Globetrotting: news from around the world — September 2015

The USA’s largest ranch goes up for sale for US$725 million, while nearly a million bank cards are issued in cash-strapped Greece.

US REAL ESTATE

Home on the range

Looking for a nice big place to hang your cowboy hat? Consider a recent joke ad, as posted by Bloomberg: “Largest ranch in the US ... Texas fixer-upper with more than 1,000 oil wells, 6,800 head of cattle, 500 quarter horses, 30,000 acres of cropland, tombstones for legendary cowboys, long-dead dogs, and a horse buried standing up ... Ideal for Saudi oil sheiks, billionaire hedge funders, and dot-commers who can tell a cow from a steer... Price: $725 million.”

The Waggoner Estate ranch covers more than 800 square miles — an area larger than New York City and Los Angeles combined. The asking price is four times the highest sum ever publicly known to have been paid for a US ranch: US$175 million.

PHARMACEUTICALS

It’s in their DNA

DNA 

In a remote Dutch village, many citizens have a rare mutation called sclerosteosis that causes them to grow extra large and dense bones, reports Bloomberg. This makes them unusually resistant to shocks.

One villager with sclerosteosis told a researcher that once when he was crossing the street, he didn’t have time to dodge a Mercedes coming toward him. “What happened?” asked the researcher. To go by the man’s response, it was the Mercedes that took the beating.

People like the villager who can walk away from accidents, and others who are have a congenital insensitivity to pain, possess rare genes that are now worth billions to pharma companies.

Genentech, for example, is working on a drug based on pain-blocking genes. And Amgen hopes to come up with a drug capable of mimicking the effects of sclerosteosis to promote bone growth and fight osteoporosis.

HIGH TECH

Memory in the making

“Revolutionary” is a term that is liberally applied in the computer field. But according to some, 3D Xpoint memory just might be the real deal. The technology, developed by Intel and Micron, will be 1,000 times faster than NAND, which is currently used for memory.

The new technology’s 3D design speeds up memory performance. It has been compared to a screen door with ultra-fast switches at the points where the wires cross each other. Eventually, 3D Xpoint could serve as the sole memory in computers.

There is just one downside: today’s computers are not built to handle such a leap in performance and will need to undergo major redesigns.

GREEK ECONOMY

Don’t bank on it

US REAL ESTATE Home on the range  Looking for a nice big place to hang your cowboy hat? Consider a recent joke ad, as posted by Bloomberg: “Largest ranch in the US ... Texas fixer-upper with more than 1,000 oil wells, 6,800 head of cattle, 500 quarter horses, 30,000 acres of cropland, tombstones for legendary cowboys, long-dead dogs, and a horse buried standing up ... Ideal for Saudi oil sheiks, billionaire hedge funders, and dot-commers who can tell a cow from a steer... Price: $725 million.”   The Waggoner Estate ranch covers more than 800 square miles — an area larger than New York City and Los Angeles combined. The asking price is four times the highest sum ever publicly known to have been paid for a US ranch: US$175 million.   PHARMACEUTICALS  It’s in their DNA  In a remote Dutch village, many citizens have a rare mutation called sclerosteosis that causes them to grow extra large and dense bones, reports Bloomberg. This makes them unusually resistant to shocks.   One villager with sclerosteosis told a researcher that once when he was crossing the street, he didn’t have time to dodge a Mercedes coming toward him. “What happened?” asked the researcher. To go by the man’s response, it was the Mercedes that took the beating.   People like the villager who can walk away from accidents, and others who are have a congenital insensitivity to pain, possess rare genes that are now worth billions to pharma companies.   Genentech, for example, is working on a drug based on pain-blocking genes. And Amgen hopes to come up with a drug capable of mimicking the effects of sclerosteosis to promote bone growth and fight osteoporosis.    HIGH TECH  Memory in the making  “Revolutionary” is a term that is liberally applied in the computer field. But according to some, 3D Xpoint memory just might be the real deal. The technology, developed by Intel and Micron, will be 1,000 times faster than NAND, which is currently used for memory.  The new technology’s 3D design speeds up memory performance. It has been compared to a screen door with ultra-fast switches at the points where the wires cross each other. Eventually, 3D Xpoint could serve as the sole memory in computers.   There is just one downside: today’s computers are not built to handle such a leap in performance and will need to undergo major redesigns.    GREEK ECONOMY  Don’t bank on it  Cash has traditionally reigned supreme in Greece. But the recent closing of Greek banks caused many citizens to move to bank cards, reports Parisian business weekly Les Échos.  Between June 28 and August 5, nearly a million cards were issued — quite a feat for a country with 9.26 million citizens over 15 years of age. Cash withdrawals are still limited to 420 euros a week per person, but there is no ceiling on card payments for domestic transactions. 

Cash has traditionally reigned supreme in Greece. But the recent closing of Greek banks caused many citizens to move to bank cards, reports Parisian business weekly Les Échos.

Between June 28 and August 5, nearly a million cards were issued — quite a feat for a country with 9.26 million citizens over 15 years of age. Cash withdrawals are still limited to 420 euros a week per person, but there is no ceiling on card payments for domestic transactions.

About the Author

Yan Barcelo


Yan Barcelo is a journalist in Montreal.

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