"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

The Age of Average (Alex Murrell)

We live in modernist apartment blocks, drive featureless cars compared to those of the past, visit wood-and-brick coffee shops, and watch movies with much the same plots and themes. Is the world becoming impossibly bland? And, if it is, what are we doing to encourage this pervading sameness? It could be that the economic imperative to continually optimize has hit a tipping point, or that design now must meet the taste of a global consumer base. The good news, however, might be that this era of relative conformity might be setting the stage for an explosion of creativity and style — but only if we want it. Read more…

Black Boxes Are Key to Solving Plane Crashes. So Why Do We Still Have Unsolved Mysteries? (Afar)

It seems unbelievable in such a connected world that an incident like the loss of Malaysian Airlines flight 370 could occur — especially since we've been unable to locate its final resting place after nine years of searching. Why don’t we have the technology to track a disabled plane in real-time? The answer, like so many things in the airline industry, comes down to a cost-benefit analysis: Planes don’t crash (or disappear) enough to warrant the expense. But since Malaysian 370, there have been proposals to eliminate black boxes entirely in favor of a constant stream of data to orbiting satellites. Read more…

The Unbelievable Zombie Comeback of Analog Computing (Wired)

One of the interesting details of the digital age is that much of the computing technology of the past is essentially useless, apart from learning about the development of computers or recycling past technology into modern digital formats. We don’t hang on to our early Nokia cell phones, no matter how nostalgic they make us feel. So why do analog computers seem to be making an unlikely comeback in recent years? The secret to analog technology is that it uses so little power — large computing systems that require always-on RAM, for example, could store data in an analog format much more efficiently. Read more…

Why Bats Are One of Evolution’s Greatest Puzzles (Smithsonian Magazine)

While plenty of flying creatures live on the Earth, bats are the only mammal species that can power themselves through the air -- and have been doing so for at least 50 million years. Yet scientists have not yet discovered the “missing link” that would explain how and why mammals took to the skies. The forested environments where bat ancestors likely lived don’t lend themselves to fossil formation, so researchers are hoping for a needle-in-the-haystack fossil find. It could tell us a lot about why modern bats behave like they do. Read more…

A West Chelsea Warehouse With a Nuclear Past (Ephemeral New York)

If you’ve ever been to the High Line park in New York City, you may have strolled right past a piece of atomic history. A stretch of warehouses on West 20th Street, once run by a firm called Baker and Williams, was a critical storage facility for over 200,000 pounds of uranium during World War Two. From this urban location, uranium was distributed to laboratories across the country as the Manhattan Project developed the world’s first atomic bomb. It wasn’t until decades later, during the early 1990s, that the government cleared the warehouses of the last of the uranium, removing more than a dozen drums of waste. Read more…

Check out my Writings: "Minding Your Business"
See you next week!
            - Greg
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