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Grist List: Look what we found.


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Two middle-schoolers raised $10,000 to help save a 500-million-year old species

natulis
Ridgely Kelly

Here are a few reasons  that Josiah Utsch, 12, and Ridgely Kelly, 11, say they’re fans of the nautilus:

  • It's been around for 500 million years.
  • That's since dinosaurs were alive.
  • It survived meteorites.
  • It's beautiful.

It's also in danger from overfishing. The nautilus, a type of mollusk, can take 15 years to reach maturity and is in high demand by jewelry makers either as an ornament or to make fake pearls. That's kind of screwed up. As Kelly puts it:

"It just wouldn't be right to have it die out because we want to wear it on our necks."

And so Utsch and Kelly have been promoting awareness and raising money to save the nautilus. They have a website, where they accept donations and sell shirts they designed. They’ve also encouraged other kids to donate their allowances or birthday money to the cause.

All in all, they've raised $10,000 so far, which will go to support the research of University of Washington's Peter Ward, who studies the creatures. And they're going to participate in that research, too: In February, their parents are paying for them to travel to Samoa with Ward in order to monitor nautiluses in the wild.

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Instead of building more parking spots, Parking Panda lets people rent out the ones they already own

In this great, sprawling country of ours, there are simultaneously too many parking spaces and never enough. But with 800 million spaces out there -- about three per car on the road -- it stands to reason that at any given time, many of those parking spots are empty. One company is trying to change that, though, by helping average human beings turn into small, hyperlocal parking garage operators, i.e. rent out their parking spaces when they're not using them.

It's called Parking Panda (with a name like that, how could we not love it?), and Slate's Matt Yglesias says it's something like Zipcar in reverse or the AirBnB of parking:

A single space in a driveway or backyard is hardly worth marketing, but if an online service can drastically simplify the discovery process, then suddenly “hidden” parking capacity can be unlocked. And it’s not just residential homes. Few companies’ parking facilities are precisely calibrated to the exact number of people who work there. With Parking Panda, a spare space or five can become a small extra revenue source.

Besides making money for people, peer-to-peer parking could provide all the normal benefits of improved parking efficiency -- less gas wasted endlessly circling the block, less demand for more, more, more parking spaces.

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Pizza-flavored beer: Two great tastes that probably do not go great together

Here are a few things that a reasonable person might be fond of: Pizza. Beer. Local food. But mash them all together, and the combination -- locally produced pizza-flavored beer -- suddenly sounds less than reasonable. It sounds, actually, kind of gross.

And yet, this is a thing. Back in 2006, Tom and Athena Seefurth, of Chicago, had an abundance of fresh tomatoes and garden-grown basil and oregano. For some inconceivable reason, they thought they would use those ingredients to brew beer. And thus, Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer. A beer that tastes like pizza.

Well, kind of. The Onion's A.V. Club found, upon tasting, that mostly pizza beer resembles beer beer -- at least on the way down.

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8-year-olds were right all along: It is possible to overdose on Brussels sprouts

Only five per blood-thinner-taking customer please.
John Sullivan
Only five per blood-thinner-taking customer please.

Doctors are issuing a stern warning this holiday season. It is not about getting hammered. It is not about stuffing your face with six pounds of foie gras. It is about Brussels sprouts. Last Christmas, a British man was hospitalized for eating too many of them, and this year, doctors are hoping to get the word out before it is too late: Brussels sprouts and blood thinner do not mix.

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German scientists have created perfect Christmas trees through cloning

I'll be cloned for Christmas
Jason Matthews
I'll be cloned for Christmas.

Haven't you always wanted your Christmas guests to be absolutely blown away by the perfect symmetry of your Christmas tree? Haven't you wanted them to exclaim things like "beautiful" and "amazing" and "I've never seen a Christmas tree like that?" Well. Your search for the perfect envy-inspiring Christmas tree is over, because some German scientists have figured out how to create one through cloning.

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This school district saved $1.5 million just by turning off lights and stuff

If you turn me off I will buy you a textbook.

The Lake Stevens School District in suburban Seattle has saved itself $1.5 million since 2010. But the students and teachers haven't been required to do anything particularly special or innovative or requiring costly technology to save this rather princely sum. They have merely been very vigilant about turning things off.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Chicken farmers replace antibiotics with oregano oil

Give this chicken some oregano oil and call me in the morning.
normanack
Give this chicken some oregano oil and call me in the morning.

Animals raised to be food get diseases easily. There's a lot of them hanging around in one place, waiting to die, so it's not terribly surprising that they get sick. Precautions have to be taken, which is why these animals have long been given antibiotics. The problem with antibiotics is that feeding animals too many of them breeds disease-resistant germs. But it's possible that a solution exists, and bonus: It sort of seasons chickens from the inside. Oregano oil may be a natural solution to protecting chickens from germs without antibiotics, and also probably making them taste like pizza.

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World’s largest gluten-free pizza weighs 50,000 pounds

largest_gf_pizza

Chefs in Rome have cooked up the world's largest gluten-free pizza, inexplicably named "Ottavia" (I mean, it's inexplicable that a pizza has a name; "Ottavia" is a perfectly good name for a pizza if you're going to name a pizza, I guess). It's the size of an Olympic swimming pool and weighs 50,000 pounds, so good luck eating a slice, although you could possibly make a large tent out of one and live in it if necessary.

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Peer-to-peer bike share Liquid is like AirBnB for bicycles

'Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house, every creature wanted to take a break from togetherness and have a little alone time. Or at least leave the living room. May we recommend Liquid? It's a peer-to-peer bike-sharing service. Just search nearby for a friendly bike owner who's willing to rent out her bike for a few bucks an hour, and you're off and pedaling.

Treehugger explains:

Let's say you are a small family and find yourself at the mercy of distant relatives in the Portland suburb of Hillsboro, and then find yourself further stranded without a car. If you know about Liquid, you can rent a beautiful bakfiets (one child an easy haul) for just 10 bucks a day, or a Surly longtail bike (two kids or a kid and a light adult, no problem) for $20 dollars a day, and easily, two-wheeled freedom is yours.

According to Liquid, the average daily price for a bike is $18, which in a city like New York ain't bad.

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Here is an elephant who thinks it’s an ostrich

ostrich_elephant
Willy Thuan

Well, or possibly he's trying to dig a hole to ... hmm, what's opposite Thailand? I guess more or less Peru. Maybe he's trying to dig a hole to Peru.

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