Globetrotting: news from around the world — June/July 2016

By 2025, at least 40 of the world’s cities will have become megacities. And this year, the Monarchy will contribute a net profit of 1.14 billion pounds to the British economy.


The move to megacities

Cities have been the most stable form of social organization throughout history, outlasting kingdoms, empires and whole civilizations. Now we have cities growing into megacities. By 2025, the planet will harbour 40 of these gigantic clusters, reports Quartz. Already, the populations of Mexico City and the Chongqing region are larger than that of Australia. And Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka, more than 100 km apart, now form Japan’s Taiheiyo Belt, encompassing two-thirds of Japan’s population. There are at least a dozen similar megacity corridors, three of them in the US.

The San Francisco-San Jose stretch is home to more than 6,000 tech companies. The Boston-New York-Washington corridor houses the country’s academic, financial and political nexus. And the Dallas-Fort Worth “metroplex” has an economy larger than South Africa’s.


A rich contribution

Queen Elizabeth 

Royalty is a big plus for the British economy, reports The Nation. According to Brand Finance, a brand and business valuation agency, the Monarchy will contribute a net profit of 1.14 billion pounds ($2.12 billion) to the country’s coffers in 2016.

To come up with this figure, the agency treated the Monarchy (often called the Firm) as if it were a company. Costs for security, palace maintenance and the Sovereign Grant (the annual payment made to the Monarch) were netted off against income sources such as the uplift to tourism, the price premium that brands with Royal Warrants (e.g., Twinings & Co.) command and the surplus produced by the Crown Estate. Of course, for the full picture you need to include the tangible assets of the Royal Family (the Crown Estate, Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster and the Crown Jewels), which together represent many, many billions.


Small screen, big money

Video games are big business, representing a global total of US$99.6 billion this year. And now, for the first time, mobile game revenues are overtaking those played on PCs or consoles.

This year, the mobile market is expected to make up 37% of the total, or US$36.9 billion. PCs will account for US$31.9 billion, and consoles for US$29 billion.

Among countries with gaming revenue, China is emerging as the new kid on the block. In 2016, it will pull in US$24.4 billion, just slightly more than the US figure of US$23.5 billion.


Mars, here we come

Futuristic ion engine 

Currently, it costs US$100,000 to haul a single kilogram of material to the moon using spacecraft with chemical propulsion systems, reports the International Business Times. This makes it impossible to colonize Mars.

Now, NASA has awarded Aerojet Rocketdyne a US$67-million contract to develop a futuristic ion engine that uses experimental solar-electric propulsion technology. Spacecraft powered by the new engine will be much slower than the current ones but will be able to carry a lot more cargo, making it possible to ferry people and large quantities of supplies to the Red Planet. Time to start packing.