Malcolm Gladwell on spaghetti sauce | Video on TED.com.
Malcolm Gladwell searches for the counterintuitive in what we all take to be the mundane: cookies, sneakers, pasta sauce. A New Yorker staff writer since 1996, he visits obscure laboratories and infomercial set kitchens as often as the hangouts of freelance cool-hunters — a sort of pop-R&D gumshoe — and for that has become a star lecturer and bestselling author.
Sparkling with curiosity, undaunted by difficult research (yet an eloquent, accessible writer), his work uncovers truths hidden in strange data. His always-delightful blog tackles topics from serial killers to steroids in sports, while provocative recent work in the New Yorker sheds new light on the Flynn effect — the decades-spanning rise in I.Q. scores.
Gladwell has written four books. The Tipping Point, which began as a New Yorker piece, applies the principles of epidemiology to crime (and sneaker sales), while Blink examines the unconscious processes that allow the mind to “thin slice” reality — and make decisions in the blink of an eye. His third book, Outliers, questions the inevitabilities of success and identifies the relation of success to nature versus nurture. The newest work, What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures, is an anthology of his New Yorker contributions.
He says: “There is more going on beneath the surface than we think, and more going on in little, finite moments of time than we would guess.”
- Are You an Outlier? (jworqprojeqs.com)
Less than 10% of plastic trash is recycled — compared to almost 90% of metals — because of the massively complicated problem of finding and sorting the different kinds. Frustrated by this waste, Mike Biddle has developed a cheap and incredibly energy efficient plant that can, and does, recycle any kind of plastic.
via Mike Biddle: We can recycle plastic | Video on TED.com.
Throwing water bottles into the recycling bin doesn’t begin to address the massive quantity of postconsumer plastic that ends up in landfills and the ocean. Because it’s so difficult to separate the various kinds of plastics – up to 20 kinds per product – that make up our computers, cell phones, cars and home appliances, only a small fraction of plastics from complex waste streams are recycled, while the rest is tossed. In 1992, Mike Biddle, a plastics engineer, set out to find a solution. He set up a lab in his garage in Pittsburg, California, and began experimenting with complex-plastics recycling, borrowing ideas from such industries as mining and grain processing.
Since then, Biddle has developed a patented 30-step plastics recycling system that includes magnetically extracting metals, shredding the plastics, sorting them by polymer type and producing graded pellets to be reused in industry – a process that takes less than a tenth of the energy required to make virgin plastic from crude oil. Today, the company he cofounded, MBA Polymers, has plants in China and Austria, and plans to build more in Europe, where electronics-waste regulation (which doesn’t yet have an equivalent in the US) already ensures a stream of materials to exploit – a process Biddle calls “above-ground mining.”
He says: “I consider myself an environmentalist. I hate to see plastics wasted. I hate to see any natural resource – even human time – wasted.”
“Biddle’s company ventures into lands where few recyclers — who stick to the safer world of steel and aluminum — dare to tread.” myhero.com