The Science of Sustainability

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Medicine from the Ocean Floor

Medicine from the Ocean Floor

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.

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Tracking Carbon through Your Cell Phone

Tracking Carbon through Your Cell Phone

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.

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Playing with Lead – Artifical Turf

Playing with Lead – Artifical Turf

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.

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Redesigning the Bay

Redesigning the Bay

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.

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Mass Transit Housing Plan

Mass Transit Housing Plan

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.

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Investigating Darwin's Legacy

Investigating Darwin's Legacy

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.

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Putting a Price on Nature

Putting a Price on Nature

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.

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Birds vs. Planes

Birds vs. Planes

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.

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New Life for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

New Life for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

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.

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Last Minute Rules

Last Minute Rules

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.

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Building Blocks Go Green

Building Blocks Go Green

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.

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Dialing in on Traffic

Dialing in on Traffic

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.

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Get the Soot Out

Get the Soot Out

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.

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UCSF Researcher Wins Nobel Prize

UCSF Researcher Wins Nobel Prize

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.

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Food Safety

Food Safety

Recent scares over melamine-laced cookies from China and salmonella-tainted Mexican jalapenos have raised stark questions: Who's monitoring the safety of imported food? And does the system work?

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Oil Spill Anniversary

Oil Spill Anniversary

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.

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Closing the Science Gap

Closing the Science Gap

The Bay Area is synonymous worldwide with high-tech innovation. Meanwhile, its students have some of the lowest math and science scores in the country. Quest takes a look at the state of public school science education in California, and asks how the state can nurture a homegrown workforce equipped to take on 21st century challenges.

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The Hayward Fault: A Tectonic Timebomb

The Hayward Fault: A Tectonic Timebomb

Last week's deadly earthquake in Japan and last month's devastating temblor in New Zealand have put quake-prone California on alert. While Bay Area residents would rather not think about the possibility of another major quake, the region is surrounded by active faults. One East Bay fault has scientists especially concerned.

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Big Solar on the Ballot

Big Solar on the Ballot

Proposition 7 is all about renewable energy generation. The initiative requires all utilities to generate 20 percent of their power from renewable energy by 2010 and 50 percent by 2025 and speeds up approval of renewable energy plants. You would think most leading environmental groups would be on board — but many are not.

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Fast Trains

Fast Trains

Imagine traveling from San Francisco to Los Angeles in about two-and-a-half hours, without getting on a plane. That's the idea that could become reality this November. A $10 billion bond project is on the ballot to build high-speed rail. With higher gas prices and concern about climate change, supporters hope the time is finally right to approve this massive mass-transit project. But technical and political obstacles remain.

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