For the last 18 years, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has had the physics equivalent of a rusty pickup truck parked in its front yard. Now, the 1950s era Bevatron is being demolished, and a chapter in the Bay Area's history of high level physics research comes to a close.
President Obama's stimulus plan set aside billions for clean energy. Funding will go to some familiar projects — like wind and solar power — and to some not so familiar ones, like the smart grid. So what is the smart grid? And how will it affect your home energy use?
How much sewage makes its way into our water? Plenty. Statewide, it's likely that last year's record number, 20 million gallons of raw sewage dumped in California waterways, is going to be broken this year. Decrepit pipes, lack of money and the growing severity of storms could all add up to a disaster of septic proportions.
When it comes to water conservation, you might want to toast some of the state's vintners. Grape growers are among the best at curbing water use and many are increasingly relying on an array of high-tech gadgetry to help them do it.
Ever thought about using medicine from the ocean floor? Well, scientists are using robots to sort through millions of marine chemicals in hopes of finding a cure to all kinds of diseases from cholera to breast cancer. Amy Standen has more.
Audio Report on Mar 23, 2009 by Amy Standen
A group of high school students in San Francisco are using high-tech GPS cell phones to track their daily carbon footprint – and to gauge their daily environmental risk. The GPS tracks the students' trips and shows them how much carbon they use and are exposed to each week. As cell phones become more powerful, organizers hope to spread this movement virally.
Even in small amounts, lead can be poisonous. The California Attorney General's office is suing several manufacturers of artificial turf after lead was found in the pigment used to color it. Lead is especially harmful to children and that could be bad news around the state for anyone who has installed turf in playgrounds, soccer fields, child care centers and homes.
The predictions for climate change all warn that San Francisco Bay waters will rise. The latest estimate is the bay will be about 5 feet higher by the end of this century, and 16 inches higher by 2050. If the water rises high enough, a lot of expensive Bay-front property could be inundated. What can we do about it? And how do we plan for that? That's the subject of an innovative design contest that launches this week.
A single-family home with a yard and two-car garage may be the American dream for many Californians. But with real estate at a premium and traffic congestion getting worse, there is a new urban way of living that is becoming increasingly popular. Quest reports on the rise of the transit village and just why the trend has taken so long.
This year marks Charles Darwin's 200th birthday. One of the iconic fossils that supports Darwin's theory of evolution is called the Archaeopteryx and it was recently flown out to Stanford University for an unusual test. Scientists are bombarding this dino-bird with high-tech gadgetry to unlock even more information about how we came to be here.
As the economy struggles, a lot of people are thinking about prices these days. That's the focus of a new project at Stanford University, too, but their aim is to put a value on something that's never had a price tag – nature.
Following the recent crash landing of a U.S. Airways jet into the Hudson River, QUEST takes a look at local efforts to avoid collisions between planes and birds. Every year pilots in the U.S. report more than 7,000 bird strikes. The Sacramento International Airport has one of the highest incidences of bird strikes in the nation, thanks to its location next to the Pacific Flyway.
Soon after Barack Obama is sworn in as President next week, he is expected to reverse the ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. The resulting boom in this cutting-edge medical technology will benefit California's research institutes in a big way.
The Bush Administration has recently passed dozens of so-called "midnight regulations" – last-minute rules and amendments. Many of those new laws affect the environment, including a change to the Endangered Species Act that has California environmentalists deeply worried.
Some of the most common building materials – drywall, steel, cement – are among the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Manufacturing them requires vast amounts of energy. Now, several Silicon Valley start-ups are looking for cleaner solutions and some of their efforts are drawing major venture capital.
Drivers are increasingly looking to their cell phones for advice on steering clear of heavy traffic. New technology from UC Berkeley uses cell phones to plot traffic patterns, giving a real-time picture of how long it takes to get from place to place. QUEST takes a ride with an early adopter.
That black, sooty exhaust from old diesel trucks may be a thing of the past. A landmark decision expected next week at the state Air Resources Board would mean California truckers must retrofit their diesel rigs at a price tag of about $5 billion. The cost is high, but given the health complications from diesel emissions, air pollution regulators feel they can't afford not to act.
UPDATE: Elizabeth Blackburn, a professor of biology and physiology at the University of California-San Francisco, on Monday was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine with Carol Greider and Jack Szostak for solving the mystery of how chromosomes protect themselves from degrading when cells divide. Blackburn was featured in this December QUEST radio report about the aging of HIV patients.
It's been a year since 53,000 gallons of oil from the Cosco Busan cargo ship spilled into the San Francisco Bay. More than half of that heavy bunker fuel is still around. Now, one challenge is trying to put the long-term effects of the spill into dollar terms, and then seek a settlement with the ship's owners. Officials say this work may set the national standard for handling man-made crises.