TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 12

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Protecting whistleblowers protects national security.

By Mike German at the Brennan Center for Justice

2. Could we treat pain by switching off the region of the brain controlling that feeling?

By the University of Oxford

3. Small businesses are booming in China, and it might save their economy.

By Steven Butler and Ben Halder in Ozy

4. Not so fast: Apps using Apple’s new health technology could require FDA approval. That doesn’t come quick.

By Jonathan M. Gitlin in Ars Technica

5. We might feel better about driving electric cars, but they’re still not good for the environment.

By Bobby Magill in Quartz

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

These Are the Incredible Images a Computer ‘Sees’ When a Person Dances

Check out this creative project built around motion data

A new creative project called as·phyx·i·a has produced stunning visuals by combining computers and choreography.

The project, created by Maria Takeuchi with Frederico Phillips, uses inexpensive sensors to capture motion data, which was then crafted by various computer tools into the incredible images and as well as an experimental film.

as·phyx·i·a’s goal is to combine tech with other fields without many of the common commercial limitations, an idea that’s reflected in the choreography’s “desire to be expressive without bounds,” according to the project’s website.

 

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 11

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Special collaborative courts focus on rehabilitating troubled veterans. They’re working.

By Spencer Michels at PBS Newshour

2. PayPal runs a dead-simple microlending program that helps small businesses grow.

By Michelle Goodman in Entrepreneur

3. To make voters care, a radio station in L.A. picked a prototype non-voter and built their election coverage around him.

By Melody Kramer at Poynter.org

4. Can the mining industry become a responsible, reliable partner for local communities and the environment?

By Andrea Mustain in Kellogg Insight

5. Robert Mugabe is 91 years old. The world should prepare for a succession crisis in Zimbabwe.

By Helia Ighani at the Council on Foreign Relations

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 10

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. How do we convince Americans that justice isn’t for sale — when in 39 states, it is?

By Sue Bell Cobb in Politico

2. It took pressure from customers and investors to make corporations environmentally sustainable. It’s time to do the same for gender equity.

By Marissa Wesely in Stanford Social Innovation Review

3. London’s congestion pricing plan is saving lives.

By Alex Davies in Wired

4. Libraries should be the next great start-up incubators.

By Emily Badger in CityLab

5. Annual replanting has a devastating impact. Could perennial rice be the solution?

By Winifred Bird in Yale Environment 360

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 9

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Take a data dive to see how a ring of suburban poverty is appearing around America’s revived cities.

By Luke Juday at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia

2. Don’t worry about Russia giving up on nuclear cooperation and the International Space Station.

By Lisa Saum-Manning in U.S. News & World Report

3. Scientists reverse-engineered social networks to learn how to fight HIV among homeless youth by word of mouth.

By Jessica Leber in Fast Co.Exist

4. A Pyrenees pipeline could weaken Putin’s grip on European energy.

By Paul Ames in Global Post

5. For developmentally disabled kids, the benefits of organized sports are huge.

By Darrin Steele in Quartz

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Will.i.am Warns of a Future With 3-D Printed Humans

'Humans ā€“ as great as we are ā€“ are pretty irresponsible'

Rapper and entrepreneur Will.i.am warned in a new interview that the world will need “new morals” to deal with the advent of 3-d printed humans.

The Black Eyed Peas founder predicted that the technology will exist within “our lifetime,” in an interview with Denizen magazine, and will push “humanity to have to adhere to new responsibilities.”

“New morals, new laws and new codes are going to have to be implemented,” he said. “Humans – as great as we are – are pretty irresponsible. Ask the planet. Ask the environment.”

3-D printing technology has been used to create human organs in the recent years—a development that Will.i.am says suggests that printing a full human is around the corner.

Will.i.am, once of the Black Eyed Peas, serves as the creative director of a 3-D printing company.

[Denizen]

TIME Science

Songs That Give You the Chills

violins-performing
Getty Images

You can try experimenting with the songs yourself

A good number of scholarly studies have examined the enigmatic ability of music to sometimes induce ‘The Chills’ in humans. See, for example : ‘Musical Piloerection’ (by Björn Vickhoff, PhD, Rickard Åström, MFA, Töres Theorell, MD, PhD, Bo von Schéele, PhD, and Michael Nilsson, MD, PhD) in Music and Medicine, April 2012 vol. 4 no. 2 82-89.

For those who wish to experiment (possibly even self-experiment) with such things, another group of researchers, from the Centre of Interdisciplinary Research on Music Media and Technology (CIRMMT) of McGill University, US (Valorie N. Salimpoor, Mitchel Benovoy, Gregory Longo, Jeremy R. Cooperstock, and Robert J. Zatorre) have compiled a list of musical excerpts which they found can sometimes induce The Chills (listed here in ascending order of chilliness):

• Holst, First Suite in E Flat, Classical, score 9:07
• Shostakovich, Symphony No. 11 – Mov. 4,Classical, score 10:00
• Phish, You Enjoy Mylsef, Jazz Fusion, score 10:50
• Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Static, Post-Rock, score 11:20
• Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 4 – Mov. 1, Classical, score 12:32
• Mahler, Symphony No. 2 – Mov. 1, Classical, score 13:00
• Shostakovich, 11th Symphony – Mov. 2, Classical, score 13:45
• Mahler, Symphony No. 1 – Mov. 1, Classical, score 14:00
• Shostakovich, Symphony No. 11 – Mov. 2, Classical, score 14:00
• Copland, Appalachian Spring Suite, Classical, score 20:00
… and, at number 1, chillwise,
• Shostakovich, Symphony No. 4 – Mov. 3, Classical, score 20:30

See: ‘The Rewarding Aspects of Music Listening Are Related to Degree of Emotional Arousal’, PLOS | ONE, October 16, 2009.

Note: The list included Liszt, whose ‘Danse Macabre’ (a.k.a. Totentanz), scored a relatively low 0.27

Also see (and hear): Kiss On My List’ (which may or may not induce The Chills)

This article originally appeared on Improbable Research.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Economy

Why Finance Is Still a Problem

TIME.com stock photos Money Dollar Bills
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Inequality, tepid job growth, lack of innovation are partially the result of finance's warped incentives

Warren Buffett warned investors that bankers were still up to their old tricks in his recent investor letter. Vanguard founder Jack Bogle is writing about how high fee mutual funds are ripping off investors and endangering retirement security. And Fed Chair Janet Yellen is touting new, tougher capital rules for “Too Big to Fail” banks. Despite the recovery and strong jobs numbers last week, the re-regulation of the financial sector isn’t yet finished. But a deeper worry, and one that’s taking center stage amongst academics, is the fact that finance has yet to be re-moored to the real economy. That may be dampening the recovery for many.

A growing slew of research, including several just-published papers, has found that over a multi-decade period, the rise of finance is associated with lower capital investment in the real economy, greater inequality, and the demise of more productive industries. Brandeis International Business School professor Stephen G. Cecchetti and Enisse Kharroubi, a senior economist at the BIS, recently published a paper entitled “Why Does Financial Sector Growth Crowd Out Real Economic Growth?”

The answer: because finance looks for quick growth rather than long-term rewards. And because finance wants to invest in industries like real estate and construction where there are tangible assets to be collateralized, rather than intangible assets like the ideas and intellectual property that typically power more productive sectors like, say, technology, pharmaceuticals, or advanced manufacturing. What’s more, the disproportionate pay of bankers (they still make about three times what their similarly well-educated colleagues in other sectors do, even post crisis) continues to lure talent away from areas that create more and better jobs for the population as a whole. “When I was at MIT many years ago,” says Cecchetti, “everyone wanted to work in cold fusion or recombinant DNA. By the 1990s, nobody wanted to do that.” Solution? “I think we should take some proportion of the smartest people in the room and make sure they don’t go into finance,” says Cecchetti, only half joking.

Part of the problem with the rise of finance is that it encourages the culture of shareholder value over all else. That means CEOs focus more on buoying stock prices rather than making the best long-term decisions. The effects can be seen in the fact that since the 1980s, share buybacks and dividend payments have increased in direct proportion to a decrease in productive capital investment, according to a recent Roosevelt Institute paper entitled “Disgorge the Cash: The Disconnect Between Corporate Borrowing and Investment.”

What’s more, says JW Mason, a Roosevelt fellow who authored the paper, the low interest rates that have prevailed particularly since the 2008 crisis have sped up the trend as firms actually borrow money at lower rates to do more buybacks, rather than invest in the real economy. (The later is, by the way, what the Fed’s easy money policy was intended to encourage.) In fact, business investment dropped 20 % since 2008, as almost all borrowing went back to investors in the form of such payments. “It may be that we need to move to a more active control of investments to make sure that useful projects get funded,” says Mason, who says a kind of “World Bank for the US” might be one answer.

All this dovetails with the country’s inequality problem, which is an issue that will be big in the 2016 election cycle. As Wallace Turbeville, a Demos fellow who has done yet another influential paper on financialization points out, both the Republican and Democratic positions on inequality are lacking. Conservatives believe in bootstrapping, and liberals in redistribution of wealth. But if the very structure of our capitalism is designed to reward mainly elites (something Thomas Piketty’s best seller Capital in the 21st Century pointed out so well last year), then no amount of redistribution or hard work can fix the problem.

We need to fix the structure of capitalism itself and, in particular, figure out a way to make it work better for the masses. Turbeville has some of his own ideas about how to do this, including incentivizing long-term share ownership over high-speed trading, and limiting the use of derivatives. I hope that the economic debate in the primary season will be filled with many more.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the surname of Brandeis International Business School professor Stephen G. Cecchetti.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 6

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. India has banned a documentary on the 2012 gang rape that rocked the country. That was a huge mistake.

By Shashi Tharoor at NDTV

2. Berkeley decided to give campus departments a real incentive to cut power consumption by charging them directly — and energy use went down.

By Meredith Fowlie in The Berkeley Blog

3. Pakistan is helping Afghanistan’s president make peace with the Taliban. Other powers should back him.

By the Economist

4. Ukraine’s military will never be strong enough to beat Russia outright. But it doesn’t have to be.

By Alexander J. Motyl in Foreign Policy

5. Micro-bubbles — guided with magnets, deployed with sound waves — could revolutionize the delivery of medicine and even chemotherapy.

By Charvy Narain at the Oxford Science Blog

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Science

Science Finally Explains Why Coffee Spills More Easily Than Beer

black-coffee
Getty Images

It's all about the foam

The research on why foamy liquid (such as beer or latte) is less likely to slosh out of a cup than non-foamy liquid (such as black coffee), has now been formally published. The study is:

Damping of liquid sloshing by foams,” A. Sauret, F. Boulogne, J. Cappello, Emilie Dressaire and H.A. Stone, Physics of Fluids, vol. 27, 022103 (2015).

The slosh team presented their work in public a few months ago, at the Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics.

A few years, earlier, that annual meeting went gaga, to a very limited degree, for a research presentation about why a cup of coffee is so very easy to spill (or, looked at from the other direction, why it’s so difficult to NOT spill a cup of coffee). That coffee-spill research was eventually honored with the 2012 Ig Nobel Prize for fluid dynamics. Here’s the Ig Nobel citation for that prize:

Rouslan Krechetnikov and Hans Mayer for studying the dynamics of liquid-sloshing, to learn what happens when a person walks while carrying a cup of coffee.

REFERENCE: “Walking With Coffee: Why Does It Spill?” Hans C. Mayer and Rouslan Krechetnikov, Physical Review E, vol. 85, 2012.

In 2013, that coffee-spill research was the subject of a dramatic demonstration by Karolinska neuroscientist Gustav Nilsonne, at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

A month from now, Gustav Nilsonne will perhaps repeat that demonstration, with both coffee and beer, when the 2015 Ig Nobel Eurotour descends on the Karolinka Institute, on Monday afternoon, March 30. (There will be a second show in Stockholm, at Boulevardteatern, in the evening.)

(Thanks to investigator Mason Porter for bringing this to our attention.)

This article originally appeared on Improbable Research.

More from Improbably Research:

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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