MORE must cost less. In his new book Zero to One, entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel observes that the dream of globalisation – expanding the affluent consumption habits of the western middle class to more and more of the world – demands we also commit to radical technological innovation in order to reduce that lifestyle’s environmental cost. Continue reading
Tag Archives: X prize
Farewell to the pound coin’s familiar golden nugget design. Here comes the dough-decagon in its stead. The new 12-sided quid, modelled after the old threepenny bit, got plenty of attention this week. But the most interesting part of the design is what was left out. The flipside of the coin will be opened to a public design competition. Continue reading
WHO wants to help me build an airship? The reputation of the free market has a score to settle. Let me explain: blimps, zeppelins, dirigibles – whatever you call them, these stately giants of the sky, grounded since the 1940s, have never lost their hold on our imagination. From Pixar’s Up to the Final Fantasy video games, even if they no longer drift through our skies, they haunt our dreams.
Today, these wonderful machines have a chance to make a comeback, with commercial applications ranging from military surveillance to pipeline-free shipment of natural gas, to the tourism pioneered before the Second World War. But while there are technical hurdles to cross, the real roadblock is the cultural memory of a series of disastrous crashes, most famously that of the Hindenburg. Yet our memory gets the culprit wrong. The early airships were damned not by the limits of their technology, but socialist interference. Continue reading
It has been a week of crushing victories for the internet. It continues to claim victims among retail firms blindsided by the web’s 24/7 stores, with their limitless inventories and weightless products. With thousands of jobs on the line, and hundreds of shops at risk of closure, it would be easy to see the change as a bad thing. Continue reading
IT TOOK less than one human lifespan, just 66 years, for humankind to go from our first powered flight to landing a man on the moon. But in the last decade we’ve given up on supersonic flight and grounded the space shuttle forever. There are no jetpacks zipping across the City skyline. Whatever happened to the future we were promised? Continue reading