When the holidays are in full swing, it may be helpful to brush up on some topics that can help steer the office cocktail party and family dinner conversations away from impeachment, trade, the 2020 election or a potential recession.

While we have covered political and market news extensively, here are some other articles that could work as conversation starters to help fill those awkward silences when someone admits they forgot to defrost the turkey or when a work colleague starts talking about how exciting their new data inputting process is!

Could a 4 day week equal more productivity?

Successful Health & Wellness (H&W) programs could generate up to USD 3 in return for every USD spent. But H&W is not just about lowering healthcare costs. Evidence suggests companies that perform best on H&W also outperform financially.

Fun fact: Microsoft introduced a program this summer in Japan in which the company shut down its offices every Friday in August—somewhat surprisingly, it resulted in a 40% increase in productivity.

What shall we print for lunch?

While 3D printers aren’t yet a staple of our home kitchens, they are increasingly used in an experimental setting—and could ultimately help meet complex nutritional needs. 3D printers loaded with semolina cartridges can now print intricate pasta shapes, and the more advanced 3D printers can produce sophisticated confectionery creations by crystallizing thin layers of sugar into geometric patterns.

Fun fact: By making pizza ingredients in powder form and dehydrating them, a 3D printer has even made pizzas in space.

$250K a ticket, $35K a night

And now we can get pizza in space, will there be a restaurant on the moon in the next five years? NASA has been tasked with returning to the moon by 2024, something that will require significant government investment and spending, bolstering the commercial feasibility of private efforts. UBS expects the space economy to grow from USD 340bn currently to almost USD 1trn in the next couple of decades.

Fun fact: The BBC reported that NASA will permit “private astronauts” to travel to the International Space Station for up to 30 days, travelling on US spacecraft. The cost? USD 35,000 per night.

Hey Tinhead, that’s a terrible call

With so many sports on TV over the holidays, it’s good to know that video assistant referees, or umpire technology, are currently THE talk among sports fans—with these (somewhat) controversial decisions being analyzed in baseball, soccer and even gymnastics.

Fun fact: UBS expects AI industry revenues to grow from USD 7.2bn in 2017 to USD 43bn in 2025, an average annual growth rate of 25%.

Building blocks for a cleaner future

You’re quite likely to step on a kid’s LEGO this holiday season; they are the gift that just keep giving! However, those hard plastic blocks may be getting a makeover as LEGO is just one of a number of companies looking at alternatives to traditional plastic. For example, Coca-Cola is experimenting with “plant bottles” and IKEA is offering a freezer bag made from plant-derived plastic.

Fun fact: In 1997, LEGO suffered a “plastic spill” when nearly 4.8 million LEGO parts fell overboard from a container ship off the coast of Cornwall, UK. Fittingly, many of the pieces were nautical-themed, with flippers, diving helmets and mermaids being found to this day.

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