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Grist List: Look what we found.


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NPR has lots of ideas for what to do with Twinkies

The staff at NPR has been responding to the news of Hostess' bankruptcy by getting up to some Twinkie shenanigans. Forget that James O'Keefe stunt, this is NPR's real shame. (But seriously, how do we get in on this action? Call me!) First, Science Desk tried seeing if one would dissolve in Mountain Dew. (Verdict: Not after two hours, but that mouse carcass had a lot longer.) Then the food blog came up with 10 more things to do with Twinkies.  Science Desk also has a whole raft of other experiments they want to perform ("At what temperatures do Twinkies …

Read more: Food

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Let’s make fun of Rick Santorum talking about climate change

Is it getting boring to make fun of Rick Santorum? I don't really care, because frankly the dude is both a menace and an ignoramus and that is comedy gold even if he didn't look like the love child of Ryan Reynolds and a turtle. (Yes, I recycled that joke, but it's TRUE.) It's all very well to talk about frothy mixtures and whatnot, but opportunities to mock Santorum go well beyond his Google problem. Although seriously, does anyone else feel sort of dirty when they type his name, like they should be writing "Sant*rum" or something? Anyway, Treehugger found …

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Teeniest frog ever

Scientists thought they had found the world's smallest frog just a month ago, when a researcher announced he'd found coin-sized amphibians in New Guinea. But psych! Those weren't the smallest frogs. This is the smallest frog. In fact it's the smallest vertebrate known to man. These guys are so weeny that the scientists who found them couldn't even see them at first: Their high-pitched calls make them sound like crickets, and perhaps explorers have long mistaken them for insects. “It doesn’t sound like a frog at all,” says [researcher Christopher] Austin, who had no idea what was making the call …

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Go ahead, eat McDonald’s. Nobody will ever know

I'm told, by people with less finicky stomachs, that sometimes even the most well-intentioned foodies and factory-farm opponents really jones for an Egg McMuffin. If you can't resist the occasional splurge -- maybe it's been a late and smokey night at college, if you know what I mean -- then at least you can make sure you don't see your picture splashed across the front page of Food Scold Daily or something.

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American beef consumption is at a 50-year low

According to this graph from the Daily Livestock Report, we are way past Peak Beef. U.S. beef consumption has been dropping for the last 40 years, and projections put it back down at 1950s levels this year, which would mean we're eating less meat than at any time in the last 50 years. Americans are eating a lot less meat overall, but beef and to a lesser extent pork have seen the biggest reductions -- which is cool, because cattle and pigs are the most resource-intensive livestock. Tom Laskawy speculates about the causes for the drop-off: What really struck me …

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Climate change may have killed 4 out of 5 seal pups in 2011

North Atlantic sea ice in areas where harp seals breed has declined as much as 6 percent every 10 years since 1979, according to scientists from Duke University and the International Fund for Animal Welfare. As a result, in low-ice years, entire populations of brand-new seal pups die, reports Yale e360. According to Canada’s Fisheries and Oceans department, as many as 80 percent of seal pups born in 2011 may have died because of a lack of sea ice. Seal, moping, by Peter Hedger

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Here are the potential Solyndras of 2012

Hey makers of right-wing talking points! Pay attention to these solar companies. They might fail this year, and as we all know, when a solar company fails you can repurpose its hide into a political hobby-horse and ride it forever. Here are this year's candidates for companies most likely to be mispronounced by one of the interchangeable hosts on Fox News, courtesy Matt Feinstein of Lux Research: Nanosolar Solopower Abound Solar Solarworld Oerlikon Suntech Power That list doesn't even include the two solar companies that already announced cuts in the new year, reports Katie Fehrenbacher at GigaOm: A week ago …

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Sunflowers show how to capture solar energy more efficiently

In design, biomimicry -- the idea that nature does design best -- is all the rage. So it must have been a head-slapping "duh" moment when solar-power designers sought inspiration from sunflowers -- a plant that has "sun" in its name, for goodness' sake! It turns out that sunflowers are really good at using the sun (NO WAY), and mimicking their structure can allow designers to seriously reduce the size of concentrating solar power farms. Concentrating solar power facilities use mirrors to focus solar energy at a single point, usually a high tower. But CSP fields of mirrors take up …

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Critical List: ‘Super fracking’; pollution threatens Lake Titicaca

Natural gas companies are looking into "super fracking," which uses larger, deeper cracks and draws power from our planet’s yellow sun. West Virginians, Pennsylvanians, and Ohioans are all hoping that Shell will choose to build a petrochemical refinery in their state, because the plant promises jobs. Maybe it's time to abandon Ulysses S. Grant's laws for federal land, which dictate that hard-rock mining is the best use for any plot. We could be losing Lake Titicaca to urban waste. Cool it, you pervs, this is is serious! Green gadget designers are still obsessed with bamboo.

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One day you will play a video game with a pig

As any Portlandia fan knows, ethical meat-eaters don't just want their food to be humanely raised and humanely slaughtered. They also want it to have had a happy life. And it turns out that what makes pigs have a happy life is video games. Seriously -- pigs like to snuffle at flashing lights, which is basically Galaga. Accordingly, ethical farming researchers at Wageningen University are working with designers from the Utrecht School of the Arts to develop a human/pig interactive gaming app. The game, called Pig Chase, is designed to relieve some of the tedium of being a pig on a farm …