Jeff bezos

What would life on Mars actually look like?

Just as extreme altitudes have notable effects on the human body and mind, so too does extreme wealth seem to have a particular effect on psychology. Or at least that’s how it appears when you look at the shared ambition of two of the world’s most prominent billionaires, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. Both men are fixated on the idea that humanity’s future lies beyond Earth and are funnelling fortunes into the vision that we will soon have significant human settlements off-planet, whether on the moon, Mars or elsewhere. It’s an argument grounded not just in exploration and discovery, but in survival. If humanity’s future on Earth looks to be

Like Alan Bennett but less funny: ‘night, Mother at Hampstead Theatre reviewed

’night, Mother is a two-hander that opens like a comedy sketch. ‘I’m going to kill myself, Mama,’ says Jessie. She’s cleaning a pistol and loading it with bullets. ‘I’ll shoot myself in a couple of hours.’ The pair live together in a lonely farmhouse, and Jessie wants to make sure her mother will be able to cope after her death. She tours the kitchen explaining where the fuses and the cleaning materials are kept. Mama, who doesn’t seem unduly alarmed, offers to phone her son and get him to thwart the suicide attempt. ‘I’ll just have to do it before he gets here,’ says Jessie. This is an intensely dramatic

What Prince William gets wrong about space travel

Time was when ‘to boldly go where no man has gone before’ was not just a line from Star Trek. It was a national dream. Space exploration transcended political divisions. When Nasa pulled off the first moon landing, the world watched in awe. Last week, the Star Trek actor William Shatner was blasted into space on one of Jeff Bezos’s rockets. Yet there was no shared wonder. Instead, there was criticism. Scientists have more pressing problems to solve, argued detractors. In a rebuke to Bezos, who is pouring his fortune into space travel, Prince William told the BBC: ‘We need some of the world’s greatest brains… trying to repair the planet,

Dave Eggers cancels Amazon

Selling books through Amazon is now part and parcel of a working author’s life. It would be a brave writer who decided to refuse to allow their work to be sold through earth’s biggest retailer. But that is exactly what Dave Eggers has done with his new book, The Every, which he has decreed can only be purchased from independent bookstores. Sorry, Jeff Bezos; this one’s not for you. It is hard to dismiss his decision to eschew Amazon as simply a quixotic act of rebellion by a washed-up has been Eggers has form in this regard. His 2013 satire The Circle took aim at a monolithic social media and tech

What Jeff Bezos should have learnt from Neil Armstrong

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos joined the billionaire space race today in his suitably phallic looking New Shepard rocket. Bezos successfully travelled to just beyond the Karman Line: the official boundary between the earth’s atmosphere and the rest of the universe. So what sage words did the billionaire have for the rest of us as he looked out of the window at a sight that only 556 other humans have had the privilege to witness? A philosophical thought perhaps? A rumination on our planet’s beauty or fragility? Or maybe an assertion of mankind’s technical prowess? Alas, we were given none of this. According to the entrepreneur, as he descended on a rocket-powered

Branson vs Bezos: In praise of the billionaire space race

They are rich boys with some very expensive toys. As Richard Branson completes his first space flight, it would be easy to dismiss the race between the Virgin founder and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to be the first billionaire in space as the self-indulgence of a couple of tycoons with too much testosterone and too much money.  The competition will be seen by some on the liberal left as a symbol of widening inequalities. They will view it as the emergence of a plutocratic class separated from the rest of us, and as proof of the argument that space should be left to the public sphere. Of course there is an element of

How to have an affair

Gstaad After six-and-a-half months apart, I had no trouble recognising my wife. Out she came on to the driveway to greet me as Charlie the horny driver brought a sleepy Greek boy home after a long flight from the Bagel. I pretended not to know her and embraced the maid instead, but it didn’t work. My son and two grandchildren added to the merriment, playing along when I asked them who that lady was who tried to kiss me. Here’s some advice to all you young whippersnappers: women will forgive anything as long as you keep it light and make them laugh. I’ve been in trouble with women throughout my

Bezos vs Musk: who will win the new space race?

While the West gets itself into a lather on a weekly basis about the evils of past colonialism is anyone paying attention to the new empire builders in our midst? Although their ideas for space travel often read like the pages of an Arthur C Clark novel, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have done little to disguise the colonising instincts of their space projects. Both have outlined competing intentions to mine the moon and put humans on Mars. And, with Bezos stepping down from Amazon to devote more time to his space venture Blue Origin, we could be witnessing the beginnings of a galactic power struggle – executed not by States but by corporations. Bezos and