The Science of Sustainability

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When Brains Hit The Gym

When Brains Hit The Gym

Can brain performance be improved? The $300 million-a-year "brain-fitness" industry is betting that the answer to that question is yes. Some companies say that an 80-year old brain can perform just as well as a 25-year old brain after some specialized video game training. What about crossword puzzles and regular old exercise? QUEST takes a look at the growing brain fitness industry and the science behind it.

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Silicon Valley: The New Detroit?

Silicon Valley: The New Detroit?

Detroit has been at the center of the country's auto industry ever since Henry Ford rolled his first Model T off the assembly line in 1908. But as hard times have fallen on America's Rust Belt, there's a new region hoping to give Detroit a run for its money.

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Looking For A Charge

Looking For A Charge

Every year buzzwords enter the American lexicon. Like "octo-mom" or "crowdsourcing." Next year "range anxiety" may top the list. It's the fear of being stranded in an electric car because the battery has run out. Andrea Kissack continues to explore the brave new world of electric cars. Today, she goes in search of a charge.

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Greening Your Drive

Greening Your Drive

The first mass-produced electric vehicles ever sold in the United States will begin to hit auto show rooms by the end of this year. The Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt already have tens of thousands of pre-orders. Until now, electric cars had been the domain of small groups of tech hobbyists and hard core environmentalists. But how feasible are they for everyday drivers? Take a drive with Andrea Kissack and find out.

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Backyard Seed Banks

Backyard Seed Banks

It's the time of year when backyard gardeners are gathering the last few tomatoes and squash of the summer harvest. But there's one thing most gardeners don't harvest: seeds.

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California Takes the Lead on Stem Cell Research

California Takes the Lead on Stem Cell Research

A judge's ruling last month that blocks the federal government from funding embryonic stem cell research puts California back in the lead in the field.

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Cow Power Not Cutting It

Cow Power Not Cutting It

Take a waste product like cow manure or trash, let it decompose for a bit and you'll soon end up with methane gas. Methane is powerful contributor to climate change. But it can also be captured and used to make renewable electricity. That's something farmers are experimenting with across California. But by solving one environmental problem, they're running headlong into another. Lauren Sommer has more.

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All Charged Up Over EMFs

All Charged Up Over EMFs

The wireless age has introduced countless devices that many of us can't live without, like cell phones, laptop computers and wifi routers. Like all electronics they communicate using electromagnetic frequencies – or EMFs. Some people worry that EMFs are making them sick – and say that technology should slow down, as Amy Standen reports.

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Plight of the Yellow-Legged Frog

Plight of the Yellow-Legged Frog

This is the classic environmental story: a species in trouble because of what our species is doing. It's happening all over the world. But there are people tackling these problems one by one, coming up with simple ways of changing our behavior. This week we take a look at the plight of the foothill yellow-legged frogs.

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Renewables on Indian Land

Renewables on Indian Land

Indian reservations hold an estimated 10 percent of the nation's renewable energy resources — hot, windy tracts that suddenly seem more valuable than ever. The Campo tribe, near San Diego, has taken the lead, building the country's only utility-scale wind installation on Indian land. Plans are afoot to triple the project. But tribe members say tax incentives and other federal programs put Indians at a disadvantage.

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Energy Storage: The Holy Grail

Energy Storage: The Holy Grail

This week, we continue our series "33 by 20," a look at California's ambitious renewable energy goals. Solar and wind power are booming across the state. But renewables have a downside: there are times when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow. California utilities are looking to smooth out those bumps with a new strategy: storing electricity.

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Delta Predators

Delta Predators

As the state dries out from a long, rainy winter, the battle over water rights in the Sacramento Delta continues. Water contractors are hoping an upcoming court ruling will find that water pumps are not the only threat to the imperiled Delta Smelt. Some of the blame is getting pinned on a bigger fish that happens to have an appetite for endangered species. Alison Hawkes reports.

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Using DNA to Stop Dogfighting

Using DNA to Stop Dogfighting

Researchers at UC Davis are collecting DNA from dogs seized in police raids on dogfighting operations. The goal is to create a database to help identify and prosecute the extensive underground breeding programs that sell puppies for as much as $50,000 to dogfighting rings. But the database is controversial among some animal rights activists, who believe it would allow shelters to euthanize dogs whose DNA match fighting lineages.

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Protecting Marine Reserves

Protecting Marine Reserves

In April, California continued its ambitious efforts to restore declining ocean fisheries by creating 21 new marine protected areas between Half Moon Bay and Mendocino County. In all, fishing would be banned or reduced in 20 percent of state waters there. But with the state budget crisis, how will California enforce these rules?

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Bay Area Ant Invasion

Bay Area Ant Invasion

If you've ever had small, black ants in your kitchen, chances are they're Argentine Ants. These invasive insects have spread across California, forming what some scientists say is one of the largest colonies on Earth. They're also harming native ants. Now, scientists are developing ways to stop the invasion, by learning the language ants use to communicate. Lauren Sommer reports.

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Finding a Home for Big Solar – Part Two

Finding a Home for Big Solar – Part Two

A plan that requires California's utilities to generate one third of their electricity from solar, wind and other types of clean energy by 2020 has been held up by a glacially slow permitting process. The Panoche Valley, south of Hollister, is finding itself in the center of one of those debates.

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Finding a Home for Big Solar – Part One

Finding a Home for Big Solar – Part One

California has set ambitious goals for a transition to clean, renewable energy: 33 percent by 2020. Some are skeptical that the goal is within reach.QUEST and Climate Watch continue to examine the promise and pitfalls of this historic transformation. Craig Miller reports on one Silicon Valley company's controversial proposal for Panoche Valley.

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Strawberries and Worker Safety – Part Two

Strawberries and Worker Safety – Part Two

The Schwarzenegger Administration plans to approve a new chemical called methyl iodide, which is used by strawberry farmers. Although methyl iodide can cause cancer and miscarriages, regulators say that protective measures like respirators and buffer zones will keep farm workers safe. Scientists consulting for the state say these measures often fail, and methyl iodide is too toxic to take chances. Amy Standen reports.

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Strawberries and Worker Safety

Strawberries and Worker Safety

Methyl bromide – a powerful fumigant used by strawberry growers to sterilize the soil before plants go in – was found to harm the Earth's ozone layer. Strawberry farmers have been clamoring for a replacement, and they may get their wish if the state approves a chemical called methyl iodide. But some state scientists say it could cause cancer and miscarriages in farm workers and nearby communities.

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Soundscapes of National Parks

Soundscapes of National Parks

Many Californians will be spending summer traveling to their favorite getaway spost. Some of the most popular tourist destinations are national parks. But we can love them just a little too much. Too many hikers crowd trails, exhaust from automobiles clouds park air, and as Craig Miller reports, we can also have a big impact on one of the most treasured aspects of a park, its sound.

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