Grist List

Cougar found outside casino in America’s worst city

Very early on a recent morning, a cougar was found waiting outside a Harrah’s casino in Reno, Nev. That’s not particularly unusual, except in this case we mean “cougar” as in the large wildcat also known as a puma, panther, or mountain lion.

Food

McDonald’s tried to make ‘onion nuggets’ happen

Given the kind of stuff that gets the fast-food green light, it’s hard to believe that there are even more concepts that end up on the cutting room floor. But there are, and the McDonald’s Corporation’s archives manager Mike Bullington knows about all of them. The most shocking item in his collection of fast-food memorabilia, at least the part of his collection that he shared with the Wall Street Journal? Apparently, before they hit on the idea of chicken nuggets, McDonald’s thought the best nugget candidate was the humble onion.

Food

If you like to cook, this new use for a plastic bottle will honestly change your life

Watch -- just watch! -- what this genius lady does with an egg and a plastic bottle.

Climate & Energy

Meet the brave little solar-powered robot who’s helping us understand hurricanes

Chasing a tornado might be nuts, but chasing a hurricane is beyond nuts. Being in a car near a tornado sounds like a bad idea, but at least you might hit a Norse god or end up in Oz or something. You’d have to go hurricane-chasing in a boat or helicopter, though, and being in a helicopter in hurricane-force winds seems like suicidal madness. Luckily, we have unmanned robots to do the work that humans can’t or don’t want to do. And a brave little robot named Alex is out in the ocean at this very minute, working to better …

Climate & Energy

Polar bear dick size is apocalypse’s most recent casualty

This is one of those super-depressing “oh my god the world is ending” things that’s easy to joke about because it involves shrinking polar bear penises. And let’s face it, shrinking polar bear penises are just funny, the way rubber chickens or people falling down are just funny.

Ants basically invented the internet

Step aside, Al Gore. You, too, Tim Berners-Lee. Now we know who really invented the internet: ants. “Invented” is maybe not exactly right. It’s more like they independently discovered one of its fundamental principles. Sort of like Newton and Leibniz and calculus, except that it’s quite clear who discovered this particular algorithm first. (Hint: It wasn’t us.) The fundamental principle in question has to do with maximizing the use of a scarce resource. In the case of the internet, that resource is bandwidth. In the case of ants, it’s food. Here’s how it works, according to Stanford University, where biology …

Transit-obsessed dog hops train and travels 50 miles

Frankie the Jack Russell terrier settled on a window seat for his ride on the rush-hour commuter train.

Cities

Wall of LEDs lets you paint temporary graffiti with water

Graffiti art can make the urban landscape way more beautiful and interesting, but some people object to permanent decorations on their buildings. Solution: Water Light Graffiti, by artist Antonin Fourneau, working in residence at Digitalarti Artlab. His wall of water-sensitive LEDs allowed visitors in Poitiers, France to create temporary masterpieces using waterguns, spray bottles, hoses, or just by throwing water out of a bucket.

Climate & Energy

This is the most science-fictiony solar generator we’ve ever seen

If we’re really going to get a significant part of our energy from solar power, we’re going to need to have a LOT of solar panels. Ideally, we’d put solar panels on everything — every roof, every wall, every car. Solar panels on the Capitol. Solar panels on the Moon. So it might be a good idea for them to not be eyesores, huh? Designer André Broessel’s Beta Torics solar generator blows past that goal. It’s not just non-ugly — it’s genuinely awesome-looking, like something out of a science fiction or fantasy movie.

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