Sarah Laskow

Sarah Laskow is a reporter based in New York City who covers environment, energy, and sustainability issues, among other things.

8-year-old gets rich off whale vomit and decides to open an animal shelter

Charlie Naysmith is the sort of kid who, when he unexpectedly finds a rock-like substance worth tens of thousands of dollars, donates it all to help animals.

Living

Wondering which condoms to buy? Science has the answer

Debby Herbenick knows how you feel about condoms. You know you need them, but you just want to go into the drugstore, get them, and get the hell out of there. (This is basically why they invented those self-service checkout things: As embarrassing as it is to buy condoms, imagine being the person on the other end of the transaction, thinking, “God, even this person is getting some?”) Herbenick thinks about condoms so you don’t have to, and she knows exactly which condom you should buy: Through scientific research that I conduct with my team at Indiana University about condoms, …

Business & Technology

People think cloud computing involves actual clouds

We know that people often confuse weather and climate, but apparently a lot of people also confuse weather and weather-related metaphors.

Food

If you like to cook, this new use for a plastic bottle will honestly change your life

Watch -- just watch! -- what this genius lady does with an egg and a plastic bottle.

Climate & Energy

Meet the brave little solar-powered robot who’s helping us understand hurricanes

Chasing a tornado might be nuts, but chasing a hurricane is beyond nuts. Being in a car near a tornado sounds like a bad idea, but at least you might hit a Norse god or end up in Oz or something. You’d have to go hurricane-chasing in a boat or helicopter, though, and being in a helicopter in hurricane-force winds seems like suicidal madness. Luckily, we have unmanned robots to do the work that humans can’t or don’t want to do. And a brave little robot named Alex is out in the ocean at this very minute, working to better …

Ants basically invented the internet

Step aside, Al Gore. You, too, Tim Berners-Lee. Now we know who really invented the internet: ants. “Invented” is maybe not exactly right. It’s more like they independently discovered one of its fundamental principles. Sort of like Newton and Leibniz and calculus, except that it’s quite clear who discovered this particular algorithm first. (Hint: It wasn’t us.) The fundamental principle in question has to do with maximizing the use of a scarce resource. In the case of the internet, that resource is bandwidth. In the case of ants, it’s food. Here’s how it works, according to Stanford University, where biology …

Climate & Energy

Climate change could take away high school football

High school football season is heating up—but not in a good way. Climate change could ruin the sport for good.

Climate & Energy

The only way to evacuate all of humanity from Earth is to use nuclear propulsion

Yes, it is awesome the Curiosity rover can Instagram Mars pics back to Earth from 50 million miles away. But ultimately, one goal of all this space exploration is to have another place to go if we really royally screw up the planet, right? XKCD’s Randall Munroe answers a critical question about that overplayed movie plot secret government plan ahem THEORETICAL POSSIBILITY: If we actually needed to get billions of people off this planet … could we really do it? If you haven’t been reading Munroe’s new “what if?” feature, in which he answers “hypothetical questions with physics,” know that …

Giant pythons are taking over the Everglades

Last week, researchers at the University of Florida got a present — a gigantic Burmese python, the largest anyone had ever found in the Everglades. The good news: It was dead. The bad news: It weighed 164 pounds, measured a record 17.5 feet in length, and was a foot wide. For context, that’s as long as a medium-sized U-Haul, and as heavy as Tom Daley. It also had 87 eggs inside it that could have grown into 87 more monster pythons. CNN reports: The snake was so big that researchers had to pile it on top of itself and wheel …

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