Grist List

Climate & Energy

Stunning map shows 11 years of U.S. wildfires

This map by John Nelson shows all major U.S. wildfires (and probably some prescribed fires) since 2001, with yellow being more intense. That bright purple over most of the country except the lucky Northeast is fires that put out maybe half as much energy as a power plant produces in the course of a year. Those bright yellow spots? Those fires are the equivalent of three power plants. The yearly output of three power plants. In one fire. So I guess if we could harness the power of fires, we’d be able to power the country? That’s the point here, …

Animals

This weird artificial jellyfish is made from the cells of a rat

Watch the video below, and consider this: “Genetically, this thing is a rat,” Harvard biophysicist Kit Parker told Nature News. But, we hear you saying, that is not a rat! It’s a jellyfish! Sorta — but it’s made from silicone and the muscle cells of a rat’s heart. When the resulting “medusoid” (“jellyfishy”) creature is put into an electric field, the muscles cells contract, the silicone pulls the structure back into its original shape, and the artificial jellyfish swims.

Transportation

These fruit-shaped bus shelters make public transit more delicious

Waiting for a bus is never the most fun part of a commute, but if you lived in Isahaya City, Japan, you could at least pretend you were some kind of magic bus-riding mouse in a fairy tale. Bus shelters in the city are sculpted and painted to look like giant fruit.

Watch the moon landing live (with a 43-year delay)

In 2009, Jason Kottke built a site where you could watch the first moon landing as it happened, second by second, just 40 years late. Today, on the 43rd anniversary of the moon landing, you can still watch “live” coverage by Walter Cronkite, unfolding on YouTube just as it would have if you were clustered around your black and white TV set in 1969. Sometimes I love the internet.

Cities

Book lovers make mini public libraries out of trees

These hollow-log bookshelves were erected in Berlin a few years back to help encourage the reuse of books. The German team behind the project explains: The project adopts the idea of putting up a bookcase in a public space, in which people could release their used books to be picked up by others. This way of free dissemination, called ‘bookcrossing’, is by now a worldwide movement organised in a central database (www.bookcrossing.com). Registration of books enables following their travels through the world and communication about the books. In other words, books DO grow on trees! If you want something to …

Biking

You can help make this bike-in movie theater a reality

Coworkers Jason Anello and Anna Boyarsky set up a bike-in movie theater in Brooklyn last year, and now they want to do it again — but bigger, better, and bicoastal. They’re raising funds on Kickstarter for permits and licensing, because the show itself won’t make any money: The plan is for tickets to be completely free, so that everyone in the community can enjoy.