Grist List

This new bike grows when your kid grows

In response to the pesky but unavoidable fact that children tend to grow over time, Spanish bike company Orbea has designed a child’s bicycle that grows with them.

Cities

Detroit is building the world’s longest hopscotch course (4.2 miles!)

Two Detroit organizations, Wedge Detroit and Imagine Detroit Together, are planning the World’s Longest Hopscotch Course — 4.2 miles of chalky, colorful joy. As part of the Detroit Design Festival, they’re going to break out the paint, chalk, and knee pads on September 19, draw until September 22, and then recruit 30 volunteers to add a mile each day after that. That basically sounds like the most fun ever, doesn’t it? The organizers know it, too.

Middle schoolers convince L.A. school district to ban styrofoam

Anyone who thinks that kids don’t care about anything but eating uncooked ramen and playing video games clearly underestimated the kids of Thomas Starr King Middle School in Los Angeles. Their interests include uncooked ramen, playing video games, building a tower of styrofoam, and getting so grossed out by it that they launch a letter-writing campaign and eventually convince the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) to become the first school district in the nation to ban styrofoam.

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. …

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.

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