How the smart grid of the future will prevent power outages for millions

Right now there are millions of people without power thanks to the wind and heavy rainfall that accompanied hurricane Irene, and I'm one of them. It sucks. Having to call the utility company just to let them know that they've failed me once again is a symptom of our antediluvian electricity distribution system.  Commonwealth Edison of Northern Illinois thinks so, too. Recently, they explained to the Daily Herald how a smart grid would have prevented outages for hundreds of thousands of their customers in the wake of recent July storms.

Our new favorite city is inside this guy's brain

Okay, so this is more amazing folk art than realistic urban design, but think of it as your Friday 10 minutes of Zen. Jerry Gretzinger has been making and remaking his incredibly detailed maps since …

Critical List: East Coast prepares for Irene; Inhofe gets on Romney’s case

With Hurricane Irene on its way, New Yorkers head to Trader Joe's and make jokes (I think they're jokes?) about the proper amount to tip delivery guys who come out during a hurricane.  Why does a super-walkable condo building in Denver include eight floors of parking spaces? (Answer: There's no good answer.) So weird: Even Sen. Jim Inhofe wants Mitt Romney to stop waffling on climate change. This may be the only issue Inhofe and environmentalists have ever agreed on.


The curse of the exurbs

Sprawling, farther-off suburbs like Yorkville, Ill., boomed during the housing bubble, but have taken a terrific tumble in the crash.


Minneapolis? More like Bike-opolis

A commitment to bolstering bike-friendliness means that the bigger twin city now rivals Portland as the country's best cycling town.

Taste of things to come: Texas drought to shut down power plants

Hey, you know what's wild about Texas turning into a gigantic desert thanks to climate change? I mean besides the fact that this makes it basically Kuwait-on-the-Rio-Grande? Many of the state's power plants, which rely on fresh water to produce electricity, could be shut down by the lack of water.

Russia to build $100 billion rail tunnel connecting Alaska and Siberia

Ever since Tsar Nicholas II, Russians have dreamed of connecting Siberia to North America via a rail tunnel. Now, apparently, the Kremlin has green-lighted the connection, which would be the world's longest, and twice as long as the England-to-France "Chunnel."

Northeast Corridor is getting better rail

Apparently you gotta have rail to make rail. The Northeast Corridor, the one area of the country with high-speed rail service (Acela) and the only part where Amtrak's not just borrowing the tracks from freight companies, is getting $745 million from the Department of Transportation for rail upgrades. 

Leave a love note for a sexy bike

Ever see a bike on the street that had your heart going pitter-patter? Sarah Raz, of the Adventure Cycling Association, knows where you’re coming from: "I can't even tell you how many times I've seen a beauty of a bike, hand built or all vintage, parked near the post office or my grocery store, and I've just had to leave a love note," she writes. But there's a quick fix for this uncontrollable urge!

Got 2.7 seconds?

We've devised the world's shortest survey to find out what kind of actions our readers are taking. You know you want to.