Grist List

Green Cars

Check out this 100-year-old electric car

Electric cars are a modern new technology, so modern and unproven that many [Republicans] would say they couldn’t possibly be plausible. Except for how they’ve actually been around since the turn of the 20th century. This photo of an electric car charging (above, click to embiggen) is from 1909, and by that point the technology was already 15 years old.

Business & Technology

Honda Fit, most efficient car EVER, gets 118 MPG equivalent

In England, when you want to say that a guy or a gal is h-o-t-t HOT, you say “He/she is FIT!” And that is what we want to say about the 2013 Honda Fit EV. The Fit is FIT. F-i-t-t FIT! This car — this car! — according to the EPA, gets the fuel efficiency equivalent if 118 miles per gallon. Wow. As an electric vehicle (EV), the car does not use fuel, so one might also say that it gets 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles. That’s better than the Ford Focus Electric, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, and the Nissan Leaf, …

Cities

First-graders protest Starbucks to save local coffee shop

Back in 2011, a tragedy of epic proportions struck the East Village: Starbucks moved in. And not only did it move in, it kicked a beloved local coffee shop, The Bean, out of its flagship location. Even non-coffee drinking elementary school students were outraged, as Majorie Ingall discovered: Here we have a piece of paper recovered from the recesses of the backpack of an East Village, NYC elementary school student. Translation from first-grader-ese: Starbucks: The Bean Instead. These budding activists handed out their hand-drawn flyers to their schoolmates, plus some for the Bean staff. According to other local kids, they …

Animals

Horseshoe crabs have weird, bright blue blood

Horseshoe crabs have bright blue blood. They are like aliens. (Does this one not look like a dead alien?) Nature, you are weird. Robert Krulwich explains why the crabs’ blood is so beautifully blue: Their blood kind of sloshes around in their bodies carrying oxygen to various organs, as our blood does. Our blood is red because we use hemoglobin to move oxygen around. Hemoglobin has iron in it, which gives off a reddish hue. (Think of rust.) Horseshoe crabs use a copper-based molecule called hemocyanin to distribute oxygen. In nature, copper turns things blue or blue-green. So that’s why …

Sprawl

Read a prophetic Ray Bradbury story about car culture

Indelibly important science fiction author and giant of my childhood Ray Bradbury, who died last night, would probably never have described himself as writing about environmentalism — “A lot of lousy novels come from people who want to do good,” he said in an interview. But he did write about the relationship between humans and the worlds (Earth and otherwise) that sustain them, a relationship he often seemed to view as “tiny, stupid, heedless little insects scrabbling across the surface of something incomprehensibly old.” He had some unconventional ideas about fixing the future, too. Go read “The Toynbee Convector.” I …

Living

GZA and Neil deGrasse Tyson team up on a hip-hop record about science

I do not know much about writing rap lyrics, but I’m guessing that most rappers do not meet with physicists and cosmologists from MIT and Cornell before sitting down to write. But that’s exactly what Wu-Tang Clan founding member GZA did during the creation of his new album, Dark Matter — a project the rapper hopes will turn his audience on to science. GZA’s partner in this endeavor: Neil deGrasse Tyson, who is the fusion of astronomy and awesome in the shape of a man. Oh yes. Pretty sure this is going to be amaaaaaazing.

Urban Agriculture

How to make a fold-out window garden

This garden design gives you three times as much growing space as a window box.

Business & Technology

A cell phone charger made out of viruses

Except for the whole “make you sick and can’t be killed” thing, viruses are basically the ultimate renewable resource. They’re natural. They’re numerous. They replicate themselves. And, after some tinkering by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, they can generate electricity. A project at the lab has incorporated genetically modified viruses into a piezoelectric system — a way of generating electricity based on touch. Piezoelectric systems exist already: They’re behind the shoe- and pavement-generated electricity projects. But the current generation are made from ceramics, which create toxic byproducts. Viruses, by contrast, are environmentally friendly. The virus-based generator is five or 10 …

Living

The coolest images and video of the transit of Venus

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured terrific footage of Venus' path across the sun.

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