Grist List

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.

Green Home

16-square-foot apartment is a vision of tiny housing taken too far

We love tiny housing — it’s less wasteful, and so adorable! But there’s a limit to how small a space you can live in and still not go insane. We butted up against it with the 78-square-foot apartment, but this video about a (fictional, but plausible) Hong Kong apartment called King’s Cube plunges past the way-too-tiny event horizon. The room in the video is 16 square feet, just big enough for a smallish bed.

Clean Air

Obama wants to give white children asthma, says blogger

You might think that air quality controls are about mitigating the health effects of breathing in pollution. If you’re a staunch Republican, you might think they’re about destroying capitalism. But blogger (and birther) Daren Jonescu knows what air quality controls are really about: Giving white children lung diseases. (And destroying capitalism.) Jonescu wrote a piece in the ironically named American Thinker laying out the problems with big government trying to legislate our children’s lungs, and he did it by picking apart the language of an Obama administration report about childhood asthma.

Food

Mesmerizing video of flattened food

Filmmakers Hugo de Kok and Kay van Vree say they “where curious about de forms and shapes food makes when you flatten them.” (They’re Dutch.)

Scary Food

Taco Bell sold 100 million Doritos tacos in 10 weeks

The Doritos Locos taco is now Taco Bell's most popular product launch ever.

Solar Power

A solar-powered cell phone charging station inspired by Occupy Wall Street

Tommy Mitchell wasn’t an Occupier, but when he visited Occupy Wall Street, he found out that OWSers were charging their cell phones at a hot dog vendor’s gas-guzzling generator, The New York Times reports. “I was like, ‘Well that’s awful,’” he said. That’s when he began thinking about inventing a device that could harness renewable electricity in a public space without outlets. “It’s so practical that you can see it,” he said. So Mitchell whipped up a solar cellphone charger, then brought it back to Occupy, where everyone loved it and declared him a hero of the people.

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