Numlock News: September 3, 2021 • Gem Heist, Elephants, Frankenstein

By Walt Hickey

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The Usual Suspects

German prosecutors announced charges against six suspects in the theft of 21 pieces of jewelry containing over 4,300 diamonds from the Green Vault Museum in Dresden in 2019. The insured value of the loot was €113.8 million ($135 million). The thieves lit a fire to cut the power supply before hitting the museum then fleeing to Berlin. The police have not yet found the stolen jewels, but the suspects are in custody. Two of them are even serving time right now for the theft of a €3.75 million, 220 pound Canadian gold coin from the Bode Museum in 2019.

The Associated Press

Perseverance

The aptly-named Mars rover Perseverance, after an initial and unexplained failure, successfully drilled a sample of rock on Wednesday on its second attempt and stowed it away in a tube. It’s a relief for scientists after the first attempt at drilling a Mars rock and storing it failed. The drill site — a rock that they nicknamed Rochette, which was selected because it looked really hard — was about 400 yards up on a ridge in the Jezero Crater, and looks to be a chunk of hardened lava which can be dated with a higher degree of precision.

Kenneth Chang, The New York Times

Anti-Poacher

The elephant population in Kenya was up 12 percent in the past seven years to 36,169 elephants, and the number of giraffes was up 49 percent since just 2019 to 34,240 animals, according to the country’s Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife. The country has worked hard to hike up penalties on crimes relating to endangered and threatened species, and it’s paid off, especially given the number of wildlife in the country fell 68 percent from 1977 to 2016 in Kenya.

Eric Ombok, Bloomberg

Dogs

A new study indicates that your dog may be able to determine whether you did something on purpose or if you just goofed up really bad and messed something up. The study, out of the Max Planck Institute and published in Scientific Reports, was an experiment involving 51 dogs who had been taught that a person would feed them treats through a glass partition. At one point in the experiment, they interrupted the process by dropping the treats on the wrong side. Some of the time it was made to appear as if the human dropped it clumsily, but other times it was a deliberate withholding. The study found that the dogs were more likely to walk around the partition and get the snack when it appeared to be an accidental slip, and were less likely to do so when the treat appeared to be withheld deliberately.

Nell Greenfieldboyce, NPR

Whales

Not just the intensity, but the very composition of whale sounds changed amid harbor shutdowns in the early days of the pandemic, according to a new study of humpback whales in Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park. In the summer of 2019, roughly 66 percent of humpback whale calls were of a certain kind of call described as a “whup,” a figure which fell in 2020 to less than 50 percent. Comparing the soundscape to recordings made in 1976 prior to the presence of boats, it sounds much more similar to the 2020 mix of whups rather than the 2019 ones. That, or the humpback whales of Glacier Bay really kind of fell out of the Juggalo fandom last year.

Amorina Kingdon, Hakai Magazine

White Collar Crime

A new study found that white collar crime — insider trading and fraud — spiked in the period of time immediately following 9/11 as the FBI shifted staff away from enforcing and deterring white collar crime toward anti-terrorism work. The FBI moved as many as 1,800 agents toward anti-terror, and the white collar crime division saw a 36 percent decrease in staffing amid the shift. What followed was a 40 percent increase in the rate of wire fraud and a 22 percent increase in the rate of Suspicious Activity Reports filed by banking institutions.

Jay Fitzgerald, Quartz

The Modern Prometheus

A copy of Frankenstein is for sale the novel Frankenstein, not the scientist Frankenstein, nor the entity commonly called Frankenstein’s monster but nevertheless not, in fact, named Frankenstein nor an actual monster. It’s a first edition of Mary Shelley’s iconic novel, and is projected to sell for $200,000 to $300,000 at auction. The first run of the book Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus was published anonymously and had a run of 500 copies, with a preface by Percy Shelley, the notorious philanderer and vegetarian with an incorrigible poetry problem.

Fang Block, Barrons

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