Grist List

Astronauts fixed the space station with a toothbrush

Most of us postpone tossing our old toothbrushes in the landfill by putting them to work as cleaning tools. But very few of us postpone tossing our old toothbrushes in the landfill by putting them to work as cleaning tools on the International Space Station. Astronauts Sunita Williams and Akihiko Hoshide did that yesterday, though, when they used an old toothbrush to help install two problem bolts.

Frustrated Russians get rid of potholes by stuffing them into politicians’ mouths

The writers for Russian blog URA.RU got fed up with unfixed potholes in the city of Yekaterinburg, so they decided to force-feed them to politicians. Or, anyway, giant cartoons of politicians’ heads. They enlisted ad agency Voskhod to draw cartoons of local pols around potholes and other road imperfections, in order to draw attention to the blight. And it worked.

New stingray species has amazingly cool-looking skeleton

This looks like a candidate for the newest energy-efficient lightbulb, but it’s actually an x-ray of a recently-discovered freshwater stingray species.

Climate & Energy

Climate change could lead to a rise in brain-eating parasites

Maybe nothing is weird about the rise in cases of primary amebic meningoencephalitis. Or maybe climate change is making conditions more hospitable for this warm-water-loving parasite and we're all gonna dieeeeeeeeee.

Suicidal caterpillar is really dumb or really wants to get eaten

Is there a caterpillar equivalent of the Darwin Awards? Because this guy is a shoo-in. The Redditors who found this video have speculated that the caterpillar is infected with a mind-control parasite that needs to get inside the toad to thrive. Sounds crazy, yes, but there’s a parasite that’s been doing something similar to carpenter ants for millions of years. And a whole bevy of parasites control their hosts’ minds in other creepy ways.

After not seeing one for 33 years, Japanese government finally declares river otters extinct

When you truly love somebody that’s gone missing, you never admit that she’s gone, even if you’ve seen neither hide nor hair of her for 33 years. So now we know how the Japanese government feels about the Japanese river otter. Because the Ministry of the Environment just declared the river otter, last spotted in 1979, extinct. You know who still loves and believes in the Japanese river otter, though? Yoshihiko Machida, a professor emeritus at Kochi University.

Vladimir Putin dressed as a bird to save endangered cranes

There are 20 white cranes left in the world. But for one special day, there were 21. OK, the extra crane wasn’t really a crane. It was Russian President Vladimir Putin on a hang-glider, wearing a white jumpsuit and a crane nose.

Good news: The nuclear apocalypse will kill everything but beer

Imagine there’s a huge nuclear explosion and almost everyone you know is dead. Sure, things are bad. But you can still get a beer. Alex Wellerstein at the Nuclear Secrecy blog has looked into some of the weird shit that the United State’s Nuclear Defense Agency did during the Cold War to better understand the finer points of nuclear attacks. And one of those things was to drop bombs on bottles of beer. Naturally some of them were smashed into oblivion, but those that survived were totally safe to drink.

Climate & Energy

New documentary lets you watch glaciers disappear

Anyone who is not a raging moron knows that glaciers are melting really fast. We should probably be constantly consumed by worrying about our waterlogged future, yet we somehow manage to sit around having conversations about, like, cheese.  The reason is pretty simple: We can’t see glaciers. They are Far. Which is why National Geographic photographer James Balog has been kind enough to bring them closer in his gazillions-of-awards-winning documentary Chasing Ice.

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