Consumption Week 23

My notes from some of the media I consumed this week.

  • The UK’s solar farms are home to species that have found a haven living in and around ground-mounted photovoltaic panels, new research has shown.
  • About half of solar farms are managed with conservation specifically in mind, such as limiting grazing to only certain times of the year and reducing herbicide use. It’s on these where wildlife can really thrive and benefit from the habitats created.
  • Birds, bees, butterflies, hares - including animals on the UK’s red list of conservation concern.

Tags: Solar, Nature, Wildlife

  • Hydrogen from seawater without desalination.
  • After 10 days of operating in seawater, the scientists said the system still maintained an impressive ion rejection rate of more than 99.99 per cent, producing hydrogen that was at least 99.9 pure.
  • The technology costs as little as 11.2 yuan (US$1.57) per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of hydrogen – much less than the current mainstream cost of hydrogen production from natural gas, which ranges from 20 to 24 yuan per kilogram.

Tags: Hydrogen, Solar

  • Climate change sounds subtle, warm, welcoming, whereas pollution comes with a directly and fully negative connotation — a personal one. Pollution still scares people, including people far from the battle, because we know it means early death, cancer, asthma, heart disease, and more.

Tags: Climate Change, Pollution, Branding

  • Hydrogen is not a greenhouse gas, but its chemical reactions in the atmosphere affect greenhouse gases like methane, ozone, and stratospheric water vapor. Therefore, emissions of hydrogen can lead to increased global warming despite its lack of direct radiative properties.
  • Four main climate impacts are associated with increased hydrogen levels: (1) a longer methane lifetime and hence increased methane abundances, (2) an enhanced production of tropospheric ozone and changes in stratospheric ozone, (3) an increased stratospheric water vapor production, and (4) changes in the production of certain aerosols. The most important reaction driving these impacts is the destruction of hydrogen by OH: H2+OH→H2O+H

Tags: Hydrogen, Climate

  • The team engineered concrete coated with titanium dioxide which produces molecules called reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the presence of sunlight. These are unstable molecules with one or more unpaired electrons, making them highly reactive and capable of breaking down air pollutants, especially volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, and ammonia, rendering them harmless.
  • The team observed levels of nitrogen oxides to drop by 18% over 24 hours. Salts formed in the concrete as a result of the reactions were washed away by rain.

Tags: Pollution, Transport, Concrete, Materials

  • The material is made using 100% organic materials. The main components are sourced from the sea. This includes agar from red algae and fish processing waste. In the UK alone, 172,702 tonnes of fish waste is produced annually from land based processing.
  • Initial testing with prototype material has shown MarinaTex to be as strong as, if not stronger than LDPE at a similar thickness.

Tags: Plastic, Materials, Innovation

  • Maximising shareholder value nearly always ignores negative externalities.
    • Rather than sticking with glass bottles, where they paid for collection and cleaning, Coca-Cola switched to single-use plastic, so the costs can be dumped on society. They also did a study that showed plastic was far worse for the environment, but ignored it.
  • Pledges are worthless.
    • Always read the small print - recyclable “where infrastructure exists”.
    • Cola Cola have pledged three times to use recycled plastic in their packaging. Every time they’ve failed - with zero consequences.
  • A simple solution to recycling collection? Deposit systems. Who is lobbying against them? Cola-Cola!

Tags: Plastic, Materials, Recycling, Greenwashing

  • The banned ads included a television promotion for Petronas, an online ad for Repsol and poster, TV and YouTube ads for Shell. These ads had “omitted material information” by promoting their “green” offers and plans, such as renewable energy and net zero goals, without any mention of their larger polluting operations, and as such were “misleading”, the ASA said.

Tags: Greenwashing, Advertising


Tags: Investing, Stocks, Stock Market


Tags: Housing

  • If a team (is realistic and) doesn’t predict big growth after a small investment (the hockey stick) it doesn’t get funding (or, worse, gets punished for being not optimistic enough). But most predictions fail, resulting in the hairy back - no growth (flat back), only failed projections sticking up (hairs).
  • Big moves/risks usually pay off, so have stretch plans/goals, and fund them well.
  • Don’t only reward the successes, otherwise teams with sandbag or be demotivated.

Tags: Business, Project Management, Growth Strategy

  • A real rags to riches story. He faced an insane amount of obstacles, from natural disasters to war to occupation to nationalisation.
  • Believe anything is possible, be positive.
  • There is plenty of time, but that doesn’t mean you can waste it. Take action.

Tags: Business, Biographies, Inspirational

[Founders] #141 Arnold Schwarzenegger: My Unbelievably True Life Story

  • With enough time and effort you can learn anything.
  • Everything is sales and promotion.
  • Life (and work) should be fun.
  • Keep the big picture in mind - don’t fight for the small things at the risk of the large.
  • Don’t see only problems.
  • There’s plenty of time - everyone has 24 hours a day. It’s all about using the time.

Tags: Biographies, Inspirational, Success


Tags: Regulation, Entrepreneurship, Business, Politics

  • “Satya, in your prepared remarks, you spoke about an increase in verticalisation of Azure. Can we double-click on that a bit more?” Gregg Moskowitz, Mizuho, on the Microsoft April 2023 call

Tags: Language

  • Layered commands: “do A and then B” → more effective than either individually.
  • Eliciting “no” - “do you mind if I xxx or…” → their brain automatically says “no(t)”.
  • Not I’m “just” a blah - be/act proud of what you do.
  • Take little control - e.g. rearrange table.

Tags: Psychology, Persuasion

  • We all know about the Japanese Unit 731, but it seems the US isn’t much better - whilst the Japanese and Nazis did experiments during wartime on PoWs, the US did it on their own citizens during peacetime.

Tags: Medicine, Research, Unethical

  • The team found it kills a range of disease-causing bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as the MRSA superbug, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which causes TB.
  • Existing antibiotics typically target the protein enzymes that assemble the cell wall, and bacteria can alter the shape of these enzymes to evade attack. Clovibactin instead targets a chemical group called a pyrophosphate that is found on not just one, but three different building blocks of cell walls. So, to survive, a bacterium would have to alter all three building blocks.

Tags: Medicine

  • Some very clever material science about wicking, waterproofing, breathability, and odour-control. It does seem that, in general, more expensive gear is better - especially with coats.

Tags: Materials, Clothing

  • Insanely clever. It’s basically magic.

Tags: Transport, Air Travel, Innovation

  • Infinity is insane.
  • 10-adic numbers (base 10): …857142857143 * 7 = 1, …9999999999 = -1, and n^2 = n
  • p(rime)-adic numbers (base of a prime number) avoids n^2 = n

Tags: Maths