The Science of Sustainability

Danna Staaf

Danna Staaf

Danna is a marine biologist, a science writer, a novelist, an artist, and an educator. She helped found the outreach program Squids4Kids, illustrated The Game of Science,
and has blogged at Squid A Day
since 2009. She holds a BA in Creative Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a PhD in Baby Squid from Stanford. She lives in San Jose with her husband, daughter, and cats.

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Danna Staaf's Latest Posts

Creepy Yet Compelling: Blood Vessels Blown in Glass

Creepy Yet Compelling: Blood Vessels Blown in Glass

Halloween means time for gore! Blood, bones, brains and more! Severed fingers, severed toes, eyeballs and organs galore! But how accurate are all these loose bits of human anatomy in our front yards, costumes and punch bowls? Can we use that skeleton in the corner to bone up for a biology exam–or are we missing out on a tremendous opportunity to learn medical science?

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Women in Science: Meet a Mathematician, a Physicist and a Geologist Through Art

Women in Science: Meet a Mathematician, a Physicist and a Geologist Through Art

There's nothing like role models for inspiring the scientific spirits of women, today and tomorrow! And Marie Curie isn't the only one out there–history is rife with lesser-known but no less fabulous female scientists, engineers, and mathematicians.

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Information Is Beautiful Competition: San Francisco Design Company Takes Top Prize

Information Is Beautiful Competition: San Francisco Design Company Takes Top Prize

The Bay Area is a magnet for both artistic spirits and data freaks. So, although the inaugural Information is Beautiful award competition drew entries from around the world, perhaps it isn't too surprising that the ultimate prize was snagged by San Francisco design company Stamen.

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Saving Bighorn Sheep, One Mural At a Time

Saving Bighorn Sheep, One Mural At a Time

Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep are animals worth seeing. With their bright white rumps and the rams' remarkable headgear, they bound and leap over seemingly impassable alpine terrain. But you may have a tricky time spotting one–there are only about four hundred in existence.

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Illustrating Science: Translating Knowledge Into Pictures

Illustrating Science: Translating Knowledge Into Pictures

Allison Bruce has a wonderful job: she spends all day making pictures for scientists. Bruce started out in science herself, earning a chemistry degree from UC Davis. After college, she worked in an environmental lab, but she didn't enjoy it and turned to art classes "to keep from losing my mind," she says.

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Science and the Flu: A Little Learning Is A Dangerous Thing

Science and the Flu: A Little Learning Is A Dangerous Thing

The first sniffles of flu season are upon us: a friend of mine was struck down, and couldn't join me in attending a science dialogue on Sunday night. This was darkly humorous, as the topic of the evening was pandemics.

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California Wildlife Mural Celebrates Its Third Birthday

California Wildlife Mural Celebrates Its Third Birthday

In 2009, after West Valley College built its brand new biology building, a group of faculty stood in the natural history lab staring at a blank wall. "It's too empty," they agreed. "How about a mural?" suggested biology and genetics instructor Molly Schrey.

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Scientific Whimsy: The Magical Art of Tiffany Bozic

Scientific Whimsy: The Magical Art of Tiffany Bozic

Tiffany Bozic, the first Artist-in-Residence at the California Academy of Sciences, named her first child after a rare bird found in Southeast Asia: Tesia olivea.

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Facebook and Frank Gehry: Will the New Building Be A Marriage of Sustainability?

Facebook and Frank Gehry: Will the New Building Be A Marriage of Sustainability?

Facebook hired Frank Gehry to design its new building. Why? If the 'book wanted a green building (and who'd dare to build in the Bay Area without "a big emphasis on being eco-friendly"?), Gehry is a less than obvious choice.

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Squid Skin: Why Pigment (But Not Glitter) Will Dance to the Beat

Squid Skin: Why Pigment (But Not Glitter) Will Dance to the Beat

Squid and their relatives–a group of animals known as cephalopods–have the world's best skin. And it's not because they moisturize, lack pimples, or tan without ever burning. It's because their skin is a canvas of endless possibilities.

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Collaborative Creativity in the Digital World

Collaborative Creativity in the Digital World

When you think of digital art, Photoshop or a Wacom tablet may come to mind. And yes, drawing on a screen instead of a pad of paper is certainly one kind of digital art. But digital art can also happen on an entirely different level: art can be made with lines of code.

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The Reverential and the Precious: Human Anatomy as Art

The Reverential and the Precious: Human Anatomy as Art

It may take an unusual muse to be deeply inspired by the body's insides. Artist Sara Nilsson possesses just such a muse–as well as the skill to create breathtakingly beautiful, anatomically accurate cross-sections of the human body with quilled paper.

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Stunning Solar Visualizations: The Sun's Van Gogh-like Artistry

Stunning Solar Visualizations: The Sun's Van Gogh-like Artistry

While nearly all eyes are focused on Mars, two astophysicists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center have been quietly staring at the sun instead.

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Avatars and the Mirrorbox: Can Humans Hack Empathy?

Avatars and the Mirrorbox: Can Humans Hack Empathy?

Virtual avatars are one thing. But what about real bodies? Would identifying with another person's body make you behave more like that person? If the body belongs to a different gender, age, or ethnicity than yours, would you become more empathic to others in that group?

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Illustrating Science: Int'l Science and Engineering Fair Student Projects Beautifully Visualized

Illustrating Science: Int'l Science and Engineering Fair Student Projects Beautifully Visualized

ISEF student projects can be just as esoteric as Nobel laureates' research. But this year, those of ISEF's student scientists lucky enough to be paired with professional artists will see their research translated into compelling and accessible posters for the public.

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The Bay Area Thanks Buckminster Fuller for Geodesic Domes

The Bay Area Thanks Buckminster Fuller for Geodesic Domes

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is showing, for just a few more short days, an exhibit called "The Utopian Impulse: Buckminster Fuller and the Bay Area." Fuller never actually lived in the Bay Area, but the exhibit's designers seem to think he would have liked it.

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Oriental Ink Painting with a Computer Instead of a Brush

Oriental Ink Painting with a Computer Instead of a Brush

Traditional occidental painting techniques like watercolor or oil build an image from many layered brush strokes. You don't usually notice the individual strokes unless you stand very close. But in traditional oriental ink painting, called sumi-e, the brush strokes are the painting.

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Ocean Overrun With Gentle Gelatinous Salps

Ocean Overrun With Gentle Gelatinous Salps

What looks like a jellyfish but is closely related to humans? The answer is an oceanic animal called a salp, and right now the waters off California are teeming with unprecedented numbers of these creatures.

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"I Flamed Amazement": The Physics of St. Elmo's Fire

"I Flamed Amazement": The Physics of St. Elmo's Fire

Ariel personified St. Elmo's Fire, the glow that can appear around ship masts and chimneys during a thunderstorm. Lacking a scientific explanation for the light, people in Shakespeare's time attributed it to the patron saint of sailors. Four hundred years later, we still don't completely understand how storms create such magnificent atmospheric phenomena.

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How I Learned to Love Olives and Hate Their Pests

How I Learned to Love Olives and Hate Their Pests

I've always hated olives. I'd pick them off pizzas and out of salads. But in the last few weeks, I've actually started eating them on purpose. It could be because I'm pregnant, a condition which has me craving salt—and few foods are saltier than a nice olive.

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