IKEA’s founder died, Syrian peace talks, the ♥’s origins

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Russia, Turkey, and Iran pow-wow on peace in Syria. Representatives from Iran and Russia, backers of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, and Turkey will gather in Sochi to discuss a postwar constitution. But the official Syrian opposition umbrella group is boycotting the talks. Previous Syria peace talks between the three countries collapsed last November.

Time is running out on Nafta talks. Officials from Canada, Mexico, and the US will wrap up (paywall) the sixth round of negotiations over an updated North American Free Trade Agreement. That will leave one final discussion for negotiators from Canada and Mexico to overcome American demands that they deem unacceptable.

Lockheed Martin announces Q4 earnings. After undershooting third-quarter sales forecasts, the world’s biggest defense contractor is expected to report impressive growth for the last quarter of 2017, thanks in part to sales success of its F-35 fighter plane.

The 60th Grammy Awards.

In a few hours, the US music industry’s most prestigious awards will take place, with Jay-Z one of the favorites to win Best Album and other categories a few hours after starting

a feud with a certain Donald Trump

. For the first time this year, viewers will

get the Grammys live on Facebook


Over the weekend

IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad died. The quirky Swedish entrepreneur and world’s eighth-richest person passed away at his home in Småland, Sweden on Saturday. The first IKEA store opened in 1958; there are now more than 380 in every habitable continent in the world and IKEA—famed for its quirky DIY furniture ranges—is the world’s largest consumer of wood.

A Taliban attack in Kabul killed more than 100 people. Suicide bombers set off two ambulances packed with explosives on Saturday, killing at least 103 and injuring 235—a message the Taliban claimed was directed at US president Donald Trump for the increase of troops in Afghanistan. A week earlier, Taliban militants killed at least 22 people in an attack on a luxury hotel.

At 36, Roger Federer can’t stop winning. The Swiss tennis powerhouse extended his all-time record when he won his 20th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open on Sunday, the first male to reach that many. Federer has now won 10% of all the men’s singles titles since the game of tennis turned professional in 1968, according to the BBC.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was released from his luxury jail. After imprisoning him in a hotel for more than 80 days, Saudi authorities released bin Talal, 62, following reports he paid a settlement to end corruption charges against him. His Kingdom Holdings owns stakes in Lyft and Twitter, among others. The Ritz Carlton in Riyadh will turn back from prison to hotel on Feb. 14.

Quartz obsession interlude

Olivia Goldhill on the consciousness of objects. “Then again, panpsychism could very well imply that conscious tables exist: One interpretation of the theory holds that ‘any system is conscious,’ says Chalmers. ‘Rocks will be conscious, spoons will be conscious, the Earth will be conscious. Any kind of aggregation gives you consciousness.'” Read more here.

Matters of debate

There’s a right and a wrong way to use your Instant Pot. Do use it for Korean short ribs and weeknight risotto, not for slow-cooking and baking.

Melania Trump is a radical. She will do more to subvert “expectations of the slavish devotion a first lady must display toward her husband” (paywall) than any of Mrs Trump’s predecessors.

Time is a human invention that controls how we work. We obediently follow the arbitrary man-made construct of time.


Surprising discoveries

The ♥ came from 14th-century France. The first representation of the heart as a symmetrical icon appeared in a manuscript circa 1340 (paywall).

Sleep deprivation staves off severe depression. It might seem counterintuitive, but for some people, staying awake is the only thing that helps.

American librarians once roamed on horseback. In the 1930s, the Pack Horse Library Initiative—a group of mostly women equestrian librarians—helped spread literacy to remote areas.

Bill Nye is standing up for a climate skeptic. The Science Guy and longtime critic of climate-change deniers is now making friends with one—albeit one who’s somewhat reformed.

Plastic is actually a good thing. It is a huge part of the battle against malnutrition in the developing world.

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