March 2, 2017

Fortune - The Hunt for the Perfect Sugar 13min

Whatever their aspirations, people keep right on gorging. Americans now eat a total of 76 pounds in various sugars every year, up 8% from 1970. ... That’s the problem for Big Food: It’s built on the stuff. Some 74% of packaged foods and beverages in the U.S. contain some form of sweetener ... the final factor that is pressing heavily on packaged food companies: the ever-more-ravenous appetite for “natural,” unprocessed products. ... Think of food companies’ plight this way: The finest scientists in industry have spent decades trying to find or invent a no-calorie sweetener that tastes and feels as good as the stuff extracted from pure cane. And now, after they largely failed to master that complex, arduous task, the level of difficulty is being raised even higher: This improbable concoction cannot appear to have been engineered by scientists. ... Most people in the business believe that a “systems approach”—a blending of ingredients rather than a single molecule—is the future of the natural-sweetener industry.

Wired - Keeping Up With The Times 18min

The main goal isn’t simply to maximize revenue from advertising—the strategy that keeps the lights on and the content free at upstarts like the Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, and Vox. It’s to transform the Times’ digital subscriptions into the main engine of a billion-dollar business, one that could pay to put reporters on the ground in 174 countries even if (OK, when) the printing presses stop forever. To hit that mark, the Times is embarking on an ambitious plan inspired by the strategies of Netflix, Spotify, and HBO: invest heavily in a core offering (which, for the Times, is journalism) while continuously adding new online services and features (from personalized fitness advice and interactive newsbots to virtual reality films) so that a subscription becomes indispensable to the lives of its existing subscribers and more attractive to future ones.

IEEE Spectrum - Innovative Direct-Current Microgrids to Solve India’s Power Woes 9min

In the industrialized world, the power grid is so reliable that we take it for granted. But in India, where blackouts are a sad fact of daily life, being connected to the grid is no guarantee of reliable electricity. In a 2015 study of villages in six Indian states [PDF], for example, the vast majority reported having fewer than 4 hours of electricity per day; nearly half of the households that reported having a grid connection nevertheless had effectively no electricity. Chief among the reasons they cited were poor reliability, quality, and affordability. In many parts of the country, even middle-income households still find themselves held hostage to frequent power cuts that can last anywhere from a few hours a day to most of the day. Those who can afford to often install diesel generators, an expensive and polluting option. ... Then, too, roughly a quarter of a billion Indians, or one-fifth of the population, live without access to any electricity at all ... The Indian government has taken a traditional approach to electrification, which focuses on building up generation, transmission, and distribution. But there’s a better way that’s more affordable, more efficient, and much faster and easier to deploy.

Esquire - The Passion of Daniel Humm, the Greatest Chef in America 15min

At forty, he is the head chef and one of the owners of Eleven Madison Park, a restaurant in Manhattan that is celebrated around the world for a casual clockwork opulence. Symbolically, Eleven Madison Park also serves as a sort of Buckingham Palace: the heart and focal point of an aggressively expanding empire. Humm and his business partner, Will Guidara—the two men work so closely that they're always talked about in tandem, like the Glimmer Twins of gastronomy—oversee a renowned restaurant, the NoMad, in the eponymous Manhattan hotel, and a warren of bars and nooks in the same space. They're planning to open a branch of the NoMad in Los Angeles in the coming year, as well as a new fine-dining sanctuary in a luxury tower at 425 Park Avenue. They also intend to roll out a group of fast-casual spots under the rubric Made Nice. To observers who murmur enviously about the duo's seemingly effortless march to power, it can all be a bit much to bear—the money, the air-kissy acclaim, the unsinkable Disney smiles. Theirs is the kind of success that makes mortals smirk.

MEL - Meet the Man Who Wants to Eradicate Hangovers by 2050 6min

“Alcosynth” probably sounds too good to be true: A synthetic form of booze with all the fun parts of alcohol but none of its downsides. A world where a night out ends without a single tearful argument, and where not one person worries about how they’re going to deal with their 8 a.m. meeting because hangovers no longer exist. It’s a utopian ideal that for many is more important — and certainly more relevant — than colonizing Mars. It would be—for the first time in the history of a species that has been consuming alcohol for 10 million years (if you include our ape ancestors)—a night of drinking with no penalty the next day. Though it sounds like a fantasy, it is the actual goal of David Nutt, a British scientist who has been touting the virtues of so-called alcosynths since 2014.