The Science of Sustainability

Physics

Plastic not Fantastic

Plastic not Fantastic

Humans produce 500 billion plastic bags annually. In China, they recently banned it. Australia, Bangladesh, Ireland, Italy, South Africa,Taiwan, Mumbai and India have either banned it or discouraged its use by raising taxes. And on March 27, 2007, San Francisco became the first city in the USA to ban it from large grocery stores. More […]

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A Village Takes on Global Warming

A Village Takes on Global Warming

Each big storm with a high tide and an onshore wind takes a big bite out of Sarichef.Photo By Shishmaref Erosion and Relocation Coalition In an email this week from John Woodward, an Alaska builder and Home Energy author, he wrote, "I put together a working/management group to manage the relocation of the community of […]

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Young Einsteins found in Oakland

Young Einsteins found in Oakland

School groups tour the Oakland Schools Science Fair projects at Chabot. Ben Burress, Chabot Space & Science CenterIt's the time of year again that I get a chance to peruse what our scientific-minded youth are thinking on questions of the physical world and universe around us: Oakland Unified School District Science Fair! The science projects […]

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Ugo Conti's Spider Boat

Ugo Conti's Spider Boat

Bay Area engineer Ugo Conti has sailed the world, but has always suffered from seasickness. A queasy stomach became his motivation to design "Proteus" — a spider-like sea craft made for smoother sailing. And it may change the way people take to the high seas.

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The Planet Hunters

The Planet Hunters

Do other planets like Earth exist? To find out, a team of astronomers from the University of California is building a new telescope in the hills east of San Jose. QUEST finds out what the chances are that there are others like ours somewhere in the cosmos.

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Super Laser at the National Ignition Facility

Super Laser at the National Ignition Facility

It's the largest laser beam in the world and it's being built in the Bay Area. The National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will shoot tremendous bursts of energy at an area the size of a pencil eraser. The goal? To create fusion ignition, a potential clean energy source for the 21st century.

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Producer's Notes - Super Laser at the National Ignition Facility

Producer's Notes - Super Laser at the National Ignition Facility

Inside the National Ignition Facility. Lawrence Livermore National Lab is building the world's largest laser. Actually, the National Ignition Facility won't have only one laser beam. It will use 192 world-class lasers, all firing simultaneously. In a few billionths of a second about 500 trillion watts, which is nearly 1000 times the power generated in […]

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Urban Heat Islands

Urban Heat Islands

Buildings, concrete, asphalt, tar roof tops and industry have caused cities to reach higher temperatures than surrounding rural areas. Now, green-minded architects are taking cooler approaches to their designs.

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QUEST Lab: Aerogel

QUEST Lab: Aerogel

It looks like frozen smoke. And it's the lightest solid material on the planet. Aerogel insulates space suits, makes tennis rackets stronger and could be used one day to clean up oil spills.

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Living in the Sun's Atmosphere

Living in the Sun's Atmosphere

Illustration of a blast of solar wind impacting Earth's protective magnetic field. Credit: NASABreathe in, exhale. Feel the air in your mouth, windpipe, and lungs. That's a sample of Earth's atmosphere: the thin layer of gases enveloping our planet. Did you know that the Sun also has an atmosphere, and that the Earth is inside […]

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Equinox Season

Equinox Season

It's approaching that time of year again: Spring Equinox. The blaze in my home's interior hallway has been signaling this for the last week. The shadow of Chabot's "solar clock" at noon on the equinox produces a pattern of solid green straddling the gnomonI noticed late in the afternoon a couple days ago that the […]

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Nap time for the Sun: solar cycles

Nap time for the Sun: solar cycles

Extreme close-up of the Sun's visible surface, showing 'bubbling' cells of convecting gas–each the size of Northern California. credit: Hinode JAXA/NASA/PPARCBy all accounts, a new cycle-Cycle 24-in solar activity has begun… something you probably didn't notice since the beginning of a solar cycle is quite subtle…. First things first: what is a solar cycle, and […]

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Your Photos on QUEST TV – Call for Submissions

Your Photos on QUEST TV – Call for Submissions

View our original YPOQ pilot featuring photographer Russ MorrisDo you love photographing Science, Environment and Nature in Northern California? Would you like to collaborate on a 2-minute QUEST TV short about your photography for an audience of over 100,000 viewers? We're launching a call for submissions for our new series of TV shorts, "YPOQ: Your […]

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Where in the web?

Where in the web?

Saturn's moon Epimetheus from the Cassini spacecraft. Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA and APOD. On the bus in Denali National Park a few years ago, I found myself sitting next a couple from the East Bay. If you’ve ever been on the Denali bus, you know that it’s a long ride and […]

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Astronomy on the Wing

Astronomy on the Wing

More than meets the eye: The constellation Orion in visible light (left) and infrared (right) Visible light image: Akira Fujii; Infrared image: Infrared Astronomical SatelliteSome months ago my blog, "SOFIA: Fly By Night," talked about the up-and-coming astronomy ace of the night skies, SOFIA: the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy–a 2.5 meter infrared telescope built […]

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Converting the Comets Back into Stars

Converting the Comets Back into Stars

Star or Comet?Yesterday was a very long day at work. I was stuck in meetings with our collaborators for over 6 hours! To make it worse, we spent the entire time discussing a single topic. I even wrote my last paper on it. What could possibly be so captivating, you ask? Remember the solar wind […]

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Centers of the universe

Centers of the universe

Cosmic microwave background and the infant universe. From the WMAP science team.It was on the UC Berkeley astronomy website this morning that I was reminded of something I had wanted to post for QUEST. About a month ago, Cal publicly announced the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics. This was quite a big deal for the […]

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Super Laser

Super Laser

It's one of the most expensive high-tech projects the United States has ever attempted, and some say it will never work. QUEST visits the National Ignition Facility in Livermore, where scientists will soon aim the world's largest laser at a target the size of a pencil eraser. The goal? Nuclear fusion — and, they say, […]

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Super Laser

Super Laser

QUEST visits the National Ignition Facility in Livermore, where scientists will soon aim the world's largest laser at a target the size of a pencil eraser. The goal? Nuclear fusion — and, they say, the answer to the world's clean energy needs.

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Catching rainbows from distant galaxies

Catching rainbows from distant galaxies

A single email on Sunday afternoon brought my weekend to a screeching halt. Some collaborators made a very exciting discovery and needed to confirm if it was real. This would be the last time we'd have for almost another year on the 10 meter Keck Telescope so I jumped at the chance and scheduled it […]

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