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Grist List: Look what we found.


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Here’s why the prettiest tomatoes taste the worst

Remember how in junior high you used to try to convince yourself that beautiful people were congenitally dull? With tomatoes, it's actually true! Everyone knows that handsome rosy tomatoes from the supermarket taste blander than the ugly heirloom variety from the farmer's market (or your backyard). As it turns out, it's genetic -- the gene that makes tomatoes ripen uniformly, and thus makes them look appealing when sitting in grocery produce sections, also ruins their taste

Read more: Food

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Watch an engine take itself apart, clean itself, and put itself back together

When your stuff breaks, the world is usually better off if you can fix or refurbish it rather than throwing it out and buying a new one. But that's hard and not everyone knows how to do it, especially with complicated stuff like engines.

Read more: Uncategorized

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The news pays almost 50 times more attention to Kardashians than to ocean acidification

It's probably not a huge surprise that ocean acidification, a carbon-induced chemical change that poses a huge threat to sea life, gets way less media coverage than the Kardashians, a family of prancing ninnies that poses a huge threat to intellectual life. But Media Matters has quantified just how much the coverage differs, and it's pretty sobering. Between January 1, 2011 and June 26, 2012, the Kardashians were mentioned 25 times more often than ocean acidification in newspapers, and a staggering 270 times more often on TV. In total, that's almost a 50-fold lead for shapely ladies over environmental threats. Although when you put it that way, it's not too surprising.

Read more: Media

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These amazing lamps are made of salt

If Daniel McDonald's Shio lamps didn't cost $475 and up, they could do double duty seasoning your food or attracting deer. At this price point, you probably want to preserve them, unless you're Tony Stark or something -- but the point is, the lamps are made of salt crystals, grown on a fabric base like stalagmites in a cave.

Read more: Green Home, Living

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Spray-on solar windows use teeny tiny solar cells to capture energy

If the Internet has taught us anything, it is that everything is better when it is smaller. Kittens are better than cats. Cake pops are better than cakes. LEGO models of anything are pretty great, even if the full-sized version is pretty iffy (say, a meth lab).

Thus: Solar panels? Good. Teeny tiny solar cells? BETTER. Solar cells so tiny they can be sprayed onto windows? SO COOL.

Read more: Renewable Energy

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These adorable kids are earning bikes by helping their community

The Rails to Trails Conservancy's Earn-a-Bike program lets these Baltimore youths spend four weeks learning about bike maintenance, healthy eating, and caring for the Earth and their community -- and at the end of it, they get a certificate and a bike. It's a win all around: The kids get their own bicycles, the community benefits from their newfound civic engagement, and Republicans have minor heart attacks about Socialist brainwashing. Yay!

Read more: Biking

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These light-up armbands make awesome turn signals for cyclists

As a responsible cyclist who does not want to die, I wear a helmet. The other night, I donned one of those reflective orange vests. (Do not laugh, please.) And I try, really I do, to hold out my arms and signal when and where I plan on turning. I do not like doing it, though, because I feel I am going to lose my balance and because I don't think that drivers notice half the time anyway. Especially not at night.

Lifehacker has turned up a wonderful DIY solution to this problem: bright, wearable turn signals.

Read more: Biking

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Crazy living rock is one of the weirdest creatures we’ve ever seen

The fact that this sea creature looks exactly like a rock with guts is not even the weirdest thing about it. It's also completely immobile like a rock -- it eats by sucking in water and filtering out microorganisms -- and its clear blood mysteriously secretes a rare element called vanadium. Also, it's born male, becomes hermaphroditic at puberty, and reproduces by tossing clouds of sperm and eggs into the surrounding water and hoping they knock together. Nature, you are CRAZY.

Read more: Animals

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A male birth control dudes might actually use

Photo by Matt Herbison.

You know what doesn't do a lot to help reduce unwanted births? Putting women in sole charge of contraception, then making it nigh-impossible for them to exercise any reproductive freedom. We could improve sex ed, affordability of birth control pills, and access to abortion -- but as long as there are Republicans around, we might be better off researching easy contraception for men. Which is why this new topical contraceptive gel, developed by researchers at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, could be a big deal.

Read more: Population, Sex

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This gigantic hybrid ship can run on a battery

Although gigantic ships are relatively efficient -- compared to, say, transporting massive amounts of stuff by airplane -- they do use an astounding amount of fuel. The shipping industry is working on this problem. In particular, a Norwegian shipping company and a marine energy company are partnering to work on a hybrid ship, the Viking Lady.

The Viking Lady (how awesome is that name?) already has a fuel cell installed that helps reduce its energy impact. Next year it should be getting a battery. Together, those features will mean it won't have to burn gas while it's hanging out in port -- not only saving energy, but keeping down emissions.