For 16 years, this stork has flown 8,700 miles to return to his one true love

April 16, 2018 by  
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Just when you thought the world was one raging garbage fire , along comes this amazing stork to brighten the day. For the past 16 years, without fail, one male stork has flown 8,700 miles to be with his mate who can no longer fly after being shot by poachers. Klepetan the stork travels from his winter nest in South Africa to his mate’s Malena’s home in Croatia every single March where they reunite and raise a new brood. Malena was injured by a gunshot in 1993, but a local hero took her home after finding her by a lake and nursed her back to health. “If I had left her in the pond foxes would have eaten her. But I changed her fate, so now I’m responsible for her life,” said Stjepan Vokic, the man who cares for Malena. Now, although she can’t migrate any longer, she has a pretty sweet life. Vokic has built an “improvised Africa” where she can stay warm, and he cares for her by bathing her, catching her fish in the river and making sure her feet are moisturized. He even watches stork documentaries with her so she won’t get lonely, and takes her fishing. Related: This friendly fish has visited a Japanese diver for 25 years Klepetan arrives every March as spring begins in Croatia after traveling for a month from his winter home. Every spring, Vokic builds a new nest on his roof so that when Klepetan arrives, the couple can mate, and so far, they’ve had 62 chicks together. In the fall, Klepetan migrates back to South Africa with his new little family, and Malena stays behind with her human friend. Vokic says that the couple struggles to say goodbye every year, and Malena hides and stops eating when she knows Klepetan is about to go. Via Oddity Central Images via HRT

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For 16 years, this stork has flown 8,700 miles to return to his one true love

Elon Musk’s Boring Company to sell life-size ‘LEGO-like’ bricks dug from the earth

March 27, 2018 by  
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People signed up in droves to buy hats and flamethrowers from The Boring Company , and founder Elon Musk isn’t stopping there. He just announced his latest idea on Twitter : kits of massive interlocking bricks made from tunneling rock . The first kit will be inspired by ancient Egypt — think pyramids or a Sphinx. New Boring Company merch coming soon. Lifesize LEGO-like interlocking bricks made from tunneling rock that you can use to create sculptures & buildings. Rated for California seismic loads, so super strong, but bored in the middle, like an aircraft wing spar, so not heavy. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 26, 2018 LEGO -like bricks could be the next merchandise out of The Boring Company . Musk said the life-size building materials would be strong enough to stand up to a California earthquake, but not heavy, as they’ll be “bored in the middle.” Ever wanted a Temple of Horus in your backyard? Maybe The Boring Company’s kits could make that possible. First kit set will be ancient Egypt — pyramids, Sphinx, temple of Horus, etc — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 26, 2018 Related: You can now buy your own Elon Musk ‘Boring Company’ flamethrower Musk didn’t specify the dimensions of the bricks or structures created with the kits on Twitter. But when asked if these bricks could be utilized for affordable housing , he said the bricks feature “a precise surface finish” and two people could erect a small house’s outer walls in around one day with the materials. When asked about environmental impact, Musk said , “Uhh, it’s literally made of rock.” Further details are still thin — like price or when the kits might be available for purchase — but Musk did say they plan to ship them around the world. And they said I’d never be a rock star … — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 27, 2018 The Verge pointed out The Boring Company has been considering what do to with excavated dirt for a while — the company’s Frequently Asked Questions page said they are “investigating technologies that will recycle the earth into useful bricks to be used to build structures.” They even cited the pyramids as inspiration. Musk has raked in millions of dollars from Boring Company merchandise already. If the flamethrowers and hats were any indication, he could sell thousands of these kit sets as well. + Elon Musk Twitter Via The Verge Images via The Boring Company and Wikimedia Commons

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Elon Musk’s Boring Company to sell life-size ‘LEGO-like’ bricks dug from the earth

Shell oil just unveiled a plan to move the world away from fossil fuels

March 27, 2018 by  
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Royal Dutch Shell just laid out a proposal to move us away from its own product. The company’s Sky Scenario is a plan to help the world meet the goals set forth in the Paris climate agreement . The plan would shift people away from oil and towards hydrogen and electric transportation in order to keep global warming under the 2 degree limit that most scientists think is the tipping point for climate change . As weird as it is for an oil company to suggest moving away from fossil fuels, Shell is putting its money where its mouth is. Last October, the company purchased an electric car charging company, a major natural gas company, and it’s working on carbon capture and storage technology through its Quest and Gorgon projects. Related: BP and Shell prepare for catastrophic climate change Shell’s Sky scenario details a way in which the world can shift from oil to other technologies by 2070. The proposal suggests addressing growing global energy needs by moving to clean electricity like solar and wind, replacing gas guzzlers with electric vehicles – particularly semi-trucks – and focusing on fuels like biofuel and hydrogen. “The relevant transformations in the energy and natural systems require concurrent climate policy action and the deployment of disruptive new technologies at mass scale within government policy environments that strongly incentivize investment and innovation,” the company said. Via The Washington Post Images via Shell and Deposit Photos

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20% of US population produces 46% of food-based emissions

March 22, 2018 by  
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A monumental new study demonstrates that one-fifth of the American population is responsible for nearly half of all food-based emissions. Popsci reports that people who eat a lot of animal protein, especially beef, account for a larger share of greenhouse gas emissions — although, author Sara Chodosh also illustrates the extreme complexity behind the study’s potentially groundbreaking conclusions. Read on for a closer look. Published in Environmental Research Letters specifically sought to understand how diet and associated emissions varies among the American population. Martin Heller, an engineer at the University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems and study contributor, told Popsci it was surprising to realize just how varied they are. “I don’t think any of us really had a strong sense of how distributed the greenhouse gas emissions would be,” he says. “That was perhaps the most striking result.” Getting to the meat of the matter (sorry, I couldn’t resist) involved consulting several different databases and picking apart the life-cycle analysis of every morsel. Chodosh writes : “The NHANES survey results can tell you what a broad spectrum of American plates look like on any given day, but tells you nothing about the environmental impact of those foods. To do that, you have to go to the Food Commodities Intake Database, run by the EPA, and figure out how much meat might be in that meat lasagna, or how many tomatoes are in a generic salad. From there, you have to link the quantities of each type of food to the emissions associated with producing it.” Related: Garlic may be the key to slashing methane emissions from cows When evaluating the emissions of a single tomato, it was necessary to know how much fertilizer was used in its production, and then how much fuel was used to transport that tomato. With poultry, the researchers had to also consider feed production, and when analyzing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with eating beef, they had to calculate the amount of methane released by cow burps. I urge you to head over to Popsci to read the full details , because this short synthesis doesn’t do their reporting justice, but here’s the bottom line that we found so interesting: What next? Now that we know one-fifth of the American population is producing nearly half of food-based emissions — which in their turn are helping to melt glaciers and unleash devastating wildfires, not to mention the numerous adverse health hazards attributed to climate change — what do we do with that information? Heller tells Popsci, “Clearly we’ve not been very good at encouraging people to shift their diets for their own health. Relative to what our recommended healthy diet is, Americans do pretty poorly,” he says, “But I’ve started to try to think about it as the secondhand smoke of diet choice.” Fascinating. If you understood that your dietary choices directly hurt your neighbor, would you make a switch? + Environmental Research Letters Via Popsci Images via DepositPhotos 1 , 2

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New book reveals Cecil the lion suffered for at least 10 hours before dying

March 7, 2018 by  
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When Cecil the lion was killed by a game hunter in 2015 , people around the world were outraged. But despite the widespread attention to the situation, questions still lingered about what exactly took place. A new book on Cecil’s death finally gives us some answers, revealing that the lion likely suffered for 10 – 12 hours before being shot a second time, which ended his life. Cecil was shot with an arrow from a compound bow by dentist Walter J. Palmer from Minnesota. At the time, media outlets reported that the lion was in agony from a thoracic injury for 40 hours. While that seems to not be the case, the book says that “Cecil suffered incredible cruelty for at least 10 hours, severely wounded and slowly dying.” The arrow wound missed vital organs and arteries, incapacitating the lion but not killing him. The lion was finally relieved of his torture when the hunters located him and shot him with a second arrow. Related: Cecil the lion’s son shot and killed by trophy hunter Using data from the lion’s GPS collar and details from interviews with game staff, researchers and the local community, the book also confirms that the lion was lured out of the park in order to avoid regulations, a detail that has been disputed by the hunters. You can read all the details about Cecil’s tragic death in the book Lion Hearted: The Life and Death of Cecil and the Future of Africa’s Iconic Cats , which will be released on April 10. Via CNN Images via Flickr , Simon & Schuster and Flickr

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New book reveals Cecil the lion suffered for at least 10 hours before dying

Playful guerrilla group unleashes 50 swings across San Francisco

February 26, 2018 by  
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A guerrilla group in San Francisco has unleashed a bunch of swings across the city. Swing Bomb SF installed more than 50 sneaky swings in many undisclosed locations, delighting residents and instilling a much-needed sense of playfulness. Sadly, San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department wants to take them down. They just installed 50 swings all over the city to inspire folks to go out and play! We even made the news! #swingbombsf #sanfrancisco Repost: @dianaleebee A post shared by Swing Bomb SF (@swingbombsf) on Feb 21, 2018 at 5:14pm PST Swing Bomb SF swept in with the goal of transforming the city into a pop-up playground . They’ve spoken anonymously to news outlets, and told SF Weekly , “We decided to create a present for the city, where it would wake up one morning and have a moment of surprise.” They installed over 50 swings around the city; the tops are hand-painted and underneath the words #SwingBombSF and a number tell people just which swing they’re playing on. Related: Hundreds of colorful swings transform a busy street in Luxembourg The anonymous crew told SF Weekly they wanted to install the swings in diverse locations; the Tenderloin and Lombard Street are a couple examples. SF Weekly reported Swing Bomb SF had engineers on the team to ensure the structural integrity of the trees for the swings. “I have spent the last day and a half feeling like I could burst into happy tears at any given moment. I am learning how awesome independent feels and I am so lucky that the people in my life encourage that in me. ?????? #Repost @platinum_runner #sanfrancisco #lombardstreet #tourist #vacation #independentwoman #freedomtour #love #happiness #adventure #californiadreaming #swingbombsf @swingbombsf A post shared by Swing Bomb SF (@swingbombsf) on Feb 22, 2018 at 9:11pm PST The SF Rec & Parks isn’t so sure. Operations manager Dennis Kern told ABC 7 , “They did not come to us for us to take a look at what they wanted to do, so that we can ascertain that this is safe.” He said without a permit, the department will have to take swings down. But Swing Bomb SF purposefully didn’t disclose the location of all the swings; they told ABC 7 it was “to create that element of surprise and joy” but it also means the Recreation and Parks Department has to find the swings before they can remove them. "We don't stop playing because we grow old…we grow old because we stop playing." #swingbombsf @swingbombsf Photo via #sambrock #sanfrancisco A post shared by Swing Bomb SF (@swingbombsf) on Feb 22, 2018 at 10:51am PST People stumbling across the swings in the city have posted gleeful pictures to Instagram. Swing Bomb SF told SF Weekly of the city, “It really nurtures this inner child, it’s a very playful community. We wanted to play into that, and make the concept of S.F. being an adult playground into a reality.” You can check out more pictures on Swing Bomb SF’s Instagram here . + Swing Bomb SF Via SF Weekly and ABC 7 Image via Depositphotos

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Meet your gadget’s next power supply: you

February 13, 2018 by  
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No power outlet? No problem. Juicing up your gadgets may soon be as easy as lifting your finger. Scientists from the University at Buffalo and the Institute of Semiconductors at the Chinese Academy of Sciences have developed a tiny metallic tab, known as a a triboelectric nanogenerator, that can generate electricity from simple bodily movements,” said Qiaoqiang Gan, associate professor of electrical engineering in the University of Buffalo’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “No one likes being tethered to a power outlet or lugging around a portable charger. The human body is an abundant source of energy. We thought: ‘Why not harness it to produce our own power?’” Triboelectric charging, also known as the triboelectric effect, occurs when certain materials become electrically charged after rubbing against a different material. Most everyday static electricity, for instance, is triboelectricity, Gan said. As described in a study that was published online January 31 in the journal Nano Energy , the 1.5-by-1-centimeter tab comprises two thin layers of gold separated by a sliver of polydimethylsiloxane, the same silicon-based polymer found in contact lenses and Silly Putty. Stretching the layers of gold sparks friction with the PDMS. Relatd: 6 human-powered gadgets to improve your life “This causes electrons to flow back and forth between the gold layers. The more friction, the greater the amount of power is produced,” said Yun Xu, professor of IoP at CAS, one of the study’s authors. So far, researchers have been able to deliver a maximum voltage of 124 volts, a maximum current of 10 microamps and a maximum power density of 0.22 millwatts per square centimeter—not enough to charge a smartphone just yet, but a promising start nonetheless. Because the tab is easy to fabricate in a cost-effective way, Gan and his team plan to experiment with larger pieces of gold to generate more electricity. The scientists are also working on developing a portable battery to store energy produced by the tab. Their eventual goal? To create a power source for a raft of wearable self-powered electronic devices, Gan said. + University at Buffalo Lead photo by Unsplash

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Chernobyl’s abandoned dogs create their own exclusion zone community

February 6, 2018 by  
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If you ever happen to visit Chernobyl , you might run across one of the around 300 stray dogs that reside there. After the 1986 disaster, residents weren’t allowed to bring their pets away with them, and many dogs were left behind. Today, their descendants still roam the area, and while their life isn’t easy, The Guardian reports they are “a playful example of global kindness and cooperation.” Around 300 stray dogs reside in the 2,600 square kilometer – or around 1,004 square mile – exclusion zone at Chernobyl in Ukraine . The Chernobyl Prayer, an oral history of the time, talks about “dogs howling, trying to get on the buses. Mongrels, alsatians. The soldiers were pushing them out again, kicking them. They ran after the buses for ages.” Soldiers went in to shoot the abandoned animals ; The Guardian reports some heartbroken families pinned notes on their doors asking the squads not to kill their pets. Related: China is building a giant solar plant at Chernobyl Some dogs did survive, and it’s their descendants who live there today. Their lives are short and hard – with “increased levels of radiation in their fur” and a diminished life expectancy. Many of the animals don’t live past six years old, according to The Guardian. But here’s where the hope comes in: guards have created small huts for dogs residing near checkpoints. United States nonprofit organization Clean Futures Fund put up three veterinary clinics nearby – one is inside the plant. They’re vaccinating and neutering the dogs, and handle emergencies. You can read more about their work and donate here . Chernobyl tour company Solo East Travel guide Nadezhda Starodub told The Guardian visitors love the animals, and she does, too. There are no rules against touching them, and she just asks visitors to use the same common sense they would around strays. The dogs have come to serve as unofficial Chernobyl mascots. Via The Guardian Images courtesy of Solo East Travel

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An enormous amount of mercury is buried beneath the melting Arctic permafrost

February 6, 2018 by  
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Scientists have learned that a massive amount of mercury is currently encased within the Arctic permafrost — which could have significant ramifications for ecological and human health beyond the far North. “This discovery is a game-changer,” Paul Schuster, study lead author and hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Boulder  told AGU . “We’ve quantified a pool of mercury that had not been done previously, and the results have profound implications for better understanding the global mercury cycle.” Of particular concern is the permafrost -enclosed mercury’s relationship to a warming climate. Schuster said, “There would be no environmental problem if everything remained frozen, but we know the Earth is getting warmer.” In a study published in  Geophysical Research Letters , a journal of the American Geophysical Union , scientists recorded mercury concentrations within permafrost cores in Alaska and extrapolated how much of it is estimated to have been trapped in northern permafrost since the last Ice Age. The researchers found that permafrost soils of the north contain the largest store of mercury on the planet, nearly twice as much as all other soils, the ocean, and the atmosphere combined. The mercury originally became trapped within the permafrost when atmospheric mercury bonded to organic material in the soil, then became frozen, stuck until melting. Related: Scientists puzzle over mysterious disappearance of mercury from Utah’s Great Salt Lake The release of large quantities of the element, which can negatively impact the reproductive and neurological health of animals , becomes more likely as the permafrost thaws. One concern is that it could contaminate waterways, where it could be absorbed by microorganisms and converted into methylmercury, a dangerously toxic form. While such a massive surge of mercury could affect ecosystems far south of the Arctic, its effects would be felt acutely by local communities. “Rural communities in Alaska and other northern areas have a subsistence lifestyle, making them vulnerable to methylmercury contaminating their food supply,” Edda Mutter, science director for the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council, told AGU . “Food sources are important to the spiritual and cultural health of the natives, so this study has major health and economic implications for this region of the world.” To better understand the risks, the research team plans to produce another study that models the potential impact of the mercury’s release on the global mercury cycle and ecological health. Via AGU Images via  Schuster et al./GRL/AGU and Depositphotos

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An enormous amount of mercury is buried beneath the melting Arctic permafrost

The zero-electricity Gentlewasher does the laundry in five minutes flat

November 29, 2017 by  
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We’ve all been there – you need to wash just a few clothing items but you don’t have nearly enough for a full load of laundry . The gentlewasher offers a solution, washing clothes in five minutes with less water than washing machines and zero electricity . The hand-powered device can wash up to 12 T-shirts or eight dresses at a time, and it uses around 4.7 gallons of water – compare that to 13 gallons for an Energy Star washing machine, or 40 gallons for an older model washing machine. Need to wash delicates in a hurry? The gentlewasher makes hand-washing clothes a breeze. It’s easy to use: attach a water hose, put in clothes and a teaspoon of detergent, and start turning. After a two-minute wash cycle and two-minute rinse cycle, the garments are ready to hang-dry. The ergonomic handle ensures you won’t get too tired during the process. Related: 14-year-old girl invents pedal-powered washing machine from bike parts The gentlewasher lives up to its name, and it can actually prolong the life of your garments with the help of patented honeycomb holes that create a protective water layer so garments won’t come into contact with the drum. The company says that their product is the most sustainable and gentlest washing device for apparel ever. The company, based in the Netherlands, says results are “as good as a front-loading machine.” The gentlewasher is designed for clothes that should be washed by hand, but it can be used for all types of garments. It’s especially useful for people on the road – such as those traveling in an RV or camping. And it could even come in handy in between laundry loads or for cutting down trips to the laundromat for those living in tiny city apartments. The company says their mission is to “develop an affordable washing device for people around the world,” as five billion people worldwide still don’t have access to washing machines and must spend hours washing clothes. You can buy a gentlewasher online for $269. + gentlewasher Images courtesy of gentlewasher

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The zero-electricity Gentlewasher does the laundry in five minutes flat

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