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Albany Bulb – A different kind of wilderness

Albany Bulb – A different kind of wilderness

I remember the first time I saw the "Sniff" paintings at the Albany Bulb. They were on sheets of plywood. Each was painted with surrealistic scenes such as drunken wolves driving hot rods and debauchery in the land of the dead. Each was signed by the mysterious art collective "Sniff." At least 15 of them […]

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Baby steps towards personalized medicine

Baby steps towards personalized medicine

breast cancerLast week the FDA approved a new weapon in a doctor’s arsenal against breast cancer. This genetic test doesn’t help doctors find the cancer early. Or figure out who is more likely to get it. What this test does is help doctors decide whether to prescribe chemotherapy AFTER surgery. Right now doctors often recommend […]

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Discuss the "Urban Heat Islands" Radio report

Discuss the "Urban Heat Islands" Radio report

Climb into a black car on a hot day and you can feel a key principle of physics at work: dark colors retain heat. Now magnify that across an entire city of asphalt roofs, blacktop roads and parking lots–and you have what scientists call an "urban heat island;" an effect that triggers a vicious cycle […]

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Pluto’s Wink

Pluto’s Wink

Pluto (center, largest) and its moons Charon, Nix, and Hydra captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.In the past year, the quiet and unassuming Pluto has been having its moments of fame. First was the attention brought by the launch of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, the robot that, when it arrives at Pluto nearly a decade […]

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Oh the shark has pretty teeth dear…

Oh the shark has pretty teeth dear…

Photo by Terry Goss, copyright 2006 Surfers call the area of water enclosed by Ano Nuevo, Point Reyes and the Farallon Island the Red Triangle. This geographic delineation also doubles as an ominous symbol for one of the most famous predatory fish of our coast, the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias). Known also as the […]

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How is a butterfly like a polar bear?

How is a butterfly like a polar bear?

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly (Agraulis vanillae)I awoke on Saturday morning to a sign that the deep freeze that had locked me into seasonal emotional torpor might be lifting: I saw a butterfly. She was a Gulf Fritillary, sunning her wings on the passion vine outside my window. The warmth had brought out my pollinating friend, as […]

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Gorillas in the mist? Try elephant seals in the fog

Gorillas in the mist? Try elephant seals in the fog

Male Elephant Seal with a harem groupWe don't often think of California as looking anything like Africa, but California biodiversity ranks right up there in terms of evolutionary uniqueness and richness. And that's true both on land and in the ocean, where you find, among other beasts unique to this coast, sea otters, gray whales, […]

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The new Cal Academy building: laying down roots

The new Cal Academy building: laying down roots

At no other time, in the short history of our species, have humans faced greater hurdles to our continued existence. We are threatened on all sides by disasters of our own making including global warming, the imminent collapse of the ocean’s fisheries, and the destruction of the world’s rainforests. That’s why it’s the perfect time […]

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Rocks From Space

Rocks From Space

Think you have a rock from space? Lately, a flurry of people have come to me with a rock or chunk of metal they hope is a meteorite. Whether by the circumstances of the finding or the appearance of the rock or its magnetic properties, the finders thought they might have something. A couple in […]

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Something Salty, Something Sweet

Something Salty, Something Sweet

Four years ago, a recent transplant to the Bay Area, I am standing atop the Marin Headlands, gazing across the expanse of San Francisco Bay. By swiveling a little, I can see–right there–the vast Pacific. Bay and ocean. The two seem part and parcel. That’s how I grew up thinking of the Bay: as a […]

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