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Milk cans for the global village

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OPEN BOX

It was the humble milk can that helped me understand the principle of globalization at an early age, at least unwittingly. As the milk – so important for my growth – was produced a couple of kilometers from our house, I had to cycle to a farm every evening with a metal milk can to fetch some still-warm milk in time for dinner. This was a rather irksome task that eventually made me insist, at age eight, that our front garden should be transformed into a pasture for a dairy cow. A pleasant model – though barely economically viable, as my father explained.

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All blue tits are connected – at least somehow

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OPEN MEMORY

A couple of apes are sitting on a lonely hilltop somewhere, let’s say Africa, and together they learn a new skill. Before long, this new ability will have spread in waves across the entire planet. The acquired knowledge then pervades the entire species, becoming part of the collective memory of all apes in the process. British biologist Rupert Sheldrake is convinced that all animals of the same species worldwide can draw on a vast library of once acquired practical knowledge. What a wonderful thought. Read More

Icon with shoulder straps and legs of its own

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OPEN BAG

Ikea’s blue shopping bag may have become a fashion accessory overnight, but it’s been working its way up to fame for a couple of decades. It was conceived in 1996, when Ikea had a less than glamorous problem. Smaller things than flat-pack items were being added to the product range, but customers weren’t finding it easy to cart them around the gigantic stores. The blue bag was the solution – though it wasn’t one the furniture empire could keep within the confines of its premises. No matter how they tried, they could never quite stop customers from taking the bag home with them.

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Where’s my pan, Paul?

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OPEN KITCHEN

In the 1960s, Julia Child succeeded in turning an entire nation on to French onion soup. This is just one reason why the kitchen belonging to this American cookery icon is today housed in the same wing of the National Museum in Washington, like the Apollo 13 rocket. Both were risky, if ultimately successful missions. Read More

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