Cambridge University: Below a $35 Fare, Taxis Beat Uber

Only after riders spend $35 on cab fare is it less expensive to take an Uber in New York City, according to researchers at Cambridge University, UK.

Only after riders spend $35 on cab fare is it less expensive to take an Uber, according to researchers at Cambridge University, UK.

Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, scientists were able to compare the cost of all New York City Yellow Taxi journeys during the whole of 2013 against Uber pricing using the cheapest version of the service, called Uber X.

The data set obtained by researchers is impressive in scale, detailing every pick up and drop off as well as the fare paid for hundreds of millions of journeys through the city. 

"Uber appears more expensive for prices below $35 and begins to become cheaper only after that threshold," says Cecilia Mascolo, professor of Mobile Systems at Jesus College.

In a place as dense as New York City, shorter trips are the norm, suggesting that Uber exploits this trend in human mobility to maximize revenue, says Mascolo. 

If that leaves you feeling a little exploited, you're not alone. When internet entrepreneur and author Andrew Keen spoke with Big Think, he warned that Uber's allegiance to free market principles actually risks creating a monopoly that makes the consumer worse off:

"Uber represents a much more dangerous monopoly. The reason why Uber is valued at $40 billion, the reason why billions of dollars of Silicon Valley and Wall Street money have poured into Uber is because it’s a play actually controlling the entire global cab transportation industry. Uber is not for the people; it’s not for the consumer."

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

Meet the Bajau sea nomads — they can reportedly hold their breath for 13 minutes

The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.

Wikimedia Commons
Culture & Religion
  • The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
  • Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
  • Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
Keep reading Show less

Golden blood: The rarest blood in the world

We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.

Abid Katib/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
  • Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
  • It's also very dangerous to live with this blood type, as so few people have it.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists create a "lifelike" material that has metabolism and can self-reproduce

An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.

Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
Surprising Science
  • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
  • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
  • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
Keep reading Show less