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Sarah Miller's Posts


This cellphone charger runs on water


Can you imagine using a tablespoon of water to charge your cellphone? This fantastic idea might become a reality sooner than you think. The FC PowerTrekk unit is a fuel cell, and it's also a battery pack, and it can charge anything that uses a USB cord. You just add water, and the fuel cell produces energy, while the battery pack stores it.

Here's a deeper explanation from the manufacturers themselves:

At the heart of myFC PowerTrekk is myFC’s proprietary FuelCellSticker technology. Made from foils and adhesives, these FuelCellStickers form a flexible assembly less than 2.75mm thick. Since the hydrogen fuel can be supplied from several alternative sources, the system is “flexifuel”.

The fuel cell inside myFC PowerTrekk is a completely passive system. Without fans or pumps, the fuel cell silently converts hydrogen into electricity via its Proton Exchange Membrane.

The chemistry process is safe, controllable and eco-friendly, and the only bi-product from the fuel cell is a little water vapor. To operate, hydrogen must be supplied to the fuel cell, and the fuel cell must be exposed to the open air.

The FC PowerTrekk unit will be available soon. It's not cheap -- it's going to sell for about $229 -- but like similar contraptions, it pays for itself. (Although we do have to point out that the BioLite camp stove charger is only $129.95 AND you get soup. We are not in the pay of BioLite; we just approve of soup.) If you want one, go to the website and let them know.


The Recycled Orchestra is heartwarming and also a little depressing, maybe?

I first became aware of the organization Landfill Harmonic when the following photo showed up in my Facebook feed.


By now the story of Landfill Harmonic is all over the place. It's making a film about and generally promoting an orchestra of children who play music on recycled instruments. "In the barrios of Paraguay, a humble garbage picker uses his ingenuity to craft instruments out of recycled materials -- and a youth orchestra is born. Music arises and children find new dreams." You get the idea.

Read more: Living


Tourists are making stingrays fat, mean, and insomniac


Stingray tourism is big business. In fact, in the Grand Cayman Islands, where lots of lots of people come every year to swim with stingrays, each stingray brings in about $500,000 in tourism dollars annually. That's quite a lot of responsibility for a stingray. But they have no idea what sort of burdens they carry, and they also have no idea, probably, that tourism has changed their habits and way of life considerably.

Read more: Living


Scientists found five kinds of unidentified fungi in Capri Sun

Four ways to do wholesome. Five ways to do fungus
Capri Sun
Four ways to do wholesome. Five ways to do fungus.

Did you know that Capri Sun -- which has always freaked me out although there are arguably more disgusting drinks -- comes from Germany? That's what Wired says, anyway. How weird is that? But that's not what this story is about. This story is about fungi. Mystery fungi. Five kinds of which a scientist has just found in Capri Sun.

Read more: Food


Adorable dog has four bionic legs

Bow Wow Wow Yippee Yo Yippie Yay
Bow Wow Wow Yippee Yo Yippie Yay.

Naki'o is a mixed-breed dog from Nebraska who got frostbite in a cellar when he was a puppy and lost his limbs and part of his tail. But now, thanks to a United States company called Orthopets, Naki'o has been fitted with four prosthetic legs. Now, he can do all the things dogs like to do. He can run. He can play. He can be a wonderful dog like he always was, but now, he can enjoy it more.

Read more: Living


What does a 20-pound swamp rat taste like? Watch two brave guys find out


Nutria are 20-pound rodents that are gnawing away at the coast of Louisiana. They are eating so much vegetation, principally roots that hold fragile outlying coastal pieces of land together -- kind of the way eggs bind a cake -- that they are causing serious problems. Like, "See ya, Louisiana Coast!" type problems. The sad thing is that someone actually deliberately brought the big fat rat thingies into Louisiana from Argentina in 1930 because they had the brilliant idea they were going to make fur coats out of them. And now, there are way way way too many of these things to make fur coats. I mean, even if everyone in the world was Paris Hilton and wanted a fur coat, they'd have leftovers.

So, what do we do about nutria? Time to start eating! At least, that's the most recent plan put forward by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries -- reduce nutria populations by turning them into jambalaya and snack sticks. Some dudes who are making a film about nutria, entitled Rodents of Unusual Size, wondered what all this culinary innovation tasted like. You can watch the taste test here. Or just run.

Read more: Food


To keep the lights on, Oslo needs to import trash from the U.S.

Pavel Trebukov

Did you know that the city of Oslo is powered by garbage? Amazing and true. The Norwegian capital, home to about 650,000 residents, operates two enormous incinerators which supply the city with about 1.5 terawatt-hours of power. A terrawatt, by the way, is a trillion watts. In other words, it's a latt of watt. (I will be here all week.)

At any rate, this seems ideal, yes? There's no better use for garbage than to be burned up and transformed into something useful. Alas, in this heartless world nothing good can exist without its opposite existing simultaneously, and it is thus sad but not terribly surprising to hear that Oslo is now running out of garbage.

Read more: Cities, Climate & Energy


There may be terrifying predatory land-walking fish in Central Park

Please Do Not Look After This Fish. Thank you.
Please Do Not Look After This Fish. Thank you.

They are known colloquially as Frankenfish. They are gross-looking. They have big snake heads and disgusting snake mouths. And they can breathe out of water. They are the Northern snakehead, and they are native to China, Korea and other countries that are not the United States -- but unfortunately, they have made their way to the United States, and possibly into the Harlem Meer in Central Park

Read more: Cities


England has a McDonald’s University, and it’s almost as competitive as Harvard


Everybody who majored in English, comp lit, art, history, art history, or indeed basically anything except pre-med and economics has heard jokes about how you're just training to say "do you want fries with that." What you might not realize, though, is that you can major in "do you want fries with that," too, at McDonald's University in East London. And it's kind of a competitive school.


Watch a dude with death-defying knife skills slice up an entire watermelon in 21 seconds

A very niche skill
A very niche skill.

What would you do if someone told you that you had to cut up 100 watermelons? Personally, I would cry, and then, if that didn't get me out of the task, I would just run. But not the Fruit Ninja. No, he would just say, "Give me 10 minutes." Because the Fruit Ninja can cut up a watermelon in 20 seconds. Yes. If you don't believe me, just watch.

Read more: Food