The Best Companies Aren’t Luckier, But Know How To Capitalize on Luck

Ever wondered if the best companies in the world got to be that way just from luck or from hard work?

This great New York Times essay explores that very idea and finds that really successful companies aren’t more lucky. But the authors, Jim Collins and Morten Hansen, studied a range of companies and found the best ones that are better at building on lucky events.

They call that Return on Luck – or ROL.

 

Researchers achieve a 10x supercapacitor energy density breakthrough

Supercapacitors can charge almost instantly, and discharge enormous amounts of power if needed. They could completely erase the Achilles heel of electric vehicles – their slow charging times – if they could hold more energy. And now Chinese and British scientists say they’ve figured out a way to store 10 times more energy per volume than previous supercapacitors.

A team split between University College London and the Chinese Academy of Sciences has released a study and proof of concept of a new supercapacitor design using graphene laminate films and concentrating on the spacing between the layers, the researchers discovering that they could radically boost energy density when they tailored the sizes of pores in the membranes precisely to the size of electrolyte ions.

Using this design, the team says it’s achieved a massive increase in volumetric energy density. Where “similar fast-charging commercial technology” tends to offer around 5-8 watt-hours per liter, this new design has been tested at a record 88.1 Wh/l. The team claims it’s “the highest ever reported energy density for carbon-based supercapacitors.”

That figure is toward the high end of what a typical lead-acid battery stores, but while lead-acid batteries charge very slowly and offer fairly low power density, the supercapacitors can charge very, very quickly and offer massive power densities around 10 kilowatts per liter.

In addition, the supercapacitors appear to have a long service life, retaining 97.8 percent of their energy capacity after 5,000 cycles, and they’re very flexible, performing almost exactly the same when bent 180 degrees as when they were lying flat.

There is a but. There is always a but. Indeed, there’s three big buts here, beyond the fact that this is still at the research proof of concept stage.

The first is that these supercaps are still far less dense than a top-shelf lithium EV battery. Closest estimate I can find on what Tesla is running is a 2018 estimate of 877.5 Wh/l, which would mean a supercap would have to be 10 times the size of a Tesla battery pack to offer the same range. Not gonna happen. Mind you, EVs won’t have to offer 430-mile (700 km) range figures once they’re even quicker to top up than a petrol car. The vast majority of car use would easily be less than 100 miles (160 km) in a day, and a short stop every hour and a half on a long trip might be no big deal for many drivers.

What’s more, we’ve written before about the extraordinary things you can do when you pair lithium batteries with supercapacitors in a hybrid arrangement. This kind of density development could increase the amount of supercapacitor you might be able to run in such a setup, further maximizing the benefits.

The second issue: supercapacitors tend to leak energy rather than storing it very well. You might find your EV out of power if you leave it off the charger for a week or two. Although to be fair, when they charge so fast, you might not mind.

And the third issue: this thing is made of graphene, everyone’s favorite wonder-material which is set to revolutionize everything from electronics to mosquito protection to aviation to hair dye to concrete to running shoes to bulletproofing to loudspeakers and every other field it’s been researched in… But to date, nobody’s producing it in mass commercial quantities at a price that makes huge graphene superconductor cells feasible.

Still, the researchers are optimistic. “Successfully storing a huge amount of energy safely in a compact system is a significant step towards improved energy storage technology,” said senior author and Dean of UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences, Professor Ivan Parkin (UCL Chemistry). “We have shown it charges quickly, we can control its output and it has excellent durability and flexibility, making it ideal for development for use in miniaturized electronics and electric vehicles. Imagine needing only 10 minutes to fully-charge your electric car or a couple of minutes for your phone and it lasting all day.”

Testing Autosidebars

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New post for test WP5.0 plugin

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Yet another test story

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New test page for test augmenter realtime interface

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Sierra Leone: Ebola expert patients have much to teach

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“Who will be 70 years old? Who do you pick to be your father?”

Santigie Koroma searches the faces of other Ebola survivors in the room for a “father”. His real father is dead. Then his gaze lights on Hassan Santuray.

“Him,” says Santigie Koroma, pointing to Hassan Santuray, “He will be my father.”

The two leave the room with another survivor who is playing the ambulance attendant, and then return “in character”. Santigie supports and half carries Hassan into the room to a chair across from the “triage nurse,” played by another survivor.

Santigie’s “father” collapses, nearly unconscious, into a tiny chair, borrowed from a nearby classroom. Santigie steadies him and answers questions from the triage nurse, ticking through the familiar list of Ebola symptoms.

Ebola survivors help with training

Santigie, Hassan and the others in the room are a new breed of expert. Not only have they survived Ebola virus disease, they are now using what they learned while fighting the disease to teach frontline Ebola care workers what managing someone with Ebola is really like.

Working with them is 58 year-old Benon Tumwebaze, a WHO teacher from Uganda. For 7 weeks, Tumbwebaze gently guided Ebola survivors in Liberia to be “expert patients” giving them a special mandate: to teach health workers how to be safe, and most importantly how to care for Ebola patients. Now he is in Sierra Leone, at a soon-to-be finished Ebola Treatment Centre in Waterloo, near Freetown, to guide this new group of survivors as they become “expert patients”.

Santigie Koroma and Hassan Santuray, Ebola survivors, takes part in a WHO “expert patients” training with the special mandate to teach health workers how to be safe, and how to care for Ebola patients. Ebola Treatment Centre in Waterloo, Sierra Leone, 2014. WHO/W. Romeril
Construction dust, hammering and the buzz of a chainsaw fill the hot air as the group talk of their experiences and how to use them to help others beat Ebola. “A nurse yelled at me,” recalls Hassan Turay Junior. “Now you will be the professor,” he is told. “You must teach these nurses and doctors how to be kind.”

Hassan’s serious face is transformed by a wide grin. His younger brother, father and sister-in-law died of Ebola. Three other brothers and his uncle sit here in the circle taking turns to play patient roles and give each other feedback. Like everyone in this unique team, they are quick to smile and deeply supportive of their peers.

Most in this group went through their illness and survived together, receiving their discharge certificates from the Hastings Ebola Treatment Centre in Freetown last month. They share how they were infected with Ebola, talk about those who died, and recall their symptoms in great detail. Like any good actor, they must draw on those difficult memories to play their roles in this real life-and-death drama.

Training health workers

With new numbers of people sick with Ebola continuing to outstrip the number of beds available to care for them, WHO trainers like Tumwebaze are racing to train health workers to safely work in each new centre. WHO training experts have worked with Sierra Leone Ministry of Health nurse trainers to train more than 1000 health care workers in Ebola virus disease care and infection prevention over the past few months. These efforts are increasing every week.