Chinese university invents world’s lightest material; It is also exceptionally strong and is able to recover its original form after being compressed up to 80% over a thousand times. It can absorb oil 250-900x its volume

Chinese university invents world’s lightest material

Staff Reporter



The aerogel produced by Chinese scientists is so light that it can be placed on a flower. (Photo/Xinhua)

Chinese scientists have successful developed an aerogel that they claim is the lightest material in the world. The density of the gel is only one sixth of air at 0.16 milligrams per cubic centimeter, 0.04 milligrams lighter than aerographite, a substance produced by German scientists last year which hitherto held the record.

Scientists led by professor Gao Chao from the Department of Polymer Science and Engineering at Zhejiang University, produced the aerogel by freezing graphene with a carbon nanotube, removing their liquid components and keeping only their structures, according to Chinese science website Science and Technology Daily.

The aerogel is so light that a mug made of the material would be able to perch on a green foxtail and would not bend a hair of the plant, said professor Gao.

It is also exceptionally strong and is able to recover its original form after being compressed up to 80% over a thousand times. It can absorb oil 250-900x its volume. Existing oil absorbers can only take in up to 10x their volume.

Professor Gao said that the material could be used to soak up oil leaks in the world’s oceans. Once the aerogel is soaked with the oil, people can squeeze the oil out and reuse the aerogel, according to the Chinese-language Dushi Kuaibao, published by the local Hangzhou Daily. Read more of this post

McDonald’s franchises in China need 5 years to break even

McDonald’s franchises in China need 5 years to break even

Staff Reporter


McDonald’s franchises in China may need up to five years before they break even, according to the Shanghai-based First Financial Daily. Chinese investors interested in taking up a new McDonald’s franchise must pay an initial fee of 2 million yuan (US$320,000) and must also pay for the building itself, equipment and other additional costs, including monthly franchising operations and advertising fees. An outlet may need to operate for five years before it starts to see a profit, based on the current sales of a typical McDonald’s restaurant and the increasing cost of running a business in the country, analysts say. The US fast food giant is continuing to expand its China network, with new franchises licensed in Hunan province last September, and the Jiangsu Rongjin Group obtaining franchise rights last October. McDonald’s has also opened more outlets in Fujian and Sichuan provinces, according to sources familiar with the business.

McDonald’s is one of the world’s highest-grossing fast food chains and derives its profits from other channels in addition to its burgers, selling franchising and property as well as renting out its outlets. The company reported operating revenue of US$9.9 billion in 2011. Total business from its restaurants, franchising fees and rents accounted for 32%, 23% and 45% of operating revenue, respectively. However, the company has failed to successfully apply its standard business model in China. Rival KFC beat McDonald’s into China and has held the lead in terms of revenue and expanding its franchises over the past 20 years. McDonald’s hopes to expand its network in mainland China from 1,500 to 2,000 restaurants by the end of 2013 and 20%-30% of its restaurants will be franchise outlets by 2015. According to analysts, McDonald’s should work more closely with agents within China to better understand the local market.

Chart Of The Day: China PMI Vs Electricity Production

Chart Of The Day: China PMI Vs Electricity Production

Tyler Durden on 03/20/2013 22:13 -0400

HSBC’s China Flash PMI just printed above expectations at 51.7, disappointing those hoping for more stimulus but just Goldilocks enough to satisfy the world that China is firing on all cylinders… But, and there’s always a but, the following chart suggests that the diffusion-driven survey-based PMI data may be just a little different from the hard data on the ground. Of course, everything could have magically turned around in the last 3 weeks (aside from Copper demand and PBoC repo/rev. repo that is). For now, we tip our hat to the well planned PMI print as indicative that all is well in the smog-ridden pig-barren nation but scratch our chin at just what is powering all this growthiness… HSBC’s Flash PMI upticked more than expected but remains in that neverland zone… and here are the stunning sub-indices showing the ‘surges’ – hhmm – employment? pricing? even New Export Orders are in ‘fence-sitting’ mode… But when judged against the history of a relatively tight relationship to Electricity production… is it any wonder we call it the Chart of the Day… It seems we are about to witness a jump from -13% YoY decline (as we discussed here the largest ever) to a +10% YoY rise in the span of just one month…


Brene Brown, author of “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Lead”, interviewed by Oprah in a two-part episode of “Super Soul Sunday”

Brene Brown interviewed by Oprah in a two-part episode of “Super Soul Sunday”

Posted by: Kate Torgovnick
March 20, 2013 at 5:30 pm EDT

On Sunday, Oprah Winfrey revealed that she and TED speaker Brené Brown are “soul mates.” As the pair sat down for an in-depth discussion on Super Soul Sunday— part one of which aired last Sunday, with part two to air next Sunday — they excitedly talked about many of the concepts which Brown raised in her classic TED Talk, “The power of vulnerability.” One interesting moment came when Brown shared a counterintuitive thought on what scares us the most. “As someone who studies shame and scarcity and fear, if you asked me, ‘What is the most terrifying, difficult emotion we experience as humans?,’ I would say joy,” says Brown. “When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability, joy becomes foreboding. So what we do in moments of joyfulness is we try to beat vulnerability to the punch … We try to dress-rehearse tragedy.” In fact, says Brown during the first part of this intervie,  fear seems to be an ever-present part of our experience. “I think there’s a thin film of terror wrapped around us,” says Brown. “If it’s not, ‘I’m not safe enough’ or ‘I’m not secure enough,’ it’s ‘I’m not liked enough,’ ‘I’m not promoted enough,’ ‘I’m not loved enough’ … at the very bottom, ‘I’m not good enough.’”

The most unbelievable rainbows around the world

The most unbelievable rainbows around the world

People’s Daily Online  08:18, March 21, 2013  


A rare picture of beautiful rainbow clouds floating over Mount Everest. 


A double rainbow hangs on the sky of Dartmouth, Devon, UK. The British photographer has spent seven years for this moment. He had taken more than 2,000 similar photos before he successfully captured the perfect moment of the double rainbow


A rainbow observed in Ishigaki City, Okinawa, Japan. The rainbow was reflected by the moonlight.


A rainbow shows above the Niagara Falls while an American is performing tightrope walking

How emoji conquered the world; The story of the smiley face from the man who invented it

How emoji conquered the world

The story of the smiley face from the man who invented it

By Jeff Blagdon on March 4, 2013 11:46 am Email @jeffblagdon


In 1995, sales of pagers were booming among Japan’s teenagers, and NTT Docomo’s decision to add the heart symbol to its Pocket Bell devices let high school kids across the country inject a new level of sentiment (and cuteness) into the millions of messages they were keying into telephones every day. Docomo was thriving, with a bona fide must-have gadget on its hands and market share in the neighborhood of 40 percent. But when new versions of the Pocket Bell abandoned the heart symbol in favor of more business-friendly features like kanji and Latin alphabet support, the teenagers that made up Docomo’s core customer base had no problem leaving for upstart competitor Tokyo Telemessage. By the time Docomo realized it had misjudged the demand for business-focused pagers, it was badly in need of a new killer app. What it came up with was emoji.

Shigetaka Kurita is the man who created emoji, and during his time at Docomo he saw the shift happen first-hand. He was part of the team working on i-mode — a project that was just beginning to take shape, but would be the world’s first widespread mobile internet platform, combining features like weather forecasts, entertainment reservations, news, and email. i-mode would prove so popular that it would completely engulf the country, giving Japan’s mobile internet a nearly 10-year lead internationally. Initially, though, the i-mode team needed ideas, and in order to get a look at other work already being done on mobile internet applications, Kurita and others visited San Francisco in 1998 to check out AT&T’s Pocket Net.

It was the first service in the world to provide amenities like email and weather forecasts over a cellular network, and using AT&T’s new cellular digital packet data (CDPD) service, it was capable of transfer speeds of 19.2Kbps. (In comparison, an average US LTE connection today is around 9.6Mbps, or about 500 times faster). “At the time, the specs on the devices were really poor, so they weren’t able to display images, for example,” Kurita explains. Pocket Net had weather news, but things like ‘cloudy’ and ‘sunny’ were just spelled out in text. The lack of visual cues made the service more difficult to use than it ought to be, and Kurita recognized that AT&T’s mobile experience would benefit majorly from some extra characters for contextual information. Read more of this post

China’s Hidden Debt Risk

China’s Hidden Debt Risk

20 March 2013

Zhang Monan. Zhang Monan is a fellow of the China Information Center, a fellow of the China Foundation for International Studies, and a researcher at the China Macroeconomic Research Platform.

BEIJING – In the last 200 years, there have been more than 250 cases of sovereign-debt default, and 68 cases of domestic-debt default. None of these was an isolated incident. Indeed, such defaults – combined with factors like large current-account or fiscal deficits, overvalued currencies, high public-sector debt, and insufficient foreign-exchange reserves – have always triggered financial crises, from the Mexican peso crisis in 1994 to the Russian ruble crisis in 1998 to the American subprime mortgage crisis in 2008.

Since China’s era of reform and opening up began, the country has experienced three instances of large-scale public-finance problems. In the late 1970’s, the country faced a debilitating fiscal deficit. In the 1990’s, its corporate sector was plagued by “triangular debts” (when a manufacturer that has not been paid for its product is unable to pay its suppliers, which in turn struggle to pay their suppliers). Later that decade, financial institutions were burdened by bad debts generated by state-owned enterprises.

Now China is experiencing a fourth instance of elevated debt risk, this time characterized by high levels of accumulated local-government and corporate debt. To be sure, China’s national balance sheet, which boasts positive net assets, has garnered significant attention in recent years. But, in order to assess China’s financial risk accurately, policymakers and economists must consider the risks that lie in the country’s asset structure – and the liabilities that are not included on its balance sheet. Read more of this post

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