June 16, 2016

Racked - A Lab-Grown Diamond Is Forever 5-15min

American Grown, which has exclusive rights to buy diamonds from several undisclosed labs in the US, started selling synthetics (a scientific term loathed by the lab-grown industry, but routinely used in the greater jewelry world) a little over three years ago and now wholesales stones to some 250 stores around the country. ... Though lab-growns have been around for a while, it was only recently that the science of creating colorless, nearly flawless diamonds was finally perfected. ... With technology advancing, and with younger shoppers drawn to synthetic options, the question of whether or not lab-grown diamonds will invade the market is now a matter of when, not if. ... the stones first gained commercial popularity in India, where diamond trading began as early as the 4th century BC. During the Middle Ages, caravans that unearthed diamonds in India's rivers traded them with Western Europe, where they became coveted by the upper class. The world's diamond capital moved from India to Brazil in the 1700s, and then to South Africa, when a giant diamond mine was discovered in the city of Kimberley in 1866. In 1888, British businessman Cecil Rhodes established his mining company, De Beers, in the country, and effectively founded the diamond industry as we now know it. ... A century before this, however, scientists began their quest to make diamonds in a lab. Ignited by Antoine Lavoisier's discovery that diamonds were merely a crystalline form of carbon, the result of pressure deep within the earth, in the late 1700s, little progress was made for nearly 200 years. ... Then came General Electric. Physical chemist H.Tracy Hall joined its "Project Superpressure," and in 1954, after nearly four years of synthetic diamond experimentation, Hall lead his team to a breakthrough. They were able to create small diamonds after heating carbon to 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit and applying extreme pressure with a heavy hydraulic press — a method referred to as high pressure and temperature, or HPHT.

Fortune - Hormel Finds A New Recipe For Success 5-15min

Hormel’s best-known product is Spam. It’s easy to joke about a company built on meat that comes in a can, but it turns out that Hormel is having the last laugh. ... The growth has been fueled by a flood of new products: everything from peanut-butter snacks to single-serve turkey sticks to a food-service burger made with chicken, quinoa, and, yes, kale. All were developed in Austin—proof that innovation is defined by people, not zip codes. ... But Hormel’s success is also a story of acquisition and the persistent colonization of new food worlds. In the past five years, the old-school meat producer has paid more than $2.3 billion to acquire a portfolio of brands that sell organic food, ethnic food, and health(ier) food. They include Wholly Guacamole, Muscle Milk, Skippy peanut butter, and Applegate Farms. In May it agreed to buy Justin’s, the ultrahip nut-butter company, for $286 million. ... as companies invest in the eating habits of the emerging America—one that is more diverse, more pressed for time, and more concerned about ingredients and the ethics of food production. By that narrative, it’s not that Hormel has a better recipe than its peers. But it may have better cooks.

Popular Science - Welcome to Drone-Kota 5-15min

In the booming economy of drone technology, North Dakota has been an early and enthusiastic adopter. The Federal Aviation Administration chose it as one of six official drone test sites, and the entire state permits unmanned flights at night and at altitudes of 1,200 feet (as opposed to daylight and up to 200 feet, as per the rest of the nation). The U.S. Air Force, Air National Guard, and border patrol all pilot drones from Grand Forks Air Force Base. Adjacent to that, Northrup Grumman is building a facility as the anchor tenant at the Grand Sky unmanned aerial systems business and aviation park—the nation’s first. And the University of North Dakota launched the nation’s first undergraduate program in drone piloting in 2009. ... as oil prices plummet and production drops off, North Dakota sees drones as its chance to develop a bust-proof tech sector. ... This flat state’s chief selling point as a nascent drone industry, though, might not be what it has, but what it lacks: There are fewer people and things to collide with should your craft, as one airman put it, “come into contact with the ground.”

The Hollywood Reporter - Bill Simmons Breaks Free: His "F—ing Shitty" ESPN Exit, Who Courted Him and Details of His HBO Show 5-15min

What he offers — a combination of cross-disciplinary skills, a fiercely loyal fan base and a proven knack for attracting top-level talent — makes him a hugely valuable commodity in the digital age. With his head still spinning, he took calls, meetings and meals. ... None of the proposals was as appealing as HBO's, however. The premium cable network would offer him not only a weekly 10 p.m. talk show but also an opportunity to create or consult on other programming for the network and its digital offshoot, HBO Now. ... Additionally, HBO — which, two sources say, is paying him between $7 million and $9 million a year, a nice boost from the $5 million he made at ESPN — would agree to be a minority investor in the Bill Simmons Media Group, home to a burgeoning podcast network and media site The Ringer, which launched June 1 with many of the same bylines that propelled Grantland before it was shuttered by ESPN in October. ... For the time being, Simmons has taken no other outside investment, using what insiders describe as seven-figure revenue generated primarily by sponsorship and branding deals to help fund The Ringer side of the enterprise. ...

The New York Times - Mecca Goes Mega < 5min

Last year, three million came for the hajj, a pilgrimage in the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar that is considered obligatory for every Muslim who can afford it; five million more came for the umrah, a minor pilgrimage that can be made for much of the year. And millions of Saudi citizens routinely pass through Mecca’s sacred sites as tourists. ... It is a transformation that has been underway since the late 1970s, when the wealth generated by the oil boom led Saudi monarchs to devise an ambitious plan to replace earlier Ottoman structures and to expand the Grand Mosque and its surroundings with Arab-style architecture. At a projected cost of $26.6 billion, the Saudi Binladen Group has led the efforts to increase the capacity of the Grand Mosque ... Throughout the history of Islam, no other ruler built in such proximity to the Kaaba; certainly none built anything to dwarf it. In luxury hotels like the Fairmont Makkah Clock Royal Tower and the Raffles Makkah Palace, views of the holiest site of Islam are marketed as the “Haram view” and “Kaaba view,” and a standard room can run anywhere from $1,500 to $2,700 a night during the hajj.