Grist List

Climate & Energy

10-year-old discovers new energy-storing molecule by accident

Fifth-grader Clara Lazen was just messing around with a molecule modeling kit in class, trying to construct a stable molecule that followed basic chemistry rules. What she ended up with was a completely novel molecular structure, and a coauthor credit in the resulting journal article. Man, what were YOU discovering when you were 10? Masturbation and Faith No More?

Cleantech

‘Smart paint’ warns you when stuff’s about to break, so you can fix it

Someday we’ll fix infrastructure and the environment in the same way that Arizona suburbanites fix their lawns: By slapping on a coat of paint. Science has already made great strides on carbon-eating paint, and the kind of paint that can make windows into solar panels. And now researchers at at Glasgow’s University of Strathclyde have developed paint that can detect underlying structural problems in bridges, mines, and turbines, allowing engineers to head disaster off at the pass.

Natural Gas

How the Sierra Club and the natural gas industry broke up

Yesterday, TIME published the news that the Sierra Club had taken more than $25 million dollars from the natural gas industry — specifically, from employees and subsidiaries of Chesapeake Energy, one of the largest natural gas companies around. The donations came at a time when the environmental movement was rallying behind natural gas as a “bridge fuel” — an energy source cleaner than coal that could lead to a renewable energy future. But in 2010, the Sierra Club’s new executive director, Michael Brune, decided to end the financial relationship, forgoing an additional $30 million in funding — an amount equal …