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Grist List: Look what we found.


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Flame retardants can turn a burning room into a gas chamber

The Station nightclub fire at 40 seconds. (Photo by Daniel R. Davidson.)

You know brominated and chlorinated flame retardants are bad when when even Walmart bans them from its products. Unfortunately, some fire codes require them. But we’ll see how long that lasts, says Environmental Health News, given that new research indicates burning flame-retardant items makes them emit the same poisons used in Nazi gas chambers.

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Half-bike, half-car Velomobile goes 80 miles on 6 cents of electricity

Photo by Watson House.

Velomobiles are reclining bicycles with fiberglass shells on top, to make you super aerodynamic, weatherproof, and sort of whimsical.

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A cookbook you can eat


A design firm in Germany has created a cookbook that you can eat! It’s made of fresh pasta printed with a lasagna recipe, so that the pages of the cookbook actually become the layers of the dish.


How many recipe books have only one good recipe in them, yet require reams of paper to make? There's an elegance to food that carries its own instructions for its cooking. Why print a recipe on the back of a can or a box of processed food when you can print it on the food itself?

Read more: Food

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Fungi can eat pollution right out of the soil

Fungi are freaking amazing: Give them enough time and they will eat anything, even the toxins spread over polluted sites around the world. Mohamed Hijri, a professor at the University of Montreal, figured -- why wait for nature to take its time neutralizing the damage we've done to the planet? Why not urge it along? And so he started identifying the fungi and microorganisms that do the best job at cleaning up toxins.

Read more: Pollution

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Critical List: Interior to expedite oil and gas permit review; pandas trying to mate

The Interior Department is going to expedite its review of applications for oil and gas drilling on federal lands.

Town governments want the ability to regulate fracking, but they’re having to fight against state governments to get it.

An Australian company is planning to extract copper, gold, and other metals from the sea floor.

Pandas at the Edinburgh Zoo are attempting to mate. (Report: “They coupled more than once, but failed to reach the sexual summit.”)

Read more: Uncategorized

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Geek legend hacks together an off-grid smart home

Loren Amelang is a pioneer in C++ programming, and his homebrewed live/work space is a monument to sustainable geekery, says Fair Companies.

The entire south side of his home is covered in solar capture devices: 1600 watts of photovoltaic power, solar hot water panels, a sunroom/greenhouse and a solar hot air collector.

This isn't just your usual passive house or living building, either: Amelang can control the entire thing from a smartphone.

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How China will force Americans to drive electric cars

For all the Republican blather about keeping gas prices down with domestic production, pretty soon the U.S.’s effect on the market price of oil will be totally swamped by demand from the developing world. As energy futurist Chris Nelder observes at Txchnologist, nowhere is this trend better exemplified than the fact that auto sales in China recently exceeded auto sales in the U.S.

Chart source: Feng An, Innovation Center for Energy and Transportation, Beijing, 2010.

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We-Flashy sells reflective biking gear that looks like normal cool clothes

Oh yes, you're cool. Your bike looks like a Victorian gentleman. Your helmet looks like a tweed fedora. And your reflective vest looks like ... a shitty reflective vest. You have two options: Embrace ugliness as a hipness signifier (it worked for all these guys), or find reflective clothing that actually looks like something you'd wear on purpose. If you picked door No. 2, Brookyn-based (duh) company We-Flashy is here for you.

Read more: Biking, Living

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Power source of the future: Snails

Sometimes I think researchers design experiments specifically to win an Ig Nobel prize. How else do you explain a paper titled "Implanted Biofuel Cell Operating in a Living Snail"? But regardless of the intention, that's what a team of Israeli and American scientists has managed to do, according to a paper published comfortably in advance of April Fools' Day in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

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