Comets: Instruments of the devil or just big cosmic snowballs?

Plus, DVDs, wherefore art thou?
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The Futurist is your daily tech, cosmic, and science (both weird or otherwise) newsletter with articles and content curated just for you.

Media Trivia:

How many DVDs are still sold these days?

Hint: Not as many as last year, for sure.


(Scroll to the bottom for the answer!)

The Italian town that welcomes winter with a procession of fire | Atlas Obscura

“You hear them before you see them. It’s a distinct crackling sound, like hundreds of dry leaves being stepped on at once. Then they emerge from the dark, wreathed in ripping fire that billows behind them like a flaming phoenix’s tail, streaking a trail of warmth in the chilly December air. A procession of hundreds of torch bearers make their way through the town’s narrow center in a ritual that has been maintained for hundreds — perhaps even thousands — of years. From above, the image is of a glowing primordial serpent weaving its way through ancient stone streets.”

Total Wine - Wrap up last-minute gift giving [Partner]

Last-minute gift giving is all wrapped up this year for everyone on your list — find the perfect bottle for a significant other, coworker, family member, and more! Raise a toast to the host with this season’s finest bourbons and spirits, or give the gift of variety with curated wine collections (and save at the same time). Add the finishing touch with a premium velvet gift bag or festive gift box. [Ad]

What are comets? The secret lives of space snowballs, explained | Mashable

“Hundreds of years ago, comets were considered bad omens. Legend holds that Pope Callixtus III excommunicated Halley's Comet in 1456 as an ‘instrument of the devil,’ though a Catholic priest disputed that as myth in a 1908 article published in Popular Astronomy. Scientists today know these icy objects as ancient relics of the solar system. Astronomers often think of them as time capsules.”

Voyager 1 sends back repeating patterns of 1s and 0s from interstellar space | IFLScience

“The [Voyager 1] spacecraft has traveled further than any human-made object, crossing the heliopause and heading into interstellar space. While doing this, it has continued to send back useful data to Earth, helping us learn about the space between stars outside of our own Solar System. … Instead of sending back the usual varied data packages in binary code, the TMU has begun ‘transmitting a repeating pattern of ones and zeros as if it were ‘stuck’.’ NASA believes the source of the problem is the flight data system, and last weekend attempted to reset the computer to the state it was in before the error occurred. However, the spacecraft has continued to send unusable data. The team will continue to work on solutions, before the painstaking 45-hour wait to find out if it worked.”

MSCHF - It's ACTUALLY a MILLION Dollars... [Partner]

The 2 Million Dollar Puzzle is a 500 piece QR code puzzle, that when scanned, reveals a prize of up to $1,000,000! Yes, you read that right, one MILLION dollars! But hey, if you don't win the biggest prize - $10,000, $100,000, $250,000, and $500,000 all sound pretty great to us too...


The more you buy, the more likely you are to win! With a 150x better chance to win $1,000,000 with just one puzzle than the lottery jackpot, imagine with one of our amazing bundles! You’ve got until December 21 to purchase for guaranteed shipment before Christmas. [Ad]

Everything tastes worse than it used to | The Takeout

“Ingredient costs, obviously, are a huge factor in the pricing of any consumer product. Just like anything, ingredient costs can and do go up, leaving food manufacturers trying to figure out if they should raise the cost of their products or, alternatively, tinker with their recipes, finding ways to cut down on expenses. Since customers don’t like paying higher prices for the same product, you can guess what some corporations choose to do.”

StackSocial - Imagine a new MacBook that doesn’t cost thousands [Partner]

What does the ideal laptop look like for you? It’s probably relatively new (or at least not a dinosaur) and has fast processing, great graphics, a clear display, and good battery life. Guess what? You can get all that in a refurbished laptop that’s a fraction of the cost of a new one. If you’re a standard user — that is, someone who’s just doing regular work and not any crazy rocket science — you don’t need a brand-new laptop. This one is Grade “A” refurbished, which means it’ll come in near-mint condition, so you might just forget that it’s not totally new. [Ad]

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The answer: About 300 million

The answer: About 300 million

According to Wired: “The number of total physical video transactions made worldwide has dropped from 6.1 billion in 2011 to 1.2 billion in 2021, according to market research firm Omdia. Just 300 million DVDs are expected to be sold worldwide this year, down from an average of 2 billion every year between 2005 and 2009.”