Numlock News: September 15, 2021 • Rhino, Crocs, Whales

By Walt Hickey

Crocs

Footwear brand Crocs has announced their intention to forge a sartorially catastrophic future, saying they expect to make over $5 billion in revenue annually by 2026, and menace society with a projected 17 percent annual growth rate over the next four years. As it stands in 2021, the brand of comfortable plastic clogs is looking at sales of a projected $2.27 billion, and its stock is up 140 percent, all the while the rest of the at-home footwear biz has taken a bit of a ding.

Janet Freund and Augusta Victoria Saraiva, Bloomberg

Rhino

A 13-year-old, 5,000-pound Indian one-horned rhino escaped his pen at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, provoking a “code red” and prompting an evacuation and shelter-in-place near its enclosure. The rhino, whose name is Jontu, pulled off the elaborate escape by cleverly exiting a door that had not been properly closed, so not exactly Danny Ocean here, and authorities claim he was motivated by an unrelenting desire to eat some of the grass on the other side of the fence, which those close to the matter agree is considerably more ample and verdant slightly outside the grazing area of the pen. Staff surrounded Jontu with trucks and after a negotiation that involved the promise of fruit, he relented and reentered the pen.

Vince Pearson and Joe Hernandez, NPR

Universe

A simulation of our universe containing 2.1 trillion dark matter particles in a space 9.6 billion light years across from a team of astronomers has been published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Dark matter is believed to make up the majority of the matter in the universe, and the simulation — named Uchuu — looks at how that dark matter behaves in an expanding universe. Most compellingly, a copy of this universe — 3 petabytes in size, the product of over 40,000 computer cores and 20 million computer-hours — can be yours if you so choose, as they’ve compressed it to 100 Terabytes and thrown it up on the internet for anyone with an obscene amount of storage on hand to download and Thanos as they choose.

Brian Koberlein, Universe Today

The Will

A new Pew Research Center survey of 17 advanced economies in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific found 72 percent of respondents were somewhat or very concerned climate change will harm them personally at some point in their lifetime, and fully 80 percent were willing to make “some” or “a lot” of changes about how they live and work to reduce the impacts of climate change. The percentage motivated to act in some capacity held a majority in each country surveyed, including 74 percent of Americans, 82 percent of Canadians, 93 percent of Italians, 83 percent of the French, 73 percent of Germans, 84 percent of South Koreans, 79 percent of Australians, 55 percent of the Japanese and 84 percent of people from the U.K. The survey, which included 2,596 American adults and another 16,254 adults from other rich countries, showed a considerable increase in concern in most countries since the survey was last conducted in 2015.

James Bell, Jacob Poushter, Moira Fagan and Christine Huang, Pew Research Center

Snakes On A Plain

A new study published in Nature Communications traced the ancestry of all living snakes to a species that survived the asteroid collision 66 million years ago, which wiped out an estimated 76 percent of animal and plants in an extinction event. Some animals — including some furry ones, to our personal luck — endured. The new research argues that snakes were well-suited to survive the event, owing to their ability to live underground or in freshwater for long periods of time and capacity to go up to a year between meals. Periods after extinctions can be evolutionarily audacious given the reset of the ecosystem: with the effects of the asteroid collision wiping out their competitors, the end of the dinosaurs was a great time to be a snake, and all the varieties of serpents our world has — from cobras to sea snakes to pythons — emerged after the extinction event.

Helen Briggs, BBC News

Death and Taxes

In 2001 over 50,000 filers paid the estate tax, which is triggered on inheritances and broadly affects intergenerational wealth transfers. After two decades of tax law changes, estate taxes have become much easier for the wealthy to avoid, and in 2020, that figure was down to just 1,900 filers in the U.S. who paid the estate tax. Right now, estates less than $11.7 million per individual are exempt from the tax, a figure that a new proposal in Congress would drop to $6 million per individual, a shift that is projected to increase the number of annual payers to 9,000 in 2025. It’d raise $54 billion over 10 years.

Rachel Louise Ensign, The Wall Street Journal

Whales

Egyptian paleontologists described a new genus and species of a four-legged whale that walked on land, a critical link between the water-dwelling mammals of today and their terrestrial ancestors, which were herbivores that walked on land. The transition took about 10 million years, according to the study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, and the new semi-aquatic beastie is believed to have lived about 43 million years ago, which the researchers hold is somewhere along the point of that aquatic transition. The fossil was found in 2008, but thorough examination didn’t begin until 2017. The creature was about nine feet long and weighed 600 kilograms, and with all the skeletal harbingers of a consummate predator, would have been basically an amphibious Shamu that could deal death on the land or beneath the waves.

Noha Elhennawy, The Associated Press

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