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Sarah Miller's Posts


The world’s largest online nature sounds archive features 8,000 hours of animal noises


Would you like to hear an indri, a common loon, a walrus underwater? Courtesy of the nice, probably very sound-obsessed people at the Macaulay Library archive at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, you can now hear all of those sounds. And you don't have to travel to Madagascar, Canada, the Arctic, or even Cornell to do it, either. You can do it right now, because the library has digitized more than 80 years of sound recordings in one handy place.

Read more: Uncategorized


Five-day tunnel fire in Norway was caused by delicious goat cheese

I am delicious. I am flammable. I am Brunost.
Petter Falch
I am delicious. I am flammable. I am Brunost.

There was an unsung tragedy last week in Norway: 27 tons of a specialty goat cheese called Brunost, which is extremely tasty, caught fire as it was being transported through a tunnel in northern Norway. Brunost has a lot of sugar and fat, so in addition to being good at being delicious it is also really good at burning -- once it gets hot enough, it burns almost like gasoline. The fire went on for five days and the tunnel, as they say in Norway, is effed.

Read more: Food


Watch a three-legged dog pull off a daring dog food heist

A lot of bad things are probably happening in the world today. But let's ignore them right now and watch this video from a security camera of a three-legged dog, a German short-haired pointer named Oscar, walking into a supermarket in Invercargill, New Zealand, and stealing a package of dog food.

Read more: Uncategorized


Insane pointillist map has 341,817,095 dots — one for every person in the U.S. and Canada

Grandma? Is that YOU?
Brandon Martin-Anderson Public Domain
Grandma? Is that YOU? (Click for the zoomable version.)

Have you ever wanted to see a map of the United States and Canada that shows every single person living there? Probably not, but Brandon Martin-Anderson, a young man with a jaunty cap who works with the MIT Media Lab, wanted to. So he created a map with no borders, no geological features, no cities -- just 341,817,095 dots, one for each man, woman, and child living in the U.S. and Canada.

Of course, in metropolitan areas these dots kind of blur together into a smudge. If you live in Trout Creek, Mont. (population 280), and zoom in, you might be able to see yourself. If you live in Boston, or pretty much anywhere on the East Coast, however, you will not. But assuming you aren't one of those crazy people who refuses to turn in your Census form because you think it violates the Fourth Amendment, rest assured there is a dot for you. (The map is based on Census data -- if you want to know more about its construction, check out the technical details here.)

Read more: Cities


This snowboard is made out of plastic bottles and cashew nuts


The folks at the University of Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Research Center have rather large fish to fry in the world of green vehicle manufacturing. They are looking to make cars, planes, that sort of thing, out of plant-based energy-efficient materials called biocomposites. But since there is a lot at stake in trying to introduce these new, lighter materials to very costly methods of transportation, they decided to start small. So they built a biocomposite snowboard.

The snowboard's core is made of a material that uses recycled plastic and flax fiber. Then they covered it with a resin made out of cashew nut husk epoxy (please don't consider yourself a complete idiot if you are shocked to learn that cashews even have husks and don't always just grow in a can with other nuts), which is becoming popular in manufacturing and which you can read more about here.


This tiny transforming apartment will make you hate your current place, but love the future

Graham Hill's 420-square-foot transforming SoHo apartment manages to be a dining room, living room, bedroom, and guest bedroom, and it will make you hate yourself and the place where you live.

Before you throw your futon and toaster out the window of your crap studio in disgust, though, consider that Hill is the editor of a website called Treehugger that's all about doing cool less-is-more stuff like making flashy rich-people dwellings out of tiny little spaces. [Ed. note: To be fair, this is NOT what my apartment looks like.] Consider also that Hill crowdsourced the design, soliciting 300 proposals from around the world. So if you can't make your place look like this without legions of green-minded fans, 300 would-be designers clamoring for attention, and two architecture students to make it all a reality, well, then I guess you're just not a svelte, efficient, tidy, full-head-of-hair man like Graham Hill, are you? Sorry. This video made me defensive.

Read more: Living


This robot can turn your plastic garbage into raw material for 3D printers

3D printers are cool. They use plastic the way a printer uses ink. You can make lots of neat stuff with them, like bikes and bionic arms and eagle beaks. You can also make guns, but that's not the 3D printer's fault. All this stuff has to be made out of pristine, expensive plastic filament, though, which means a lot of potential waste (how often do you get something right on the first try?).

Which is why this new invention, called the Filabot, is cool. It makes filament out of recyclable material. Bottles. Plastic wrap. Old toys. Stuff you tried to make in the 3D printer that was completely misguided. Anything old and useless can now become something new and useful. Oh, except for you. You have to stay old and useless. But you can use the Filabot and your 3D printer to create stuff, which could make you feel young. For a little while anyway.


Utah smoothie shop owner charges extra if you don’t love oil


There is a guy in the town of Vernal, Utah, who is a conservative asshole. We'll give you a minute to deal with that huge shock before moving on. OK, so basically this guy loves oil drilling so much -- wow, what a renegade, he lives in a Republican town in a Republican state, and he loves oil drilling --  that he calls his business the I Love Drilling Juice and Smoothie Bar. Wait, aren't juice and smoothie bars kind of Berkeley? Shouldn't this guy be worried his own product will turn him commie and gay?

Anyway, he's decided to charge liberals a dollar more per drink, apparently as a way of punishing them for not understanding the fiscal problem in this country. It's like a tax, because liberals hate taxes.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Food


Finally your stupid body is good for something: Powering a watch

What time is it? It's THE FUTURE
What time is it? It's THE FUTURE

Do people ever tell you that you have a ton of potential, but you aren't doing anything with it? Well, scientists can't help you harness your talents, but they have invented a chip, based on solar panel technology, that can recover the energy you just wasted walking to the store, calling your mom, and/or scratching your balls, and use it to power your personal devices.

Read more: Uncategorized


Flesh choice: A meat lover’s guide to giving it up


I once saw a turkey carcass in a New York City garbage can. It did not look good. I said to myself, I’m never eating meat again. A few hours later, I ate meat.

If you have ever driven between Los Angeles and San Francisco on the 5, you may have seen a disgusting cattle ranch on the east side of the road. It is like an insect swarm of cows. I have driven by this ranch many times, and sworn I would never again eat meat. And a few hours later, I eat meat.

I really like meat. I like steak. I like chicken. I like pork a great deal. If I had to pick a favorite meat, I’d pick lamb.

I never thought I would bother trying to give up meat. But now that I’ve been writing for Grist for about six months, it’s impossible for me to ignore the fact that meat is not just bad for animals -- it’s bad for the planet.

In case you don’t know why, here are several reasons: Livestock use about 30 percent of the world’s arable land. Livestock are responsible for about 18 percent of greenhouse gases. Raising livestock uses up as much as five times the amount of water it takes to raise a similar amount, nutritionally, of plant-based food.

So I have decided to go six weeks without eating meat.

Read more: Food, Living