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Grist List: Look what we found.


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.

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Sustainable food advocates should celebrate National Scrapple Day

Robyn Lee

Today is National Scrapple Day, and if you're already thinking "eeeeeewwwwww," stop. Scrapple may not be pretty and it may not be healthy. But it's a great, old-school example of nose-to-tail cooking, and sustainability advocates should embrace it.

Meat's not exactly the most energy-efficient form of sustenance. So if people are going to eat meat, they should eat every last bit of it that they can. Scrapple definitely fits the bill:

Per chef Andrew Little of Sheppard Mansion in Hanover, Pennsylvania, "Scrapple is affectionately known as 'everything but the squeal.' It is traditionally a loaf made with the leftover bits of the butchering of hogs. Spices and buckwheat flour are added while the pork is cooking, and the entire mix is poured into loaf pans to chill and set."

OK, it's not the most appetizing when you think about it that way.

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These amazing parade floats are made out of flowers

This …

Foto van Hassel BV

is made of flowers.

So is this:

Bloemencorso Zundert

And this:

Bloemencorso Zundert

These were all made for the Bloemencorso in the Dutch town of Zundert -- an annual parade in which each of the town's 20 hamlets builds a float made only of flowers. The hamlets compete against each other for the best float. They're all beautiful, but there's nothing like a little inter-neighborhood rivalry to really make groups of people dream up even more astounding creations.

Read more: Cities


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.


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.


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.

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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.


One day, your ears could power your hearing aids

Here's a new type of renewable power to add to the list -- ear power. Human ears are basically a fleshy battery: There's a membrane in there that allows ions to cross it. The two sides of the membrane have different balances of potassium and sodium ions, and as those ions try to sort themselves out -- boom, electricity.

This is pretty old news, actually. But now scientists are close to harnessing this power, CNET reports:

What they have demonstrated in experiments on guinea pigs (actual, literal guinea pigs) is that the tiny, low-power devices they attached to electrodes implanted in the animals' ears were able to wirelessly transmit data about the chemical conditions of the ear to an external receiver, and that the guinea pigs still responded normally to hearing tests.


This recycled-plastic bike rack would be great if it actually worked

The beverage company Honest Tea and the Whole Foods in Bethesda, Md., did a nice thing. They installed a bike rack outside of the grocery store. The rack's made out of 15,000 juice pouches made by Honest Tea, which donated it to the store.

Now, if only it worked.

The Wash Cycle reports:

The plastic bars are so thick I can't put my U-Lock around them and my frame, and the side diagonal posts are also too thick. In addition, you can't even put your wheel over the top because they've put the sponsor sign on top preventing me from getting that part close to my frame between my front wheel and down tube.

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This weird cologne is supposed to smell like sushi

Demeter Fragrance Library makes smelly stuff -- perfumes, air fresheners, and a variety of soaps, oils, lotions, and whatnot. It says its scents are "inspired by everyday objects and experiences." Which sounds great in theory, but in reality it has led to sushi-scented cologne.

Demeter Fragrance Library

Now, one of life's great pleasures is catching a whiff of bubbling stew, freshly baked bread, or too-hot-to-eat pie. But I wouldn't even count sushi among the foods I like the smell of, let along want to smell like. To be fair, Digital Spy says that "the product doesn't quite smell like the Japanese dish" -- it's more of a grassy, rice-y, seaweed-y, gingery, lemon smell, apparently.

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Katrina-damaged neighborhood is rebuilt into the largest solar project in Louisiana

There's been a lot of talk since Sandy passed through about rebuilding better, smarter, and cleaner. Well, here's a real-life example of how that can actually work. In New Orleans, the St. Thomas Housing Project did not fare so well during Hurricane Katrina. But now it's been reborn as the mixed-income River Garden Apartments, and has become the largest solar neighborhood in the southeastern United States.

Spread over eight blocks and about one square mile of land, the buildings all have solar panels installed on their roofs. All told, there’s 420 kW of solar power distributed across the neighborhood, making this the largest solar project of any kind in Louisiana.

Read more: Climate & Energy