University of Reading Research Blog

Coinbase is listing for US$100 billion on NASDAQ, but you might be better buying bitcoin instead

Coinbase, the San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange, is going public on April 14. The company will trade under the ticker COIN and list 114,850,769 shares on the NASDAQ with an initial valuation of US$100 billion (£73 billion).

Instead of following the traditional initial public offering (IPO) route, Coinbase plans to post its shares straight on the NASDAQ exchange via a direct listing, a technique pioneered by big names like Spotify and Palantir in recent years. Whereas an IPO involves a company creating new shares and having an underwriter that buys them for a set price and then sells them to the market, in a direct listing a company sells existing shares and has no underwriter.

But what is Coinbase and why is this such as important development in the cryptocurrency market?

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Antarctica’s ice shelves are trembling as global temperatures rise – what happens next is up to us

Images of colossal chunks of ice plunging into the sea accompany almost every news story about climate change. It can often make the problem seem remote, as if the effects of rising global temperatures are playing out elsewhere. But the break-up of the world’s vast reservoirs of frozen water – and, in particular, Antarctic ice shelves – will have consequences for all of us.

Before we can appreciate how, we need to understand what’s driving this process.

Ice shelves are gigantic floating platforms of ice that form where continental ice meets the sea. They’re found in Greenland, northern Canada and the Russian Arctic, but the largest loom around the edges of Antarctica. They are fed by frozen rivers of ice called glaciers, which flow down from the steep Antarctic ice sheet.

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The work of the Knowledge Transfer Centre

The Knowledge Transfer Centre (KTC) is part of the Commercial Function and supports knowledge exchange (KE), commercialisation and commercial projects at the University. We work with internal and external partners to maximise the socio-economic potential of the University’s property portfolio, academic know-how and research outputs, including intellectual property, to benefit the University and our wider business and community stakeholders.

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Boosting bee diversity can help stabilise crop production

There are over 20,000 bee species and together they help pollinate more than 75% of the world’s leading food crops. Honeybees tend to hog the limelight, but few realise how important diversity is to this process. Having lots of different species of pollinating insects on farmland can lead to better crop yields, while crops attended by fewer species tend to set less fruit and produce fewer seeds.

For food systems to maintain a stable output each year, farms need pollinator numbers to remain stable too. But the abundance of these insects can fluctuate from one year to the next, so what’s needed to keep them relatively constant? With so much of the world’s food production dependent on the pollinating work of insects, this question is very important.

 

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University Research Fellowships: how has the year been?

Each year the University Committee for Research & Innovation supports up to five researchers with University Research Fellowships to develop their work in the arts, humanities and social sciences for the following year. Each fellow receives funding for teaching replacement costs and research expenses and are selected based on the originality, rigour and significance of their applications.

 

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Introducing our Entrepreneur in Residence

The Knowledge Transfer Centre (KTC) is very happy to announce that William Kilgallon has been appointed as a Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR) to the University of Reading, based within the School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy. The scheme provides opportunities for enthusiastic, highly experienced industrial scientists to work on a bespoke project that helps both academic and professional service staff realise the potential of their research to industry.

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The Long Read: This 400-year-old botched nose job shows how little our feelings about transplants have changed

In 1624, a physician called Jean-Baptiste van Helmont told a strange story in his book of “magnetic cures” about a man from Brussels who had lost his nose. Having had his nose cut off “in combat”, the man went to a famous Italian surgeon, Gaspare Tagliacozzi, who promised to make him a new one “resembling nature’s pattern”. The problem was that Tagliacozzi wanted to use some of the man’s own skin to recreate the nose. Not keen on this idea, the noseless man decided to buy his way to a new face. He hired a local porter to donate some of his skin and had the surgeon fashion a new nose out of this foreign tissue.

Credit: Silver plated artificial nose. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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Understanding vertical motion in clouds

How much the global mean temperature will change in response to increases in carbon dioxide is of high uncertainty in climate models but is critical for future planning and climate adaptation. Jian-Feng Gu describes a new understanding of how the vertical motions of heat and moisture within shallow cumulus clouds can be affected by pressure change due to small-scale thermals. This can help improve the representation of  ‘vertical transport’  in cumulus clouds in climate models and potentially help explain the differences between climate models in how they predict warming.

Cumulus_clouds_Image-by-anncapictures-from-Pixabay.jpg
Cumulus clouds. Image by annacapictures from Pixabay.

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Oil: why higher prices will complicate the energy transition

The oil price is on a rollercoaster. Having crashed into negative territory just last April, the price of Brent crude climbed all the way to US$70 (£50) earlier in March. It has since slid below US$64. So where is it heading and what are the implications?

There are several reasons why oil prices surged from their 2020 lows. One is a common belief in an imminent “commodity supercycle”, in which an explosion in economic activity after the pandemic creates soaring oil demand.

Supply has been limited since Saudi Arabia and Russia cut production in spring 2020. The suspicion then and consensus now is that this sought to force down prices to drive less efficient US shale oil producers out of the market. It has substantially had that effect, with less shale entering the market as a result.

 

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Developing skills to face future challenges: the new IFNH Education and Professional Training Hub

Back in December 2020 we held our annual IFNH Forum on the importance of interdisciplinary working to successfully address food system challenges and solve global hunger. These significant challenges were touched on again, this time as part of the launch event for IFNH’s new Education and Professional Training Hub (EPTH) held earlier this month.

The current pandemic has focused the minds of many on both sustainability and the wider well-being of society. But a highly skilled workforce is required to understand societal impact and meet the resulting challenges related to health, inequalities and sustainable and nutritious food production across the globe. Businesses, NGOs and individuals all need professional training and skills development opportunities to lead effective business enhancement, innovation and sustainable food systems.

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