Daily Archives: May 6, 2016

How to Survive Doomsday

By Michael Hahn & Daniel Wolf Savin – Let’s be optimistic and assume that we manage to avoid a self-inflicted nuclear holocaust, an extinction-sized asteroid, or deadly irradiation from a nearby supernova. That leaves about 6 billion years until the sun turns into a red giant, swelling to the orbit of Earth and melting our planet. Sounds like a lot of time.

But don’t get too relaxed. Doomsday is coming a lot sooner than that.

Eventually, though, the warming sun will cause CO2 levels to fall so low that plants will start to die. First to go will be the C3 plants, so called because their photosynthesis process involves a molecule containing three carbon atoms.

Most plants are of the C3 type, including wheat, rice, barley, oats, soybeans, peanuts, coconuts, bananas, potatoes, cotton, and most trees.

In about 200 million years, when the CO2 concentration drops below 150 parts per million (it is at 400 today), C3 plants will disappear. more> http://goo.gl/jgXilj

How do companies come up with new ideas?

By Scott Andes – Most people interested in technology development are familiar with the classic model of innovation.

Here, firms put new ideas into practice in a pretty regimented way. First, scientists at national laboratories or universities are funded (often by federal science agencies) to conduct basic research and make discoveries. The institution then patents these discoveries and makes them accessible to the private sector for a fee.

In the classic model there are “producers” of technology (universities and labs) and “consumers” (firms), and the transaction between the two occurs through the market (patents and licenses).

The classic model applies well in some industries, but it doesn’t fit how many companies come upon new ideas.

Cities have different economic strengths and weaknesses based on their mix of industries. Some are information-technology centers like Seattle [2, 3] and San Francisco [2, 3], while others are life science powerhouses like San Diego [2, 3, 4, 5] and Boston [2, 3, 4]. Others lead in advanced manufacturing like Akron [2], Portland [2, 3], and Pittsburgh [2, 3].

Cities should consider which innovation model best fits their industries and craft urban economic policy around their particular model.

Here are six strategies for doing so .. more> http://goo.gl/wSJwgS

Sunshine in a bottle

By Peter Forbes – When I think about the future of renewable energy, I picture the inner workings of a leaf – any leaf.

A green plant is a remarkable solar-energy collector, effortlessly pulling sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide from the environment, and converting it into stored chemical energy.

And the total amount of energy processed by photosynthesis is enormous. The Sun bathes the Earth with 173,000 terawatts of solar energy annually. On land alone, plants convert that energy into more than 100 billion metric tonnes of biomass.

Our global energy use is just 18 terawatts per year, in contrast. As solar energy proponents are fond of saying: ‘The Sun provides in an hour enough energy to supply the world for a year.’

What nature accomplishes – and what we want to do – is to remove some CO2 from the atmosphere to create biomass.

If our human nanotechnology can mimic that process, we will use up CO2 as quickly as we produce it.

It is almost too elegant that the key ingredient for addressing climate change could be the substance that is causing the problem in the first place. more> https://goo.gl/xyvwk1

Imagining a New Bretton Woods

By Yanis Varoufakis – The 1944 Bretton Woods conference featured a clash of two men and their visions: Harry Dexter White [2, 3, 4, 5], President Franklin Roosevelt‘s [2, 3, 4, 5] representative, and John Maynard Keynes [2, 3, 4, 5], representing a fading British Empire.

Unsurprisingly, White’s scheme, founded on the United States’ post-war trade surplus, which it deployed to dollarize Europe and Japan in exchange for their acquiescence to full monetary-policy discretion for the US, prevailed. And the new post-war system provided the foundation for capitalism’s finest hour – until America lost its surplus and White’s arrangement collapsed.

However, Keynes’s view was that global stability is undermined by capitalism’s innate tendency to drive a wedge between surplus and deficit economies. The surpluses and deficits grow larger during the upturn, and the burden of adjustment falls disproportionately on debtors during the downturn, leading to a debt-deflationary process that takes root in the deficit regions before dampening demand everywhere. more> https://goo.gl/7qNml1