What Matthew Baker did in the 1570s was to take the design process out of the shipyard, and onto paper. He drew his ships, to scale. And by using pen and paper, with geometry to make such drawings possible, he opened up grand new possibilities for design. […] He drew out new designs for frames, using geometry to work out how any variation would affect the overall shape of the hull, as well as its weight and carrying capacity – all at the cost of only time, ink, and paper, and avoiding the huge potential waste of conducting experiments at full scale in wood. His process allowed him to innovate more easily, and even to design new measuring instruments.
Interestingly, the new methods were not quickly adopted in the rest of Europe:
By the 1580s, new English ships were among the most technically advanced in Europe, and even in the mid-seventeenth century, ship plans were apparently still unknown in France. Having once lagged far behind, geometry began to give English shipbuilding the edge.
The Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside Movement was a government policy in the People’s Republic of China during the 1960s and 1970s. From Wikipedia: “privileged urban youth [were] sent to mountainous areas or farming villages to learn from the workers and farmers there.”
A lot of economists and economic historians study aggregated data, e.g. gross domestic product, inflation, trade flows, or productivity.
It seems there are two bitcoin camps: the true believers and the naysayers. Izabella Kaminska from FT Alphaville in particular has been explaining for years why cryptocurrencies are not the utopia some imagine them to be. In this post, I summarize my own reasons why I don’t think bitcoin is a credible threat to the banking industry.1Continue reading “My beef with bitcoin bulls”
One of my business ideas has recently been implemented. My former colleagues at KBC launched a platform where small business owners can find entrepreneurs who want to take over an existing company.
I had this idea when a well-run shop for fishing gear and pet products in my hometown closed down. The owners retired and none of their children was interested in continuing their work.
This was a shame, because a lot of know-how and service to customers was lost. The owners missed out on the sale of a profitable business. A sale of the going concern could have yielded much more than selling separate assets. For the bank, a sale would have brought the opportunity to manage extra retirement funds. In addition, it could offer a loan to the new owner, sell insurance1, payment solutions etc.
As I regularly have ideas for startups or other business opportunities that I cannot pursue myself, let me share an idea that I had today. Feel free to implement it! You can thank me later when you’re a millionaire.
Engineers at the US Navy are developing a robot shark. They intend to use this robot to patrol around ships and in harbors. It is normal that the Navy explores military applications first.
A clever startup could market such robots as lifeguards.
But such devices could find widespread civilian use. A clever startup could market such robots as lifeguards. Imagine a robotic lifeguard loaded with sensors that can detect when a swimmer is in trouble. And that can grab them and bring them to the surface or to shore. This would give extra support to human lifeguards. And because it is seaborne already, a robot shark would cut down valuable intervention time.
The market for such a device would be huge. Think of all the swimming pools and beaches that would want to improve the safety of their bathers. Or robot sharks could assist in saving drowning migrants in the Mediterranean.