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Grist List: Look what we found.


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Flock of 5,000 ducks stops traffic in city of 6 million people

Taizhou lies 190 miles south of Shanghai and has 6 million people, putting its size at “somewhere in between Los Angeles and New York City” on a U.S. scale and “just some town” on a Chinese one. One day recently, though, the streets were filled not with cars, scooters, or pedestrians, but with ducks. Thousands upon thousands of ducks:

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The best pun about wind energy, you’re welcome

This made me laugh way, way harder than it should.

Read more: Wind Power

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50-million-year-old turtles having sex

Photo courtesy of Naturmuseum Senckenberg.

Scientists in Germany have found fossils of turtles mating that are nearly 50 million years old. That makes them the oldest fossils of vertebrates going at it that we've found so far. I think this sort of thing needs more exposure in schools. Hey, kids: go into paleontology, and your big discovery could be ancient turtle porn!

Read more: Animals

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Look at this picture of the Arctic now, because it’s probably your last chance

Photo courtesy of NASA.

This image (click to embiggen, click here to embiggen A LOT) was stitched together from photos taken by NASA's Suomi NPP satellite. It shows the Arctic in all its glory -- or anyway, all its remaining glory. The ice cover there has been decreasing fast enough that within 20 years, a photo of the Arctic taken at this time of year would show no floating sea ice at all.

Read more: Climate Change

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The Christmas lights of the future will run on firefly juice

Fireflies make light without electricity, and by copying them, scientists have figured out how to do the same thing. Only instead of the yellowish light of fireflies in the night, a team at Syracuse University has figured out how to make green and orange and red light -- all out of firefly juice.

Read more: Living

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Here’s how McDonald’s makes its food look good enough to eat

Ever wonder why McDonald's food in commercials looks like food, but McDonald's food in real life looks like a cat got sick? It's because food stylists, photographers, and retouchers spend HOURS making the food in ads look edible.

Read more: Food

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Domino’s thinks pizza is too complicated for calorie counts

Domino’s doesn’t want to tell you how many calories are in that Bacon Cheeseburger Feast pizza, so they’re pulling out the Teen Talk Barbie defense: “Math is hard!” According to the company, there are 34 million ways to customize a Domino's pizza, all of which result in a meal that tastes like wet cardboard. With so many permutations, Domino’s argues, how could they POSSIBLY post calorie counts?

Proposed FDA rules would require food chains to reveal some info about what, exactly, they're selling us. But Domino’s says they couldn’t possibly comply, because freedom! So much freedom to put whatever crap you want on your terrible pizza! Freedom and math are not compatible, guys.

Read more: Food

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Scientists create Facebook for great tits

Photo by nottsexminer.

We know that more people than like to admit it troll Facebook to check out ladies, but scientists have actually created a social network that they use for nothing but looking at tits.

Our more astute and wildlife-oriented readers will have guessed that the tits scientists are ogling are wild great tits -- a type of bird biologists often study, probably because it has a funny name. The lead researcher on this study says that using a new data-crunch approach, his team found that they could accurately map social relationships among the birds, identifying not just birds that happened to meet each other in passing but those who had actually formed friendships:

What we have shown is that we can analyze data about individual animals, in this case great tits, to construct a 'Facebook for animals' revealing who affiliates with who, who are members of the same group, and which birds are regularly going to the same gatherings or 'events.'

Read more: Animals

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10 forgotten natural wonders you should see before you die

If you need to flesh out your bucket list, here are 10 natural wonders that usually get left off lists of old faithfuls like the Grand Canyon and the Great Barrier Reef and, uh, Old Faithful. Some of these are less well-known because they're remote and hard to get to, but others are right here in the U.S. -- like the giant hot spring ringed with rainbow-colored algae.

Read more: Living

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Amazing illuminated art installations call attention to urban blight

Luzinterruptus, "Under Nuclear Threat." (Photo by Luzinterruptus.)

Madrid's Luzinterruptus collective's large-scale light installations aren't just haunting and beautiful -- they're also activist. Each piece is designed to call attention to some social or urban ill, from light pollution to nuclear radiation. Sometimes the targets are almost impossibly silly (sanitary napkins?), and sometimes the justification seems to have been reverse-engineered (are Madrid's public sculptures really unapproachable, or did Luzinterruptus just want to cover them with light-up nipples?). But most of the art looks both stunning and effective. Click to embiggen.

Luzinterruptus, "Pharmacy Herbs." (Photo by Luzinterruptus.)

"Pharmacy Herbs" was staged as a protest of Madrid's extra-bright, light-polluting new pharmacy signs.

Read more: Cities