At the end of this month, some hybrid drivers will lose their solo carpool privileges. Beginning July 1, only drivers of all-electric and natural gas powered cars will be allowed to drive alone in California's carpool lanes. How effective was the hybrid perk and what will be the new wave of fuel efficient hybrids that gets this special benefit?
Audio Report on Jun 20, 2011 by KQED QUEST staff
At one hospital in San Francisco, more than half of the patients in an alcohol abuse program refuse medications that could help them stop drinking. So Bay Area scientists find themselves waging two campaigns: to develop drugs that work, and to convince alcoholics to take them.
Pain is the most common reason for trips to the doctor's office. So it makes sense that pain treatment is a huge part of our health care system, costing more than $100 billion dollars a year. But how exactly pain works is still a mystery in many ways. As Lauren Sommer reports, some researchers are trying to understand it better by looking at a very unusual creature.
Peer into San Francisco Bay and you probably won't see much, thanks to the murky water the bay is known for. But over the past decade, scientists have made a surprising discovery — the bay's water is clearing. As Lauren Sommer reports, clearer water is not always good news.
Audio Report on May 30, 2011 by from QUEST Northern California
Are we alone? For more than 50 years, scientists have listened for a signal from intelligent life on other planets… and come up empty. Now, they're running short of money. Is it time to give up?
Spotted owls are one of the most iconic threatened species in the West. But despite two decades of work to bring them back, their numbers are still declining. That may be due in part to a new threat – not from humans, but from other owls. Lauren Sommer has the story.
Hundreds of invasive species have been found in San Francisco Bay, one of the most invaded estuaries in the world. Hoping to restore native fish and wildlife, California has passed the strictest rules in the nation to prevent ocean freighters from introducing more foreign species to the bay. But as Lauren Sommer reports, the standards are so tough, officials may not be able to enforce them.
When a devastating earthquake shook Japan last month, some residents knew it was coming. A series of warning signals was sent out, including over Japanese television. Scientists say we could be just a few years away from launching a similar system here in California. As Amy Standen reports, the science is here but the funding is not.
White-nose syndrome has devastated bat populations back east, and is steadily making its way west. Researchers are keeping close tabs on the Bay Area's 16 bat species, including one thriving colony south of Sacramento.
California is hungry for renewable energy. Solar and wind power have taken off thanks to the state's ambitious clean energy goals. But there's another way to generate electricity — by using organic material like agricultural and tree waste. It's known as biomass power, but as Lauren Sommer reports, some say it's not as green as it seems.
Japan's nuclear power crisis is renewing debate over the topic of safety at nuclear power plants. Andrea Kissack talks with two men with very different opinions on the issue: Bill Magavern, head of the Sierra Club California and Ed Morse, Professor of Nuclear Engineering at University of California, Berkeley.
In California, a state agency called CalFire is charged with fighting fire in rural areas. But over the years, the line between rural and urban has become much less clear. Governor Jerry Brown proposed to scale back CalFire and help trim the state's budget, but that proposal may go down in flames.
It's been a harsh winter across the US. Snow has blanketed the Sierra Nevada, where the snowpack is well above normal. Lots of snow means good skiing, but it also means an increased danger of avalanches. Lauren Sommer travels to Lake Tahoe where researchers are trying to understand the inner workings of snow a little bit better.
40 years ago, Stanford psychology professor Phillip Zimbardo's notorious Stanford Prison Experiment demonstrated how good people can do evil things. Now, his "Heroic Imagination Project" takes those lessons to an Oakland high school to see if heroes can also be made.
For more than four decades, much of California's ranchland has been protected by the Williamson Act. But with the state's budget woes, its funding is threatened – and that has both ranchers and environmentalists concerned.
After a series of high-profile recalls, the FDA says it's reconsidering rules that allow cheese makers to use unpasteurized milk in their products. That could mean big changes in Northern California, which has become a hub of artisanal cheese making.
Solar power is booming in California. Last year, state officials approved an unprecedented amount of new solar energy. But large solar farms and small home rooftop installations have run into challenges. As Lauren Sommer reports, that's why a new sector of solar is emerging — one that benefits from being in the middle.
This month begins America's long goodbye to the incandescent light bulb. The most common replacement bulbs, CFLs, are just as bright and warm-colored as the old incandescents. So why do so many people complain about them?
Once upon a time, the job of your local utility — say, PG&E, or SMUD in Sacramento was simple: to sell you energy. Well, that business model is changing. Amy Standen reports.
It probably goes without saying: the dentist's chair isn't the most popular place to visit. But going the dentist may soon be a very different experience. As Lauren Sommer reports, researchers at the University of California San Francisco are developing new technology that may make dentists' drills less common.