The Stuff Our Modern World Runs On

A collection of some of the best links from around the web, manually curated.

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The discovery of copper

New in my favourite nerdy subgenre: the in-depth profile of materials our modern world runs on. This piece makes you understand how crucial copper is for building a carbon-free future, and how that means we need plenty more of those biggest man-made holes in the world.

From Weekly Filet #457, in September 2023.

99% Invisible: Nuts and Bolts

As you might have noticed as keen readers of the Weekly Filet, I love in-depth profiles of materials our modern world runs on. This isn’t quite that, but similar: A conversation about small inventions with big effects on our modern world, from the nail to the spring to the lens. Insightful and entertaining.

From Weekly Filet #442, in May 2023.

Concrete Built The Modern World. Now It’s Destroying It.

It quite literally laid much of the foundations of the world as we know it, it has been (and continues to be) a «great emancipator in poorer parts of the world». However, it’s also one of the biggest emitters of carbon emissions so we need alternatives, fast. This is the story of concrete. (An interesting fact: In the 1950s and 60s, the Swiss poured more concrete per capita than any other country.)

From Weekly Filet #424, in January 2023.

The Race to Produce Green Steel

Here’s an astonishing fact: For every ton of steel that gets produced, two tons of carbon dioxide is emitted. In a world made of steel this adds up to 7 to 11 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions. Reaching climate goals means drastically reducing the carbon footprint of how we make steel. This article gives a good overview of the key challenges of «green» steelmaking, and where we currently stand.

From Weekly Filet #399, in June 2022.

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