If you thought The Blair Witch Project was too long and needed feathers, here’s the tour de force for you:
This is the work of an Australian filmmaker still trying to make a name for himself. Specifically, it’s a young thieving eagle that takes the audience on a journey spanning 62 miles and the human heart. (The filmmaker stole motion-activated equipment that rangers were using to study crocodiles, but times are tough for artists.)
Lieske Schreuder makes brightly colored threads and tiles out of snail excrement. She feeds a farm of hundreds of snails colored paper, and they poop out little colored pellets of snail excrement: Their digestive system is perfectly happy with paper (because it's similar enough to their normal plant-based diet) but doesn't process the pigment. It's a very particular and surprisingly appealing form of recycling.
There are a few important questions here. The first: Where would anyone get the idea to buy hundreds of snails and feed them colored paper? Apparently the whole project started when Schreuder noticed that a "plague of snails in the garden" had a fondness for paper and cardboard. The second: How do you get from snail excrement to snail thread? Schreuder had to design a special machine that, given enough snail poop, can grind it down and then press it into the proper shapes.
Back in 2000, Jen Carlson and Josh Shear built a house out of straw. They did more research than your average little pig, and they built a strong house out of straw bales. And they realized that all the other little pigs, who might want to make their own sustainable houses out of straw bales or sticks or even bricks of some sort, might need a place to buy them. So they opened the first green building store in the Midwest, Straw Sticks & Bricks.
Over the years, Jen and Josh got quite good at making materials for little pigs to put in their straw and stick and brick houses. Their newest one is called Denimite, and it's strong -- so strong that one tiny piece held the weight of an 161 lb. anvil. Which is pretty impressive, because it's made, simply, of old shredded-up blue jeans and "bio-based thermoset resin binder."
A company called Shimizu wants to power Earth by building a band of solar panels around the moon's equator that beam the harvested energy back in microwaves. This plan would require moon mining and robots, but Todd Woody writes for Quartz that it isn't totally unrealistic:
If that sounds like a sci-fi fantasy -- and fantastically expensive -- it’s not completely crazy. California regulators, for instance, in 2009 approved a contract that utility Pacific Gas & Electric signed to buy 200 megawatts of electricity from an orbiting solar power plant to be built by a Los Angeles area startup called Solaren. The space-based photovoltaic farm would consist of a kilometer-wide inflatable Mylar mirror that would concentrate the sun’s rays on a smaller mirror, which would in turn focus the sunlight on to high-efficiency solar panels. These would generate electricity, which would be converted into radio frequency waves, transmitted to a giant ground station near Fresno, California, and then converted back into electricity.
But here are three points that make the whole idea less realistic:
Sea snot: not just blowing your nose into the ocean. It’s a mixture of gooey sea animal corpses and their poo, which deep-sea creatures eat to survive. (NatGeo used the term first, mom! For once it snot just us being juvenile!)
Basically, algae and phytoplankton hang out on the ocean’s surface, photosynthesizing with the sun’s help and creating oxygen. Then sea salps and other oddly named marine creatures munch on the phytoplankton. Then everything poops and dies and falls to the ocean’s floor, pretty much.
Monterey Bay Aquarium researcher Christine Huffard and her team found that after seasonal phytoplankton blooms, there’s more deep-sea activity, which means bottom-dwellers are TOTALLY chowing down on sea snot. (Heh. We already knew deep-sea creatures LOOKED weird. Now we can tease ’em at recess for eating boogers too.)
There’s nothing like a thick book of gorgeous nature photography to show the Avon lady you’re a savvy art connoisseur. But if you’d rather passive-aggressively shoo her and those door-to-door evangelists away as quickly as possible, just show ‘em Your Beautiful, Fragile World: The Nature and Environmental Photographs of Peter Essick. (We would’ve named it A Huge Bummer: Look At the Shit We’ve Done to the Planet, but apparently that’s less marketable.)
What if fighting overpupulation -- a word I just made up to explain why more than 3 million dogs and cats are euthanized every year -- were as easy as online dating?
AllPaws wants to make it so. Launching “very soon,” the site will give users granular control over the search for the perfect pet. Forget looking for a six-foot-tall public defender who loves libraries -- it’s time to find you that cute Siamese at a nearby shelter. (She’ll fit better in your lap, anyway.)
At launch, AllPaws will have 100,000 adoptable pets and feature 20 search criteria including color, size, temperament, energy level, and whether the animal has been house trained. More filters will be added as the site develops its shelter partnerships. Also, like online dating, there will be an emphasis on photos, a "favorites" section, and the option to receive "match" alerts via email.
Vancouver Aquarium released seven rescued harbor seal pups last week, five of them outfitted with head-mounted transmitters. The babies are being sent back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor and prevent her child from becoming an anti-Skynet rebel. Vancouver Aquarium No, wait, no. The antennas are just for tracking the seals' movement, so aquarium vets can make sure the babies -- who've been receiving care and rehabilitation for months -- are doing OK after their release. These transmitters don't interfere with the pups' quality of life at all -- they're weightless in the water, and they'll fall off by next …
Fort McMoney is a game set in the oil sands boom town of Fort McMurray, Alberta. But it's not a game exactly. It's like a choose-your-own-adventure documentary -- you can control who you talk to and where you go, but it's all based around interviews with real people, on the industry side, on the environmental side, on the i’m-just-trying-to-make-a-buck side. It's a "documentary game in which everything is real."
In short, design a game, because capitalism itself is a game -- a cruel, terrible, fascinating, terribly human game. You might even say that the city of Fort McMurray is as virtual as it is real because it's so excessive. Fort McMurray is somewhere between a real-life SimCity and the economic lung of a country that is becoming increasingly less green.
There are four chapters, and each one has its own referendums that you can debate and vote on.
Bodie, Calif., is, technically, a gold-rush ghost town and a state historical park. But a more accurate way to describe it would be "squirrel heaven." According to Pacific Standard, a thriving population of Belding's ground squirrels has pretty much taken over the town:
They pop out from under the floors of shuttered bars and tear around meadows littered with rusting mine machinery. They stand attentively in the road, as if ready to collect entrance fees.
And, actually, the only reason the squirrels are thriving here is that there's a town that humans more or less abandoned. The forests where these squirrels used to live are warming up, and they've had to more to higher altitudes. But for some mysterious reason, places where humans used to live still make good squirrel hangouts.