photo teases for week's top stories

 

• Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum leads the GOP in blinking. It's not the equivalent of Richard Nixon's sweating, but it's another eye-opening example of what can influence voters. 

 

• Many people can't tolerate wheat-based products, meaning cookies and cakes can be tough to come by. Fortunately, many gluten-free desserts can be made without scouring the shelves for expensive flour substitutes and cake mixes. Here are five gluten-free desserts.

 

• Comets are the rogue cousins of our [skipwords]solar[/skipwords] system family, flashing about space with brilliant tails streaming behind them. Here's a primer on what some experts call the "dirty snowballs" of space.

 

Taiwan garbage truck• The shelter in the photo above is more than just a cool cat house. It's one of several creative solutions from a group of New York City architects who design and build clever outdoor winter shelters for the city’s strays. And while we're on the topic of pets, you dog lovers might want to read this one: How many walks does my dog really need?

 

• In Taiwan, yellow garbage trucks summon residents to the curb with classical music. Seriously. (Maybe it's time to rethink the way it works here?)

 

• Lace up your walking shoes for this week's eco-destination. We're going to Birmingham, England's second-largest city.

 

• You may shrug off FarmVille as simply a game, but Times columnist Nicholas Kristof doesn't agree. He plans to launch a humanitarian version of the popular game.

 

• Lifestyle blogger Starre Vartan makes the case for getting your exercise outdoors this winter — and suggests some great gear to help you enjoy it.

 

Oakridge, Tennessee sign outside nuclear facility• If you’re looking for a unique vacation experience, skip the beach this year and check out some of the world’s most notorious locations from the Atomic Age. (That's Oakridge, Tenn., at right.)

 

• Finally, tech blogger Chris Turner turns his new optimistic gaze to the solar industry. Despite what you may have read, the solar industry is not on its last legs. 

 

Plus: If you haven't seen our new, super-wide format for the week in photos, you should take a look. This week, our photo editor's choices will make you laugh, pause and ponder.