What we learned this week

Ontario’s incoming Premier has cancelled the state’s basic income experiment. It’s a disappointment for campaigners hoping for some robust research into what the real-world effects of a basic income might be. It’s also a broken promise, as the Conservatives said were looking forward to seeing the results and some of them had even called for the trial in the first place.

That cancellation is itself a learning point of course – if even a three year trial is unpopular and easily reversed, imagine the chaos of a government revoking a basic income after people had got used to it. Or as Anna Coote notes in this NEF discussion of the basic income, consider how much power the basic income gives governments.

Not being a scientist, I have no idea if this is practical or not, but I did like the sound of a liquid-based battery that could be charged in seconds. It’s being developed by the University of Glasgow.

This week George Monbiot used to column to highlight a proposed highway between Oxford and Cambridge. As it passed just north of Luton, I read the proposal and was struck by the same thing that George mentions – the entire case for it is based on the pursuit of further economic growth in one of the richest parts of the country.

As I’ve been on holiday the last couple of weeks, I haven’t really bothered with the news much, so my alternative news reading has been on pause. So far I haven’t included any ‘alternative’ news sites in my reading, for a variety of reasons, but this week I’m going to read the Canada-based media site Global Research.


  1. The article about the liquid-based battery tells us nothing at all about the principles on which it is based. It seems designed to make headlines by sounding sensational. The use of the term “nano-molecule” adds to that impression, since it is meaningless. I hope it works, but that article does not inspire confidence.

    1. Yes, it’s a press release and not an article, so there’s no discussion of what it is or whether it works or not – hence my caveat that I don’t know enough to say how practical it is. The basic idea of a liquid battery sounds worthwhile though, and I hope to hear more about it in future.

  2. Here’s the Nature Chemistry article: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41557-018-0109-5
    The basic principles of adding H+ ions to ‘charged molecule’ ions are very well established – see this article:
    This is a type of flow battery; also quite well studied (see wikipedia)
    The advantage of this latest system is that you can [reversibly] add lots of H+ ions to each ‘charged molecule’ ion.
    So there’s little doubt that this system works – although how it scales up and what the economics are at scale, are yet to be determined.

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