A wave of ultra-long flights that will get you halfway around the world in one hop is pushing airlines to deal with the one extra you can’t escape: Relentless insomnia, debilitating fatigue and tormented bowels, better known as jet lag.
Qantas Airways Ltd., which will start the first non-stop service between Australia and Europe in March, is working with scientists in Sydney to discover ways to limit body-clock breakdown on the 17-hour flight. They’ve tried to make the color and intensity of the jet’s interior lights mimic dawn and dusk. Cabin temperatures and specially made meals will aim to put passengers to sleep or keep them awake—depending on the time at the destination.
Key to the problem is circadian disruption—messing with the internal body clock that regulates everything from brainwave activity to hormone production and cell regeneration.
The main cue for resetting that clock is light, said Steve Simpson, academic director of the Charles Perkins Centre, which is carrying out the research with Sydney-based Qantas. But there’s a baked-in biological catch: the clock can only reset by about 90 minutes a day, even in the right conditions. An ill-timed dose of sunshine or a badly chosen snack at the wrong hour can mean days of suffering, he said.
Angus Whitley, Bloomberg, February 5, 2018
[U]nderstanding the hidden logic behind concert pricing — or how Home Depot responds to a hurricane, or even how your neighborhood restaurant handles the Valentine’s Day crunch — can provide a guide to solving some of society’s biggest problems while satisfying people’s deep need for a sense of fairness....
Utilities and regulators, in other words, have to think a little like Mr. Springsteen: It’s not just about maximizing the efficiency of the energy market on any one day, just as the Boss isn’t trying to maximize his revenue from any one concert. Rather, it’s about maintaining a relationship in which people do not feel like they have been exploited.
Some short-term inefficiency can buy long-term viability. And that’s never truer than when disaster strikes, whether a heat wave, a blizzard or a hurricane barreling toward the most populous area of Florida.
As Hurricane Irma did just that in early September, about 150 Home Depot officials gathered in the company’s Atlanta headquarters in an auditorium and a series of conference rooms that became the company’s temporary command center. Logistics experts, store operations officials, corporate security staffers, human resources employees, lawyers and representatives of major suppliers were all there, in what is now a well-rehearsed exercise.
The first thing they did was direct all prices to be frozen in areas likely to be affected by the storm. There is no surge pricing at Home Depot stores after a disaster, in both a longstanding corporate policy and a matter of law in many states.
Neil Irwin, New York Times, October 14, 2017
Over the next 13 years, the rising tide of automation will force as many as 70 million workers in the United States to find another way to make money, a new study from the global consultancy McKinsey predicts.
That means nearly a third of the American workforce could face the need to pick up new skills or enter different fields in the near future, said the report’s co-author, Michael Chui, a partner at the McKinsey Global Institute who studies business and economics.
“We believe that everyone will need to do retraining over time,” he said.
Danielle Paquette, Washington Post, November 30, 2017
The standard view in the field of economics is that tipping in any service encounter where you don’t expect to be a return customer is a behavioral quirk — something that, in a world where humans are rational, return-maximizing actors, really should not happen.
There, researchers found the average tip from diners who were offered wrapped chocolates with their check was 18 percent, but it was only 15 percent under normal circumstances. It turns out friendly gestures from your server can have a surprisingly large impact on your tipping decisions, though you may not realize it. Dozens of experiments with similar designs (using playing cards or other randomizing devices to determine what “special treatment” customers would receive) in a variety of restaurants around the country have reinforced just how much small acts affect tips.
Katherine L. Milkman, New York Times, August 23, 2017
That’s the takeaway of a study, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, whose findings suggest that spending money to save time may reduce stress about the limited time in the day, thereby improving happiness.
“People who spent money to buy themselves time, such as by outsourcing disliked tasks, reported greater overall life satisfaction,” said Ashley Whillans, an assistant professor at the Harvard Business School and lead author of the study, which was based on a series of surveys from several countries. Researchers did not see the same effect when people used money for material goods.
Niraj Chokshi, New York Times, July 27, 2017