Grist List

Living

The Christmas lights of the future will run on firefly juice

Fireflies make light without electricity, and by copying them, scientists have figured out how to do the same thing. Only instead of the yellowish light of fireflies in the night, a team at Syracuse University has figured out how to make green and orange and red light — all out of firefly juice.

Food

Here’s how McDonald’s makes its food look good enough to eat

Ever wonder why McDonald’s food in commercials looks like food, but in real life looks barftacular? Watch this video to find out.

Food

Domino’s thinks pizza is too complicated for calorie counts

Domino’s doesn’t want to tell you how many calories are in that Bacon Cheeseburger Feast pizza, so they’re pulling out the Teen Talk Barbie defense: “Math is hard!” According to the company, there are 34 million ways to customize a Domino’s pizza, all of which result in a meal that tastes like wet cardboard. With so many permutations, Domino’s argues, how could they POSSIBLY post calorie counts? Proposed FDA rules would require food chains to reveal some info about what, exactly, they’re selling us. But Domino’s says they couldn’t possibly comply, because freedom! So much freedom to put whatever crap …

Animals

Scientists create Facebook for great tits

We know that more people than like to admit it troll Facebook to check out ladies, but scientists have actually created a social network that they use for nothing but looking at tits. Our more astute and wildlife-oriented readers will have guessed that the tits scientists are ogling are wild great tits — a type of bird biologists often study, probably because it has a funny name. The lead researcher on this study says that using a new data-crunch approach, his team found that they could accurately map social relationships among the birds, identifying not just birds that happened to …

Living

10 forgotten natural wonders you should see before you die

If you need to flesh out your bucket list, here are 10 natural wonders that usually get left off lists of old faithfuls like the Grand Canyon and the Great Barrier Reef.

Cities

Amazing illuminated art installations call attention to urban blight

Madrid’s Luzinterruptus collective’s large-scale light installations aren’t just haunting and beautiful — they’re also activist. Each piece is designed to call attention to some social or urban ill, from light pollution to nuclear radiation. Sometimes the targets are almost impossibly silly (sanitary napkins?), and sometimes the justification seems to have been reverse-engineered (are Madrid’s public sculptures really unapproachable, or did Luzinterruptus just want to cover them with light-up nipples?). But most of the art looks both stunning and effective. Click to embiggen. “Pharmacy Herbs” was staged as a protest of Madrid’s extra-bright, light-polluting new pharmacy signs.

Cleantech

Here’s a fuel cell that runs on brain juice

Whatever, Google Glasses; I’m holding out for the Google brain implant. And that just got a little more plausible, thanks to new technology for fuel cells that run off of blood sugar. In theory, if you popped one of these babies in your brain, it could get all its power from your own cerebrospinal fluid (the stuff that cushions your brain inside your skull).

Cities

Tulsa authorities bulldoze edible garden for being too tall

Denise Morrison had read the city code and knew her plants were legal. So why did the city come to her yard and bulldoze her garden?

Cities

This dude bought a private island in New York City for less than a studio apartment

Alex Schibli, 72, owns an island, right smack off the coast of Manhattan. (Delightfully, it’s called “Rat Island.” Great name for a NYC island, or BEST name?) When you hear “owns an island” you figure “Romney rich,” but Schibli only paid $176,000 for the 2.6 acres. That might seem like a lot, but when a studio apartment in the East Village is going for $400,000, really, it’s a steal. Schibli told the New York Post why he chose to buy a little piece of nature: I’d always dreamed of having my own place for peace and quiet in the middle …

Got 2.7 seconds?

We've devised the world's shortest survey to find out what kind of actions our readers are taking. You know you want to.

×