Grist List

The Amazon rainforest’s clouds may come from mushrooms

I have not ever visited the Amazon, but in my imagination, it is populated by some serious, colorful, amazing fungi, all of which will either kill you or get you extremely high. But a new paper in Science found that the rainforest’s mushroom could have another vital purpose: producing a motherlode of potassium that helps clouds form. And clouds, of course, produce the defining characteristic of the rainforest: rain. Discover magazine explains: Potassium salts appear to be good at getting carbon compounds to stick together. The larger a carbon cluster was, the larger the ratio of carbon compounds to potassium …

The creepiest earthworm you have ever seen is 19 inches long

Forestry worker Li Zhiwei found this gigantic earthworm in his backyard and is keeping it as a pet. If you think that screenshot is vaguely disturbing, wait ’til you see this guy move:

Earth’s most beautiful fractal patterns have to be seen to be believed

Computer science professor Paul Bourke has an exhaustive amount of information about fractals on his website, but for my money the coolest part is his collection of naturally occurring fractal images from Google Earth. If I hadn’t looked them up, I’d suspect some of these were computer-generated — but no, they’re real rivers, lakes, and mountain ranges branching into mathematically and aesthetically beautiful patterns, like a freaking Piers Anthony novel or something. (Fractal Mode? Anyone else? No? It’s pretty bad.) Bourke has way more fractals on his site, along with data files so you can find them on Google Earth. …