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So You've Decided to Map Sidewalk Poop in San Francisco...

November 20, 2014 San Francisco is a weird magnet for poop. Travel around the city in the grimmest of Easter Egg hunts, and you'll find turds basking on sidewalks, chilling in flower gardens, gumming up subway escalators—hell, you'll even find them littering the roof of a three-story building with no roof access. I ...

New York's Rat Population Is Far Smaller Than You Might Guess

November 6, 2014 Are there really as many rats in New York as people? Answering that hoary urban legend might not win anybody a Nobel Prize of Statistics, but it's a fascinating topic for a city where rats cause an estimated quarter of all cable-line cuts and unsolved fires. Jonathan Auerbach is a ...

Google Glass Has a Blind Spot -- Literally

November 5, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Most times, people wear glasses to not be blind. But the opposite is allegedly happening with Google Glass: The techno-specs can create a "partial peripheral vision obstruction," according to a new study in JAMA. Google Glass has come a long way in the past four years. It's gone from looking ...

Tornado Swarms Are Now Upon Us

October 16, 2014 Despite greenhouse gases storing more heat energy for storms, there hasn't been a mad increase in tornadoes in the United States. However, the behavior of tornadoes is changing, moving from being spread throughout the year to coming in "clusters" of frenzied and destructive tornadic activity. That's the conclusion of Harold ...

Bay Area Cities Are 'Overdue' for a Massive Earthquake

October 14, 2014 Here's discomforting news for Californians worried about the shifting ground under their toes: Four urban areas in the Bay Area have "stored enough energy to produce major earthquakes," according to new research. Evidence that something nasty is rumbling comes from the behavior of the San Andreas fault system, which runs ...

Drought Is Making California Shrink in Mass

October 3, 2014 To live in California is to be reminded every day about the dwindling water supply. With more than 80 percent of the state locked in extreme drought, it's no wonder people are taking desperate measures like replacing their lawns with astroturf, snitching on neighbors who overuse their hoses, and eating ...

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti: We Will Be the First City to Do Autonomous Vehicles Right

September 30, 2014 It's no secret that Eric Garcetti has a thing for autonomous vehicles. At a conference last winter, L.A.'s self-proclaimed "tech mayor" shared his dream of having an entire neighborhood devoted to whirring, driverless machines. Today at The Atlantic's CityLab 2014 summit in downtown Los Angeles he doubled down on that ...

More Evidence That Goats Are a Good Municipal Investment

September 29, 2014 There's no better way for a city to garner amusing headlines than by whipping out a bunch of goats for lawn-clearing duty. It happened this year in Seattle when the local transportation department used ruminants to eat unwanted brush ("Getting Their Goat"), last August when D.C. did the same in ...

Antarctic Sea Ice Hits a Record Max, and That's Not Good

September 18, 2014 For the third year in a row, the sea ice ringing Antarctica has set a new record. Its extent is the farthest now since observations began in the late '70s, and scientists say the growth is largely the result of climate change. Antarctic sea ice melts during the early part ...

Germs Spread Unbelievably Fast in the Workplace

September 8, 2014 Say some under-the-weather person at your workplace coughed into their palm and touched a doorknob. Beginning with that one contaminated object, how long would it take for the virus to run rampant through the building? Would it be a day? Eight hours? Perhaps the best answer if you're a germophobe ...