by Tom Bosschaert

Dec. 1, 2014

Tom Bosschaert

Trends that will define life on our planet for decades, storing energy in molten aluminium lakes, and linking Brazilian kids to American elderly. Read all about it in this Wormfood.

Global News: Trends that define our era

  • These global trends will define the world for decades. Among the main themes are the shifts in emerging markets, the ravages left on European society from the continent's catastrophic economic downturn, and new security challenges regarding water and safe computer access.

  • Is sharing good for the environment? Not necessarily, according to this research.

  • Newly defined global rules should prevent banks that are "too big to fail" from being bailed out by taxpayers. The rules, created by the Financial Stability Board (FSB), would require big banks to hold much more money against losses.

  • Download NASA’s eyes and explore our galaxy.

Energy & Environment: Storing power in aluminium lakes

  • Molten aluminum lakes offer power storage for German wind farms. By varying the rate at which the metal is produced, the plant will be able to adjust the power consumption of the 290-megawatt smelter up and down by about 25 percent.

  • Deforestation in the Amazon rain forest dropped 18% over the past 12 months, according to the Brazilian Environment Minister. This while In 2012 the government eased restrictions on landowners, weakening legal protection for the rainforest. A spokesman for the World Wide Fund for Nature said that alternative satellite monitoring systems, not used by the government, in fact suggested an increase in the rate of forest destruction for a second year running.

Business & Economy: Breaking up Google

  • The European Parliament has passed a historic vote to break up US tech giant Google. There's no specific mention of Google in the vote, but the decision makes it clear that the EU is unhappy with its search engine's dominance. Google has been the subject of a four-year antitrust investigation in Europe, which still hasn't reached a conclusion.

  • Alibaba, China’s biggest online retailer, is capitalising on the country’s annual Singles’ Day, when singletons treat themselves with presents. An incredible $1 billion (€800 million) of goods was sold in just 20 minutes as sales started, according to the website.

  • Rich countries are subsidising oil, gas and coal companies by about $88bn (€70bn) a year to explore for new reserves, despite evidence that most fossil fuels must be left in the ground if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change.

Science, Technology & Design: Important graphene discovery

  • Researchers have discovered that graphene allows positively charged hydrogen atoms or protons to pass through it despite being completely impermeable to all other gases, including hydrogen itself. The implications of the discovery are immense as it could dramatically increase the efficiency of fuel cells, which generate electricity directly from hydrogen, the scientists said.

  • Global design consultancy IDEO has developed a series of concept vehicles that imagine how autonomous vehicles could transform the way we work, shop and travel.

  • If asteroids are mined, the raw materials could provide the air, water, fuel and other consumables required to support permanent settlements in space.

Urban Environment: Speaking English to elderly

  • FCB Brazil's "Speaking Exchange" project for CNA language schools pairs young Brazilians with men and women living in a Chicago retirement home. "It’s a great chance for students to practice English and meet people with lots of stories to tell, as well as an excellent activity so that the elderly feel active and make new friendships."

  • “We don’t expect the car to survive in the city”, according to designer Alejandro Zaera-Polo. Her firm designed a city consisting of interconnected public squares and plant-covered skyscrapers.

  • Using insights from neuroscience to make better maps.

  • India has set up a ministry to promote alternative therapies such as yoga and traditional ayurveda medicine, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarks on a mission to raise awareness and the appeal of home-grown health treatments. Modi has repeatedly called for greater use of India's health remedies and exercises, part of a push to promote traditional learning.

Unexpected and Intriguing: Hacking the Ku Klux Klan

  • Anonymous takes over Ku Klux Klan's Twitter account.

  • To raise awareness on the US drone war, an artist started stamping drones on cash.

  • When an aeroplane in West Siberia didn’t start, the passengers got out and gave it a push. Videos of the incident were posted online, with in one a passenger can be heard saying that "several things make a real man’s life worth living: Writing a book, planting a tree, or at least bracing one’s muscles to help an immobilised passenger plane take to the skies."

  • A German town where right-wing extremist hold a yearly march protested in a very special way. For every meter the neo-Nazis walked, local businesses and residents donated $12.50 to a nongovernmental organization devoted to making it easier for neo-Nazis to leave behind their hateful politics.

If you come across news items suited for the Wormfood, or a theme you would like to see a newsletter being dedicated to, please let me know and we'll do our best to make some magic happen.

Dec. 1, 2014