Sarah Laskow

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

Biking

Watch the winner of the first cross-country bike race cross the finish line — in 1982

In August of 1982, four men rode out of Los Angeles on the Great American Bicycle Race, the first transcontinental bike race ever — what ABC’s Wide World of Sports called “the latest bizarre product of this country’s rapidly burgeoning ultra-endurance cult.” The route began at the Santa Monica Pier, where a small crowd of “devoted bike freaks” saw the riders off, ABC said. It began like this: The route was 2,978 miles and ended at the Empire State Building in New York City. Nine days, 20 hours and two minutes later, Lon Haldeman reached the finish line:

Climate & Energy

The sun’s atmosphere looks like an amazing painting

Sure, the surface of the sun is hot and all, but the sun’s atmosphere is hotter — by a factor of 1,000. And as it turns out, it’s not just hot like “will burn you up faster than a Tony Robbins seminar” hot. It’s also hot like gorrrrrrrrgeous. Scientists know that the sun’s atmosphere (the corona) is hot as hell, but they don’’t know exactly how it behaves. So a smarter-than-smart NASA scientist decided to make a colored image of its heating and cooling patterns. The result is fabulous:

Food

How to eat ice cream and end an unjust criminal system at the exact same time

Driving around upstate New York, you see a lot of abandoned dairy farms and a lot of struggling towns with prisons nearby. They’re connected: As milk prices dropped and the state’s dairy industry started suffering, politicians brought prisons upstate as a job-creation programs. Milk Not Jails aims to break that connection by creating economic opportunities in the dairy industry instead of the prison industrial complex, Treehugger reports. The grassroots groups partners with smaller dairy farms whose owners support criminal justice reform, and helps them sell their products in New York City. That’s a perfect target market for a combined dairy/prison …

Animals

This weird artificial jellyfish is made from the cells of a rat

Watch the video below, and consider this: “Genetically, this thing is a rat,” Harvard biophysicist Kit Parker told Nature News. But, we hear you saying, that is not a rat! It’s a jellyfish! Sorta — but it’s made from silicone and the muscle cells of a rat’s heart. When the resulting “medusoid” (“jellyfishy”) creature is put into an electric field, the muscles cells contract, the silicone pulls the structure back into its original shape, and the artificial jellyfish swims.

Cities

Book lovers make mini public libraries out of trees

These hollow-log bookshelves were erected in Berlin a few years back to help encourage the reuse of books. The German team behind the project explains: The project adopts the idea of putting up a bookcase in a public space, in which people could release their used books to be picked up by others. This way of free dissemination, called ‘bookcrossing’, is by now a worldwide movement organised in a central database (www.bookcrossing.com). Registration of books enables following their travels through the world and communication about the books. In other words, books DO grow on trees! If you want something to …

Animals

Baby gorillas have figured out how to dismantle hunting snares

In the forests of Rwanda, mountain gorillas sometimes get caught in snares that were intended for game like antelopes. Adult gorillas can often escape; younger ones aren’t always so lucky. But staff at the Karisoke Research Center recently observed young gorillas finding and dismantling the traps before anyone could get caught, reports National Geographic News: On Tuesday tracker John Ndayambaje spotted a trap very close to the Kuryama gorilla clan. He moved in to deactivate the snare, but a silverback named Vubu grunted, cautioning Ndayambaje to stay away, Vecellio said. Suddenly two juveniles — Rwema, a male; and Dukore, a …