December 12, 2017

While many people dream of owning a big house with lots of room to move, others aren’t looking to take up too much space. Luckily for these modest home seekers, so-called “tiny houses” have become increasingly popular in recent years. Approximately 10,000 Americans currently live in these affordable and environmentally sustainable abodes that eliminate unneeded space. What’s more, at least 50 companies have popped up in the U.S. that construct tiny houses in all sorts of styles. But even with Continue reading

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December 8, 2017

Over the last few months, we’ve posted a couple of stories about Bitcoin’s enormous gains in 2017. First we marveled at how the cryptocurrency’s value had risen to $4,000 in August after starting the year at just $985. By November, a single Bitcoin became worth more than $7,200. Since then the cryptocurrency has climbed even higher while also experiencing some major fluctuations. Last night, for instance, Bitcoin’s value reached a record high of $17,153 before eventually falling to around Continue reading

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December 7, 2017

A few summers ago, inventor Josh Malone found himself spending hours every week filling up water balloons for his eight children to throw at one another. Convinced that there had to be a more efficient way to build up a water balloon arsenal, he used his mechanical engineering expertise to develop a product called Bunch O Balloons. This device allowed him to fill dozens of balloons at one time and became an immediate hit with his family. After filing for Continue reading

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December 5, 2017

Over the last few years, bike-sharing programs have become commonplace in most of the world’s major cities. In New York, for instance, more than 10,000 Citibikes are available for visitors to ride at any time of day. All they need to do is find a docking station, pay a small fee to unlock a bike, and then return it to another kiosk whenever they’re finished. But some other cities aren’t nearly as orderly with their bike-sharing programs. In Wuhan, a Continue reading

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November 17, 2017

Since Uber’s founding in 2009, the ride-hailing service has relied on tens of thousands of drivers that it considers to be independent contractors. Although this policy has been controversial from the start, executives claim it is a vital component of the company’s historic growth rate. After all, the money that Uber saves from paying employment benefits allows it to charge lower fares. That explanation simply isn’t good enough for many critics, however, who claim the company is depriving drivers of Continue reading

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November 7, 2017

Even though November has just begun, stores across the country are already starting to roll out the tinsel and turn on the carols in preparation for the Christmas shopping season. So as the retail world gets into the yuletide spirit, you may as well do the same and start thinking about what sort of gifts your family and friends would like to receive this year. Perhaps they’re the kind of people who would enjoy spinning a silver-plated yoyo? Or maybe Continue reading

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October 26, 2017

In 2015 the popular burrito chain Chipotle faced a crisis so large that some wondered if the company would ever recover. Towards the end of the year, stories about norovirus outbreaks originating from Chipotle restaurants became national news. People were shocked to learn how this supposedly safe and sustainable place to eat had poisoned hundreds of people with tainted produce. Soon Chipotle’s stock price dropped and its sales plummeted, leading many in the company to worry that its reputation Continue reading

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October 24, 2017

For the last few weeks wildfires have ravaged the northern portion of California, claiming dozens of lives and destroying at least 5,700 buildings. This catastrophic state of affairs is a far cry from the sunny paradise that many imagine when they think of wine country. In fact, October and November are usually the region’s busiest months as tourists arrive by the busload to sample vintages and enjoy the countryside. Not this year, though: one winery owner said she’s already Continue reading

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October 13, 2017

This light and breezy video takes you to Mcity, a tiny town that serves as the test track for the University of Michigan’s autonomous vehicle research program. Engineers observe closely as self-driving cars learn how to avoid pedestrians and navigate through obstacles in a realistic setting.

Questions:

  1. What is the benefit of testing products like autonomous vehicles in controlled but realistic settings?
  2. Do you think self-driving cars will become a common sight on the road within a few years?
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October 10, 2017

aliman-senaiEach year some 12 million Americans take out a payday loan in order to get cash fast. But just because these borrowers can receive a quick injection of capital doesn’t mean they can pay it back with comparable speed. Many people who take out a payday loan end up drowning in a flood of loan fees and high interest rates. Last year alone the industry collected more than $7 billion in fees from customers. Borrowers can become so overwhelmed by Continue reading

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