considerable return on his investment. Gunther, a German Shepard, made his money the old-fashioned way, by inheriting it. Gunther III, his great-grandfather, inherited a multimillion-dollar trust from countess Karlotta Liebenstein in 1992, a trust now worth $500 million. Gunther III sired Gunther IV who likewise inherited the estate, and now this Gunther stands to gain from the accrued value of a property purchased from Madonna for $7.5 million twenty years ago. Though parting with the Florida property, Gunther’s main home is in Tuscany. He’ll continue to serve as a testament to the fact that the rich staying rich is so easy, even a dog could do it.
A new study analyzed finger snapping, and found that a given audible snap occurs in just seven milliseconds. For perspective, that’s twenty times as fast as the blink of an eye, which takes a comparatively languid 150 milliseconds. Snaps are a bit of a miracle, as they can only really happen within a tight window of friction and compression: the researchers looked at what happens with a snap when the person is wearing a lubricated glove, a rubber thimble and a metal thimble, finding that messing with the friction really does a number on the capacity to snap. The authors specifically call out the concluding events of Avengers: Infinity War as now implausible, because that was the thing making the movie mildly implausible, not the wizards or magic glowing rocks or willingness to engage in battle without Hawkeye.
This weekend, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is projected to make around $30 million at the domestic box office, with the expectation it’ll take first place, ahead of Eternals and newcomer King Richard from Will Smith, which is expected to bring in $8 million to $10 million. That would be a good start for a $75 million movie that aims to revive the ghost-busting franchise originally created by director Ivan Reitman. Ghostbusters stars Paul Rudd, who definitely does not have an aged and decrepit portrait in his attic, and is directed by Jason Reitman, who got the job for the same reason that Gunther got that mansion.
Digital notifications are besieging the modern mind, with people switching between different screens on average 566 time per day, about half of which are due to the kind of interruptions provoked by chimes and beeps and notifications. While breaks are good, when people shift away from a task they’re working on, that same research suggests that it takes an average of 25 minutes and 26 seconds to get back on the original task. Productivity experts tend to recommend killing notifications beyond the absolutely essential, lest we be driven mad by a sonic prison of our own devising.
Rural areas have seen a significant decline in the number of available pharmacies that are nearby, with some 41 million Americans located in a drugstore desert. GoodRx found that 12 percent of Americans have to drive at least 15 minutes in order to find a close pharmacy, a number of people that constitute the majority in 40 percent of American counties. One reason is the demise of the independent pharmacy thanks to vertical integration from the biggies and fees from the pharmacy benefit managers that orchestrate the market for medicine. From 2003 to 2018, of the 7,624 independent rural pharmacies in the United States, 1,231 closed, which left 630 communities without any drug store.
Qubits, or quantum bits, are the building blocks of quantum computing the same way that bits are the building blocks of digital computing. In 2019, Google claimed it had a 53-qubit machine that was able to do a task that wasn’t doable with a conventional computer. IBM announced their own 53-qubit quantum computer the same year, and then just this week announced a 127-qubit quantum processor. That announcement may be overshadowed by an announcement out of QuEra Computing, a startup in Boston that claims to have a 256-qubit quantum simulator. That startup is led by Mikhail Lukin and Markus Greiner from Harvard and Vladan Vuletić and Dirk Englund from MIT, and they first demonstrated the 256-qubit machine in 2020.
Major League Soccer’s playoffs are upon us, and the viewership numbers come at a critical time for a league gunning for a new television deal. For American readers more familiar with our stellar women’s national team, men’s soccer is actually a popular sport beloved in other places around the world and was recently popularized in the United States thanks to Ted Lasso. The MLS has had a rather good year: in 2021, they average 285,000 viewers per game across Disney, Fox and Univision platforms, up three percent compared to 2019, a gain that took place in spite of a 21 percent drop in overall television usages over the same period. One thing on the league’s side is that the average age of an MLS fan is 39.6, the youngest of any North American pro fanbase, younger than the 41.9 years of the NBA and 43.8 years of the NHL.
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