As I continue to answer questions from my earlier solicitation, I am going to skip ahead to the question: "How large would a cherry clafouti near the Moon's equator have to be to be easily identifiable as a cherry clafouti, assuming clear conditions of observation?" At first glance, this appears to be an absurd question, […]
Ori Skloot of Advanced Home Energy in Berkeley (www.advancedhomeenergy.com) came to my house and took care of my recessed-can problem. California houses, especially the new ones, have a lot of recessed-can lights, also known as downlights. New California houses have an average of six downlights in their kitchens alone! My house was built without them […]
Can earthquakes be predicted? Northern California researchers are now identifying the slow-moving clues that may foreshadow violent quakes. Their work may provide even a few seconds of warning to open elevator doors, slow down trains or alert firefighters.
I wrote in a post last month about defining a "green" home. I used the example of a ginormous, 5,500 square foot home in Virginia that received certification from three well-known green building programs. I wondered whether the adjectives ginormous and green could be applied to the same home. The Virginia home was done right. […]
Until recently, there were few places America's greening trend had not reached. But all that changed last weekend in the Nevada Desert at the Burning Man arts festival. For the first time, organizers invited CEOs and investors of environmentally hip, high-tech companies to come to the event. About a dozen, mostly Silicon Valley entrepreneurs from […]
The urban forest is going digital. Thanks to volunteers with laptops and handheld devices, San Francisco is creating an online map of every street tree in the city, getting a leg up on keeping the urban landscape healthy and growing. You may view the "Urban Forest 2.0" story online, as well as find additional links […]
According to the National Science Board, Americans are pretty interested in science– but not all that informed about it. And in our knowledge-based society, the Board adds, this lack of understanding can have implications. But what does that mean? What don’t people know? What would they like to know? And what difference would it make? […]
An Associated Press story that I read in the Contra Costa Times on Wednesday pointed to one more negative effect of our nation's conspicuous power consumption. The National Fire Protection Association reports that the number of college dormitory fires has grown from 1,800 in 1998 to 3,300 in 2005. Thirty-nine students died in fires between […]
NASA has created a Centennial Challenges series – contests for everyday people to develop new technologies that may offer inspiration for the space agency. The most famous of these is the space elevator challenge, where teams create a solar powered elevator prototype. The one that gets to the top the fastest wins. Others include space […]
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 […]
Water is an ever-more precious resource in California. A dwindling snow pack and ecological challenges in the Delta have many cities looking to the ocean for answers. Desalination used to be something found only in oil-rich countries like Saudi Arabia. Now, proposals for 18 desalination plants are being studied by local officials from San Diego […]
After the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, almost all of the Bay Area's toll bridges underwent major upgrades – the Bay Bridge is the last of those projects. Yet even with the focus on retrofitting, there are still 40 Bay Area bridges that rate lower than the one that collapsed in Minneapolis last week. How […]
After the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, almost all of the Bay Area's toll bridges underwent major upgrades. Yet even with the focus on retrofitting, there are still 40 Bay Area bridges that rate lower than the one that collapsed in Minneapolis. How do we know which bridges are safe?
"Ginormous" House First of all, I must de-confess. After making a rather dramatic confession of gross over-use of water in my last blog, it turns out the problem was not a moral failure after all, but rather a leak in the pipe carrying water from the street to our house. The leak has been fixed. […]
Compared to traditional incandescent light bulbs, new compact fluorescent bulbs use at least two-thirds less energy and last up to 10 times longer. Many say that widespread use would produce major energy savings and reduce global warming emissions. But some people say their lighting is too harsh. QUEST sheds some light on the bulb debate. […]