Quartz Obsession

Quartz

We’re fascinated by everyday objects and what they can tell us about the global economy. Join us every week as reporters from our global newsroom dig into the most fascinating facets of an object: where it came from, how it got to us, and what it can tell us about the forces that are changing the way we live and work.

Trailer: The Quartz Obsession podcast
Trailer 1 min 8 sec

All Episodes

After spending decades in relative obscurity, Japanese whisky is finally getting global appreciation for its masterful flavors. Global demand is high, with prices to match. There’s just one problem: There’s no technical definition of Japanese whisky, or formal system to regulate it. Does it matter if not all Japanese whisky is strictly from Japan? Sponsored by American Express Episode art: Photograph by Eric Helgas, styling by Alex Citrin-Safadi Please take our survey to help us improve the Quartz Obsession

Nov 30

25 min 11 sec

A group of 17 elements make up a little-known group called rare earth metals. They are notoriously tricky to extract, which is unfortunate since they’re key components in smartphones, batteries, motors, and wind turbines, and essential to a clean-energy future. China has a near monopoly on the mining and processing of rare earth metals, but as demand for them rises, other countries are looking to get into the game. Please take our survey to help us improve the Quartz Obsession Sponsored by American Express Photograph by Eric Helgas, styling by Alex Citrin-Safadi

Nov 23

21 min 55 sec

Kudzu, an ornamental vine from Japan, first appeared on US soil in 1876. More than a century later, the plant has proliferated so uncontrollably that it threatens to choke out native plants in the American South. As the world looks for creative solutions to confront climate change, are we fated to keep repeating our same mistakes? Please take our survey to help us improve the Quartz Obsession Sponsored by American Express Image credits: Photograph by Eric Helgas, styling by Alex Citrin-Safadi

Nov 16

24 min 8 sec

If you’re concerned about sustainability and wellness, chances are you’re a consumer of oat milk, the latest star in the alternative milk scene. But does oat milk have appeal around the world? And who will lose out as big dairy muscles into the alt milk space? Please take our survey to help us improve the Quartz Obsession Sponsored by American Express Episode art: Photograph by Eric Helgas, styling by Alex Citrin-Safadi

Nov 9

26 min 34 sec

Bigger seat, more legroom, even silk pajamas: Flying business class comes with major perks for travelers. It’s also crucial to the entire airline business model. But given the seats’ outsized carbon footprint, how ethical is it to keep flying business class? Please take our survey to help us improve the Quartz Obsession Sponsored by American Express Episode art credit: Photograph by Eric Helgas, styling by Alex Citrin-Safadi

Nov 2

24 min 49 sec

The beat-heavy, electronic music from Nigeria has been gaining a global fan base and is a point of pride across Africa. It’s also finally helping local artists make real money. But is Afrobeats establishing a path to global domination that other genres can follow, or is an entire continent being reduced to one country’s signature sound? Please take our survey to help us improve the Quartz Obsession Sponsored by American Express Photograph by Eric Helgas, styling by Alex Citrin-Safadi

Oct 26

26 min 36 sec

Those internet security tests that ask you to retype blurry numbers or pick out photos of traffic lights have an important job: They stop robots from gumming up the internet. But by using them everywhere, we’re training computers to see the world like we do, and they’re getting really good at it. What happens as it gets harder to prove our humanity online? Please take our survey to help us improve the Quartz Obsession Sponsored by American Express Photograph by Eric Helgas, styling by Alex Citrin-Safadi

Oct 19

22 min 27 sec

It’s anonymous, it’s stable, and it’s accepted pretty much everywhere. And despite the rise of mobile payments and the ubiquity of credit cards, it’s still moving everything around us; more cash is in circulation than ever. We talk about the pros and cons of cash in a world increasingly dominated by mobile payments, and try to figure out if cash is here to stay. Please take our survey to help us improve the Quartz Obsession Sponsored by American Express Episode art: Photograph by Eric Helgas, styling by Alex Citrin-Safadi

Oct 12

23 min 44 sec

The global economy needs true randomness to encrypt messages and make sure elections are honest. But not all randomness is random enough, and humans and computers alike are really bad at generating it. So we turn to natural sources like seismic waves, radioactive decay, and lava lamps (yes, lava lamps) to generate it for us. Please take our survey to help us improve the Quartz Obsession Sponsored by American Express Art credits: photograph by Eric Helgas, styling by Alex Citrin-Safadi

Oct 12

21 min 39 sec

Let's go down the rabbit hole, together. Coming Oct. 12, 2021. Please take our survey to help us improve the Quartz Obsession

Sep 24

1 min 8 sec