Thursday, October 23, 2014

Friday Thinking 24 October 2014

Hello all – Friday Thinking is curated in the spirit of sharing – Many thanks to those who enjoy this.

The Illusion of Control
Heroic leadership rests on the illusion that someone can be in control. Yet we live in a world of complex systems whose very existence means they are inherently uncontrollable. No one is in charge of our food systems. No one is in charge of our schools. No one is in charge of the environment. No one is in charge of national security. No one is in charge! These systems are emergent phenomena—the result of thousands of small, local actions that converged to create powerful systems with properties that may bear little or no resemblance to the smaller actions that gave rise to them. These are the systems that now dominate our lives; they cannot be changed by working backwards, focusing on only a few simple causes. And certainly they cannot be changed by the boldest visions of our most heroic leaders.

If we want to be able to get these complex systems to work better, we need to abandon our reliance on the leader-as-hero and invite in the leader-as-host. We need to support those leaders who know that problems are complex, who know that in order to understand the full complexity of any issue, all parts of the system need to be invited in to participate and contribute. We, as followers, need to give our leaders time, patience, forgiveness; and we need to be willing to step up and contribute.

These leaders-as-hosts are candid enough to admit that they don’t know what to do; they realize that it’s sheer foolishness to rely only on them for answers. But they also know they can trust in other people’s creativity and commitment to get the work done. They know that other people, no matter where they are in the organizational hierarchy, can be as motivated, diligent and creative as the leader, given the right invitation.
Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze - Leadership In The Age Of Complexity: From Hero To Host

Over the next twenty years the earth is predicted to add another two billion people. Having nearly exhausted nature’s ability to feed the planet, we now need to discover a new food system. The global climate will continue to change. To save our coastlines, and maintain acceptable living conditions for more than a billion people, we need to discover new science, engineering, design, and architectural methods, and pioneer economic models that sustain their implementation and maintenance. Microbiological threats will increase as our traditional techniques of anti-microbial defense lead to greater and greater resistances, and to thwart these we must discover new approaches to medical treatment, which we can afford, and implement in ways that incite compliance and good health. The many rich and varied human cultures of the earth will continue to mix, more rapidly than they ever have, through mass population movements and unprecedented information exchange, and to preserve social harmony we need to discover new cultural referents, practices, and environments of cultural exchange. In such conditions the futures of law, medicine, philosophy, engineering, and agriculture – with just about every other field – are to be rediscovered.

Americans need to learn how to discover.
Being dumb in the existing educational system is bad enough. Failing to create a new way of learning adapted to contemporary circumstances might be a national disaster. The good news is, some people are working on it.
American Schools Are Training Kids for a World That Doesn’t Exist

The quality of being, as an aesthetic phenomenon, is radically altered in the age of hyperconnectivity in a fashion that prominently features the art of becoming, not as the mimesis of an other that is not authentic, but in a fashion that re-describes the extended narrative of the individual into a multiplicity of authentic beings.

We call for the founding of a fresh narrative about our relationship with and through technology. The relevance of the New Aesthetic perhaps may be that we never try too hard to look at it directly in the eyes (which ones for that matter?), but rather keep it on the periphery of our vision, less an object but a presence, a process, and cultivate an aesthetic ground on which our senses stand. Perhaps it better be kept elusive.

New problems are continually built. Dissolving of problems builds from their solutions, formulae of creations to navigate experience beyond our relative constraints. The possible beauty of our future lies in our hands, in our very own capability to transform ourselves into curators of interest and aesthetic intelligence, a transmutation in the manner we understand the world and cohere a complexity that unfolds before us.

The New Aesthetic may not be a ‘thing’ at all. it may just be about a functional freedom of expression.

Fluid, Fractal and Holographic
Becoming is of emergent properties of past affinities of influence; begoing is synchronized with the emergent properties of future affinities — both of these, in reconciliation to factors of time’s relative constraints.

What we’re experiencing is exaptive, form and nonform — transforming aesthetics into tangible intangibles. Morphing between virtual and actual, before and after a particular moment has subsided in experience. As we are building these interfaces for experiential navigation of data and information for minds and intelligences to integrate with, hindsights, insights, foresights and evolution become conscious communication mechanisms to evolve upon ourselves, by living and interacting. Hyperconnectivity reveals the fluid, fractal and holographic nature of not data or information or content but experience, this itself morphs through evolutionary permutations as our code spaces are changed, modified, interpreted and re-encoded as signals and resonance.
Becoming Infosynaesthetic
Some thoughts on the evolution of aesthetics and language

Today’s neuroimaging tools show brain structure with a precision approximating that of the examination of post-mortem tissue; this allows researchers to study all sorts of connections between brain measurements and personal characteristics. For example, we know that London taxi drivers, who must memorize maps of the city to earn a hackney’s license, have an enlarged hippocampus—a key memory region—as demonstrated in a magnetic-resonance-imaging, or MRI, study. (They know it, too: on a recent trip to London, I was proudly regaled with this information by several different taxi drivers.) Imaging studies of symphony-orchestra musicians have found them to possess an unusually large Broca’s area—a part of the brain in the left hemisphere that is associated with language—along with other discrepancies.
Nancy C. Andreasen - Secrets of the Creative Brain

Now this is an interesting article on a couple of dimensions - first is the self-evident application of new theory to Autism - the next maybe just as interesting application to a concept of managerial autism - as a management regimes experience ever more challenge to creating a predictable environment - the focus can shift to creating a highly repetitive controlled environment….
Autism as a disorder of prediction
Researchers suggest autism stems from a reduced ability to make predictions, leading to anxiety.
Autism is characterized by many different symptoms: difficulty interacting with others, repetitive behaviors, and hypersensitivity to sound and other stimuli. MIT neuroscientists have put forth a new hypothesis that accounts for these behaviors and may provide a neurological foundation for many of the disparate features of the disorder.

The researchers suggest that autism may be rooted in an impaired ability to predict events and other people’s actions. From the perspective of the autistic child, the world appears to be a “magical” rather than an orderly place, because events seem to occur randomly and unpredictably. In this view, autism symptoms such as repetitive behavior, and an insistence on a highly structured environment, are coping strategies to help deal with this unpredictable world.

The researchers hope that this unifying theory, if validated, could offer new strategies for treating autism.

“At the moment, the treatments that have been developed are driven by the end symptoms. We’re suggesting that the deeper problem is a predictive impairment problem, so we should directly address that ability,” says Pawan Sinha, an MIT professor of brain and cognitive sciences and the lead author of a paper describing the hypothesis in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week.

Sinha and his colleagues first began thinking about prediction skills as a possible underpinning for autism based on reports from parents that their autistic children insist on a very controlled, predictable environment.
“The need for sameness is one of the most uniform characteristics of autism,” Sinha says. “It’s a short step away from that description to think that the need for sameness is another way of saying that the child with autism needs a very predictable setting.”

Speaking of organizational autism here’s a great article on leadership from Margaret Wheatley.
The only predictable consequence of leaders attempts to wrest control of a complex, even chaotic situation, is that they create more chaos. They go into isolation with just a few key advisors, and attempt to find a simple solution (quickly) to a complex problem. And people pressure them to do just that. Everyone wants the problem to disappear; cries of “fix it!” arise from the public. Leaders scramble to look like they’ve taken charge and have everything in hand.
Leadership In The Age Of Complexity: From Hero To Host
For too long, too many of us have been entranced by heroes. Perhaps it’s our desire to be saved, to not have to do the hard work, to rely on someone else to figure things out. Constantly we are barraged by politicians presenting themselves as heroes, the ones who will fix everything and make our problems go away. It’s a seductive image, an enticing promise. And we keep believing it. Somewhere there’s someone who will make it all better. Somewhere, there’s someone who’s visionary, inspiring, brilliant, trustworthy, and we’ll all happily follow him or her. Somewhere…

Well, it is time for all the heroes to go home, as the poet William Stafford wrote. It is time for us to give up these hopes and expectations that only breed dependency and passivity, and that do not give us solutions to the challenges we face. It is time to stop waiting for someone to save us. It is time to face the truth of our situation—that we’re all in this together, that we all have a voice—and figure out how to mobilize the hearts and minds of everyone in our workplaces and communities.

Why do we continue to hope for heroes? It seems we assume certain things:
  • Leaders have the answers. They know what to do.
  • People do what they’re told. They just have to be given good plans and instructions.
  • High risk requires high control. As situations grow more complex and challenging, power needs to shift to the top (with the leaders who know what to do.)
These beliefs give rise to the models of command and control revered in organizations and governments world-wide. Those at the bottom of the hierarchy submit to the greater vision and expertise of those above. Leaders promise to get us out of this mess; we willingly surrender individual autonomy in exchange for security.

Speaking of not being able to solve a problem with the same type of thinking that created it - here’s something about trying to solve a problem with the same species that created the problem. Maybe it’s Flowers for Algernon 2.0. The important thing is that we have to think seriously not reactively to how we enhance human capabilities.
Super-Intelligent Humans Are Coming
Genetic engineering will one day create the smartest humans who have ever lived.
Lev Landau, a Nobelist and one of the fathers of a great school of Soviet physics, had a logarithmic scale for ranking theorists, from 1 to 5. A physicist in the first class had ten times the impact of someone in the second class, and so on. He modestly ranked himself as 2.5 until late in life, when he became a 2. In the first class were Heisenberg, Bohr, and Dirac among a few others. Einstein was a 0.5!

My friends in the humanities, or other areas of science like biology, are astonished and disturbed that physicists and mathematicians (substitute the polymathic von Neumann for Einstein) might think in this essentially hierarchical way. Apparently, differences in ability are not manifested so clearly in those fields. But I find Landau’s scheme appropriate: There are many physicists whose contributions I cannot imagine having made.

I have even come to believe that Landau’s scale could, in principle, be extended well below Einstein’s 0.5. The genetic study of cognitive ability suggests that there exist today variations in human DNA which, if combined in an ideal fashion, could lead to individuals with intelligence that is qualitatively higher than has ever existed on Earth: Crudely speaking, IQs of order 1,000, if the scale were to continue to have meaning.

The Social Science Genome Association Consortium, an international collaboration involving dozens of university labs, has identified a handful of regions of human DNA that affect cognitive ability. They have shown that a handful of single-nucleotide polymorphisms in human DNA are statistically correlated with intelligence, even after correction for multiple testing of 1 million independent DNA regions, in a sample of over 100,000 individuals.

Speaking of leadership here’s a great 30 min video conversation with John Hagel (Power of Pull) and Peter Schwartz (The Art of the Long View and Inevitable Surprises)
The Salesforce Conversations with Peter Schwartz and John Hagel
Join Peter Schwartz, SVP, Strategic Planning, Salesforce as he welcomes John Hagel, Director Deloitte Consulting LLP and Co-Chairman, Center for the Edge, into the Salesforce LIVE Studio for a chat about how the economy, organizations, and business will work in the hyper-connected economy.

For a bit more about John Hagel’s views this is a good overview.
John Hagel at SXSW: Workplace Redesign
In a world of mounting performance pressure, businesses will need to evolve into movements. Their success will be determined by their ability to mobilize, inspire and support an ever expanding array of participants extending far beyond their own four walls to accomplish awesome things.

So, what can we learn from successful movements? First, they are driven by opportunity-based narratives that are far more powerful than stories. Unlike stories, narratives are open-ended, where the outcome is to be determined by the choices and actions of people addressed by the narrative.

Second, movements create platforms that help people to connect in small groups where they can build deep, trust-based relationships but then accelerate their learning by connecting more broadly across the entire movement.
Mobilizing movements will be very challenging for companies, but the rewards will be enormous.

The transforming world of work discussed above - has implications for learing - as John Seely Brown and John Hagel have noted - the future is no longer about a focus on scaling efficiency - the future is about scaling learning - and that has to include a significant shift in our approach to education.
American Schools Are Training Kids for a World That Doesn’t Exist
Are Americans getting dumber?
Our math skills are falling. Our reading skills are weakening. Our children have become less literate than children in many developed countries. But the crisis in American education may be more than a matter of sliding rankings on world educational performance scales.

Our kids learn within a system of education devised for a world that increasingly does not exist.

To become a chef, a lawyer, a philosopher or an engineer, has always been a matter of learning what these professionals do, how and why they do it, and some set of general facts that more or less describe our societies and our selves. We pass from kindergarten through twelfth grade, from high school to college, from college to graduate and professional schools, ending our education at some predetermined stage to become the chef, or the engineer, equipped with a fair understanding of what being a chef, or an engineer, actually is and will be for a long time.

We “learn,” and after this we “do.” We go to school and then we go to work.
This approach does not map very well to personal and professional success in America today. Learning and doing have become inseparable in the face of conditions that invite us to discover.

Speaking about connective technology - here’s a great TED Talk.
How language transformed humanity
Biologist Mark Pagel shares an intriguing theory about why humans evolved our complex system of language. He suggests that language is a piece of "social technology" that allowed early human tribes to access a powerful new tool: cooperation.

Speaking about the emergence of the age of complexity - the 21st Century - here is a must view 15 min video explaining (for anyone) the power of Bitcoin - not as currency but as a distributed software.
The real value of bitcoin and crypto currency technology - Bitcoin Properly
In the coming years, the technology behind crypto currencies such as Bitcoin will inevitably and radically change the role of traditional trusted parties such as banks, accountants, notaries, and governments. The animated video about Bitcoin that was released today on is the first to specifically address the technology behind Bitcoin: the Blockchain. Within five minutes, it is explained how the essential functions of the “trusted third party” can be automatized through the Blockchain as well as what the implications of this are.

From Bitcoin hype to Blockchain revolution: an internet of trust.
With the arrival of crypto currencies such as Bitcoin, everyone around the world can trade with each other without any involvement from traditional third parties such as banks, notaries, accountants, and governments. Trade is a fundamental pillar of our economy and society, and traditional trusted parties play a crucial role in this.

The technology behind Bitcoin making all this possible – the Blockchain – ensures that the essential functions of the “trusted third party’, are fully automatized through the internet. This way, these functions are as freely available, accessible, and programmable as the internet itself.

Still speaking of the crypto-currency software here’s a Bitcoin Forum offering for a new type of social network.
Synereo: A fully decentralized social network owned by you
Synereo is next-gen social network that puts security, identity, and community management directly under your purview, respecting your attention and rewarding you for your activity on the network.
The beauty of recent developments based on the innovative Bitcoin blockchain technology is that they allow the public to claim control over previously centralized endeavours. By creating automated, trustless interactions over the network, we can now build systems that do not require concentrated power to maintain order. Rather, the power is spread throughout the network and is left in our hands, the active participants in it.

The Bitcoin revolution has brought us control over our money. In this position of control, we are its owners and we decide what to do with it, uninhibited by the interests of those in positions of great influence. Synereo is attempting to do the same, only with the fundamental social tool of the Information Age - the social network.

With current social networks, you are not the client. You are the product being sold - and for huge sums of money that you will never see. These massive corporations maintain extensive databases characterizing your behavior in an attempt to exploit the content that you create and the networks that you build with your friends and family.

They’ve tapped into your deeply human need to socialize, with no respect for your privacy or psychological well-being, to turn your life into an endless marketing opportunity.  Your Identity is valuable.

We’re now in a unique position to take this power back from our social networks, to keep the value we create for ourselves, and put it to work for us. By disconnecting the application from its current axiom of generating revenue for its corporate owner, we can move development in the direction of supporting the network and its users. It becomes an ever-evolving social product, shaped to facilitate our need and desire to communicate.

Speaking of hosting here’s a new idea about how social science can obtain data.
Inspired by Wikipedia, Social Scientists Create a Revolution in Online Surveys
Most of the information on Wikipedia comes from a tiny proportion of users. Now social scientists are collecting data in a similar way, allowing participants to design surveys as they contribute.
Gathering data about human preferences and activities is the bread-and-butter of much research in the social sciences. But just how best to gather this data has long been the subject of fierce debate.

Social scientists essentially have two choices. On the one hand, there are public opinion surveys based on a set of multiple choice questions, a so-called closed approach.  On the other, there are open approaches in the form of free ranging interviews in which respondents are free to speak their mind. There are clearly important advantages and disadvantages of each method.

Today, Matthew Salganik at Princeton University in New Jersey and Karen Levy at New York University outline an entirely new way of gathering data inspired by a new generation of information aggregation systems such as Wikipedia. “Just as Wikipedia evolves over time based on contributions from participants, we envision an evolving survey driven by contributions from respondents,” they say.

They say the new approach can yield insights that would be difficult to obtain with other methods. But it also presents challenges for social scientists, particularly when it comes to analyzing the data collected in this way.

Projects like Wikipedia are the result of user-generated content on a massive scale. The question that Salganik and Levy ask is whether surveys could also be constructed by respondents themselves, at least in part.

To find out, these guys have developed a new type of data collection mechanism that they call a wiki survey. This starts with a set of seed questions but allows respondents to add their own questions as the survey involves. To test the idea, Salganik and Levy created a free website called on which anybody can create a pairwise wiki survey and gather respondents from a target audience encouraged to participate. Since 2010, this website has hosted some 5,000 pairwise wiki surveys that have included 200,000 items and garnered 5 million responses.

Speaking of data - this is a very interesting website a must view for anyone interested in social science and data - if only for the graphics.
WE THE DATA is a hub of conversation, news, and events celebrating innovative communities who are each focused on democratizing data in their own way. Our goal is to spark synergy among people and organizations who are tackling a nexus of interdependent Core Challenges and collectively giving rise to the Gutenburg press of our era: flows of data that are at once more fluid and more trustworthy, new and more accessible tools for analysis and visualization, and vehicles of communication and collaboration that help communities come together to gain a voice, mobilize resources, coordinate action, and create the ventures of the future.

Here’s a new business plan for publishing from Amazon
Amazon Wants to Outsource Book Agents' Jobs
Amazon is looking to crowdsource the publishing industry.
The ecommerce giant announced the launch of its Kindle Scout program on Tuesday, which lets prospective authors submit manuscripts that will then be read and voted on.

One part Kickstarter, one part American Idol, the program offers the chance for authors to become published through Kindle Press if their book is popular enough. Authors chosen through the program receive a $1,500 advance, 50% of eBook royalties and Amazon marketing.

Participating readers can browse, read, and nominate manuscripts; readers can then nominate books they enjoy.

Speaking again about Autism - here’s something.
Emerging Evidence Shows How Computer Messaging Helps Autistic Adults Communicate
Anecdotal reports suggest that autistic adults benefit from computer-based communication. Now the scientific evidence is building.
The conventional view of people with autism is that they are loners with little interest in initiating or maintaining relationships with other people. But that attitude is changing rapidly not least because of the growing evidence that exactly the opposite is true.
It turns out that the problem for many high functioning adults with autism has more to do with the conditions under which relationships occur rather than a lack of interest or ability to maintain them.

A particular challenge is the complex, fast changing, and varied conditions under which communication occurs. People with autism tend to prefer environments in which communication is highly structured with few distracting signals to cause sensory overload.

One way to achieve this is with computer-mediated communication, such as text, e-mail, instant messaging, and so on. These forms of contact give each partner plenty of time to think about the messages and their replies at their own pace. What’s more, these communication channels do not have additional signals such as body language that also need to be processed.

So it is not hard to see why computer-based communication ought to be ideally suited to people with autism. However, there is little evidence to show whether or not this is true. What’s needed is a study that compares the communication patterns of people with autism against a control group of individuals without autism.

Speaking of unique mentalities.
Secrets of the Creative Brain
A leading neuroscientist who has spent decades studying creativity shares her research on where genius comes from, whether it is dependent on high IQ—and why it is so often accompanied by mental illness.
As a psychiatrist and neuroscientist who studies creativity, I’ve had the pleasure of working with many gifted and high-profile subjects over the years, but Kurt Vonnegut—dear, funny, eccentric, lovable, tormented Kurt Vonnegut—will always be one of my favorites. Kurt was a faculty member at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in the 1960s, and participated in the first big study I did as a member of the university’s psychiatry department. I was examining the anecdotal link between creativity and mental illness, and Kurt was an excellent case study.

He was intermittently depressed, but that was only the beginning. His mother had suffered from depression and committed suicide on Mother’s Day, when Kurt was 21 and home on military leave during World War II. His son, Mark, was originally diagnosed with schizophrenia but may actually have bipolar disorder. (Mark, who is a practicing physician, recounts his experiences in two books, The Eden Express and Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So, in which he reveals that many family members struggled with psychiatric problems. “My mother, my cousins, and my sisters weren’t doing so great,” he writes. “We had eating disorders, co-dependency, outstanding warrants, drug and alcohol problems, dating and employment problems, and other ‘issues.’ ”)

While mental illness clearly runs in the Vonnegut family, so, I found, does creativity. Kurt’s father was a gifted architect, and his older brother Bernard was a talented physical chemist and inventor who possessed 28 patents. Mark is a writer, and both of Kurt’s daughters are visual artists. Kurt’s work, of course, needs no introduction.

For many of my subjects from that first study—all writers associated with the Iowa Writers’ Workshop—mental illness and creativity went hand in hand. This link is not surprising. The archetype of the mad genius dates back to at least classical times, when Aristotle noted, “Those who have been eminent in philosophy, politics, poetry, and the arts have all had tendencies toward melancholia.”

Speaking of creativity - here’s a neurosurgeon presenting a TED talk 18 min, on improv.
Your brain on improv - Charles Limb
Musician and researcher Charles Limb wondered how the brain works during musical improvisation -- so he put jazz musicians and rappers in an fMRI to find out. What he and his team found has deep implications for our understanding of creativity of all kinds.

Here’s a 30 min Forbes video about learning and games - it really is a great video and Shapiro is not a techy, he teaches critical thinking -it’s well worth viewing. This is about learning through immersive environments.
Here's Why We Need Video Games In Every Classroom - Jordan Shapiro
Video games teach critical thinking, problem solving skills, and perseverance while building metacognitive skills.

Game-based learning can provide systematic, data driven teaching in a way that forces creative problem solving rather than rote memorization. And video games can do that in a way that is replicable, scalable, and increasingly affordable enough that we can distribute it globally and equitably.

In this talk that I gave at the Global Education And Skills Forum in Dubai on March 16, 2014, I explain how video games can move us away from an educational culture that’s driven by extrinsic competition and commodified rewards. Instead, video games can move us toward a culture of intrinsic motivation, self-reflection, and mindful interaction with the world. The talk, entitled “Critical Thinking And Video Games: Scalable Pedagogy For The Future,” covers a ton of concepts including: game-based learning, gamification, Socrates, Jacques Lacan’s signifiers, systems thinking, iteration, metacognition, and “scaffolding for emptiness.”

I mentioned this a while back but here’s a bit more on it - The automation of the Navy?
Behold the Autonomous SWARM
Fasten your seat-belts, folks; the Navy is going autonomous.  Well, partially.
Last week, they released a demo video of the highly anticipated autonomous swarm technology. These autoboat centurions are designed to seek, flank and destroy ships at sea with protective, technologically-advanced vigor.  The first-of-its-kind technology allows unmanned Navy vessels to overwhelm an adversary.

It is technology that, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) says, will allow any unmanned surface vehicle (USV) to not only protect Navy ships, but also, for the first time, autonomously “swarm” offensively on hostile vessels.  I feel like I’ve seen this movie.  Didn’t Ender use swarm technology to destroy that planet?

Speaking of the connected swarm - here’s a simple article about security.
How to stay secure on public Wi-Fi
There are plenty of opportunities to connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots when you're on the go these days. Coffee shops, hotels, restaurants and airports are just some of the places where you can jump online, but often these networks are open and not secure. Whether you're using a laptop, tablet or smartphone, you'll want to connect your device securely to protect your data as much as possible. Here's some simple steps you can take to help make sure your data is safe on open public Wi-Fi.

Here’s an interesting 5 min demonstration of a prototype 3D printer for building houses.
Wasp: 3D Printed Houses
A new Italian company is demonstrating a super-tall, portable machine that will bring 3D-printed dwellings to impoverished countries.

Speaking about new ways to build here’s a short article that describes that properties and uses of graphene very simply.
Materials That Will Change the World Graphene
Graphene is a pure form of carbon that is very thin, very strong and very expensive.
When I say thin, I mean VERY thin – graphene is one atom thick (almost transparent).
And when I say strong, I mean VERY strong. For its very low weight, it is 100 times stronger than steel, as stiff as a diamond, and yet also flexible and even stretchable.

But its other characteristics are most interesting. It conducts heat and electricity with great efficiency (faster at room temperature than any other known material), and it charges and discharges 100x to 1000x faster than traditional batteries.
Right now, it’s expensive. Nature reported in 2013 that just one micrometer-sized flake made in this [original] way can cost more than $1,000 — making graphene, gram for gram, one of the most expensive materials on Earth.

However, as mass production increases, there is potential for a 70% to 80% price drop, making graphene production much more economical. Chemical vapor deposition (CVD), for example, has brought the cost down to about $100,000 per square meter.

The European Union has also created a flagship program for graphene, allocating about $1.3 billion to spend on the development of graphene over the next 10 years.

Speaking of new materials - here’s a 4 min video on one possible future of food.
Deep under the surface of London a series of abandoned tunnels could lead the way in revolutionising how food is grown in our cities. Here, herbs and micro-herbs grow without the need for soil or natural light – and there’s potential to grow vast amounts of produce.

London’s first underground farm, which is still in construction, also benefits from the absence of pests, fast growing times and the ability to transport produce across the city within hours, rather than days.

It has been created by two men, Steven Dring and Richard Ballard, who are, rather ironically, from Bristol, which has rather a lot more greenery that the area surrounding their farm – but certainly can’t offer the sound of the Northern Line rumbling past meters above your head as you water your crops.

This is simply under the Awesome category - the pictures are great and there’s not a lot to read.
Building the Largest Ship In the World, South Korea
The Maersk Triple E is the largest ship ever built, the pride and joy of the largest shipping company in the world. The ship was a huge hit with the public last year when it docked in Copenhagen for a week, 50,000 people visited, tours were given and an exhibition about the boat was made. It towered above the Copenhagen skyline, and like most of the rest of the population of Copenhagen I went down for a look at this monumental machine. I didn’t get on board that time – the tours sold out long before the ship arrived – so I went one better and persuaded Wired to send me to South Korea to photograph it being built, with unprecedented access to the shipyard and a completed ship.

Maersk has commissioned 20 Triple E’s to be built, and I arrived on the day of the delivery and naming ceremony of the 9th of those ships, the Matz Maersk (there were 8 other Triple E’s at different stages of production at the shipyard at the same time). After the champagne smashing ceremony I was expecting a tour of the ship from someone who knew it inside and out – instead I was just told “here it is – off you go!”. “Er OK … do you have a map?”. “No. The engine is that way, the bridge is that way. Have fun, and make sure you aren’t on board in 5 hours because the ship will be leaving for Russia.” So off I went … Only 15 crew live on the ship when it is at sea, and their living quarters make up the tower that sits under the bridge. They have a small cinema and a little swimming pool (which was empty).

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