How Toyota became the most innovative car company in the world
This weekend's New York Times Magazine featured a great cover story on Toyota, which explained how the Japanese company has become the acknowledged leader in the global automobile industry. At a time when Ford and GM are downsizing and rightsizing, the incredible Toyota engineering team continues to get things right. The latest product is the Toyota Tundra, a new full-size truck designed with Red State America in mind. With Toyota, small incremental innovations snowball over time into huge improvements in productivity, efficiency and output. By the end of 2007, Toyota could pass GM as the world's largest car company. Already, the company's stock market capitalization is $240 billion - higher than that of GM, Ford, Daimler Chrysler, Honda and Nissan combined. If Toyota were a baseball team, surmises Jon Gertner of the New York Times, it would be the type of team that wins 150 out of 162 games.
Anyway, if you're looking for some Japanese management buzzwords to inject into your cocktail conversations, the article explains concepts like kaizen ("continuous improvement") and genchi genbutsu ("what customers want in a car or truck and how any current versions come up short"). What's cool is that Toyota engineering and design teams actually make archaeological visits to truck graveyards in Michigan, where they examine the rusting hulks of old trucks: "With so many retired trucks in one place, they also gained a better sense of how trucks had evolved over the past 30 years - becoming larger, more various, more luxurious - and where they might go next." (In addition to this great quote about evolution, the article highlights the importance of Toyota's DNA -- both topics, of course, that relate directly to the Endless Innovation blog!)
Research in plant neurobiology shows that plants have senses, intelligence and emotions.
- The field of plant neurobiology studies the complex behavior of plants.
- Plants were found to have 15-20 senses, including many like humans.
- Some argue that plants may have awareness and intelligence, while detractors persist.
E-cigarettes may be safer than traditional cigarettes, but they come with their own risks.
- A new study used an MRI machine to examine how vaping e-cigarettes affects users' cardiovascular systems immediately after inhalation.
- The results showed that vaping causes impaired circulation, stiffer arteries and less oxygen in their blood.
- The new study adds to a growing body of research showing that e-cigarettes – while likely safer than traditional cigarettes – are far from harmless.
Since the idea of locality is dead, space itself may not be an aloof vacuum: Something welds things together, even at great distances.
- Realists believe that there is an exactly understandable way the world is — one that describes processes independent of our intervention. Anti-realists, however, believe realism is too ambitious — too hard. They believe we pragmatically describe our interactions with nature — not truths that are independent of us.
- In nature, properties of Particle B may be depend on what we choose to measure or manipulate with Particle A, even at great distances.
- In quantum mechanics, there is no explanation for this. "It just comes out that way," says Smolin. Realists struggle with this because it would imply certain things can travel faster than light, which still seems improbable.