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Jess Zimmerman's Posts

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Watch a city grow from a tiny sprout in this beautiful video

"Lilium Urbanus" envisions the city as a botanical, flowering from seed to sprout to village to metropolis. Its creators, Anca Risca and Joji Tsuruga, told Scientific American that their daily observation of urban growth in their home city of New York inspired the comparison: We embraced the idea of urban growth and saw it as something uncontrollable, having a mind of its own. Like a growing flower, a small town constructs larger buildings and becomes a flourishing city with skyscrapers for leaves, airport runways for petals, and airplanes for seeds. Our goal was to show that a city is like a …

Read more: Cities

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Dolphins take Manhattan

New York is becoming quite the haven of wildlife! There's the pigeons, the giant monkey on the Empire State Building, and now dolphins have been spotted in New York Harbor. The frisky sea critters haven't gotten into an empire state of mind in two years, so this is a big deal -- it means the water quality is better and the fish populations are rebounding. Of course, regular Grist List readers know that you can't always trust a dolphin, what with their mad lust-fueled killing sprees and everything. But that probably means that the tolerant Big Apple is the best …

Read more: Animals

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New trend: Going produce shopping in abandoned gardens

Most cities these days are chock-full of foreclosed properties. Some foreclosed properties are chock-full of fruit trees, vegetable gardens, and other sources of fresh produce. That adds up to a lot of tasty plant matter going to waste -- unless people take it upon themselves to harvest food from abandoned houses, either for their own use or to distribute to shelters. That's not legal, but as a New York Times piece makes clear, that doesn't mean it's not a good idea. Voluntary foraging, where homeowners who have more produce than they can use open their gardens to people who want …

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In a world of 7 billion, what does the typical person look like?

Here's a new take on the "new normal." National Geographic has run some calculations on our population averages, now that we're staring 7 billion in the face. The verdict: The most typical human right now is a 28-year-old Han Chinese man -- there are over 9,000,000 people in the world fitting that description! -- who is right-handed and has a cell phone but no bank account. "Typical" is a moving target as the population explodes: By 2030, as we shoot past 7 billion, the typical person will come from India.

Read more: Living, Population

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Call to action: Stop the environment

Are you kidding me with this? Two former members of The State AND Deputy Hawk getting all Modest Proposal on climate change? Shut down the internet, please, I want to go out on a high note.

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How to tell if your city is going places

Here's a handy infographic, from the Project for Public Spaces, to help you distinguish cities that are going places from cities that are going nowhere. What's your retail shopping like? Transportation? Public spaces? (Or publc spaces; even handy infographics sometimes have typos, and this one coulda been a lot worse.) 

Read more: Cities

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Add this foldable canoe to your climate change survival plan

Are you concerned about apocalyptic floods? (Uh, you maybe should be.) Alternately, do you like to hike or bike to places that are good for canoeing? OR BOTH? Either in the short term or the long term, you're probably going to want this foldable canoe, which weighs less than nine pounds and folds to fit in a backpack. Unfortunately I think maybe you can't actually buy it yet? But you can go pepper the designer's Facebook wall with articles about how swiftly climate change is sending us hurtling towards watery disaster, to see if you can light a fire under …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Help MIT evaluate people's attitudes about cities

MIT's Media Lab has developed a website called Place Pulse that evaluates your perception of cities and neighborhoods. You choose which of two images from Google Street View looks more unique, or more upper-class, or safer, and Place Pulse collates everyone's votes in a way that will hopefully be useful for urban planning. And for two more days, you can contribute your snap judgments to the experiment. Choose a question at the top, then pick which image best suits the description (some are really hard!). Or check back on August 14 to see what places look safest, richest, and most …

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Are these eco-friendly sandals worth $18,000?

Chipkos, a company that produces eco-friendly footwear, has partnered with artist David Palmer to produce the world's most expensive pair of flip-flops. They cost $18,000, but hey, at least they're really ugly! To put it in perspective, that amount of money could buy 26 pairs of Louboutins, or 327 pairs of TOMS shoes for you and a needy child, or 3,600 normal flip-flops, or ... well, 100,000 square feet of rainforest, which is what Chipkos promises to do with the money. Chipkos is pushing the shoes as "the most expensive flip-flops that save the planet," which might be overstating things …

Read more: Living

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Neil deGrasse Tyson blasts Congress for not supporting science

Hayden Planetarium director and former slice of astrophysicist beefcake Neil deGrasse Tyson has some choice words for Congress about its priorities. He's talking about space exploration, which is his particular deal, but the same arguments apply to cleantech and renewable energy innovation.