Grist List

Business & Technology

Seaweed toothpaste can kill bad plaque bacteria

Researchers in England were studying seaweed enzymes to see if they could clean bacteria off the hulls of ships, when they were suddenly struck by inspiration. We imagine it went something like this: Bob: Dick, your breath stinks! Dick: Sorry. Bob: It smells like the hull of a ship that’s been out to sea too long! Dick: Bob! Bob: … Dick: Oh my god! Bob: We’re going to be rich! In short, the seaweed enzymes also are good at neutralizing the bad, tooth-decaying parts of dental plaque. And although we’re sure that there’s a healthy market for seaweed-based hull cleaners, …

Animals

Antarctic moss eats 8,000-year-old penguin poop

Earlier this year, a slightly horrifying factoid made its way around the internet: Penguins poop so much that piles of their poop can be seen from space. But take heart, people who don’t like thinking about mountains of bird guano: It turns out that today’s penguin dung heap could be tomorrow’s source of nutrition for beautiful, fuzzy moss. A team of Australian researchers were looking into the source of nutrients for these Antarctic plants, the BBC explains, and had narrowed it down to “nitrogen that’s gone through algae, krill and fish.” That food chain leads to seabirds — penguins — …

Climate Change

Staggering video of a family returning to their destroyed home after Colorado fires

“I’m convinced that this planet is warming and that this is part of the result of that,” says Colorado wildfire victim Hani Ahmad while looking at the ruins of his house. “The West is a tinderbox … I’m terrified for everybody in the West.”

Cities

San Diego set off all its fireworks at once, and HOLY CRAP IT LOOKED AMAZING

Check out photos and videos of San Diego accidentally setting off 20 minutes worth of fireworks simultaneously.

Green Cars

Ultimate green car drops your carbon footprint to zero, by killing you

The Onion shares a really innovative green breakthrough: The Prius Solution kills you with a spike as soon as you get in.

Food

List of presidents’ favorite foods is surprisingly fascinating

I would not expect a list of favorite White House breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to be all that interesting, but Sarah Marshall has posted one on The Awl and it’s actually endlessly entertaining. Here’s some of what we learned: Some presidents favored exactly the food you’d expect (George W. Bush: “grilled cheese sandwiches made with Kraft singles and white bread”). Others were more surprising (Richard Nixon: wheat germ). Presidents from the 1980s and 1990s were not big on vegetables. Presidents seem to enjoy foods that sound like fetishes. Eisenhower liked “prune whip.” Andrew Jackson ate “leather pants.” James Buchanan wanted …

Cities

Artist turns abandoned home into human-sized dollhouse

Abandoned buildings tend to make a community feel sketchy, whether it’s an urban area or the town of Sinclair, Manitoba, Canada. So when artist Heather Benning found this dilapidated farmhouse in 2005, she set to work turning it into a 1 to 1 scale dollhouse.

Climate Change

Radiohead, Jude Law, and Greenpeace make a sad, sad polar bear video

Here are so many things that we like, all in one place.

Animals

Tablet apps teach apes to write emails

Sometimes, when sitting with an iPad and raptly poking Uzu with your finger, you probably feel a little like an ape, admit it. That’s because a) you are basically just a smart ape and b) of course smart apes like touch screen tablets (heck, even lizards like them). And just like humans, the apes are using the technology to slowly peck out messages that express their thoughts and desires. Here’s Teco, a 2-year-old bonobo: Sitting with his Motorola Xoom tablet, he’s rapt, his dark eyes fixed on the images, fingers pecking away at the touch screen. He can’t speak, but …

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