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Sarah Laskow's Posts


Scientists have discovered a tiny lost continent under the Indian Ocean

The shape and size of the continents has changed a lot over the history of our planet. Sea levels have changed, plates have drifted, and in all the upheaval some large chunks of land have gone missing. Now geologists think they've found one -- a lost chunk of continent (otherwise known as a microcontinent) called Mauritia, which once connected India and Madagascar, before sinking deep under the Indian Ocean.

To find the continent, scientists dove deep down into the ocean and found a lost world, complete with mer-dinosaurs and other weird creatures. We wish. Actually, they analyzed some sand.

Read more: Living


Once a year, this waterfall looks like a stream of falling lava

Joe Azure

This is Horsetail Fall. On most days, it is a beautiful waterfall in Yosemite Valley. But once a year, if the sky is clear and the snowmelt abundant enough to pour water down the cliff, it lights up like a stream of fiery lava.

Tom Bricker

The New York Times reports that photographers have been chasing the elusive firefall since 1973:

The photographer and mountain climber Galen Rowell was driving through the park after a winter climb when he spotted the light catching in Horsetail Fall. He rushed across the valley and took what is believed to be the first image of the illuminated waterfall. ...

Read more: Living


Homemade dehydrated food lets you cook dinner just four times a year

Chiot's Run

Julie Languille has an idea that's so good and wholesome and savvy that it makes me exhausted just thinking about it. Her larder is stocked with whole, ready-made dehydrated meals, which she cooks in batches of 40 at a time, Smithsonian writes. And unlike the pre-prepared food you can buy in a store, this food is actually good for you:

“The meals that I have on hand are tastier than the commercially prepared dried foods,” says Languille, who doesn’t use any artificial flavoring, coloring or preservatives in her recipes, save for a few packets of oxygen absorbers, which keep food from changing color or growing mold.

By putting a lot of work in at the front end, Languille saves time when she actually gets around to serving these meals -- all she needs to do is add water.

Read more: Food, Living


Horse meat shows up in IKEA meatballs

First the horse meat showed up in Ireland and in England. Then it came to France. It showed up in supermarkets and frozen lasagna. It appeared at Burger King. It was linked to the mafia. And we laughed and shook our heads and moved on with our days because those places are mostly far away and we don't eat Burger King.

But then the horse meat showed up at IKEA.

The company had tested its own meatballs and come up empty. But now Czech authorities have said they found traces of horse meat in the company's Swedish meatballs, and IKEA is pulling them from the shelves "in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, France, Britain, Portugal, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Ireland," according to The New York Times.


This billboard sucks water out of the air and delivers it to families below

In Peru, it hardly ever rains and most water sources are polluted, but the humid air is full of water vapor. So the University of Engineering and Technology has rigged up a billboard to suck drinking water out of thin air.

Taking advantage of capital city Lima’s high humidity levels, engineers have created a system to gather the water through reverse osmosis, purify it, and send it down, clean, to families below.

Read more: Living


Switzerland had one wild bear, and now it’s dead

Despite abundant cheese and chocolate, Switzerland is apparently not appealing to wild bears. This becomes a lot less mysterious when you find out that officials just shot the only wild bear in the country, a brown bear called M13.

M13 probably wandered into Switzerland from Italy, ignoring the bear-hobo chalk signs saying, “Stay away, here they shoot bears.” He wasn't scared of much -- certainly not humans. He would wander through Swiss villages in broad daylight, like a tourist looking for some fondue, and had a habit of breaking into the beehives behind a local school. It was a good enough life, but it freaked the hell out of the humans he hung around. And so they shot him.

Read more: Living


There is such thing as a too-tiny house, and this is what it looks like

It should be clear to regular readers of Grist that we love us some efficient living space. Apartments, tiny houses, houses that can be carted around by bikes -- we'll take any of those more efficient, energy-saving, sprawl-avoiding living spaces.

But there is a limit. And this is it:


These photos come from the Society for Community Organization, a human rights organization, and they show apartments in Hong Kong. Though “apartment” might be overstating it.

Read more: Living


Depressing video proves that seagulls are too dumb not to eat plastic bags

In this downer video, a seagull tries so so so so hard to eat a plastic bag, and eventually (starting around 3:30ish if you're the impatient type), it manages to choke it down.

Poor seagull. You have to wonder why it doesn't realize that what it's eating is not food. At Treehugger, Jaymi Heimbuch writes:

Don't say, "Well it just shows how stupid they are," because that's about the lamest response one can muster on this issue. The fact is we're allowing plastic to enter into the food chain eventually to eat it ourselves so we're the stupid ones.

But that is the point.

Read more: Living


Glow-in-the-dark shark will hit you with its light-up spines

Jerome Mallefet

There's a small species of shark, just about 17 inches long, that lives deep in the dark ocean. This is that section where it's so deep and dark that practically the only light comes from the bioluminescence of the sea creatures swimming around. Living in this kind of dicey neighborhood and being only 17 inches long, the shark needs some protection from predators. Which is why it’s got long, creepy spines that look like the nails of some creature Tim Burton dreamed up.

But it's dark down here, and the shark needs some way to let predators know what's up.

Read more: Living


This bike-mounted grill makes us wish it was summer forever

Mathias Hintermann

Mathias Hintermann has enabled what is, hands down, the perfect afternoon. He has invented the "Backbrat" -- a portable grill that attaches to the back of a bike. Bike to the park, set up shop, and slap your food of choice on this thing.

Here's the creation myth, as reported by Atlantic Cities:

Hintermann, a Los Angeles-area product designer ... grew up in the fertile cervelat fields of Switzerland. One day, Hintermann was considering two facets of modern urban culture -- more and more young people are cycling in groups, and groups sure do love outdoor grilling -- when the meat gods slapped him upside the face with a bolt of fat-marbled genius: Why not combine these two things into a grill for a bike?

Read more: Cities, Living