Once they leave your driveway, your discarded bottles, newspapers, and other recyclables become part of a multi-billion dollar global commodities market. Last month's phone bill, for example, might be sent to China to be reincarnated as next month's iPhone packaging.
They've been called "California's Galapagos." Nearly 30 miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge lie the Farallon Islands. This year marks their 100th anniversary as a national wildlife refuge. While the islands are off limits to tourists, reporter Lauren Sommer caught a ride with marine researchers to learn about how changes are affecting life there.
One in six Americans will experience a major episode of depression at some point in their lives. And yet the drugs commonly used to treat the disease have been described as "blunt instruments"
by researchers. Newer approaches use magnets to stimulate some of the neurological signals that underlie depression.
Call it Museum 2.0. One of our most traditional institutions is undergoing a 21st century re-design. In an effort to keep up with changing times, more and more museums are turning to Twitter, Wikis and online communities to ask for the public's help in designing their exhibits.
Five years ago, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his vision for the Hydrogen Highway, an ambitious program that promised to launch an alternative energy revolution in California. Right now, that highway is not as smooth as planners had hoped and government funding is in danger of drying up.
How would you like the government to help you buy a newer, more fuel-efficient set of wheels? That's the idea behind a so-called Cash for Clunkers program that Congress is considering. But is it a boon for the environment or just a hand-out to Detroit automakers? The plan is not so novel. California has had a similar program for a decade.
Next month, the Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands opens its doors to the public for the first time in four years. The Center treats sea lions, elephant seals, and other marine mammals that run into trouble along our coast. They swallow fishing lines, get hit by boat propellers and, increasingly, come down with a bacterial infection that scientists say they still don't understand.
NASA will soon attempt to launch an unusual satellite. Most satellites are the size of a car, but this one is small enough to fit inside a glove compartment. Mini-satellites are reaching space in increasing numbers, thanks also to a do-it-yourself satellite program at Stanford University.
Sudden Oak Death is devastating oak forests along the coast, killing trees that are key to the ecology of the coastal hills. Researchers have found a way to inoculate individual trees from the disease, but are struggling in their search to find a more sweeping answer to the threat.
Why are health officials so worried about swine flu? A major reason is that against it, we are almost defenseless. Apart from the drugs Tamiflu and Relenza, which must be taken in the first 48 hours, swine flu is untreatable. The swine flu scare is only the latest chapter in an ongoing arms race between humans and viruses. But some scientists believe the end may be in sight.
It's easy to get excited about installing solar panels on our houses, but most of us could significantly cut our energy bills for less with a simple trip to Home Depot. Thanks to the new federal stimulus package, $411 million is coming to California to help the state's buildings become more energy efficient.
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.
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.