“I have worried about everything from dairy cows to addictive technology”

    Business Spotlight 4/2020
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    This is my last column for Business Spotlight, and I hate to say goodbye. Over the past six-and-a-half years, I have written about some of my biggest business heroes and villains, pet peeves and pet passions.

    In this column, I have worried about everything from dairy cowMilchkuhdairy cows to addictivesüchtig machendaddictive technology. I have been excited about green cars and London wines. In one of my first columns, I got angry about new architecture and, recently, I shared my fascination in the declineNiedergang; hier auch: Verschwindendecline of old-fashioned cash.

    Along the way, some of my views have shifted. In 2014, my column about the work of space pioneer Elon Musk sounded almost like fan mail, but, less than five years later, I found the idea of trips around the moon “increasingly distastefulgeschmacklosdistasteful”.

    Sometimes, readers have also been kind enough to write back to me, and I thank those of you who have done so.

    In offering opinion pieces, there is always the hope that something you think should change, will change. Mostly, of course, one is disappointed. So, I could not have been more delighted when, in 2019, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to John Goodenough for his role in developing the rechargeable lithium-ion battery.

    Two years earlier, I had written a column in praise of the German-born American professor. At the age of 94, he was still working full-time as an academic at the University of Texas in Austin. Although he had recently told a BBC interviewer that he did not worry much about prizes, I felt that he absolutely deserved a call from Stockholm. His work had helped enable the mobile technology that has transformed our lives.

    Then the call came, making Professor Goodenough — who will be 98 in July — the oldest person ever to receive a Nobel Prize. It was a delight to watch a livestream of the ceremony in December 2019 as the King of Sweden presented him and two fellowKollege/Kollegin; hier: Mit-fellow chemists from the UK and Japan with their award.

    One word that has never appeared in this column is Brexit. This was largely for practical reasons: the situation in the UK over the past four years has been so uncertain that any reference to it was in danger of becoming outdated between leaving my laptop and appearing in this magazine. Now that Brexit is certain, I must say that I was hoping — as with John Goodenough’s Nobel Prize — for a late miracleWundermiracle.

    It did not come, and I do not wish to add to this year’s many “goodbyes” from Britain. So, to the readers and staff of Business Spotlight, I choose to end my final column with herzlichen Dank und auf Wiedersehen.


    Elizabeth Ribbans

    Elisabeth Ribbans is a British journalist and editorial consultant. Contact: ej.ribbans@gmail.com 

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