I opened up an 'ugly food' shop — here's why you should be eating disfigured vegetables
Do the same rules that govern human attraction also apply to our choices of fruit and vegetables?
Each year we waste 1.3 billion tonnes of food worldwide, a third of the total produced.
This unbelievable figure is partly made up of “ugly” fruit and vegetables – those that are perfectly edible but rejected by supermarkets due to their blemished skin or unusual shape.
In March 2015 I opened a pop-up Ugly Food Shop in a mission to change perceptions of ugly food. I became interested in why it was ever rejected in the first place, and whether supermarkets either dictated or answered to a desire for perfect veg.
Since then, ugly foods seem to be making a comeback. A flurry of excitement accompanied the launch of British supermarket Asda’s “wonky veg box” which, for just £3.50 (US$5), promises to feed a family of four for a week. So have we always cared about the shapeliness of our bananas, or are we only now becoming more receptive to the idea of bendy vegetables?
Theories of human attraction suggest beautiful people are generally considered to be more honest, more social and more successful. Ultimately, we seem to be programmed to find attractive people more likeable – even newborn babies spend more time gazing at the prettiest among us.
Symmetry is critical here, as symmetrical faces are easier to visually process and signify genetic health. From an evolutionary perspective, selecting a mate with even features is a safer bet, as asymmetries can be caused by disease and infections during physical development.
Maie Peetri / twitter
Although it makes sense that we would naturally select produce that is the most likely to be free from disease, in reality imperfections in the shape of fruit and veg have no real bearing on their nutritional content or taste, and no evolutionary advantage.
An alternative explanation is that we “eat with our eyes”. Colour has a huge impact on how we perceive taste, with multiple studies demonstrating how a variety of learned and natural responses can influence the communication between our eyes and brain to determine taste.
For example, professional wine tasters admitted to being a little suspicious while drinking white wine visually disguised as a full-bodied red, however they ultimately trusted their retinas over their taste-buds, until the trickery was revealed. Equally, altering the colour of vanilla ice cream can determine it’s reported taste, with brown vanilla ice cream described as chocolate, pink as strawberry, and green as mint.
@capogiro on Twitter
Given these findings, it is understandable that it will always be the disfigured potatoes that are left on the shelf. However throwing away a few lonely spuds has nothing on the millions of tonnes of fruit and vegetables which are denied even the chance to make it through the supermarket doors.
Thanks to global abundance and international trade, supermarkets can now be more selective. Much of the food deemed ugly is damaged on long boat trips – literally a fruitless journey – while ugly produce grown closer to home is also rejected, imposing harsh conditions on farmers. The needless waste of both imported and homegrown fruit and veg seems senseless; however if consumers are unaware of it, they can do nothing to change it.
Attitudes seem to be shifting though, thanks largely to high-profile coverage of massive food waste. Ugly food is becoming more popular, and social influence has a huge impact on our behaviour. Wonky veg can be rebranded to enhance that social influence, for instance our shop marketing campaign focused on “humanising” a team of unfortunate fruit and veg, giving consumers something to root for.
More than just fashion, the multiple benefits of “ugly” foods are admired as it is both cheap and helps to cut waste. The ugly comeback shows awareness and social influence can override a natural instinct to select symmetrical and unblemished fruit and veg. Whether this is a trend capable of withstanding the rise and fall of passing fancy, only time will tell. However in the meantime if we can cut waste and spend less, that definitely sounds appealing to me.
Millions of French People Could Get Energy From Roads Covered With Solar Panels
Imagine miles and miles of roadway stretching towards the horizon, glinting under the afternoon sun. Now, imagine those same roads transforming the sun's rays into enough power for millions of people. France has revealed plans to do just that.
While it might sound too good to be true, Colas, the road construction company behind the project, assures it is not. The company revealed the solar road project, "Wattway," last October, calling it the "fruit of five years of R&D in a partnership with the French National Institute for Solar Energy." Hervé Le Bouc, CEO of Colas, said the project was "unique on a global level" and key to the future of transition energy production from coal, oil, and natural gas to renewable forms of energy from the wind and sun.
A cyclist drives on the SolaRoad, the first road in the world made of solar panels, during the official opening in Krommenie, the Netherlands. (Photo by Evert Elzinga/EPA)
The SolaRoad seen during the official opening in Krommenie, the Netherlands. (Photo by Evert Elzinga/EPA)
Though on a much smaller scale, the Netherlands launched a similar project in November 2014 in the form of a 70-meter bike path. Since its launch, the project, SolaRoad, has produced more solar energy than anticipated. In the first six months, the bike path generated over 3,000 kilowatt hours, or enough to provide electricity to a single-person household for a year.
In France, the Wattway project will work with existing roadways and infrastructure and avoids one of the big concerns about large-scale wind or solar installations."Wattway produces electrical energy without overtaking farmland or natural landscapes, and contributes to increasing the share of photovoltaic electricity in the energy mix, both in France and worldwide."
"There is no need to rebuild infrastructure," Le Bouc told French magazine Les Echoes last year. "In Chambéry and Grenoble, we tested Wattway with success under a cycle of 1 million vehicles, or 20 years of normal road traffic, and the surface does not move." According to the French Environment & Energy Management Agency, one kilometer-long section of Wattway-paneled road has the potential to power the street lights of a town of 5,000.
A truck is seen parked atop Colas's solar panel road surface. (Image via Colas)
A close up view of Colas's solar panel road surface. (Photo via Colas)
Jean-Luc Gautier, manager of the Center for Expertise at the Colas Campus for Science and Techniques, said in a press release that the Wattway project, now protected by two patents, began with a simple reflection. "Roads spend 90 percent of their time just looking up into the sky. When the sun shines, they are of course exposed to its rays. It's an ideal surface area for energy applications."
According to Colas, the solar panels — composed of photovoltaic (PV) cells embedded in a multilayer substrate — are designed to withstand any kind of roadway traffic, including trucks. The company calls the translucent panels of photovoltaic cells a "perfectly watertight layer cake," and describes the surfaces as weather resistant, durable and safe, equally skid-resistant as conventional asphalt. Only several millimeters thick, the panels can be added to existing roads, highways, bike paths, and parking lots, and are designed to be adaptive to the natural thermal expansion of pavement.
Critics of the project say solar roads are not cost efficient and that the Wattway project seems more of a way to subsidize French companies than a sustainable alternative energy solution.
Mark Jacobson, an engineering professor at Stanford University, wrote on Twitter, "Solar roads in France much less efficient/costly than PV over rooftops & parking structures, & in PV power plants."
According to Le Monde, Royal has proposed between 200 and 300 million euros be raised for infrastructure improvements, including solar roads, by increasing taxes on diesel.
Installation of Wattway — what is being dubbed "the revolutionary road" — is scheduled to begin this spring.
The 29 smartest questions to ask at the end of every job interview
It's important to remember that every interview is a two-way street. You should be interviewing the employer just as much as they're interviewing you because you both need to walk away convinced that the job would be a great fit.
"The very process of asking questions completely changes the dynamic of the interview and the hiring manager's perception of you," says Teri Hockett, chief executive of What's For Work?, a career site for women. "Asking questions also gives you the opportunity to discover details that you might not have otherwise unveiled."
Amy Hoover, president of TalentZoo, says there's another reason you should always prepare questions. "It's expected — and if you don't ask at least two questions, you will appear disinterested, or worse, less intelligent and engaged than a prospective employer would like." You should have at least four questions prepared, though, in case your original two are answered through the course of the interview.
But, Hoover says, don't just ask questions for the sake of it. To actually benefit from them, you'll need to think carefully about what you want to ask.
"Your questions can, in fact, make or break an interview," she explains. "If they're not thoughtful, or if you ask something that has already been addressed, this can hurt you way more than it can help. Asking smart, engaging questions is imperative."
Luckily, there are plenty of smart ones to pick from.
Here are 29 questions you should always ask in a job interview — if they weren't already answered — to help you get a better sense of the role and the company, and to leave the interview with a positive, lasting impression: Vivian Giang contributed to a previous version of this article.
Who do you think would be the ideal candidate for this position, and how do I compare?
Hoover recommends this question because it's a quick way to figure out whether your skills align with what the company is currently looking for. If they don't match up, then you know to walk away instead of wasting time pursuing the wrong position for yourself, she says.
Who would I be reporting to? Are those three people on the same team or on different teams? What's the pecking order?
It's important to ask about the pecking order of a company in case you have several bosses, Vicky Oliver writes in her book, "301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions." If you're going to be working for several people, you need to know "the lay of the internal land," she says, or if you're going to be over several people, then you probably want to get to know them before accepting the position.
How has this position evolved?
Basically, this question just lets you know whether this job is a dead end or a stepping-stone.
How would you describe the company's culture?
Hoover says this question gives you a broad view on the corporate philosophy of a company and on whether it prioritizes employee happiness.
Who do you consider your major competitors? How are you better?
This question is not for the faint of heart, but it shows that you are already thinking about how you can help the company rise to meet some of its bigger goals, says Peter Harrison, CEO of Snagajob.
Beyond the hard skills required to successfully perform this job, what soft skills would serve the company and position best?
Knowing what skills the company thinks are important will give you more insight into its culture and its management values, Hoover says, so you can evaluate whether you would fit in.
Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications?
While this question puts you in a vulnerable position, it shows that you are confident enough to openly bring up and discuss your weaknesses with your potential employer.
What do you like most about working for this company?
Hoover says this question is important because it lets you "create a sense of camaraderie" with the interviewer because "interviewers — like anyone — usually like to talk about themselves and especially things they know well." Plus, this question gives you a chance to get an insider's view on the best parts about working for this particular company, she says.
Can you give me example of how I would collaborate with my manager?
Knowing how managers use their employees is important so you can decide whether they are the type of boss that will let you use your strengths to help the company succeed. Sebastiaan ter Burg/Flickr
Can you tell me what steps need to be completed before your company can generate an offer?
"Any opportunity to learn the timeline for a hire is crucial information for you," Hoover advises. Asking about an "offer" rather than a "decision" will give you a better sense of the timeline because "decision" is a broad term, while an "offer" refers to the point when they're ready to hand over the contract.
How would you score the company on living up to its core values? What’s the one thing you’re working to improve on?
Harrison says this is a respectful way to ask about shortcomings within the company — which you should definitely be aware of before joining a company. As a bonus, he says it shows that you are being proactive in wanting to understand more about the internal workings of the company before joining it.
What are the challenges of this position?
If the interviewer says, "There aren't any," you should proceed with caution.
What have past employees done to succeed in this position?
The main point of this question is to get your interviewer to reveal how the company measures success.
If you were to hire me, what might I expect in a typical day?
Obviously this shows your eagerness about the position, Harrison says, but it also gives you a better idea about what the job will be like on a daily basis so you can decide whether you really want to pursue it. "A frank conversation about position expectations and responsibilities will ensure not only that this is a job you want, but also one that you have the skills to be successful in," he advises.
What type of employee tends to succeed here? What qualities are the most important for doing well and advancing at the firm?
This question shows the interviewer that you care about your future at the company, and it will also help you decide if you're a good fit for the position, Oliver writes. "Once the interviewer tells you what she's looking for in a candidate, picture that person in your mind's eye," she says. "She or he should look a lot like you."
Is there anyone else I need to meet with?/Is there anyone else you would like me to meet with?
Hoover says knowing if they want you to meet with potential coworkers or not will give you insight into how much the company values building team synergy. In addition, if the interviewer says you have four more interviews to go, then you've gained a better sense of the hiring timeline as well, she says.
How do you help your team grow professionally?
Harrison says this question shows that you're willing to work hard to ensure that you grow along with your company. This is particularly important for hourly workers, he says, because they typically have a higher turnover rate, and are thus always looking for people who are thinking long-term.
When your staff comes to you with conflicts, how do you respond?
Knowing how a company deals with conflicts gives you a clearer picture about the company's culture, Harrison says. But more importantly, asking about conflict resolution shows that you know dealing with disagreements in a professional manner is essential to the company's growth and success.
Will I have an opportunity to meet those who would be part of my staff/my manager during the interview process?
Getting the chance to meet with potential teammates or managers is essential to any professional interview process, Hoover says. If they don't give that chance, "proceed with caution," she advises.
How do you evaluate success here?
Knowing how a company measures its employees' success is important. It will help you understand what it would take to advance in your career there — and can help you decide if the employer's values align with your own.
What are some of the problems your company faces right now? And what is your department doing to solve them?
Asking about problems within a company gets the "conversation ball" rolling, and your interviewer will surely have an opinion, Oliver writes. Further, she says their answers will give you insights into their personality and ambitions and will likely lead to other questions.
What's your timeline for making a decision, and when can I expect to hear back from you?
This one tells them you're interested in the role and eager to hear their decision. "Knowing a company's timeline should be your ultimate goal during an interview process after determining your fit for the position and whether you like the company's culture," Hoover says. It will help you determine how and when to follow up, and how long to wait before "moving on."
Is this a new position? If not, why did the person before me leave this role?
This might be uncomfortable to ask, but Harrison says it's not uncommon to ask and that it shows you are being smart and analytical by wanting to know why someone may have been unhappy in this role previously. If you found out they left the role because they were promoted, that's also useful information.
Where do you see the company in three years and how would the person in this role contribute to this vision?
Asking this question will show your interviewer that you can think big picture, that you're wanting to stay with the company long-term, and that you want to make a lasting impression in whatever company you end up in, says Harrison.
I read X about your CEO in Y magazine. Can you tell me more about this?
Oliver says questions like this simply show you've done your homework and are genuinely interested in the company and its leaders.
How do you handle new business pitches? Who gets involved in generating new business at this company? Is there a team in place, and do they cull employees from different teams depending on the business that your firm is going after?
Asking about a company's game plan shows that you are eager and proactive, Oliver writes. "Star performers are usually eager to get involved in the new business effort, even if they are not technically on the new business team," she says. "When you ask about new business, you're signaling that you're an A player."
What's your staff turnover rate and what are you doing to reduce it?
While this question may seem forward, Harrison says it's a smart question to ask because it shows that you understand the importance of landing a secure position. "It is a black and white way to get to the heart of what kind of company this is and if people like to work here," he says.
Is there anything else I can provide to help you make your decision?
This simple question is polite to ask and it can give you peace of mind to know that you've covered all your bases, Hoover says. "It shows enthusiasm and eagerness but with polish."
Is there anything we haven't covered that you think is important to know about working here?
Hoover says this is a good wrap-up question that gives you a break from doing all the talking. In addition, she says you may get "answers to questions you didn't even know to ask but are important."
Miért olyan nehéz megtanulni egy nyelvet?
Ötvenezerrel több magyar diplomás lehetne, ha ezek az emberek le tudnának tenni egy nyelvvizsgát, de a nyelvtanulás problémája mintha állandósult volna hazánkban. Ezért is jó ez a közeg az újfajta módszerek kipróbálásához.
A hazai fejlesztésű Xeropan nyelvtanító appban (iOS, Android), amely a tavalyi Appra Magyar versenyen díjat nyert, mindez megtalálható. Az ebben összeállított ingyenes nyelvleckék egyáltalán nem hasonlítanak a Duolingóra, nem teszteket kell egymás után ledarálni, hanem változatos szövegeket, videókat és hanganyagokat kapunk. A feldolgozott témák aktuálisak - az egyik tanuló elmondta, volt olyan hír, amit előbb látott a Xeropanban leckeként feldolgozva, mint hogy a magyar újságok megírták volna.
Az iskolai tankönyvek még nagyon távol vannak ettől, azokban még előfordul, hogy egy levél megírása a feladat. Még csak nem is emailt kell fogalmazni, pedig ma már sokkal hasznosabb lenne az üzenetküldéssel kapcsolatban tanácsokat adni, hiszen bárkivel élőben csetelhetünk, akár videotelefonon is.
Olyan, mint a Facebook-hírfolyam
Nemrég összeültünk néhány felhasználóval, hogy mondják el nekünk, miért a Xeropant használják, és mindenki az izgalmas, változatos tartalmakat emelte ki.
A szakmai témákat jól ismerem, de itt más kapok. Nagyon megragadt bennem az a lecke, ami a Nutella készítéséről szólt. Ez olyan, amire magamtól nem keresnék rá az interneten
- mondta a szoftverfejlesztő Cselle Lajos, aki bevallotta, hogy a középiskolában megutáltatták bele a nyelvtanulást, a leckemásolástól a puskázásig minden volt az órákon. Most azért képzi tovább magát, mert a cégével a külföldi piacokat is célba akarja venni, és fontos, hogy jól tudjon kommunikálni. Azt mondta, nagy segítség, hogy a Xeropanban anyanyelvi kiejtéssel olvassák fel a szövegeket.
A nyomdász Lővey Noémi a felsőfokúra hajt, ő a Xeropan felépítését emelte ki. Először végighallgatjuk a hanganyagot, utána a szószedetben megnézzük az új kifejezéseket, és a legvégén, amikor rányomunk a "nyelvtan" feliratú gombra, akkor válnak láthatóvá azok a szavak és kifejezések, amelyekhez valamilyen elméleti háttér is tartozik. Ezen cikk megírásakor a rigai biciklis felvonulásról volt fent egy sztori, és abban a jelzős szerkezetek (car-sized, seven-headed) és a módbeli segédigék (can, might, shall) nyelvtanát lehetett részletesen megismerni.
13 éves korom óra 18 tanárt fogyasztottam el, és mostanra annak lettem a szakértője, hogyan nem szabad nyelvet tanítani
- mondta Mile Ferenc, közgazdász, aki nemcsak használja a Xeropant, hanem a cég egyik alapítója és tulajdonosa is egyben. Alapítótársa Madzsid Al-Gharawi Attila, akinél angolul tanult, és órák után együtt találták ki, hogy miként kellene modern alapokra helyezni a nyelvtanulást.
„A nyelvoktatás hiányosságaira kerestünk megoldást, és az egyik kihívás a mérhetőség hiánya volt. A nyelvoktatók nem látnak bele a tanulók fejébe, nem ismerik a tanulók szókincsét, annak aktív és passzív változását" - mondta Madzsid Al-Gharawi Attila, aki már tíz éve nyelvtanár, de úgy látja, hogy a munkája csak 30 százalékban nyelvészet, a maradék 70 százalék pszichológia, és az utóbbi szerepében az a fő feladata, hogy magabiztossá tegye a tanulókat.
Nem a tanuló hülye, hanem a módszerek rosszak. Sokan elkönyvelik magukban, hogy nem értik a angolt
- mondta Madzsid Al-Gharawi Attila. A mobilalkalmazás fejlesztésébe azért vágtak bele, mert azt vették észre, hogy a most használt eszközök, a könyvek, édesanyáink generációjának íródtak. „Nem véletlen, hogy sokan a Youtube-hoz, a Google-höz és a filmekhez fordulnak segítségért. Ezek az eszközök azonban nehezen strukturálhatók, kihívás a megfelelő válaszokat kinyerni. Ezen akartam változtatni, hogy a nyelvtanulóknak és nekem is könnyebb dolgom legyen.” - tette hozzá.
A Xeropan tizenkét fős fejlesztőcsapata már dolgozik az appok következő verzióján, amibe hangfelismerő modult is akarnak építeni, hogy szóban lehessen válaszolni a feltett kérdésekre. Az ingyenes szolgáltatásból persze nem tudnának megélni, ezért azt tervezik, hogy tematikus tananyagokat is kifejlesztenek, amelyeket pénzért el tudnak adni az érdeklődőknek.
Scientists Chirp Excitedly for LIGO, Gravitational Waves and Einstein
How do you celebrate a major discovery in physics and astronomy that could change the shape of scientific inquiry for the next century? Many scientists active on social media did it by chirping.
Evidence of gravitational waves was announced on Thursday by physicists associated with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory project. The experiment’s two L-shaped antennas, in Louisiana and Washington state, detected a signal in September that resulted from a collision of two black holes more than a billion light-years from our spot in the universe. That reading could go a long way toward confirming a part of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
The disturbance that the antennas picked up was converted by LIGO researchers into sound waves, producing a chirping sound that is something like an interstellar ring tone that can be heard by anyone or anything in the universe listening for it.
Rumors of the discovery swirled before the announcement, and while they waited to hear it, scientists took to Twitter, YouTube and other digital platforms to make their own chirps.
The trend appears to have been kicked off by Katherine J. Mack, an astrophysicist in Australia. She wrote on Twitter that she was practicing her “gravitational wave binary inspiral chirp. For science,” and shared a YouTube video:
Like a siege of herons or a bevy of larks, other physicists and science aficionados heeded her hashtag of #ChirpForLIGO and recorded their own sounds, many of which were captured in this YouTube roundup:
And as the LIGO announcement neared, a group of scientists at Monash University recorded their chirps as a group, with help from some libations:
But the people running the Albert Einstein Twitter account suggested that the eminent physicist would have found his own audible way to celebrate if he were with us today:
Excel tips and tricks
This Excel trick will save you time and impress your boss. Dynamic named ranges.