The Science of Sustainability

Engineering

Second Life: Big Avatar on Campus

Second Life: Big Avatar on Campus

It's a virtual world, but the transactions are real. Go inside Second Life, an online game where millions of people are creating digital personalities called avatars and are living virtual lives– meeting other avatars, going to events, and even buying property with real money.

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Producer's Notes for Big Avatar on Campus

Producer's Notes for Big Avatar on Campus

It's a virtual world, but the transactions are real. Go inside Second Life, an online game where millions of people are creating digital personalities called avatars and are living virtual lives– meeting other avatars, going to events, and even buying property with real money. You may view the "Second Life: Big Avatar on Campus" TV […]

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Do-it-Yourself Science: The Maker Faire

Do-it-Yourself Science: The Maker Faire

It's been called "Burning Man for science geeks." The annual Maker Faire attracts thousands of amateur inventors and scientists, displaying their home-made prototypes and gadget hacks. In a world where the technological race is speeding up, the Maker movement has revealed that the do-it-yourself culture is in no danger of dying out. You may view […]

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Into the Inferno: The Science of Fire

Into the Inferno: The Science of Fire

In dry years, fires in California cost billions of dollars and often result in lost lives. QUEST goes inside the fire season, looking at how the history of forest management could be feeding today's flames. You may view the "Into the Inferno: The Science of Fire" TV story online, as well as find additional links […]

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Testing the Limits of Optical Telescopes

Testing the Limits of Optical Telescopes

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, […]

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Leaky Downlights Waste Home Energy

Leaky Downlights Waste Home Energy

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 […]

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Earthquakes: Breaking New Ground

Earthquakes: Breaking New Ground

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.

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How are BTU? Measuring green

How are BTU? Measuring green

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. […]

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Greening Man

Greening Man

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 […]

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Greening Man

Greening Man

Burning Man is going green. QUEST heads out to the Nevada desert to see how clean tech CEOs are tapping into this counter-culture art festival.

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Urban Forest 2.0

Urban Forest 2.0

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.

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Urban Forest 2.0

Urban Forest 2.0

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 […]

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Are you "science literate?" Whatever that means…

Are you "science literate?" Whatever that means…

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? […]

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Costs of Energy Consumption All Consuming

Costs of Energy Consumption All Consuming

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 […]

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NASA Flying Car Challenge

NASA Flying Car Challenge

Flying cars are usually the stuff of science fiction, but a group of engineers at NASA is hoping to change that. They're sponsoring a technology contest to revolutionize small planes – and it's open to the general public.

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NASA Flying Car Challenge: future or flight of fancy?

NASA Flying Car Challenge: future or flight of fancy?

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 […]

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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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The Salty Water Solution

The Salty Water Solution

Is desalination the solution to the California's chronic water woes? Four Bay Area agencies think it might be — and are studying whether to build the largest desalination plant in the country.

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The Salty Water Solution

The Salty Water Solution

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 […]

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The Science of Bridge Safety

The Science of Bridge Safety

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 […]

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