Electrification Insight From a Stunning NASA Map

African development continues to be constrained by problems with electricity generation and access to electricity that affect productivity and mobility.

Bedtime Stories… About the Economy.

From statistics and a satellite image of the world at night, we can see that developing countries lack the electrification they need for economic growth.

Innovation: Do We Need Software Patents?

Should intellectual property be protected? Thomas Jefferson said not necessarily. “…he who lights his taper at mine receives light without darkening me…” Consequently, “Invention … cannot be a subject of property.” Somewhat disagreeing, Alexander Hamilton perceived patents as incentives. People were…

Land, Labor and Capital: 18th and 21st Century Solar Power

In one of his farm journals, Thomas Jefferson displays the importance of the sun. Just because the length of the workday is determined by daylight, one half more wool was spun during July than in January . You can start…

Economic Independence Day

Alexander Hamilton must have been worried. In 1790, as Secretary of the Treasury, a troubled economy had become his responsibility. He had a huge federal debt to fund, a banking sector that was distressed, and an economy to stimulate. Sound…

Economic Disagreement

Astronomy might help us understand US history according to biographer Walter Isaacson. We just need to think about binary systems in which 2 separately orbiting stars “are linked because of their gravitational interaction.” The tension between Hamilton and Jefferson was…

Debt Compromises

This story is about a country that had massive debt. A recent war had been expensive and the economy had big problems. Still though, powerful political leaders opposed the solution that the Secretary of the Treasury proposed. Yes, the country…

Innovative Challenges

Is it likely that, with each new discovery, innovation gets tougher? It might have been easier to identify an asteroid a century ago because the undiscovered ones were very big. It might have been simpler to find a new human…

Speculators, Thomas Jefferson, and President Obama

Thomas Jefferson and President Obama had similar concerns about financial speculators. In 1790, Thomas Jefferson opposed funding the domestic part of the Revolutionary War debt if the financial speculators who bought bonds at a depressed price would benefit. Instead Jefferson…

Time Matters

In a brief and wonderful 2003 article called “Clocks and the Wealth of Nations”, economic historian David Landes explained the importance of accurate timekeeping. China missed navigational opportunities because they did not develop the precise clocks needed for latitude and…