"5 COOL THINGS" - weekly emails

5 Cool Things  😎
5 Cool Things:
Hi, this is Greg Powell. I hope you'll enjoy one or more of these interesting topics from the world of business and beyond. Dan Powell, my son and collaborator, has researched the articles and written the summaries, so this is not a boilerplate message. We'd like to give you a weekly break to learn about something cool or, better yet, 5 Cool Things.

US Passes ‘Historic’ Anti-Corruption Law That Effectively Bans Anonymous Shell Companies (Independent)

With the bipartisan passage of the National Defense Authorization Act last week, the US Congress took historic action against corruption, a measure that might go largely unnoticed but proponents are hailing as historic. By requiring registered customers to provide ownership information to the US Treasury, so-called “shell companies”, set up to hide enormous sums of money from financial scrutiny, will be subject to more transparency than ever before. Violations of the law are now a federal crime, punishable by a maximum of three years in jail. “It's difficult to overstate the importance of today's legislation,” said Casey Michel, who has written an upcoming book about money laundering called ‘American Kleptocracy.’ He went on to hail the new law as, “the most significant anti-money laundering move the US has taken in decades, and potentially ever.” Read more…


Color Blind Artist Becomes World's First ‘Eyeborg' by Having Antenna Implanted Inside His Skull So He Can ‘Hear' Colors (Mail Online)

For people who are born color blind, not being able to perceive the world in the same way that others see it can be a source of frustration. Artist Neil Harbisson, who is color blind, has been using an electronic eye for over a decade which creates sound vibrations in response to various color frequencies. In 2014, he went one step farther, actually implanting a device into the base of his skull that allows him to sense more complex and intricate patterns of light. The appearance of the device is striking, and Harbisson hopes that this demonstration in the world of “cyborg” technology will serve as a proof-of-concept for technology that “will allow us to extend our senses in unimaginable ways.” The technology in his head is able to receive wifi and bluetooth signals as well, potentially allowing for wireless transmissions between individuals and smartphones. Read more…


There Are An Insane Amount Of Cool Space Things Happening in 2021 (ARS Technica)

With international missions to Mars, new developments from SpaceX, new rockets, moon probes, and the James Webb Space Telescope’s imminent launch, 2021 might be one of the most exciting years for spacefaring yet seen. The United Arab Emirates are even planning to launch a probe in February, headed for orbit around Mars to study weather patterns. The same month, we might see the launch of China’s Tianwen-1 probe, which, if successful, would make China only the second nation to soft-land a probe on the surface of the planet. And NASA’s latest rover, Mars Perseverance, is also scheduled for February 2021. Later in the year, the James Webb Space Telescope, hotly anticipated successor to the aging Hubble Space Telescope, is tentatively slated for an October launch. That could make for an exciting end to 2021 as the first images are revealed, capping off an exciting year for space exploration. Read more…


SOM “Evokes the Majesty Of the Original Penn Station" With Daniel Patrick Moynihan Train Hall in New York (Dezeen)

In 1963, New York City’s original Pennsylvania Station, a massive, city-block-spanning train station built in 1910, was demolished to make way for today’s Madison Square Garden complex. The destruction of the Beaux-Arts masterpiece ignited a public outcry, which contributed greatly to the modern-day historic preservation movement in the United States. Nearly 60 years later, the opening of the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Train Hall, a renovation of the James A Farley Post Office across the street from the original Penn Station, is bringing some of the Penn Station magic back to New York City. The station’s soaring atrium, built to evoke Penn’s 1910 design, is a far cry from the dismal and dirty underground tunnels that have carried pedestrian and train traffic since its loss. "By connecting to our architectural past through the adaptive reuse of the Farley Post Office building, we are breathing new life into New York, and recreating an experience no one has had here in decades." Read more…


A $100,000 Bill? The Story Behind Large-Denomination Currency (Mental Floss)

You may have heard about the US money printed in $500, $1000, $5000, and $10,000 denominations — and maybe you’ve seen a souvenir shop recreation or two. But these bills really existed, and they hark back to a time before money was mostly stored in the electronic ether. In 1928, the US Treasury issued the notes for the purpose of settling transactions between banks quickly and easily. There was even a $100,000 bill printed in 1934 and 1935, exclusively for the Federal Reserve. Eventually, though, wire transactions and other accounting methods meant that carrying and exchanging physical money posed too great a risk. And yes, there are still some of these high-roller bills out there on the market — although you might not want to drop one at the CVS. They can go for much more than their face value at collectors’ auctions. Read more…

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See you next week!
            - Greg
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