We must go back to the moon, and this time to stay

There’s a famous advert everyone who has ever worked in advertising has to study. Here’s a copy of it:

It was used to sell a distance learning piano course, and it’s hailed as one of the greatest adverts of all time.

It speaks to the desire we have to prove ourselves against those who would look down on us. To prove that we are worth more than those people’s opinions. And to elevate ourselves in the eyes of our peers.

The reason so many people are scared to try new things is not because they might fail, but because other people might see them fail.

They don’t want to be humiliated. So the desire to turn that ridicule into admiration is a universal one, and that’s why the advert works so well.

Now to get back on track, that’s exactly what has been happening in the market for (don’t laugh) electric buses.

As Bloomberg reports:

Electric buses were seen as a joke at an industry conference in Belgium seven years ago when the Chinese manufacturer BYD Co. showed an early model.

“Everyone was laughing at BYD for making a toy,” recalled Isbrand Ho, the Shenzhen-based company’s managing director in Europe. “And look now. Everyone has one.”

Suddenly, buses with battery-powered motors are a serious matter with the potential to revolutionize city transport—and add to the forces reshaping the energy industry. With China leading the way, making the traditional smog-belching diesel behemoth run on electricity is starting to eat away at fossil fuel demand.

In fact, the market for electric buses has got so big it’s having a real effect on oil demand.

The Bloomberg article continues (emphasis mine):

The numbers are staggering. China had about 99 percent of the 385,000 electric buses on the roads worldwide in 2017, accounting for 17 percent of the country’s entire fleet. Every five weeks, Chinese cities add 9,500 of the zero-emissions transporters—the equivalent of London’s entire working fleet, according Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

It goes on to say that these electric buses are reducing oil demand by 233,000 barrels a day. A day! When you add in the oil saved by electric cars and light trucks that rises to 277,000 a day.

That’s the equivalent of about 7.5% of Shell’s daily production.

It is a massive amount. And the vast majority of it is from electric buses. Electric car stores may grab most of the headlines, but it seems it’s buses that are leading the way.

“We must go back to the moon, and this time to stay.”

That is what Amazon’s founder, and richest person in the world, Jeff Bezos said on Friday.

Elon Musk may have desires on Mars, but Bezos believes the moon is even more important.

As The Wall Street Journal reports:

In a personal, wide-ranging talk at a space conference here Friday, Mr. Bezos laid out his vision for lunar exploration and eventual settlement. Depicting such efforts as a matter of long-term human survival, he said: “This is not something that we may choose to do; this is something we must do.”

Mr. Bezos called the efforts of his rocket company, Blue Origin LLC, “the most important work I am doing.”

But Bezos doesn’t see his moon settlement plans as competition to Musk’s Mars missions. Rather, he sees moon exploration as an essential step towards one day settling on Mars.

He says that if we just go to Mars without settlements along the way, “there would be a ticker-tape parade and then 50 years of nothing.”

He wants space exploration to be about sustainable exploration, not just ticking off a box. And he thinks settlements along the way are the best way to achieve this.

So I would guess we’ll be seeing some big things from Bezos’ Blue Origin LLC rocket company in the next couple of years.

Scientists discover how to create carbon nanotubes out of thin air

Carbon nanotubes are one of a new breed of super materials.

They are stronger than steel, more conductive than copper and superlight. The problem is, they are also very expensive to make.

However, researchers at Vanderbilt University have discovered a way to create them out of thin air. Actually, it’s even better than that because their method sucks C02 out of the air in order to make these carbon nanotubes.

So not only have they created a much cheaper way to make this super material, but their method literally eats up pollution.

Here’s how Vanderbilt University reports the discovery:

Imagine a box you plug into the wall that cleans your toxic air and pays you cash.

That’s essentially what Vanderbilt University researchers produced after discovering the blueprint for turning the carbon dioxide into the most valuable material ever sold – carbon nanotubes with small diameters.

“One of the most exciting things about what we’ve done is use electrochemistry to pull apart carbon dioxide into elemental constituents of carbon and oxygen and stitch together, with nanometer precision, those carbon atoms into new forms of matter,” Pint said. “That opens the door to being able to generate really valuable products with carbon nanotubes.

“These could revolutionize the world.”

And here’s the scientists’ full report on the discovery, if you want to read it.

The article also mentions the scientists involved have created a company focused on commercialising this process.

The company is called SkyNano LLC.

SkyNano LLC first started posting news articles in mid-2017. So I guess they must have known they were on to something well before the above report was published.

WhatsApp founder to leave Facebook over privacy concerns

It seems even WhatsApp can’t withstand the pressure of Facebook forever.

Its founder is set to leave WhatsApp and step down from the board at Facebook over Facebook’s privacy policies.

As The Washington Post reports:

The billionaire chief executive of WhatsApp, Jan Koum, is planning to leave the company after clashing with its parent, Facebook, over the popular messaging service’s strategy and Facebook’s attempts to use its personal data and weaken its encryption, according to people familiar with internal discussions.

Koum, who sold WhatsApp to Facebook for more than $19 billion in 2014, also plans to step down from Facebook’s board of directors, according to these people. The date of his departure isn’t known.

WhatsApp always prided itself on not selling out its users data or infringing its users’ privacy. But when you are owned by a company whose business model is to sell users private data, you can only withstand that pressure for so long.

The article continues:

“Part of Facebook’s success has been to digest acquisitions, successfully monetize them, and integrate them into their advertising machine,” said Daniel Ives, chief strategy officer and head of technology research for research firm GBH Insights. But WhatsApp has been more challenging because of resistance from the founders, he said. “This was a massive culture clash.”

It’s worth reading the whole thing for yourself, if you’re interested.

It really shows the story of how someone with a real vision and product that fulfilled that vision was slowly ground down by the Facebook machine.

And it’s a great example of what I wrote about last week in my how to achieve happiness essay.

Until next time,

Harry Hamburg
Editor, Exponential Investor 

Category: Technology

From time to time we may tell you about regulated products issued by Southbank Investment Research Limited. With these products your capital is at risk. You can lose some or all of your investment, so never risk more than you can afford to lose. Seek independent advice if you are unsure of the suitability of any investment. Southbank Investment Research Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. FCA No 706697. https://register.fca.org.uk/.

© 2019 Southbank Investment Research Ltd. Registered in England and Wales No 9539630. VAT No GB629 7287 94.
Registered Office: 2nd Floor, Crowne House, 56-58 Southwark Street, London, SE1 1UN.

Terms and conditions | Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy | FAQ | Contact Us | Top ↑