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Grist List: Look what we found.


Climate change has things on Earth looking rough? NASA’s got a fly getaway ship

Mark Rademaker and NASA

The seas are rising, the deserts are spreading, cats and dogs are flaunting their non-traditional lifestyles, Eric Cantor is too liberal, and the Kardashian’s don’t approve of Khloe’s latest love. This whole big blue ball is going to heck in a hanging basket. Luckily, NASA, the people who brought you creamless ice cream and the babysitting miracle known as velcro, have devised an escape plan, and as sad as it will be to say goodbye, our new ride looks awesome.

Turns out Dr. Harold “Sonny” White took time away from his boring schedule of designing hum-drum ion drives, plasma thrusters, and whatever the hell he’s doing in this picture, to get creative. He teamed up with 3-D artist and part-time starship designer Mark Rademaker to show us what an intersteller NASA spaceship might look like.

Jonathan O’Callaghan of The Daily Mail had this to say:

A Nasa scientist ... has revealed a Star Trek-style ship that could make interstellar travel a reality.

Dr. Harold White is famous for suggesting that faster than light (FTL) travel is possible.

Using something known as an Alcubierre drive, named after a Mexican theoretical physicist of the same name, Dr. White said it is possible to ‘bend’ space-time, and cover large distances almost instantly.

The question is, can we do that without angering the ghost of Albert Einstein? (He’s already pissed that people forget he was Australian.)


Texas Gov. Rick Perry wants Tesla’s green jobs. What’s Texas willing to give?

The Sacramento Bee

Tesla Motors is looking for someplace to put its shiny new $4-5 billion electric car battery factory, replete with 6,500 high-paying green jobs. Understandably, states are lining up. The Lone Star State’s governor, Rick Perry, has done the math, and he wants all that work for little old Texas.

Perry never struck us as the electric car sort. In fact, he’s pushed for more offshore drilling and is begging for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. But with billions in his eyes, he’s apparently taken a cotton to the luxo-hotrods, even taking one for a spin in some camera-heavy environments.

Here’s Marc Lifsher with the L.A. Times:

Outside a Sacramento hotel on a 103-degree afternoon, [Perry] told reporters he enjoyed driving the Tesla but would have preferred "if it had a made-in-Texas bumper sticker."

He said he didn't like being accused of "poaching" jobs and stressed that "competition between states is good for the country."

Hmm. Competition between the states indeed.


Looking for a place to film your live-action Frozen fan fic? Dutch students have you covered

Eindhoven University of Technology

I once took a ceramics class and my crowning creation was a weird undersea slug creature with a massive mouth and some kind of odd, angler fishlike protuberance. My roommates used it as an ashtray.

Students and faculty at Eindhoven University of Technology are building a 131-foot-tall replica of Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia Basilica out of ice, which I guess is cool. Of course, come summer, their glimmering towers will melt to naught while I still have that ashtray. Somewhere. Maybe in a box at my mom’s house?

The team plans to begin construction this December in Juuka, Finland, and build it in under a month using a long-forgotten and, thanks to climate change, sure-to-be-short-lived technology called Pykrete.


Your local delivery man may soon get a flying robotic sidekick

University of Cincinnati/Lisa Ventre

Very soon, your town could be patrolled by a fleet of ultra-quiet electric mother-ship vans, traveling down main arteries, pausing only at optimally calculated locations, then releasing a fleet of autonomous drones to make strategic drops throughout the hinterlands.

Just imagine your horror as you step out of your front door and come eye-to-robo-cam with the hovering machine just as it unloads its package: the ridiculous Christmas sweater your Aunt Gloria in Illinois knitted you. And just in time for Summer in Phoenix.

You may have seen the video released late last year by online retailer Amazon, featuring an octocopter delivering a package from the company’s front door to that of a happy suburbanite. The notion generated the expected terror from the aluminum foil sombrero set, but the fears went further, and for good reason: Do we really trust the decision-making abilities of a company that sells this?

There were doubters among the tech geek set, too, who argued that the numbers just didn’t add up. Here’s the fantastic Marcus Wohlson at Wired:

Picture a typical UPS truck. These generally carry 120 to 150 packages per day per route, a quantity optimized across all the costs of parcel delivery, from gas to labor to truck wear-and-tear. For UPS to make money, it has to put just enough packages on the truck that correspond to a route where the destinations are grouped closely enough to make traveling the distance worth the time and energy. As depicted by Amazon, its drones would make deliveries straight from its warehouses to customers’ homes. To an individual customer, such direct service might seem like the height of efficiency. But to equal the capacity of one UPS truck, an Amazon drone would need to make 120 to 150 round trips per day between its hub and people’s homes–hardly a streamlined vision of the future.

But according to researchers at the University of Cincinnati and Amp Electric Vehicles, drone-and-delivery-truck teams could change the whole equation.


There’s gold in that there drinking water — which can’t be good


Mark and Sharon Brown of Whitehall, Mont., hit the mother lode while panning for gold. And when I say “panning for gold” what I mean is “doing the dishes.”

Earlier this week, Sharon noticed flecks of gold in the kitchen sink. There were more in the toilet tank. Sounds great, right? I mean, people pay extra to get gold in their schnapps, which I hear is delicious, so what’s wrong with a little (well, maybe a lot -- at least enough to be visible to the naked eye) heavy metal in your drinking water?

Colin Cashin at NBC Montana told this story:

[Mark Brown] showed us how they are finding the flakes in their tap water and also the toilet tank. They ran multiple tests on the flakes and found one of the most precious metals on earth -- gold -- was coming out of the tap.

Brown said, "Everything I tried to do to dispel this, I got nothing. And I can't explain it either. It's bizarre."

Among the tests run on the gold flakes was a chemical test where a solution is used to dissolve any metal that isn't pure gold.

Paul Harper lives next door to the Browns. He's also seeing gold in his tap water. He deals in antiques and gold and is the one who conducted the chemical test. He told us, "There was no dissolving at all of the gold."

Harper ran the test again for us. There was no reaction on the flakes, but when the chemical hit gold-painted foil, it melted away.

Harper and the Browns are concerned about what their findings mean for the town's water supply and its filtration.

"If we're seeing heavy metals that you can see with the naked eye," said Brown, "what else might be in there?"

Read more: Climate & Energy


Airbnb thinks your apartment would make a great illegal bistro


Airbnb, the outfit that brought you strangers-sleeping-in-your-bed-while-you’re-at-your-cousin-Maura’s-wedding-in-Connecticut is at it again! This time, the company wants you to make people you don’t know dinner, and pay Airbnb for the privilege. Where do I sign up?

Reuters’ Gary Shih summed it up this way:

Airbnb is encouraging hosts to throw dinners for strangers as part of a new pilot program in its home city. The company would take a cut of the proceeds, similar to how it makes money from its core business of letting people list spare bedrooms or homes on its website.

The startup began inviting hosts in San Francisco to participate in the dining pilot on Tuesday. A listing for one of the pilot dinners charged $25 per person for a three-course meal.

Marissa Coughlin, an Airbnb spokeswoman, said the company is "always experimenting with new ways to create meaningful experiences" and declined further comment.

Why did she decline to comment, you wonder? Maybe because the whole set up is completely against the law.

Read more: Cities, Food, Living


The Meat-inators

Move over, Avatar: Suzy Amis-Cameron (James’ wife) fights environmental disaster with vegan school lunches

Monkey Business Images

In the debate over healthy school lunches, it turns out that all you need to do to change the system is be a former movie star -- or be married to the guy who directed the two biggest flicks of all time. Or both: Former actress and model Suzy Amis-Cameron – James Cameron’s wife – is putting her ducks in line to see that the Carlsbad, Calif.-based school she founded will soon become the first to go completely vegan.

Such a bold move shouldn't be surprising coming from a school that was established out of a loathing for M&M’s. Amis-Cameron decided to start MUSE School CA in 2005, when she picked up her 4-year-old daughter from school and discovered that the girl had spent the day learning math with colorful, saccharine pellets.

“The school she was going to – that touted itself as an environmental school – was teaching my child to count with M&M’s,” Amis-Cameron tells NPR. “And everything in my life came to a screeching halt.”

Read more: Food, Living


Climate change is washing WWII soldiers from their graves

US Marines landing on Eniwetok, Marshall Islands, 17 Feb 1944
United States Marine Corps

Seven decades ago last week, over a million allied soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy. Hundreds of thousands gave their lives on both sides of that lone battlefield, one of many in the largest and costliest conflict in human history. Millions would fight and die, some on the side of right, others caught up in the gears of a terrible, fascist and racist machine, still others caught between.

Today, a new foe, one that could prove even more deadly, is bringing the dead of World War II back to us. From Reuters’ Alister Doyle:

Rising sea levels have washed the remains of at least 26 Japanese World War Two soldiers from their graves on a low-lying Pacific archipelago, the foreign minister of the Marshall Islands said on Friday.

"There are coffins and dead people being washed away from graves. It's that serious," Tony de Brum told reporters on the sidelines of U.N. climate change talks in Germany.

Putting the blame on climate change, which threatens the existence of the islands that are only 2 meters (6 ft) above sea level at their highest, de Brum said: "Even the dead are affected."

Twenty-six skeletons have been found on Santo Island after high tides battered the archipelago from February to April, he said, adding that more may be found.

The way we have been living, the paths we still tread, and our inaction as the tides rise, are literally unearthing the mistakes of our past.

Read more: Climate & Energy


Art trucks bring a little eye candy to the local underpass

Rodi Gallery

Ever been hanging out at your regular food truck rally and think to yourself, “You know what would go great with this goat and poblano enchilada? Some delicate, thought-provoking mixed-media abstracts and a severed concrete slab or two.”

Well wait no more! Art is no longer confined to the outside of vans. It’s got a seat inside in a growing fleet of mobile art galleries.

From the New York Times:

While statistics on mobile galleries are hard to come by, social media shows the trend catching on in Los Angeles; Seattle; Santa Fe, N.M.; Tampa Bay, Fla.; Chicago; and even Alberta, where a ’60s teardrop-red trailer presents works from a changing lineup of local artists. Pinterest boards show a range of designs on pages dedicated to mobile galleries, and Twitter is full of people advertising their whereabouts with hashtags such as #keeptrucking. Ann Fensterstock, a lecturer on contemporary art and the author of “Art on the Block,” a history of New York art galleries, said these galleries are “part of the zeitgeist of this moment in art creating.”

Read more: Cities, Living


Finally, an electric car that crushes all the others (literally)


Try to imagine: You’re driving your Tesla out for a long weekend in the Hamptons, but there’s a line at the charging station. It’s the nightmare scenario, but now there’s a solution: Bigfoot No. 20, the electric monster truck. Just take your sweet new rig over the top and no more waiting!

We know what you've been thinking: “Man, I love monster truck rallies. They may be my favorite thing in the whole wild world. But they're not very green.” Well, Bigfoot No. 20 is here to prove that just because your feet are big, that doesn't mean your carbon footprint has to be.