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Canadian oil-sands driller aims to make nice with a stupid video game

Remember in 2010 when 500 ducks died because they landed near a Syncrude tailings pond? ("Tailings pond" is a poetic-sounding term for "where we dump our poison.") And, then, remember in 2008 when 1,600 ducks died for the same reason? Well, ducks are pretty cute, and it's not exactly good for a company's image to have killed so many of them. So the people at Syncrude -- one of Canada's largest producers of oil from the Alberta oil sands -- have done what any corporation with an image problem would do. They've made a silly, useless little video game to make it look like they are really nice people, rather than in fact people who extract oil out of sand at great profit to them and great detriment to not only ducks, but the environment in general.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Brazil plans to save endangered animals by cloning them

Lea Maimone
Go ahead and clone me. I want more of me. I rule.

Pronto! Apontar! Clonar! That's ready, set, clone, in Portuguese. You're going to need to know how to say it when Brazil implements its newest plan for increasing endangered animal populations.

Brazil is home to a lot of amazing animals, and it is therefore home to a lot of amazing animals that are in danger of extinction. Among those at risk: the jaguar, maned wolf, black lion, bush dog, coati, collared anteater, gray brocket deer, and bison. Brasilia Zoological Garden and the Brazilian government's agricultural research agency, EMBRAPA, have gotten together and decided to clone these and other animals. The goal is not to bring the population up to peak levels, as this would be rather extreme, but rather to repopulate zoos and other places where these animals are in captivity. That said, officials are not ruling out the eventual possibility of returning cloned animals to the wild.

Read more: Uncategorized

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Alors! A wobbly bridge over the Seine! Tres magnifique!

bureau faceB
Oh, c'est tres wobbly!

Sometimes I feel sad that the world is ending, and other times I think this is a fun time for people to build crazy shit because we are all in a crazy mindset of "oh well, the oceans are rising, let's build a bridge that's totally wobbly." I of course can't crawl inside the mind of les folks at French architecture studio bureau faceB, who are developing a weird and wobbly new bridge over the Seine, but that is what I imagine they might be saying to themselves. Though in French, naturally.

Read more: Cities

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Because every disaster needs its ridiculous problem, let’s talk about these people who gained five pounds after Sandy

When seeking frivolity in the face of tragedy, one need go no further than The New York Times’ Thursday Styles section, where, last week, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, several women stepped out from the rubble to lament that the storm had caused them to gain weight.

As reported by the Times, here are the experiences of three New York women upon whom the disaster visited the horrible misfortune called "The Sandy Five":

“I can’t even talk about it -- my jeans do not button,” said Emily Marnell, 31, a publicist who cited both boredom and anxiety as a reason she fell victim to odd, middle-school-kid cravings for junk food after her Gramercy Park apartment went dark. “I went through Duane Reade and was grabbing Double Stuf Oreos, whole milk, Twix, Twizzlers, Sour Patch Kids,” she recalled in horror.

Read more: Uncategorized

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Newfangled Google Mars is extremely rad

If you are tired of stalking that dude by looking at his house every 10 minutes on Google Earth, it is clearly time for you to move on. No, not to another dude. To the new Google Mars. 

Google Mars has been available as part of Google Earth since 2009. And I have always enjoyed it. I mean, given the choice between Doing Stuff and Looking at Weird Indented Circles on Face of Mars, well, there is not really a contest there. But now Google Mars is even better, because they're using something called a Context Camera (CTX), which is located on Mars' Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Read more: Uncategorized

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This concrete can heal its own cracks, because it’s packed with bacteria

I don't wait around for the government to heal me. I do it myself.

You always thought that concrete that got cracked just sat around feeling sorry for itself, applying for Social Security. But that's the old concrete paradigm. The new one involves a bio-concrete blend with built-in bacteria, and it is not lazy and shiftless like other concrete. It can cure itself. I know that there have been amazing scientific advances in history like a vaccine for polio and men on the moon and Geena Davis having a baby when she was about 75 years old, but wow, self-fixing concrete might be just about the coolest thing I have ever heard of.

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Meet the rubber chicken that makes people care about space

Solar Dynamics Observatory

You can't eat science, it doesn't get you wasted, you can't have sex with it. So sometimes it's kind of hard to get people interested. Which is why, to get the word out about all the sun and solar weather stuff they study, the people at NASA's Solar Dynamics Laboratory have turned to a rubber chicken named Camilla.

SDO

Camilla wears many hats -- well, she wears many rubber chicken outfits -- at the Solar Dynamics Lab. She tweets. She blogs. She teaches kids about space missions. She goes into the uppermost reaches of the atmosphere in a hot air balloon. She has flown in something called a rolling NASA T-38 Talon. She is even getting certified to fly on the Russian spacecraft. During this training, Camilla went to Russia and caused quite a stir in Red Square. Everyone wanted to hang out with her, and probably get her totaled on vodka, but since she is in training, she doesn't do stuff like that.

Read more: Uncategorized

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Four teenage girls in Africa have invented a generator powered by pee

People pee a lot, and four African teenage girls have actually figured out a way to make pee useful. That's right -- even your pee. Doesn't that make you want to rush out and drink a whole lot of beer right now and see how much electricity you can make? Oh, except we are pretty sure these girls were not drinking beer when they made this gadget, which was was presented this week in Lagos, Nigeria, at the fourth annual Maker Faire Africa, because it's kind of complicated. And they are too young.

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We’ve figured it out: Climate deniers are really just scared of getting headaches

Marlee Smith

Scientists have discovered that to people with something they call HMA -- high math anxiety -- the idea of working things out with numbers may be literally physically painful. So now we think we might understand why there are so many climate deniers. There's a lot of math involved in climate science. Like, for example, you have to be able to add 11 to the average current temperature to see what it will be in 2100. And then there are logarithms and stuff. Wow. We don't really even hate these fuckers anymore.

I mean, imagine being Mitt Romney, and making fun of Obama for saying the oceans were going to rise, and then just even thinking about how the word "rise" implied crazy math stuff, probably worse than adding 11 to another number, and then suddenly, developing a splitting headache. (Although Romney does seem to enjoy the equation "This Poor Company + Me = Screw the people who work there.")

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This guy is putting the Earth up for auction, and it’s only $123 million

Biggest yard sale ever.

A Japanese man who says that the Earth was auctioned off to him in a dream has done the only logical thing left to do when you realize you own the most fucked-up thing ever: He's putting it up for auction.

Read more: Uncategorized