The Science of Sustainability

Health

Playing Whack-a-Mole with Flame Retardants

Playing Whack-a-Mole with Flame Retardants

Countless consumer products sold in California contain a flame retardant flagged as a possible carcinogen nearly 35 years ago. As of this week, finally, they must carry a warning that the chemical causes cancer. But is it enough when manufacturers simply replace one toxic chemical with another?

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Creepy Yet Compelling: Blood Vessels Blown in Glass

Creepy Yet Compelling: Blood Vessels Blown in Glass

Halloween means time for gore! Blood, bones, brains and more! Severed fingers, severed toes, eyeballs and organs galore! But how accurate are all these loose bits of human anatomy in our front yards, costumes and punch bowls? Can we use that skeleton in the corner to bone up for a biology exam–or are we missing out on a tremendous opportunity to learn medical science?

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Science Behind Vampire Myths

Science Behind Vampire Myths

Why have people around the world always been fascinated by vampires? Did vampire tales begin as a way to explain frightening phenomena actually witnessed? Although there is no scientific evidence for vampires, there is some scientific basis for vampire folklore.

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Be HEARD: A Rare Disease Science Challenge To Find Cures

Be HEARD: A Rare Disease Science Challenge To Find Cures

Curing or even finding treatments for rare diseases is hard. Not necessarily because these diseases are any more complex than more common ones. It has more to do with the fact that there is very little profit to be made in helping people with these diseases.

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Vaccine Waivers, Informed Consent and Public Health

Vaccine Waivers, Informed Consent and Public Health

Starting in 2014, California will require parents to see a health practitioner to learn the risks and benefits of vaccination before opting out of the state's immunization requirements. Public health officials hope that when parents learn the difference between science-based evidence and the uninformed myths so prevalent online and in the mainstream media, they'll decide to protect their children from the real risks of infectious disease, rather than worry about unfounded theoretical risks.

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Can Meditation Ease PTSD in Combat Vets?

Can Meditation Ease PTSD in Combat Vets?

The crisis of mental disorders such as PTSD has forced the military to rediscover therapies that would have considered from-the-fringes a generation ago.

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SF Scientist Wins Nobel for Stem Cell Breakthrough

SF Scientist Wins Nobel for Stem Cell Breakthrough

Shinya Yamanaka, a stem cell researcher at the Gladstone Institutes and professor at the University of California, San Francisco, has won this year's Nobel Prize in medicine.

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Who is Qualified to Decide Scientific Matters?

Who is Qualified to Decide Scientific Matters?

In November, California voters need to decide whether or not GM foods should be labeled as such. They are making this decision even though a recent study shows that 49% of the people surveyed think that GM foods have genes whereas regular foods do not. Is this any way to run a democracy?

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Think Pink? I’d Rather Raise a Stink

Think Pink? I’d Rather Raise a Stink

Every October, high-profile outlets from Ace Hardware to the NFL sell pink products to raise awareness and money for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Critics of "pinkwashing" urge consumers to ask just how much of that money goes to support breast cancer programs–and challenge us to move beyond awareness to action.

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Illustrating Science: Translating Knowledge Into Pictures

Illustrating Science: Translating Knowledge Into Pictures

Allison Bruce has a wonderful job: she spends all day making pictures for scientists. Bruce started out in science herself, earning a chemistry degree from UC Davis. After college, she worked in an environmental lab, but she didn't enjoy it and turned to art classes "to keep from losing my mind," she says.

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Science and the Flu: A Little Learning Is A Dangerous Thing

Science and the Flu: A Little Learning Is A Dangerous Thing

The first sniffles of flu season are upon us: a friend of mine was struck down, and couldn't join me in attending a science dialogue on Sunday night. This was darkly humorous, as the topic of the evening was pandemics.

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Is Nail Biting a Pathology? Or Just a Bad Habit?

Is Nail Biting a Pathology? Or Just a Bad Habit?

Nail biting — like skin picking and hair tending — stems from an evolutionarily adaptive behavior: grooming. But in "pathological groomers," as they're known in in the world of psychiatry, that healthy urge goes haywire.

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X-ray Microscope: Seeing Cells in 3-D

X-ray Microscope: Seeing Cells in 3-D

At the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, scientists are using a cutting-edge microscope, the first of its kind in the world, to image whole cells in 3-D with the penetrating power of x-rays. The new images generated by the microscope are offering a deeper, more precise understanding of cellular structures and how they change with diseases.

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The Results Are In For My Genetics Quiz

The Results Are In For My Genetics Quiz

In my last blog entry, I wrote a quiz that tested some basic knowledge about genetics that experts have found the public struggles with. What I found from the responses I received is that the QUEST public doesn’t struggle with them or, more likely, people only answer quizzes like this if they are pretty confident […]

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Is Organic Food Better For Consumers' Health? – 9/4 KQED Science News Roundup

Is Organic Food Better For Consumers' Health? – 9/4 KQED Science News Roundup

Here's today's roundup of science, nature and environment news from the Bay Area and beyond.

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Should Men Get A PSA Blood Test To Screen For Prostate Cancer?

Should Men Get A PSA Blood Test To Screen For Prostate Cancer?

Medical experts disagree on whether prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests are an effective screening technique for prostate cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends against PSA screening for men of any age, but recent research disagrees with this assessment.

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In Defense of Science: An Interview with NCSE’s Eugenie Scott

In Defense of Science: An Interview with NCSE’s Eugenie Scott

Eugenie Scott, longtime director of Oakland's National Center for Science Education, has won numerous awards for helping the public understand science and defending evolution, especially against threats to replace it with “creation science” in public schools. She shares her thoughts on the challenges of communicating science in a climate of denial.

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Arm Yourselves for the Upcoming (Genetics) Revolution

Arm Yourselves for the Upcoming (Genetics) Revolution

As a nation, we aren’t teaching the right genetics in our schools. And for those of us out of school, the situation is, if anything, even worse. By and large we lack the fundamental knowledge needed to properly interpret the avalanche of data headed our way.

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Doubt and Denialism: Vaccine Myths Persist in the Face of Science

Doubt and Denialism: Vaccine Myths Persist in the Face of Science

Many people continue to doubt the evidence for climate change, evolution, and vaccine safety, even though the scientific consensus on these issues is rock solid. Among the most troubling evidence-resistant theories is the long-debunked yet persistent myth that vaccines cause autism—a completely unfounded belief–leading to general doubts about vaccine safety, with dangerous public health consequences.

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Rethinking Reproductive Biology

Rethinking Reproductive Biology

Everyone knows that women are born with all the eggs they can ever make, right? Well, a recent study shows that everyone just might be wrong.

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