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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 […]
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?
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 […]
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 […]
What does our use of bottled water say about us? View our 2-minute TV short "Future History: Plastic Water Bottles" to take a look from the perspective of an anthropologist from the distant future, and the take our poll below: "Do you plan to change your bottled water habits?" ( polls) Josh Rosen is Series […]
Artist concept of a geyser erupting on Enceladus. Credit: David Seal.Back when I was young…okay, a previous generation might have ended that sentence with, "…I’d walk forty miles through the snow to get to school…" But I'm not exaggerating when I say, when I was young we knew next to nothing about faraway places in […]
You might not know it from the textbooks, but California's gold rush was also a mercury rush. Quicksilver mines near San Jose provided gold miners with the mercury they needed to separate gold from ore. 150 years later, we're still facing the consequences of gold-rush era mercury.
It's the largest laser beam in the world and it's being built in the Bay Area. The National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will shoot tremendous bursts of energy at an area the size of a pencil eraser. The goal? To create fusion ignition, a potential clean energy source for the 21st century.
A sample of switchgrass at Sandia National LaboratoriesIt doesn't need to be said that there's a heated debate about how to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions with actions that lessen our society's carbon footprint. Biofuels like ethanol or biodiesel are one option. They're touted as being carbon neutral because the CO2 they emit comes from crops […]
For years there's been buzz — both positive and negative — about generating ethanol fuel from corn. But thanks to recent developments, the Bay Area is rapidly becoming a world center for the next generation of green fuel alternatives. Meet the scientists investigating the newest methods for converting what we grow into what makes us go.