The Science of Sustainability

Chemistry

Plastic in the Pacific

Plastic in the Pacific

Imagine every person on earth had 100 pounds of plastic. That's how much new plastic will be manufactured in 2010. Sadly, much of that will end up in the ocean within a massive area dubbed the Pacific Garbage Patch. Can anything be done to clean it up?

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Producer's Notes: Illuminating Depression

Producer's Notes: Illuminating Depression

Imagine a medical disease that afflicts eighteen million people in the U.S., for which more than 160 million prescriptions were filled in 2008, that is one of the leading causes of disability in the U.S., but a disease for which no definitive medical model of pathology exists.

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Producer's Notes: Algae Power

Producer's Notes: Algae Power

Before becoming the CEO of Aurora Biofuels, Bob Walsh worked at the oil company Shell for 25 years. Here’s an excerpt of QUEST’s March, 2009, interview with Walsh, most of which didn't make it into the TV segment.

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QUEST Quiz: Algae

QUEST Quiz: Algae

Which algae are most efficient at producing oil? What other uses have algae been given throughout history? Take the QUEST Quiz to find out.

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Algae Power

Algae Power

In a co-production with NOVA scienceNow, QUEST explores the potential of algae—once considered nothing more than pond scum—to become the fuel of the future. Entrepreneurs from the Bay Area to LA are working to create the next generation of biofuels from algae. But will you ever be able to run your car off it?

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Producer's Notes: Decoding Synthetic Biology

Producer's Notes: Decoding Synthetic Biology

Synthetic biology portends big changes in our lives by ushering in a dizzying array of applications in everything from medicine to biofuels, environmental remediation to agriculture.

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Stem Cells and Horses

Stem Cells and Horses

At UC Davis Veterinary Hospital, competitive performance horses receive stem cell treatments that are still off limits to humans. Veterinarians say their success may pave the way for other animals… like us.

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Web Extra: At the Core of Climate Change

Web Extra: At the Core of Climate Change

How do we know that the climate is changing? In this video, provided by scientist Kendrick Taylor, learn how 8-foot long ice core samples extracted from deep in the ice layer of Antarctica hold key evidence of rapidly changing climactic conditions.

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QUEST Lab: Five-Cent Battery

QUEST Lab: Five-Cent Battery

How much electrical power will a nickel buy you? This week the Exploratorium shows us how to make an LED flashlight battery for only five cents.

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Producer's Notes for Quest Lab: The Five-cent Battery

Producer's Notes for Quest Lab: The Five-cent Battery

…I just want to say for the record that we did not force anyone to deface currency of the United States. In fact, if pushed came to shove I will say that we discouraged the practice…

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Producer's Notes: Animal Chefs

Producer's Notes: Animal Chefs

Few images will stay as indelibly with me as the sight of a 500 pound grizzly bear devouring a horse bone while standing waist high in water.

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Inside the Stanford Linear Accelerator

Inside the Stanford Linear Accelerator

On the heels of the opening of the Large Hadron Collider last year, I was curious about these particle accelerators: how they work, what research is conducted there, and most importantly why.

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Inside an Explosion

Inside an Explosion

What happens when something explodes? Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are now getting a first glimpse of the microscopic properties of an explosion.

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Producer's Notes: Inside an Explosion

Producer's Notes: Inside an Explosion

We see or hear about explosions practically every day on TV, the movies and in the news, most people have no idea what an explosion really is.

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The sky is falling… or is it?

The sky is falling… or is it?

Why is it that meteorites are brought to me for identification in clusters? I don't mean that people bring clusters of meteorites-but it seems I get calls and visits from possessors of unknown rock samples, hopeful that they are of extraterrestrial origin, in bursts. This time I got two inquiries in two days!

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Designer Biofuels

Designer Biofuels

Taking the energy from plants and making a gasoline alternative to run our cars has great promise but there are huge problems to solve. The next answer may not come from Saudi Arabia but from a UC Berkeley lab, a Silicon Valley start up or a local researcher working in the jungles of Costa Rica.

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Producer's Notes: Macro Concerns in a Nano World

Producer's Notes: Macro Concerns in a Nano World

When I was assigned to work on our QUEST story on nanotechnology, I braced myself for the complex terrain ahead. The focus is on the public policy implications of the surge in consumer goods containing nanoparticles. And just how big is the market for nano-manufactured goods?

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Macro Concerns in a Nano World

Macro Concerns in a Nano World

At 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair, you can't see nanoparticles, but you can find them in everyday products like sunscreen and clothing. But environmental and health concerns are mounting about exposure to nanomaterials, sparking a growing debate about their possible regulation.

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Reporter's Notes: Acidic Seas

Reporter's Notes: Acidic Seas

The scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) are already well-known for uncovering some of the most extreme marine animals in the deep sea, like the incredible vampire squid. But recently, they're using their unique blend of biology and engineering to study one of the least-discussed impacts of climate change: ocean acidification.

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Acidic Seas

Acidic Seas

Melting glaciers, rising temperatures and droughts – all are impacts of global warming. What receives much less attention is the toll that climate change is taking on the health of our oceans. The sea, it turns out, absorbs carbon dioxide emissions, which are causing it to become more acidic. Changing pH levels threaten the entire marine food chain from coral reefs to salmon.

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