Jess Zimmerman

Jess Zimmerman was the editor of Grist List.

The only weather map you'll need this summer

Linda Sharps (@Sundry) has preempted your need to check Weather.com for at least the next week or so.

In the future, cleaning robots will sniff out air pollution

Researchers at the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science have kitted out a Roomba -- you know, one of those robotic vacuum cleaners that cats ride around on and act out Citizen Kane -- to evaluate air quality. Lights on the Roomba indicate the presence of evaporated alcohol, and a long-exposure photo, above, can show which parts of a room are clean and which are fumey. Blue lights in the above photo mean that the robot detected polluted air.

Organic farming is not really better for you or the planet [UPDATE: Or is it?]

Science writer Christie Wilcox lays out the top myths about organic farming in Scientific American, and they might surprise you:

Republicans: We must protect children from energy efficiency

Republican Rep. Sandy Adams wants to limit funding for Department of Energy websites that educate kids about efficiency. She doesn't know how much money that will save, but by god, we must stop children learning at any cost!

Bikes — and rollerbladers — beat plane in Carmageddon race

What happens when L.A. is debilitated by repairs on a 10-mile stretch of freeway? Some people hop on a 35-mile plane ride to bypass it. And others get on their bikes and make it there in half the time. 

Play chutes and ladders on public transportation

The designers of this "Transit Accelerator" in the Dutch city of Utrecht have the right idea about making public transportation fun: turn it into a board game, or recess. What other inspiration can public transit take from childhood? Personally I'd like to see merry-go-round train cars where you ride on My Little Ponies.

Mom who lost son in hit-and-run could face more jail time than driver

Raquel Nelson of Marietta and her three children were hit by a tipsy two-time hit-and-runner, Jerry L. Guy, in April 2010. Nelson's 4-year-old later died of his injuries. But prosecutors dropped a homicide charge against Guy, and he was sentenced to two years for hit-and-run and served only six months. Nelson, who was convicted this week of vehicular manslaughter for having the chutzpah to cross a street, could get 36 months -- six times longer than the man who killed her child. 

Most of the U.S. could be energy self-sufficient

With a little development elbow grease, we could be in pretty good shape for the day the energy apocalypse comes and states have to split into small self-reliant compounds. The majority of U.S. states -- 31 of the 50 -- could be completely self-sufficient with locally-produced renewable energy, according to a report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. In fact, most states could produce many times more energy than they need. They've got South Dakota down as having the potential to produce 32,431 percent of its energy usage! (There's also a bigger map and an interactive map that is actually not all that interactive as far as I can tell.) 

Jail time for gardening: Now officially a trend

Hey, remember the woman threatened with 93 days in jail for growing a garden in her front yard? She could have a cellmate! Dirk Becker of Lantzville, British Columbia turned his scraped-dry gravel pit of a property into a thriving organic farm, so of course he's facing six months of jail time. Why? Well, the thing is, this farm was full of DIRT. You can't have dirt in a yard! It's unsanitary. 

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