Plastic from Plants + Microplastic Pollution + WWC

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Engineered microbe may be key to producing plastic from plants: Phys.org reports, with a few genetic tweaks, a type of soil bacteria with an appetite for hydrocarbons shows promise as a biological factory for converting a renewable—but frustratingly untapped—bounty into a replacement for ubiquitous plastics. Bioengineers in Japan have used PDC to make a variety of materials that would be useful for consumer products.

Microplastic pollution has contaminated American groundwater, the lakes, and rivers of the UK, the coast of Spain, the beaches of Singapore and the Yangtze River in China, studies from around the world have shown. While the health effects of the tiny plastic particles on humans are still undetermined, they have been shown to harm marine life – and to have been consumed by people in Europe, Japan, and Russia.

New York City school menus go meatless on Mondays: WSJ reports, the NYC mayor says the policy will improve the health of children and the planet; food trade group says the move will limit low-income youngsters’ access to protein.

The nation’s largest school district follows others, such as Los Angeles, in offering only vegetarian dishes on Mondays, saying the move will help the environment by cutting greenhouse gases. 

Women finally get their own World Cup soccer style: NYT reports, for decades, women’s uniforms were just derivations of men’s. Now, taking specific design cues, like ponytail-friendly necklines, comes the good stuff

Nike revealed the new home and away uniforms for 14 out of 24 competing teams, and for the first time since the brand began working with the WWC tournament in 1995, each one of them was made specifically for the women’s teams, not as derivations or extensions of kits made for men.

Did you know? SpaceX + Human Stem Cells

SpaceX rocket with an unmanned crew capsule blasted off on Saturday for the International Space Station, in a key milestone for Elon Musk’s space company and NASA’s long-delayed goal to resume human spaceflight from US soil later this year.

Japan okays research using human cells in animals: AFP reports, Japan has given the green light to a controversial research process involving implanting animals with human stem cells that could eventually help grow human organs for transplant inside animal hosts.

Did you know? MBA Myth + Polymaths + Dopamine + NFL

Dan Rasmussen + Haonan Li: The MBA myth and the cult of the CEO: Three decades ago, an influential Harvard Business School professor made the argument that CEO pay should be tied to stock performance. Was he horribly wrong? http://bit.ly/2T8iSkG

"What if the “best and brightest” — those executives with the most dazzling CVs and track records — don’t perform any better than less credentialed executives?"

The Times: Polymaths wanted at London Interdisciplinary School, Britain’s first new university in 40 years

LIS is building a new university that prepares students to tackle the most important and complex problems.

For those who want to shape the world, not just fit in.


Dopamine: Beyond the rush of a reward: The neurotransmitter famously provides the thrill we get from a surprise, a phenomenon known as reward prediction error. But growing evidence suggests the chemical also tracks movement, novelty and other neurobiological factors. http://bit.ly/2T79o9i

The NFL is drafting quarterbacks all wrong: No franchise or GM has shown the ability to beat the draft over time, and economists Cade Massey and Richard Thaler have convincingly shown that the league’s lack of consistent draft success is likely due to overconfidence rather than an efficient market. https://53eig.ht/2TbPyKs

Email message I received from Google: "March 1–2 is National Day of Unplugging. So unwind and take a break from the screen. When you return, check out these apps that boost digital wellbeing."

David Welch + Keith Naughton: This is what peak car looks like: The automobile—once both a badge of success and the most convenient conveyance between points A and B—is falling out of favor in cities around the world as ride-hailing and other new transportation options proliferate and concerns over gridlock and pollution spark a reevaluation of privately owned wheels. Auto sales in the U.S., after four record or near-record years, are declining this year, and analysts say they may never again reach those heights. Worldwide, residents are migrating to megacities—expected to be home to two-thirds of the global population by midcentury—where an automobile can be an expensive inconvenience.

-Marc A. Ross

Did you know? Single-use bottles + Robots + Venice

Glastonbury festival bans sale of single-use bottles: The Glastonbury festival will ban the sale of single-use plastic bottles this year, it said yesterday. Plastic bottles will not be supplied backstage, in dressing rooms or to production and catering staff, according to its website.

US companies put record number of robots to work in 2018: Reuters reports, US companies installed more robots last year than ever before, as cheaper and more flexible machines put them within reach of businesses of all sizes and in more corners of the economy beyond their traditional foothold in car plants.

Venice imposes entry fee for day-trippers: DW reports, from May, millions of day trippers to Italy's ancient, lagoon city will have to pay an entry fee. The price is set to double in 2020 and be used to keep the ancient islands clean.

There are 25 million visitors to the city of Venice in northern Italy each year. Of these about 14 million stay just for a day, and often bring their own picnics. 

Did you know? Four-day week + Designers

Four-day week: Trial finds lower stress and increased productivity: Guardian reports, the study of pilot at New Zealand firm finds staff were happier and 20% more productive.

Designers in demand like never before: In 2012, IBM employed one designer for every 72 engineers. Today, IBM has eight engineers to every designer, and that ratio goes to 3:1 on mobile.

Did you know? Under the Sea + Pitch Decks + Sleepmore + K-beauty

The ocean is the new farm: Farms under the sea could feed the world in 2050 (video): http://bit.ly/2SQzde0

30 legendary startup pitch deckshttp://bit.ly/2SMNA2C

Stomach-churning challenges: Greenhouse gas emissions from livestock are presenting the food industry with many challenges. Here’s one: gassy cows. “Burping cows are more damaging to the climate than all the cars on this planet,” Barclays said in a report.

Sleepmore in Seattle: A study in Seattle shows the power of starting the day later. The study is already having an impact. School boards in Orlando and Philadelphia are already looking at this example to see if it should make similar changes. In France, backed by advocates pushing the study’s findings, Parisian teenagers will be allowed an extra hour’s sleep before school in a move to improve their health. 

South Korea’s cosmetics industry takes aim at the super young: WP reports, the effort by the industry — known as K-beauty — to reach out to girls as young as 4 is stirring concerns that touch on many core social debates in South Korea, a country that is famous for its exacting beauty norms and has one of the highest rates of plastic surgery in the world.

Did you know? Hyperloop + High Street + Middle Class + eSports

A real tube carrying dreams of 600-MPH transit: NYT reports, Virgin Hyperloop One is testing a system that would put passengers in pods hurtling through vacuum tubes. Other companies are moving ahead with similar plans.

High street ‘not dead’ and could be industry hub, says report: FT reports, Britain’s high street “is not dead” and struggling town and city centres could be transformed by becoming industry hubs instead of places to shop, according to new research refuting claims that a crisis in bricks-and-mortar retail is killing then off. The Centre for Cities, an independent think-tank, said on Tuesday that local councils should shift town centre economies away from an “overreliance on retail” towards high-skilled industry, and said the belief that high streets were “dying” was misplaced.

The shrinking middle class: By the numbers: Fortune reports, the American middle-class ideal was forged in the decades after World War II, when economic growth and wage increases climbed in lockstep for nearly 30 years. That pairing dissolved abruptly in the 1970s. Between 1973 and 2017, according to the Economic Policy Institute, the productivity of the economy grew 77%—but average compensation rose only 12.4%, adjusted for inflation. This divergence coincided with a shift in economic gravity, away from manufacturing and toward services and “knowledge industries.” That shift weakened the labor unions that had helped rank-and-file workers in many professions claim a bigger share of the bounty. Just as important were tax reforms that favored investment and real estate earnings over wage income. The upshot: an economic order in which the capital-owning class enjoys great advantages—and the costs of admission to and the exclusion from that class grow ever higher.

eSports revenue: Global revenue from eSports is expected to reach a record $1.1B this year, topping $1B for the first time, up 27% from 2018 driven by advertising, sponsorship and media rights, according to a just-released report from industry research and consulting firm NewZoo.

Did you know?

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Wellbeing and noise concerns fuel "accelerating" trend for healthier office furniture: Soundproof pods, saddle-shaped chairs, adjustable-height desks, and wobble boards were in abundance at Stockholm Furniture Fair last week, as privacy and wellbeing become essential aspects of office furniture design.

Pricing algorithms can learn to collude with each other to raise prices: If you shop on Amazon, an algorithm rather than a human probably set the price of the service or item you bought. Pricing algorithms have become ubiquitous in online retail as automated systems have grown increasingly affordable and easy to implement

NASA wants to get to the moon ‘as fast as possible.’ But countries like China and India are racing there, too.: WP reports, like the Cold War space race, the new lunar activity is fueled by national pride and a quest for scientific discovery. But this new Space Age also features a third factor: Greed.

End of fast fashion? Millennials are increasingly buying clothing that's characterized by durability and utility. This has led to a surge of interest in brands like The North Face and Patagonia.

Did you know?

Think big, work small: A new study finds that small teams of researchers do more innovative work than large teams do. The new research, published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, is the latest contribution from an emerging branch of work known as the science of science — the study of how, when and through whom knowledge advances.

Exercise may help to fend off depression: Jogging for 15 minutes a day, or walking or gardening for somewhat longer, could help protect people against developing depression.

Did you know? Household credit + Esports + Germans on the road

Household credit: An average household now has three credit cards.

Esports: Global esports revenues will grow 38 percent to $906 million in 2018 and further grow to $1.65 billion by 2021. North America will account for 38 percent of the 2018 revenue, or $345 million, while China will be 18 percent, or $164 million.

Esports will continue to be smaller in revenues than traditional sports, but it is rapidly gaining in terms of numbers of spectators.

Germans on the road:

German travel industry had a record year in 2018. 

Three in five of Germans traveled last year. 

Thirty-four percent of Germans spent their holidays in Germany in 2018.

Spain was No. 1 destination.