It's time for our regular segment in which @Gafgarian (AKA Jeremiah Palmer) provides answers to the burning questions left unanswered in each episode of the Rooster Teeth Podcast. Read on to get closure for Three Bs and a Gus – #431.
Which serial killer has the high score?
A serial killer is defined as someone who has claimed three or more victims over at least two separate incidents and, while it is true that America tends to produce an inordinate amount of them, we, unfortunately (I guess), are not able to claim the "high score." We are barely able to claim a spot in the top ten despite contributing to almost 70% of the world's serial killers. Before we get to the actual numbers, it is important to point out that there are typically some pretty large discrepancies between the claimed and proven victim count so, despite being a boastful bunch, we seem to have little to show for it. Which, in this case, puts us on the winning side of a really shitty game. It is also important to note that this list is a modern list of serial killers as being able to obtain actual proof of killers, and their victims, prior to 1900 is insanely difficult. Additionally, a likely contributing factor to America's inordinate amount of serial killers has to do with our inordinate amount of murders in general. Remember that a serial killer is technically identified as someone who has claimed three or more victims in at least two separate incidents, however most lists comparing international serial killer numbers only require two victims and two separate incidents. For America, this list then ends up including gang violence, domestic disturbances that have more than one location, drug related violence, etc. While this is by no means a good excuse for contributing to such huge majority number of psychopaths, it maybe sheds a bit of light on the insane number discrepancies.
All of that said, the award for the highest "scoring" serial killer goes to Luis Garavito of Colombia who, in 1999, admitted to the rape, torture, and eventual murder of 147 boys. He was charged with the murder of 172 and has been suspected at being guilty of well over 300, however, despite his admission to 147, he was only convicted of 138. Regardless of these heinous charges, a fluke in Colombian law will grant Garavito a chance at a second life in the year 2021. This is because the lack of capital punishment ensures that he can only be charged with the maximum sentence for the crimes, however another law limits consecutive imprisonment for a crime to 40 years. So despite the cumulative recommended prison sentence of 1,853 years, Garavito, also known as ”La Bestia” (“The Beast"), the world's most prolific serial killer will be a free man in only four more short years.
As one might expect, the eventual release of The Beast, has led to calls for serious legal reform in Colombia with some calling for the death penalty or life imprisonment, neither of which currently exist. As a direct result of Garavito's sentencing, and subsequent imprisonment, the consecutive prison time limit has been raised to 60 years. However, this will not apply to Garavito.
Perhaps it is these relatively lax punishments that have led to a native Colombian taking the top three positions on the serial killer high score chart. The second place sociopath, Pedro Lopez, was released in 1998 and has not been seen since. This, despite being suspected of killing and raping 110 young girls as well as confessing to over 300.
By comparison, the United States's entry on the list is Gary Ridgway, also know as the Green River Killer. At #8 on the list, he was convicted in 2000 for killing 49 prostitutes, after confessing to 71 and being suspected of nearly 100.
It is interesting to note that if we were to include claimed victim counts as well as killers from several hundred years ago, the two most prolific suspected serial murderers in history were both women. Those being The Blood Countess, Elizabeth Báthory, claiming 650+ victims, and Catherine Monvoisin, also known as La Voisin, with counts as high as 2,500. Though, not all of those were at her hands, but rather the hands of a cult of poisoners, known as the affaire des poisons, which she headed in 17th-century France.
A side mission in Assassin's Creed Unity called "Hot Chocolate to Die For" has you play detective in solving a mysterious murder. During your investigation you learn that your key witness, Amelie Montvoisin, is actually your poisoner. While Ubisoft has never elaborated on the inspiration behind this particular murderess's name, it is probably too obscure to be a coincidence. Bathory, for her part, has played a role in several video games, though typically as an obvious inspiration to a villain, this occurred in Castlevania: Bloodlines, Diablo II, and BloodRayne.
Do serial killers get to pick their names?
Occasionally, though the media is typically pretty quick, and more than willing, to give a catchy name to them without their involvement. In most cases, as with the Boston Strangler or the Night Stalker, the name given corresponds to the area they hunt and/or their preferred method of murder. This inevitably leads to a few different murderers given the unoriginal moniker "Freeway Killer," but the alternative of getting creative with the name has historically not stuck as well. Since ultimately the news agencies reporting on these acts are in the business of making money, they tend to stick with what works. Occasionally the obscurity, or uniqueness, of a name will sell itself; such was the case with the Lipstick Killer who was so named because of a scrawled message on a wall at one of the crime scenes. The message, “For heavens sake catch me before I kill more, I cannot control myself,” was written in the lipstick of a victim. Other creative names for killers have not fared so well.
A small number of killers have been able to successfully name themselves, usually through direct contact with the police and/or news sources via letters or other messages. Notable killers to name themselves include the Zodiac, Son of Sam, BTK, and Jack the Ripper.
Is type O-Negative blood rare?
It is. We spoke a little about this in the answers post for episode #405 when we discussed the genetic transmission of blood type between parents and were introduced to the chart below. The summary is that O-Negative is so rare because its presence is determined by a double occurrence of the same recessive genes. It is this double recessive quality which causes it to be the perfect universal donor blood type; however, it is NOT the most rare blood type. At roughly 7% of the world's population, it is a far cry from the .6% occurrence of AB-Negative.
Guy who lost his hard drive with bitcoin?
In 2013, James Howells of Wales mistakenly threw away a hard drive containing 7,500 bitcoin that he had mined over a four year period. At the current valuation of bitcoin, his hard drive is now worth nearly $18 million dollars. Despite a significant amount of literally digging through a landfill full of garbage, there is currently no report to date that Howells, or anyone else, has been able to recover the hard drive.
First thing ever bought with Bitcoin?
The first thing bought with Bitcoin were two pizzas for 10,000 BTC on May 22, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida. At the time, the 10,000 BTC were worth roughly $30 but within two months, the value of BTC skyrocketed, and the 10K BTC were now worth almost $1,000. Less than a year later and Bitcoin had matched its value 1:1 with the US dollar and roughly six years later, it currently sits at its highest valuation, hovering around the $2700 mark. For those wondering, but not wanting to do the math, those pizzas are now worth $27,000,000!
How does Bitcoin currency work?
Bitcoin, and the tech behind it, is probably one of the most complicatedly simple things ever conceived. Let's see how easy I can make this, shall we?
In late fall 2008, an anonymous opinion piece was posted to The Cryptography Mailing List, a subscription based mailer hosted on a domain owned by the law firm Metzger, Dowdeswell & Co. LLC. The post titled, Bitcoin P2P e-cash paper, was authored by someone calling themselves Satoshi Nakamoto and, after posting a brief abstract summary of the paper, they provided a link to the full nine-page paper, Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.
The paper provided the full conceptual outline for a system of cryptocurrency which would provides a fully decentralized, open-source, and immensely secure universal currency. There have been numerous attempts at a viable digital-only currency over the years, however Bitcoin has been the only one with any real staying power. This is likely due to the successful combination of its predecessor's various functionalities governing privacy concerns and decentralization. The official history of Bitcoin begins shortly after Nakamoto's posted paper when, in January 2009, Nakamoto released the first open-source Bitcoin client. The first block of "mined" bitcoins, also known as the Genesis block, was mined by Nakamoto himself, it had a value of 50 bitcoins. For reference, today, at the current value of bitcoins, those 50 would be worth nearly $150,000. At the, those 50 were worth a truly impressive $0. Not $0.001 or even 150,000 times less than that, just zero.
This is because Bitcoin, like every other currency in the history of humans, has a value that is fully dependent upon an arbitrary value given to it by other humans. At Nakamoto's grand unveiling of the first Bitcoin client, people were not willing to give Bitcoin value. This took some time to change and it is the reason for that change that has truly made bitcoin a special bit of something.
Not everyone can claim to fully grasp the intricacies of finance, currency value, or collateral... in other words, we are not all Joel. I think most of us, even at Iris Jones's young age, begin to find natural value in certain items. For baby Iris, these likely take the form of boobs but, for those past the infancy, our reference for an item's intrinsic value is largely, or rather entirely, determined by the society in which we live and our peers. At young Clementine Frasier King's age, this would likely be in the form of something her parents have created, purposefully or not, an artificial value for. Perhaps this is an extra piece of candy, an extra episode of whatever insane child's cartoon featuring a talking inanimate object is popular these days, or staying up for a Star Wars marathon. Either way, for both Clementine and Iris, these options have value to them, and if made to believe that a random colored piece of paper holds the same value as one of those cherished things, they would chase scraps of paper down with the same fervor. I'm sure Clem is old enough to realize that one monies, regardless of the numbers printed on it, is enough to get her something of note.
Welcome to the world of commodity backed currency. It makes sense right? See finance isn't so hard. You have something I want. Something that I know I could usually trade a bit of gold for. But gold is so heavy! Wouldn't it be infinitely easier to just carry a small amount of a special paper that can be traded back for that gold when I wanted it back? Totally! So, I give a bank my gold and they give me some slips of paper that are equal to a standardized valuation of those scraps of paper based on the current value of gold. This process is more commonly known as the "gold standard" and the basic concept has worked for millennia. We have always had a fascination with gold and, as such, it has made sense that we attribute a consistent valuation to it. We, like Clem, can chase down the random colored pieces of paper because we know that we can just easily replace that paper with an equivalent amount of lollipops or, in our case, gold.
Now, for all of you with access to a US dollar, pick it up, inspect it closely, and then hang your head when you realize that your precious dollar is not part of that very reasonable, comprehensible, and, most of all, stable financial world. For those admiring your British Pound or Euro, I didn't forget about you, your precious money is also intrinsically worthless. This is because the very reasonable gold standard has not been officially used by any government since 1933 and not in any form since 1971. Instead our money is backed by its proposed valuation based on supply and demand. In other words its value is derived solely by the amount of faith its users have in it and the economy it creates. Historically this concept of currency, also known as Fiat money, is naturally unstable because it is extremely susceptible to hyperinflation. Since the value of a dollar is determined by the market's opinion of the dollar and not directly connected to a physical substance which is guaranteed to have a relatively stable value anywhere in the world, it is inherently unpredictable. If the majority of people decide, for various reasons, that the dollar is half as valuable as the government may view it, the government doesn't have a say. It IS half as valuable. When this happens over a very short amount of time in drastic jumps, the currency is naturally devalued until a government can no longer print enough to sustain the devaluation. In the end, they have only two options. Legitimately devalue their currency, essentially killing the entire country's economy for years or just starting over with a new currency and a brand new artificially created value. For obvious reasons, neither of these options are anywhere close to ideal. That should be enough background to help you get a sense for what makes Bitcoin a bit different.
Bitcoin, for its part, is technically a flat currency, in that there is no physically universal item which its value is based on; however, the place where Bitcoin stands apart, that "special bit of something" I spoke of above, is that its valuation is truly market driven. As a cryptocurrency, it is mathematically driven to be fully decentralized, independent, and market controlled. Ready? Here we go!
Imagine you just spent $200 on your flight to RTX. Where did that money come from? It was deposited into your account via direct deposit perhaps, it lived in your account, identified by arbitrary numbers, as arbitrary numbers. When you purchased your plane ticket, you gave another string of arbitrary numbers to a website which then matched up those numbers to a third-party which was able to match your bank's assigned numbers to their numbers. It is a whole lot of number matching and once the transaction is done, those numbers don't matter because the airline is just creating their own number with what is left of the $200 that you sent them. I say "what is left" because, along the way, there were fees, that you may not have even been aware of. These transaction fees are what keeps that third-party that matched your arbitrary numbers in business. These fees are also what drive up market prices AND what help to determine what your dollar is actually worth. Additionally, those fees aren't always the same and sometimes, if you decide to book your flight, your hotel, and drop $100 or so in the Rooster Teeth store all in the same day, once all the numbers are crunched and matched up, you may find a bank fee due to an overdraft charge because you screwed up your own math.
Now, let's zoom out quickly, and imagine that this is happening everyday all around the world and as the market continues to be driven up by additional fees, taxes, labor costs, etc. these numbers compound. In response, countries continue to print money. Some of that is to replenish circulation as there is a natural attrition which occurs through damage, loss, hoarding, etc. But a fair amount is in direct response to inflation. Note that this not hyperinflation as it is a gradual increase and this gradual increase is not necessarily a bad thing. The problem is that there is no guarantee to that natural increase and unforeseen circumstances such as, natural disasters, geopolitical climate, and internal economics could potentially cause a drastic increase, or decrease, the value of that market.
Now back to your trip to RTX. This time you are going to use Bitcoin. Now that bitcoin is considered by the market to be an actual currency with an actual value, the easiest way to get it is to buy it like you would anything else. At the time of writing this, bitcoin is valued at approximately $2,395. One of the ways bitcoin is special, however, is that you don't need to buy it to get it. We'll get to that shortly. For our purposes, let's assume that you already have bitcoin and that you just spent a fraction of a single bitcoin on your flight to RTX. There were no banks involved in this transaction. No governments either. So, how did the money get from your wallet to the airline's. The easy answer is, that it was always there.
Bitcoin relies on the concept of a network wide public ledger in which every single bitcoin transaction is fully visible to anyone who wants to view it. When you transferred bitcoin from your wallet to the airline, nothing actually moved. You did the work that your bank would've done in a normal transaction. You initiated a transfer of a certain amount of bitcoin and sent it to the network with a destination. That transfer notice was then distributed to every person on the network in the form of an update to their locally stored public ledger of all bitcoin transactions. This distributed chain of blocks of data is commonly referred to, fittingly, as a block chain.
The natural next question is, what keeps others from just pretending to be you and swiping all of your hard earned bits? Ah, glad you asked. The key word in the above paragraph is "distributed." Imagine a network of millions of computers around the world that are all, relatively simultaneously, sent this update to the public ledger that says you booked your flight. Along with that bit of information, you also send an encrypted private key that is unique to your wallet and is automatically sent with every transaction initiated. As soon as your transaction details hit a computer on the network, that system sets about "mining" your key. Eventually all of the computers with the existing blockchain will have received your transaction request and have set about "mining" to verify that your transaction is valid.
This "mining" is really just performing a series of extremely intense mathematical calculations based on the provided key in order to verify its placement in the blockchain as a valid transaction. The approval of a transaction is dependent upon the outcome of calculation of not only the transaction you initiated but every transaction that has occurred as part of that blockchain up to that point. This process ensures that previous blocks and transactions cannot be modified down the road because it would instantly invalidate all following transactions. Once a few minutes have passed, typically around ten, the network would have a majority opinion of your transaction. This means that it is entirely possible for a bitcoin transaction to be made fraudulently, however, because it relies on a majority opinion of the calculations outcome in order to verify the validity of the requested transaction this would be near impossible to pull off. Once a transaction has been successfully mined, a very small amount of bitcoin is paid to all miners of the chain. Hence the term "mining."
Not only does the use of blockchains for transaction validation ensure that a transaction is timed correctly since it requires the validation of all transactions on the chain to that point, but the complexity of the calculations is fully dependent on the amount of users mining the chain. These means that when Nakamoto first mined the genesis block, the calculations to do so were likely extremely simplistic, in order to build the initial investment of start-up capital. As more users began mining transactions on the chain, the calculations proportionally increase in complexity. This ensures two very important things which standard government-backed fiat currency will always have an issue with.
The first, is that the payment given the miners is also a proportional payment based on the amount of bitcoin in circulation. This bitcoin as a payment is essentially the same concept as a government printing money to combat inflation. The difference is that bitcoin's mathematical formulas driving the "printing" of more bitcoin are relying on very precise values of the exact amount of bitcoin currently available and it is fully independent of an established market. So, while it is not immune to something like hyperinflation, it is definitely more naturally protected from it than a standard form of currency. It is this precision that allows us to know that the total amount of bitcoin EVER created will be done by 2140. There is a whole other conversation we could have about that...
Second, while it may not be backed by an actual commodity like gold, bitcoin is, in a way, backed by the resources required for mining. Due to the complexity of the calculations, the amount of "users" on the ledger, and the use of a majority distribution system to manage transaction validation, any attempts at defrauding the system would require an intense amount of computing power which would require an intense amount of electricity and bandwidth. These are the commodities which limit the economy and market of bitcoin. The likelihood of anyone being able to fight the combined computing power of millions of legitimate bitcoin miners completely on their own is so infinitesimally small that it is virtually completely ignored as a possibility.
To recap, Bitcoin is essentially immune to hyperinflation and counterfeiting. The transactions, and verifications of those transactions, occur, for free, across a globally distributed network of "mining" computers which are automatically paid by the distributed system they exist in for the work that they do. Despite having a public ledger it is completely anonymous due to the nature of the generated private keys attributed to your wallet. And, lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it is in no way controlled, nor can it legitimately be directly influenced by, any form of government on our planet. Oh! And aside from your costs for electricity or internet, it is essentially completely free for anyone to use and/or mine for bitcoins. At least until 2140. Just remember to not throw away your wallet!
This one was an intense one and I'm looking forward to the lengthy discussions with anyone who took the time to actually read the whole damn thing. While I didn't touch on them directly, there are some concerns with bitcoin. It isn't all just long strings of numbers pointing to dollar signs. There is an extremely high market fluctuation and it does suffer the inherent risks of all fiat currency in that it only matters when it matters and if no one cares then it is as useless as all of the time people have wasted trying to find out the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto. Yeah I forgot that fact. The person who started all of this is a complete mystery. Despite many people attempting to track Nakamoto down and multiple frauds appearing throughout the years trying to claim the crown, no one has a clue who the person who conceived and launched what is arguably the most mathematically sound answer to the flaws of modern currency actually is.
By the way, happy Father's Day to both Michaels and thanks for allowing me to use your daughters for my admittedly terrible parallel.
The original banana - RT Answers #389
During the Podcast #389 Post Show, fittingly called RT Discusses Bananas, a very similar conversation arose between Burnie, Gavin, and Greg from Kinda Funny. Yes this was the Post Show for the infamous "hard nips" incident. For those who are not, or were not, FIRST members, here is the original banana post:
This has to be up there as one of the most personally mind-blowing "Today I Learned" moments I’ve had while writing these answer posts. The Gros Michel banana was the first banana strain to be cultivated and exported on a large scale, and began finding its way to major North American and European cities in the late 1800s. It chugged along and quickly became one of the most important exports of Latin America and Southeast Asia. However, this generally agreed upon "better tasting" banana strain was not meant to be – like the Irish potatoes of famine lore, the monocrop cultivation practices caused the crop to be susceptible to a particularly devastating fungus known as Tropical Race 1, or Panama Disease.
Despite the name, Panama Disease actually first appeared in Australia in the late 1800s, and spent a few decades on local plantations before it jumped continents and, by 1960, successfully disrupted all commercial exportation of Gros Michel bananas. Even as early as the 1920s, worldwide banana shortages were being felt due to the fight against Panama Disease, spawning the "Yes, We Have No Bananas" song, mentioned by Burnie, to appear as part of the 1922 Broadway revue Make It Snappy. While Southeast Asia maintains a sizeable local production and small areas of Florida, California, Africa, and Central America have been able to successfully produce an occasional Gros Michel banana crop, the vast majority of attempts are still blighted by the persistent Panama Disease, and large-scale exportation has ceased entirely.
This brings us to, what most consider to be, the "tasteless and fairly bland" replacement of the Cavendish strain. Resistant to the Panama Disease blight, the less-sweet and less-creamy Cavendish quickly became the exported replacement for the Gros Michel. Interestingly, you will occasionally see a banana at an American grocery store labeled as a Gros Michel; however, it is almost certainly a Cavendish that was labeled incorrectly by the grower in order to increase import pricing. The truly upsetting news in recent years, however, is that a mutation of the original Panama Disease strain, known as Tropical Race 4, has recently been found at various Cavendish plantations in Southeast Asia. As seen in the picture below, Tropical Race 4 devastates the root of the banana crop, effectively killing the current yield as well as all future yields. Its persistence through the soil means that the plantation locations themselves are no longer viable either. Researchers keeping an eye on this strain have begun to equate its potential devastation with that of Panama Disease and feel that it is only a matter of time before Tropical Race 4 also makes the continental jump to the global leaders of banana production in Latin America.
Additionally, the monocrop production of the Cavendish, like the Gros Michel before it, means that the cultivation is dependent on "cloning" fully matured banana crops for future crops. This type of production eliminates the possibility of the crop building a natural tolerance to what should be easily surmountable diseases. Chiquita's scientists seem to be relatively unfazed by Tropical Race 4, claiming that their "risk-mitigation program" ensures that "[Tropical Race 4] is certainly not an immediate threat to banana production in Latin America" – or their $548 million largest-banana-market-share empire. Unfortunately for Chiquita, and us, experts believe that Tropical Race 4 puts the original Panama Disease to shame. Their research suggests that the mutated strain doesn't just stop at Cavendish bananas. Instead, this banana bubonic plague is capable of killing nearly 85%, or 160 million tons, of the bananas and plantains produced each year.
While there is no clear timeline for this type of banana massacre (it could easily be 30 years away depending on cultivation patterns and techniques), the reality of there being a world where only the rich can have a damn banana is a pretty crazy thing to consider. So, get out there and get yourself some potassium poisoning while you still can!
After re-reading that story, it is still one of the most mind-blowing facts that I've accidentally picked up because of the Podcast and my Answers posts... crazy.
What's a heuristic?
Heuristics, originates from a Greek word meaning "to discover." They are mental shortcuts which use a person's experiences to affect problem-solving strategies. In most cases, the use of heuristics as a problem-solving strategy is something which we all naturally do without ever thinking about it. An example of this can be as simple as you remembering that you are out of milk on your way to the kitchen in the morning and, accordingly, making the snap decision to have eggs instead of Cheerios. It is this subconscious reliance on heuristics which allows us all to function as human beings. If it wasn't for this ability to quickly make life decisions based on very little information about relatively trivial matters, we would all spend our lives in a stupor, stuck on how to handle whether to brush our teeth or take a shower first.
An interesting, though expected, accidental side effect of our reliance on heuristics for decision-making also leads to some intriguing case of accidental bias towards objects, experiences, or people. This representative heuristic is tightly coupled with the natural stereotypical, or seemingly prejudicial, viewpoints of some individuals who find it extremely difficult to NOT "judge a book by its cover."
The use of heuristics and, more specifically, the expectations and predictions of human decisions based on heuristics is a popular point of discussion throughout the entertainment industry, in particular with regard to marketing strategies and consumer-facing design. For example, the scarcity heuristic is the idea that something is considered more desirable and valuable if it is less available. This concept is frequently used by companies to sell merchandise that you may not have thought to buy if it were available at any time.
Does Todoist do Amazon Echo?
I think it is the other way around but, yes, Alexa is able to integrate with your Todoist account. For those interested, go here to begin the integration process.
Do they have fire suppression in plane cargo holds?
They do and have had for quite some time actually. The FAA has four categories used to classify cargo compartments on planes. The primary purpose of the plane determines this classification and, depending on this purpose, the amount of fire prevention options will change. However, ALL categories are required to have some sort of fire suppressant system.
The lower cargo area of all passenger airplanes as well as the storage area for most commercial freighter aircraft are designated as Class C compartments. For these aircraft, the compartment must be covered by a fire resistant liner which is able to withstand a direct source of flame for up to five minutes. This panel, on the sidewalls, should be tested with a direct flame up to 1,700 degrees fahrenheit. As the purpose of these liners is to protect the passenger compartment from combustion until a time that automated suppression systems can control the flame, the ambient air temperature four inches above the exposed ceiling liner panel cannot exceed 400 degrees fahrenheit. In addition, along with no exposed control lines such as wires or piping, all other materials constructing the hold must pass the same open flame requirements.
Regarding the actual suppression techniques, most planes are equipped with a Halon 1301 suppression system which the flight crew is instructed to activated after shutting off all main flow to the cargo area. THe amount of suppressant on board is sufficient enough to provide 1-2 hours of continued flight, depending on the aircraft and airline, in order to provide time to coordinate an emergency landing at the nearest airport. Due to the high toxicity of Halon gases in confined places, there have been many tests regarding other options for fire suppressant however there has been no comparably effective alternative found that is able to match the small space requirements of the Halon canisters.
The one exception to the use of Halon suppressant throughout the industry, are aircraft that fall into the last FAA classification. Class E planes are designed to solely carry cargo and they are the only category which is approved to use depressurization as a fire-fighting technique. Most Class E aircraft will handle fire suppression by shutting down all airflow and depressurizing the plane, before descending to 25,000 feet until such time that an airport can be located for an emergency landing. During this time, the crew will use supplemental oxygen.
But perhaps the most interesting fact that I stumbled upon during this research is learning that aircraft manufacturers spend almost as much time researching and simulating air flow within the aircraft as they do testing the flow outside. While part of this is passenger comfort, a much more imperative reason for this study and simulation is actually the movement of smoke throughout the aircraft in the event of fire. For example, in the case of the freight-only Class E aircraft, the flight deck's single air conditioner unit's primary purpose is to force a specific movement of air through the cabin so, in the event of a fire, the smoke does not overwhelm the crew. This same emphasis on air flow exists in Class C passenger planes as the movement of air throughout the plane originates from the flight deck, or exists on a separate flow pattern entirely. Additionally, cargo holds are kept at a slightly lower pressurization than the passenger compartments of planes. This minimal pressurization difference combined with the use of the liners discussed above and other sealed separation components, block the movement of smoke or other harmful gasses throughout the plane.
How are animals transported on a plane?
According to the Department of Transportation and the FAA, more than 2 million pets are flown every year. Given those high numbers, it is actually kind of reassuring that during the 30-month period between January 2014 and August 2016, 66 pets died in transit. As a pet owner, I would much prefer this number be nearer to zero but a 1:30,000 probability is actually a bit lower than I expected. If you are curious, other events in life with a similar probability include getting hit by lighting, being born color-blind, or the Vegas odds being given that Megadeth founder Dave Mustaine will be our president after the 2020 election.
Moving on! Before we look at the flight conditions provided to these pets by the airlines, we should be fully aware that over 10% of these deaths were almost a direct result of, what I would presume to be, owner negligence. Particularly surrounding the transport of brachycephalic, or snub-nosed, dog and cat breeds. These breeds, due to selective breeding, think the darker side of the Crispr conversation above, have naturally restricted airflow patterns which, during times of intense stress can lead to hyperventilation, shortage of oxygen to vital systems, and eventually death. These breeds can literally die from stress. Additionally, their restricted air flow, often limits their ability to cool their bodies during these times of stress, which can, and does, lead to heat stroke. It is for this reason that most airlines will not even allow the transport of these breeds, as checked cargo or otherwise. It is also one of the reasons why ALL airlines very clearly suggest, when initially discussing the possibility of flying with your pet, that you should discuss your plans with your pet's veterinarian to get their approval for your pet's travel.
For their part, all US airlines have made significant strides in the area of your pet's safety, with all of them having some restrictions based on the age of the pet as well as requiring approved travel kennels. Most also have breed restrictions, as discussed above, and all have flight temperature restrictions which do not allow the transport of animals in the baggage area when outside air temperatures are above 85 degrees or below 45 degrees fahrenheit.
Also, just for kicks, can anyone guess which airline is at the top of the animal death list? Yep! It is everyone's favorite airline of late, especially @gus (legitimately though...). Of the 66 animal deaths in the 30-month span above, 22 were on United flights; however, it is important to point out that United, along with transporting significantly more pets than any other airline, is also the only major airline that is okay flying the brachycephalic breeds. Of their 22, at least 7 were brachycephalic. The airline in second for this miserable contest? Delta with 20 deaths. This number is without the transport of brachycephalic breeds, as they don't allow them. With that in mind, I tend to judge them a bit harsher than United. Fortunately, it seems that Delta feels the same way about themselves. In March 2016, they revised their entire pet policy to now disallow pet owners from checking their pets. Instead, they require owners to purchase a stand alone ticket for their animals as a live-cargo shipment. The pets are then shipped as live freight, during which they are handled by specific customer service teams and kept in temperature-controlled holding areas when not on the plane. Conversely, Southwest has avoided making the list altogether by simply refusing to check pets under any circumstance.
What are your thoughts? Do you, or would you, trust an airline with your pet?