The Science of Sustainability

QUEST Community Science Blog

Climate Talks in Copenhagen: No Silver Bullet?

Climate Talks in Copenhagen: No Silver Bullet?

Between the aquarium of drowning-delegate sea-level rise protesters, the chicken flock of animal rights protesters, and the cocktail party of fur-coated protest protesters, there will certainly have been a lot to see these past two weeks in Copenhagen during the latest United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

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Rainwater Harvesting: Is It All Wet?

Rainwater Harvesting: Is It All Wet?

It's an El Niño year, which raises hopes for significant rainfall this winter. But after years of drought, some local homeowners aren't counting on it. They're conserving water by reviving the ancient practice of rainwater harvesting. But how much can they really save? Katharine Mieszkowski reports.

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Reporter's Notes: DIY Rainwater Harvesting

Reporter's Notes: DIY Rainwater Harvesting

If you're hoping to catch some rain yourself this winter in the Bay
Area, you shouldn't have any problems with supply. There's likely to
be plenty of water gushing off your roof, since even small ones shed
thousands of gallons over the course of a typical rainy season.

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The Paper Battery Chase

The Paper Battery Chase

Scientists at Stanford University are learning how to coat ordinary paper with an ink composed of carbon nanotubes and silver nanowires to make an excellent energy storage device.

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San Francisco Science Scene

San Francisco Science Scene

I love researching and I always have. In high school, the librarians knew me by name because I spent more time with books than peers. In college, I would pick paper topics specifically to gain access to the Bancroft rare books library at Cal. In school, it was easy to fuel my nerdy interests and get lost into a battle of wits amongst friends but in adulthood, I have had to search for like-minded people and events. Below is my list of favorites intellectual haunts in the city.

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Working Dogs for Conservation

Working Dogs for Conservation

With unemployment at an all time low, it seems controversial that some very solid jobs are going to non-humans, but there are just some things that humans will never be qualified to do.

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Scenes from the Pacific Garbage Patch

Scenes from the Pacific Garbage Patch

Quest reporter Amy Standen talks with journalist Lindsey Hoshaw, who has recently returned from a trip to the Pacific Garbage Patch, about what she found there.

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Web Extra: Scenes from the Pacific Garbage Patch

Web Extra: Scenes from the Pacific Garbage Patch

Reporter Lindsey Hoshaw recently returned from a trip to the Pacific Garbage Patch. She was the only journalist on a scientific expedition led by Charles Moore, who discovered the patch 12 years ago. QUEST reporter Amy Standen shares some new photos from Lindsey about her trip to the patch and what she found there.

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Beware Helicopter Parents

Beware Helicopter Parents

Time recently had a great article on helicopter parents. These are the parents who hover around their kids, protecting them from any harm. They are undoubtedly doing this to ensure their kids’ success in life. I don’t want to get into the plusses and minuses of this parenting style…to each his own. What I do want to do is to warn them away from a new genetic testing company that seems designed to target them.

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Boom Time for Open Space

Boom Time for Open Space

This month marks an anniversary no one will celebrate: two years ago, the economic downturn many call "The Great Recession" began. Here in Northern California, like just about everywhere else, housing prices have tumbled. But for some, there's a silver lining to the real estate bust, as Amy Standen reports.

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Reporter's Notes: Boom Time for Open Space

Reporter's Notes: Boom Time for Open Space

It'll take about $13 million to buy Bruin Ranch – the 2,500 acre spread outside Auburn. Two land trusts are working hard to raise the cash: Trust for Public Land, one of the largest national land conservancy organizations, and a local group, Placer County Land Trust.

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New Evidence of Martian Life Found in Antarctica?

New Evidence of Martian Life Found in Antarctica?

On Monday, November 30th, 2009, NASA/Johnson Space Center announced that a recent study strengthens the argument that chemical and structural features in a Martian meteorite—ALH84001—may be evidence of fossilized microbial life on Mars from the distant past.

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Science Event Pick – H1N1 Update

Science Event Pick – H1N1 Update

Art Reingold will provide an update concerning the global pandemic of novel H1N1(swine) influenza; the current state of affairs in the US and California; and options for prevention, including a pandemic influenza vaccine.

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Cash for Caulkers: A Pretty Good Idea

Cash for Caulkers: A Pretty Good Idea

Heard of the “Cash for Caulkers” program? This is the nickname for HOME STAR, a program to provide incentives for homeowners to upgrade their homes to be more energy efficient, healthy, and affordable to live in.

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Decoding the Emotional Brain

Decoding the Emotional Brain

People with pseudobulbar affect — a neurological condition common in patients with Lou Gehrig's disease — have overwhelming emotions at inappropriate times: They laugh uncontrollably at funerals, cry even when they aren't sad. Scientists at UC San Francisco believe that by putting these people into MRI scans, they can learn more about how emotions are created and controlled in the human brain — and what happens when those systems break down.

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The Science Behind Brining a Turkey

The Science Behind Brining a Turkey

One of the things I hated growing up at Thanksgiving was overcooked turkey. It is dry, flavorless and feels like eating cardboard. I would often forgo turkey because of how dry it was. Brining has been my preference for the past three years because it is far healthier than deep fat frying and it cuts the cooking time in half. Most importantly is creates a juicy delicious Thanksgiving turkey.

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Who Owns My DNA?

Who Owns My DNA?

If a DNA testing company gets bought out, what happens to their customers' DNA? Image by Molly Eyres. / CC BY 2.0 One niggling worry I had when I decided to get some genetic testing from 23andMe was what would happen to my DNA if the company failed. By all accounts, 23andMe is a very […]

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Web Extra: Photosynthesis and Foosball

Web Extra: Photosynthesis and Foosball

Photosynthesis seems like a simple process, but scientists are still trying to understand how it works. They've discovered that plants may be using quantum physics. As Lauren Sommer found out, the best way to understand it is through foosball.

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Reporter's Notes: Building an Artificial Leaf

Reporter's Notes: Building an Artificial Leaf

When I began this story, it seemed pretty simple. I'd heard that scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab were working to mimic photosynthesis and create a man-made version of the process that could supply us with renewable energy.

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Lunar Ice Smack-down a Success!

Lunar Ice Smack-down a Success!

NASA's LCROSS mission found water on the Moon, no bones about it. Though NASA is still analyzing all the data they reaped from the LCROSS impact event on October 9th, and will be for a long time to come, they seem confident enough about the preliminary findings to make this a definite declaration of discovery!

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