Boring truths

In the 1980 science book Cosmos, Carl Sagan wrote about how a newspaper asked an astronomer to write a five hundred word article on whether there was life on Mars. The astronomer dutifully replied through telegram: “NOBODY KNOWS”, repeated two hundred and fifty times. It was the most honest answer possible, but people wanted answers nonetheless, […]

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Mapping values

The first commercial computer sold in the United States was the UNIVAC in 1951. Supplied with 125 kilowatt, it could do 1,905 operations per second, which translated into 0.015 operations per watt-second. That last metric wasn’t very important for the UNIVAC, since power wasn’t a bottleneck as much as performance or weight was. With 5,000 […]

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Turning your logo upside down for equality

Yesterday, plenty of brands jumped onto the International Women’s Day bandwagon, and among the worst I’ve seen are McDonald’s, which turned it’s golden arches upside down, and BrewDog, which released a pink label for their beer. If only equality was that easy. While these are extremely superficial attempts to grab some retweets and likes, they […]

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Climbing the pyramid: Advertising in a richer world

Apart from a few (looking at you, CO2-levels), all statistic show an insane progress in the world. Extreme poverty fell from 37% in 1990 and is well under 10% now; illiteracy fell from 65% in 1950 to just 15% now; and average life expectancy upon birth went up from 31 years in 1900 to 71.5 […]

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Three simple suggestions to make Dutch train travel even better

Dutch train travel is fantastic. It’s affordable, pretty much always on time (despite what the naysayers say), and it has nearly four hundred stations in our tiny country. Here are just three simple suggestions that can make it even better. 1) Make the screens of entrance gates flicker when you swipe your card During rush hour, […]

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To balance a brand

Nowadays every generic brand video wants to remind us that ‘we live in times of change’, and startups love to tell us about Moore’s law and exponential growth, and how the smartphones we have now are a million times more powerful than NASA’s computers with which it landed Apollo 11 on the moon in 1969, […]

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Trees of Shanghai

Two out of three trees in Shanghai are London plane trees. City planners call it a super tree. Its secret is its peculiar camouflage-patterned bark, which peals off in quick succession, allowing the tree to ‘clean’ itself from pollutions. As a result, it has a high tolerance to pests and diseases, and captures smog and carbon […]

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Replacement versus imitator

Next March in the Netherlands, there’s an offline and online event called ‘The National Week Without Meat’, with 43 brands participating. Most of those brands produce or sell meat substitutes, and aim to sell those through the week-long PR machine. The most visible absentee is the brand ‘De Vegetarische Slager’ (‘The Vegetarian Butcher’), yet it […]

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Double diffusers and bamboo toothbrushes

At the end of 2008, the regulations of Formula One were overhauled to simplify cars — especially the aerodynamics — to reduce costs and aerodynamic grip. Less grip would result in lower cornering speeds and improve overtaking. These new regulations included a component called the diffuser. This device sits at the rear of the car and produces […]

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Turing Tests

As an individual, we’re never certain whether others have thoughts and inner workings like our own, simply because we can never look into someone else’s mind. The most we can do is to figure that if others have normal human interactions, they’re probably conscious like ourselves. Alan Turing proposed that we test computers the same […]

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