Monday, January 26, 2015

Bacteria that live off of electricity

I hadn't heard of this finding of microbes that link together in chains and live off of the electrical differential/potential as electrons flow across the circuit created.

Here's the article:  Have we found alien life?

quote: “It is kind of like science fiction,” he says. To a biologist, finding life that chugs along without a molecular energy source such as carbohydrates is about as unlikely as seeing passengers flying through the air without an airplane.

Here's a couple of related videos:


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Bowhead whales live up to 200 years

Here's an interesting article on longevity research and a genetic study of bowhead whales.  The whales can live up to 2000 year.  

quote: The team found that the whales have genes related to DNA repair, as well as those regulating how cells proliferate, that differ from those found in humans.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Horizontal drilling

Ever wonder exactly how the horizontal drilling and fracking process works?  Here's a pretty cool video that shows what's going on.  It's amazing to me that this can technically be done.

and a story from Foreign Affairs arguing that oil shale and natural gas boom that we've seen in the past decade or so could've only happened in the US due largely to individual land rights, legal system, and an economic structure that can support a large number of small independent operators.

The article concludes that despite large stores of natural gas in other parts of the world, it will likely be difficult to recreate the U.S. success globally.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Public ownership of sports franchises

I've wondered why cities are willing to spend huge sums of money on stadiums and arenas, but don't just go ahead and buy the sports franchise itself? 

Here's a Vice article discussing this

"And then there were those who wondered: for $183 million, wouldn't it have been cheaper for D.C. to skip the stadium and just buy the team?"

Saturday, January 3, 2015

S&P500 and international exposure

I was thinking about asset allocation today - specifically: "what is international exposure?"

In particular, how much international exposure is built into the S&P500, or should we have explicit international exposure?  

Well, with some quick googling it seems the S&P 500 companies have anywhere from 33% to 50% of revenues coming from outside the U.S.  On the low end , this article mentions research showing that 33% of the revenue from S&P500 companies is derived outside of the US.  Here's another article that says 50% of S&P500 revenue comes from foreign sources.    This story from 2011 puts the figure at 47%.  I'm not sure why the wide range, but we're probably safe saying many of the big American companies have significant international exposure - anywhere from 33% to 50% in aggregate. 

So do I need an explicit international index in my portfolio?  After seeing this I'm less concerned about needing that, especially if I have a large S&P500 exposure or invest in US large cap companies.  In particular, I would want to make sure I don't inadvertently over-weight international by calling the S&P500 "domestic" exposure when it's probably close to a 50/50 split of domestic/international exposure already.