America Has a New $95B Startup King – OZY

Happy Monday!! I’ve always prided myself on my mental math skills. I hate using a calculator. But my vanity pales before my admiration for the grad student you’ll meet today who recently cracked one of math’s most persistent puzzles. Look back at some of history’s most brilliant timepieces, leap forward to the surprising ways America’s $1.9 trillion stimulus could impact the world, and listen to the greatest singers … who’ve been forgotten by the Grammys.

Charu Sudan Kasturi, Senior Editor

1. Where the Streets Have No Shame

At least 51 people were killed in Myanmar Sunday as security forces cracked down on protesters agitating against the February military coup. And over in Britain, London’s Metropolitan Police faces criticism for clashing with peaceful protesters at a vigil for Sarah Everard, a woman abducted and murdered allegedly by a police officer. (Sources: Radio Free Asia, BBC, Guardian)

2. Clot Clash

The Netherlands and Ireland are the latest European nations to suspend the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine amid concerns over blood clots in some people who have taken the shots — though the company insists the vaccine is safe. Meanwhile, Brazil’s dealing with a more fundamental mystery: Zé Gotinha, its blue-eyed, Casper-like mascot in the battle against COVID-19 is missing in action. (Sources: Reuters, CNN, Sky News, New York Daily News)

3. Earning Its Stripe

Fintech startup Stripe has become America’s most valuable private firm after fresh fundraising raised its worth to $95 billion. The company has global ambitions — last October, it entered Africa by buying Nigerian startup Paystack for more than $200 million. (Sources: FT, NYT, TechCrunch)

4. ‘I Can’t Breathe’

H.E.R.’s protest anthem won Song of the Year at the Grammys last night, with Megan Thee Stallion, Beyoncé (and her 9-year-old daughter), Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa among other major winners. But was the nod to America’s social churn enough, or do the Grammys need to better reflect the planet’s diverse cultural talent? Vote on Twitter or here. (Source: LA Times, CBS)

Pigscan’t fly but they can play video games.Scientists have successfully trained four pigs to use joysticks and move cursors on the screen. Now pigs know what to do when they’re boar-ed.


Yesterday was Pi Day — an annual celebration of math’s most famous ratio. Meet the modern queens and kings of numbers. 

1. Cédric Villani

He’s known as the “Lady Gaga” of mathematics — and he’s every bit as provocative. Often dressed in 19th century styled suits with a spider-shaped brooch, the 47-year-old — a winner of the Fields Medal, the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in math — has appeared on the cover of fashion magazines, written a comic book and in 2017, entered the French Parliament. But he has found politics a tougher equation to solve, losing his bid to become Paris mayor last year, in the process hurting his friend President Emmanuel Macron’s political plans.

2. Lisa Piccirillo

Until last summer she was a regular, theater-loving grad student. Then she heard of the so-called Conway Knot, a problem that had baffled mathematicians for more than half a century. Piccirillo solved it in a week, her solution yanking her from academic anonymity to superstardom and a tenure-track position at the Massachusetts University of Technology weeks after she completed her Ph.D.

3. Neena Gupta

The bespectacled 36-year-old is the youngest winner of India’s top science prize after she cracked the Zariski Cancellation Problem, a math puzzle even older than the Conway Knot, dating back to 1949. She’s also part of a bold new generation of Indian women challenging patriarchal stereotypes in the male-dominated fields of science and math. Read more on OZY.

4. Abdon Atangana

The 35-year-old Cameroonian mathematician hopes to do for Africans what Gupta is doing for Indian women: inspire them to believe that they’re no less than the white men who’ve ruled the field. Atangana, whose research is often among the most cited in the math world, applies ivory tower theories to solve groundwater problems and track diseases like Ebola. “It shows that an African can do it,” he says. 

Dodgeball: McCollum v Mayfield

In anticipation of March Madness, The Carlos Watson Show guests queue up for their own March Matchups. Today, you’re team captain of the dodgeball team. Between Cleveland Browns quarterbackBaker Mayfield and breakout NBA star CJ McCollum, who would be your first pick? Watch their episodes and vote here!

The $1.9 Trillion Spillover

The effects of the giant stimulus won’t be limited to America.

1. Beijing Boon or Bane

The stimulus package is expected to revive demand for consumer goods in America — and experts believe that’s good news for China, the world’s largest exporter. But some Chinese analysts worry a sudden surge in spending could create artificial bubbles in their economy, leaving China vulnerable.

2. Biden for President … of Mexico?

America’s stimulus packages under former President Donald Trump have already led to a record spike in remittances sent home by U.S.-based Mexicans who’ve received pandemic checks. Expect that trend to grow further with the payouts under the new Biden package, at a time when the country’s own president faces criticism over his handling of the pandemic. An expected increase in demand for electronic goods from the U.S. will also help Mexico’s factories.

3. PetroDollars Are Back

The stimulus is expected to lead to fresh growth in demand for oil, benefiting crude production giants like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria and Russia.

Timeless Timekeepers

Many of us no longer wear wristwatches — letting our omnipresent cellphones apprise us of the time. But what if reading the time was an actual experience, as with these classic timepieces? 

1. Incense Clocks

You’re literally burning time. By laying out incense powder in a specific pattern, you can calibrate time with the amount of incense that has burned. And you can check the time by watching where the smoke is coming from. The idea originated in India but spread to ancient China and Japan, where it gained mass popularity.

2. Water Clock

We all know the sundial. The problem? It depends on the sun and so is useless at night. That’s where the brilliance of the Egyptian water clock seeps through. Invented around 1500 BC, it involves a bowl with a tiny hole designed so that the water level at any point tells you the time.

Grammys: The Best They’ve Missed

The music industry’s biggest night continues to ignore the very best artists from most of the world outside of the West. No worries: we’ve got you covered.   

1. ‘Azmari’ by Mulatu Astatke

I’ll stick my neck out: There’s no greater living fusion musician than the father of “Ethio-jazz.” Astatke’s skill blending rhythms learnt in his homeland Ethiopia as well as in Boston, London and New York, make him an unparalleled master of the craft. Watch him lead from behind the conga drums in this live performance of his sublime classic, “Azmari.” Then tell me he’s not Grammy-worthy.

2. ‘Arawi’ by Luzmila Carpio

One of Bolivia’s greatest singers, 72-year-old Carpio will transport you to the Andean highlands with her equally high-pitch and soothing notes. She was forced to sing in Spanish as a child but is today a Quechua superstar — and a former ambassador to France. “Arawi” is my favorite song from her rich repertoire.