The Science of Sustainability

Engineering

China Tries Greening from the Ground Up

China Tries Greening from the Ground Up

Green building and sustainable design are a trend in California, but nowhere is the urgency greater than in China, where hundreds of millions of people are moving to cities in pursuit of a better life.

Continue Reading

Century-Old Battle Over Yosemite's 'Second Valley' Heats Up

Century-Old Battle Over Yosemite's 'Second Valley' Heats Up

One of California's oldest environmental battles is on the San Francisco ballot. Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park holds most of San Francisco's water supply. But some environmental groups want to turn back the clock.

Continue Reading

Creative Use of a Cancer Mutation May Improve Nylon Production

Creative Use of a Cancer Mutation May Improve Nylon Production

Chemists want to reengineer metabolic proteins and pathways in microbes so they can convert sugar into commodity chemicals. Now a mutant protein found in cancer cells provides clues to help scientists improve a protein that could help microbes create a precursor to nylon. In science, as in so much of life, inspiration can come from unusual places.

Continue Reading

What's Next for Nuclear?

What's Next for Nuclear?

Can nuclear power be produced safely and affordably? A scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, is working to do just that.

Continue Reading

H2-Whoa: Computing With Water Instead of Electrons

H2-Whoa: Computing With Water Instead of Electrons

Superhydrophobic surfaces enable simple water-based data storage and logic.

Continue Reading

California's Prop. 37: Are GMO Labels a Scarlet Letter?

California's Prop. 37: Are GMO Labels a Scarlet Letter?

Proposition 37 could make California the first state in the country to require "Made with GMO" labels on genetically-engineered foods. But would the labels inform people? Or scare them?

Continue Reading

Facebook and Frank Gehry: Will the New Building Be A Marriage of Sustainability?

Facebook and Frank Gehry: Will the New Building Be A Marriage of Sustainability?

Facebook hired Frank Gehry to design its new building. Why? If the 'book wanted a green building (and who'd dare to build in the Bay Area without "a big emphasis on being eco-friendly"?), Gehry is a less than obvious choice.

Continue Reading

California Considers Giving Self-Driving Cars Green Light

California Considers Giving Self-Driving Cars Green Light

California is considering rules that would allow self-driving cars on the road, but making rules for robots is no simple task.

Continue Reading

Collaborative Creativity in the Digital World

Collaborative Creativity in the Digital World

When you think of digital art, Photoshop or a Wacom tablet may come to mind. And yes, drawing on a screen instead of a pad of paper is certainly one kind of digital art. But digital art can also happen on an entirely different level: art can be made with lines of code.

Continue Reading

Internet in Cars: From the Desktop to the Dashboard

Internet in Cars: From the Desktop to the Dashboard

Car companies and Silicon Valley tech companies pair up to make smarter cars. But what happens when the internet makes its way into our dashboards?

Continue Reading

Fracking Gives Hydrogen Fuel Cells New Life

Fracking Gives Hydrogen Fuel Cells New Life

In 2009, U.S. Secretary of the Department of Energy Steven Chu dismissed zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as an impractical alternative to electric cars. Now an abundant supply of natural gas, from which hydrogen can be extracted, is changing Chu's mind, but that natural gas comes from the controversial hydraulic fracturing process.

Continue Reading

NASA's Mars Lander: The Exploration Begins

NASA's Mars Lander: The Exploration Begins

NASA's Curiosity lander has ended its 352 million-mile journey, landing safely on the surface of Mars. For scientists at NASA Ames in Moffet Field, the work is just beginning.

Continue Reading

Avatars and the Mirrorbox: Can Humans Hack Empathy?

Avatars and the Mirrorbox: Can Humans Hack Empathy?

Virtual avatars are one thing. But what about real bodies? Would identifying with another person's body make you behave more like that person? If the body belongs to a different gender, age, or ethnicity than yours, would you become more empathic to others in that group?

Continue Reading

Illustrating Science: Int'l Science and Engineering Fair Student Projects Beautifully Visualized

Illustrating Science: Int'l Science and Engineering Fair Student Projects Beautifully Visualized

ISEF student projects can be just as esoteric as Nobel laureates' research. But this year, those of ISEF's student scientists lucky enough to be paired with professional artists will see their research translated into compelling and accessible posters for the public.

Continue Reading

The Bay Area Thanks Buckminster Fuller for Geodesic Domes

The Bay Area Thanks Buckminster Fuller for Geodesic Domes

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is showing, for just a few more short days, an exhibit called "The Utopian Impulse: Buckminster Fuller and the Bay Area." Fuller never actually lived in the Bay Area, but the exhibit's designers seem to think he would have liked it.

Continue Reading

Hetch Hetchy: Will We Do the Anthropocene Thing?

Hetch Hetchy: Will We Do the Anthropocene Thing?

The Restore Hetch Hetchy proposal is the Bay Area's first serious encounter with Anthropocene engineering.

Continue Reading

Making Sense of Electric Car Apps

Making Sense of Electric Car Apps

Electric car drivers use multiple apps to find charging stations.

Continue Reading

Oriental Ink Painting with a Computer Instead of a Brush

Oriental Ink Painting with a Computer Instead of a Brush

Traditional occidental painting techniques like watercolor or oil build an image from many layered brush strokes. You don't usually notice the individual strokes unless you stand very close. But in traditional oriental ink painting, called sumi-e, the brush strokes are the painting.

Continue Reading

From Alvin to Robots: Deep Changes in Ocean Science

From Alvin to Robots: Deep Changes in Ocean Science

Ocean technology has come a long ways since the submersible Alvin made its first dive in 1964. Increasingly, scientists rely on robots, rather than manned subs like Alvin, to explore the earth's depths. But can remote-control exploration capture the thrill of science?

Continue Reading

Bio-Robotics: Biology Goes High-Tech

Bio-Robotics: Biology Goes High-Tech

Meet "robo-squirrel." New technology in the emerging field of bio-robotics is helping biologists learn more about animal behavior.

Continue Reading