The Science of Sustainability

Biology

Bird brains (a eulogy of sorts)

Bird brains (a eulogy of sorts)

Image from Wikipedia, originally from socialfiction.orgI'm in mourning: In early September, Alex the African grey parrot mysteriously died. I never met Alex personally, but I've heard him speak. Yes, he spoke. He also counted. And he could tell you which of a pair of keys was the bigger one, or the yellow one. He was […]

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Rascal Rabbits

Rascal Rabbits

What is soft, furry, clean, and curious and actually makes a decent pet? A rabbit. Yep, rabbits are one of the few species that we take on our Oakland Zoo ZooMobile outings and feel it is ok to choose as pets, with proper care and preparations, of course (not so much for the hedgehogs). While […]

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From Salt Ponds to Wetlands

From Salt Ponds to Wetlands

For more than 100 years, south San Francisco Bay has been a center for industrial salt production. Now federal and state biologists are working on a 40-year, $1 billion project to restore the ponds to healthy wetlands for fish, wildlife and public recreation.

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Watching the Brain at Work: MRIs and Beyond

Watching the Brain at Work: MRIs and Beyond

The human brain was once a black box, but scientists are finding ways to peer inside and explore some of our most complicated thought processes. Using MRI scanners in innovative ways, Stanford scientists are learning how children's brains process words when they read.

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Watching the Brain at Work: MRIs and Beyond

Watching the Brain at Work: MRIs and Beyond

The human brain was once a black box, but scientists are finding ways to peer inside and explore some of our most complicated thought processes. Using MRI scanners in innovative ways, Stanford scientists are learning how children's brains process words when they read. You may view the "Watching the Brain at Work" TV story online, […]

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Bushmeat in the Bay Area

Bushmeat in the Bay Area

The lush forested areas of central and western Africa are commonly referred to as "the bush." The diverse forms of wildlife found in the bush–including great apes, elephants, and forest antelope–have long served as a primary food source for the inhabitants of the region. This bushmeat is an important food and trade item for poor […]

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Building a Better Athlete

Building a Better Athlete

Someday genes may "pump you up." Lots of athletes are using performance enhancing drugs to, well, enhance their performance. Examples include steroids to increase strength and EPO to increase endurance. Of course these methods have their drawbacks (even beyond the murky ethical ones). They're dangerous and the penalties can be pretty severe if the athlete […]

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The Reverse Evolution Machine

The Reverse Evolution Machine

In search of the common ancestor of all mammals, UC Santa Cruz scientist David Haussler is pulling a complete reversal. Instead of studying fossils, he's comparing the genomes of living mammals to construct a map of our common ancestors' DNA. His technique holds promise for providing a better picture of how life evolved.

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The Reverse Evolution Machine

The Reverse Evolution Machine

In search of the common ancestor of all mammals, UC Santa Cruz scientist David Haussler is pulling a complete reversal. Instead of investigating fossil remains, he's comparing the genomes of living mammals and constructing a map of our common ancestors' DNA. His technique holds promise for providing a better picture of how life evolved on […]

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Whales in the desert, and vandalizing World Heritage Sites

Whales in the desert, and vandalizing World Heritage Sites

Credit: P.D. Gingerich, Univ. Michigan.This past week, fossil whales made it into the newswires again. This time, the news wasn't strictly about a new discovery or new insight — instead, it has to with accusations of vandalism. About 150 km south of Cairo lies a huge expanse of desert, called Wadi Al-Hitan. Unlike the classic […]

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Tag, You're It: Sharks of the San Francisco Bay

Tag, You're It: Sharks of the San Francisco Bay

Great Whites get all the attention, but the waters of the San Francisco Bay are teeming with other, smaller sharks (like the leopard shark), who occupy the top spot on the Bay food chain. Where do they live? What is their relationship with sharks on the coastal waters? How do their social structures work? How […]

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Sharks of the San Francisco Bay

Sharks of the San Francisco Bay

Great white sharks outside the Golden Gate Bridge may get all the attention, but a new tagging program seeks to unlock the secrets of the considerable shark population inside the bay.

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Tiger Attacks: The Big Cats of the Sunderban Preserve

Tiger Attacks: The Big Cats of the Sunderban Preserve

Watch Your Back in the Mangrove Forest Bengal Tiger -original photo by: Paul MannixMosquitoes are not the only ones that appear to consider humans a main protein source; Tigers in the Sunderbans Preserve in West Bengal, India, also find them to be easy prey. Some report that close to 300 people have perished in recent […]

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Dry water?

Dry water?

All last week my partner and I savored a ratatouille made from a rather large and unique zucchini. What made this particular zucchini special? The answer has to do with soil enzymes, deforestation, and Skippy peanut butter. My zucchini began its life in a bountiful test garden at the DriWater factory in Santa Rosa, from […]

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Up Close and Personal with an African Penguin

Up Close and Personal with an African Penguin

When a contest to name our newest penguin at the Steinhart Aquarium came around, I was more than excited. The prize after all was a picture with the chick and a rare opportunity to get close to an African penguin. My strategy for the contest was simple – submit 25 entries. Lo and behold, a […]

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A Level Playing Field

A Level Playing Field

Living in the bay area with two school-aged sons, you'd think the news that Barry Bonds broke the all-time home run record would have been a big deal in our house. It wasn't. My kids focused on the steroids instead of home run number 755. This got me to thinking about fair and unfair advantages […]

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…and penguin-look-a-likes from the Northern Hemisphere (Part 2)

…and penguin-look-a-likes from the Northern Hemisphere (Part 2)

Credit: NHM, London. With a string of Hollywood smash hits about penguins and polar bears, more people than ever now know that polar bears live near the North Pole, and penguins live at the South Pole. Penguins not only just live at the South Pole–they thrive all throughout the Southern Oceans, from the South Pole […]

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Did Smokey give us the whole story?

Did Smokey give us the whole story?

Restoration burn at Dunham Elementary School, Petaluma. A little over a month ago, my partner and I were driving home one evening when, off in the distance, we spotted a huge column of smoke rising into the sky. We exchanged nervous glances; it appeared to be originating from somewhere uncomfortably close to our neighborhood. We […]

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Genetic Tells

Genetic Tells

There is no perfect genetic tell. In poker, a tell is something you do that gives away the fact that you're bluffing. Maybe you itch your nose every time you have a bad hand. So now when you make a big bet and itch your nose, you'll lose to the players who have caught on. […]

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Giant penguins from the Southern Hemisphere… (Part 1)

Giant penguins from the Southern Hemisphere… (Part 1)

Photo courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History Earlier this summer, you may have heard about a surprising paleontological discovery from southern Peru. In a paper published in the journal PNAS, a team of paleontologists announced the discovery of two new species of fossil penguins, Icadyptes and Perudyptes, from an area a few hundred […]

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