The Plan to Turn Our Aging Oil Rigs Into Skyscraper-Sized Reefs

Off the coast of Southern California, there's an underwater city. A thicket of almost 30 enormous steel oil rigs, each as large as a skyscraper, bolted to the floor of the ocean. Most of them are elderly, aging giants—and soon, the state will need to make a decision about whether to rip them up or let them stand.… » 9/12/14 10:58am 9/12/14 10:58am

This Biodegradable Plastic Is Made From Corn Husks And Rice Stems

We all know what havoc plastic wreaks on our environment. When it's not running off into our lakes and choking fish, it's fusing with sand, wood and natural debris and forming permanent litter that will far outlast us. Wouldn't it be great it we could make biodegradable plastic out of agriculture waste? Turns out we… » 8/29/14 5:00am 8/29/14 5:00am

Google Street View Cars Find Hundreds of Gas Leaks in Cities

If you live in an old city surrounded by history, chances are you also live with hundreds if not thousands of gas leaks all around you. It's bad for you (think explosions) and bad for the environment (think global warming), so we should probably do something about it. That's why Google Street View and the… » 7/16/14 1:47pm 7/16/14 1:47pm

Illinois Bans the Microbeads in Soap That Are Ruining the Great Lakes

Some years ago, soap companies began putting plastic exfoliating beads into body wash in hopes of greater profits and smoother skin. Since then, billions of plastic beads have polluted our waterways and poisoned fish. Illinois has become now the first state to take a stand against the beads. » 6/09/14 6:10pm 6/09/14 6:10pm

A Town's Famous Bioluminescent Bay Is Going Dark and No One Knows Why

For those who've seen it—and photographs don't do it justice—the bioluminescent Mosquito Bay is one of the world's most spectacular natural sights. Tiny plankton known as dinoflagellates light up the water like a glow stick at night. But since January, the glow has faded, throwing the entire Puerto Rican town into a… » 6/06/14 6:41pm 6/06/14 6:41pm

China Is Literally Moving Mountains to Build New Cities

China is on a giant building spree and nothing is going to stop it—not even mountains. Entire mountaintops are being razed to fill in valleys, paving the way for future cities. The problem is that no one really knows what they're doing. "[E]arth-moving on this scale without scientific support is folly," warn three… » 6/05/14 2:00pm 6/05/14 2:00pm

NASA's New Orbiter Will Watch Plants Photosynthesize from Space

For the last 25 years, scientists have been able to monitor the "greenness" of trees from space and use that as a tool for evaluating plant health. The problem is that greenness isn't a good indicator for stresses—such as drought—because some trees (think pines) continue to be a lovely green until they're dead.… » 5/06/14 9:23am 5/06/14 9:23am

13 Unexpected Sources of Energy that Could Save the World

If humans are going to keep living in the style to which we're accustomed, we need to find alternatives for fossil fuels. Partly that's because we need to reduce pollution — and partly because those fossil fuels are going to run out. But alternative forms of energy may look a lot weirder than you think. » 3/31/14 6:11pm 3/31/14 6:11pm

The Government Would Save $400 Million If It Just Switched Typefaces

Of the many schemes to make the government more efficient, this is probably the only one that involves typography. A middle schooler in Pittsburgh has calculated that by simply switching the typeface used in government documents from Times New Roman to Garamond, it would save taxpayers $400 million in ink. » 3/28/14 4:00pm 3/28/14 4:00pm

How Global Warming Is Dissolving Sea Life (And What We Can Do About It)

The last time Earth's oceans were this acidic, a six mile-wide sulphur-rich space rock had just smashed into the Yucatan Peninsula, unleashing a deluge of acid rain that exterminated all sea life in the the top 400 meters of the water column. Now, some 65 million years after the Cretaceous extinction, human activity… » 3/25/14 3:00pm 3/25/14 3:00pm

NASA-Backed Study Says Humanity Is Pretty Much Screwed (Updated)

Hope you've enjoyed civilized life, folks. Because a new study sponsored by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center says the world's industrial societies are poised to collapse under the weight of their own unsustainable appetites for resources. There goes the weekend . . . and everything after it for the rest of our lives. » 3/15/14 7:00pm 3/15/14 7:00pm

No, Artificial Light Is Not Destroying the Rain Forest (Yet)

A disturbing series of headlines made their way around the internet this week. "Artificial Light Is Now Harming Rain Forests," read one at Vice News. Smithsonian went with the more sedate, "Restoring Cut Rainforests Might Not Work Well If There's Light Pollution Nearby." That's bad news for rain forests! Except it's… » 3/12/14 8:20pm 3/12/14 8:20pm