The Science of Sustainability

Chemistry

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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Tracking Raindrops

Tracking Raindrops

We all rely on the water cycle, but how does it really work? Scientists at UC Berkeley are embarking on a new project to understand how global warming is affecting our fresh water supply. And they're doing it by tracking individual raindrops in Mendocino and north of Lake Tahoe.

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Producer's Notes: Tracking Raindrops

Producer's Notes: Tracking Raindrops

So, I was curious how scientists like Fung and Dawson, whose research leads to predictions of widespread climatic chaos and environmental meltdown, are able to cope with their frequently depressing findings. And what do they hope to do with their results?

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Producer's Notes: California's Water Future

Producer's Notes: California's Water Future

Could the future of potable water in California be in recycling wastewater? The Orange County Water District thinks so. In February of this year it opened its advanced water treatment plant, which produces 50 million gallons of potable water per day. It took them 13 years to finish the project. They spent a lot of […]

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Drugs In Our Drinking Water

Drugs In Our Drinking Water

Earlier this year a report came out showing that trace amounts of pharmaceuticals — everything from ibuprofen to birth control pills — are showing up in America's drinking water. Today, water agencies and consumers are still grappling with some unanswered questions: Do these tiny amounts of drugs pose any health risk? And if so, what can we do about them?

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Plastic not Fantastic

Plastic not Fantastic

Humans produce 500 billion plastic bags annually. In China, they recently banned it. Australia, Bangladesh, Ireland, Italy, South Africa,Taiwan, Mumbai and India have either banned it or discouraged its use by raising taxes. And on March 27, 2007, San Francisco became the first city in the USA to ban it from large grocery stores. More […]

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Housing the Human Computer

Housing the Human Computer

A look into the science of skin. In an article this week in the New York Times, brainpower was correlated with the complexity of nerve synapses. Leading researcher Dr. Grant, who has studied the interconnectedness of neurons, likened this connection to technology; "From the evolutionary perspective, the big brains of vertebrates not only have more […]

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Vaccines: One Small Risk for a Child, One Giant Benefit for Mankind

Vaccines: One Small Risk for a Child, One Giant Benefit for Mankind

You're as likely to be struck by lightningas to have a severe reaction to a vaccine. I was reading an article in Time last week about parents not vaccinating their children. The story was about how this phenomenon is becoming more widespread. These kinds of stories are weird to me because vaccines are pretty safe. […]

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