The Science of Sustainability

Physics

Titan: It's a Small World After All

Titan: It's a Small World After All

A comparison of one of Titan's 'seas'(left) and Lake Superior. Credit: NASA/Cassini.Saturn's largest moon, Titan, has always held my imagination in a tight grip. Even back in my childhood (we're talking the 60's, before any interplanetary probe had even crossed the Asteroid Belt just beyond Mars), when we knew little more about Titan than its […]

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Good Vibrations

Good Vibrations

How does an elephant know to avoid a hungry lion pride to the west from miles and miles away? They have friends who call them with the 411, dialing direct to their feet. According to expert Caitlin O'Connell-Rodwell, Elephants use their voices to create sounds, which transfer into waves through the ground. The elephants receive […]

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What is Invisible?

What is Invisible?

Some forces, like the electromagnetic force, are very easy to detect using small children in the laboratory. Others aren't so easy. I finished off my last post with mention of some recent dark matter press coverage. I'm going to take this opportunity to delve into this subject with a little more detail. I realize I've […]

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Whalesong and underwater noise pollution

Whalesong and underwater noise pollution

Humpback in Sacramento River. Image source: U.S. Coast GuardFor the past 12 days, residents of the Bay Area have been following the day-to-day saga of two humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) swimming far up to Sacramento River delta. Of course, we don't expect fully ocean-going, marine mammals to wander this far up a freshwater river system, […]

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Reconsidering Nuclear Power

Reconsidering Nuclear Power

Not long ago, nuclear power was unthinkable among environmentalists, particularly in California, where a moratorium on new power plants has put a lid on the industry for thirty years. But that sentiment may be changing. You may listen to the "Reconsidering Nuclear Power" Radio report online. Amy Standen is a Reporter for QUEST and Radio […]

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Astronomy in the News

Astronomy in the News

An artists conception of a planet orbiting a red dwarf star Is it just me, or have we seen a ton of astronomy news coverage in the last month? Lately, it seems like every time I check my inbox, there is a new question from my parents about some great new discovery with a link […]

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Solar flares: flashes with a twist

Solar flares: flashes with a twist

Sunspot 930 (dark area) and associated X-class solar flare of 12/13/06 (bright). Image Credit: Hinode, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).The Sun doesn't usually make the headlines–not even something like, "Flash! Nuclear explosion as powerful as a billion H-bombs sighted only 93 million miles from Earth!" Let's face it, things like that just don’t seem relevant […]

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Indoor Air Pollution

Indoor Air Pollution

Most people think of their house as a sanctuary from toxic air. And yet, according to a 2005 State study, Californians spend $45 billion a year on the health effects of indoor air pollution. California lawmakers have failed to pass legislation that would tighten controls on residential air quality, though laws targeting specific pollutants — […]

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Gamma Rays and Monsters

Gamma Rays and Monsters

Most of us are killed after receiving a large dose of gamma rays. For a select few, the exposure can unleash our inner demons. Image courtesy of http://www.hulkmovie.com/navigation/multimedia.htm. Continuing on the theme of Supernovae from my last posting, I’ll take this opportunity to address an earlier question that was asked by one of my loyal […]

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LIDAR: Lasers Nab Leadfoots

LIDAR: Lasers Nab Leadfoots

A growing number of Bay Area police are putting away their old radar guns and embracing new laser beam guns, clocking cars with much more precision than before. QUEST TV finds out how they work.

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LIDAR: Lasers Nab Leadfoots

LIDAR: Lasers Nab Leadfoots

LIDAR (Light-Imaging Detection and Ranging) is the new generation replacement for the older Radar systems that police have been using to catch speeders. LIDAR uses an IR Pulsed Laser Diode to measure speed, distance and direction. By using beam width of less than one-degree, it’s significantly more accurate than the older radar systems. As the […]

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Hinode means sunrise

Hinode means sunrise

A typical, Earth-sized sunspot as seen by Hinode. Credit: Hinode, National Astronomical Observtory of Japan (NAOJ)A new day has dawned– so to speak… Last September, the Japanese space agency, JAXA, launched a new solar observatory satellite, originally designated as "Solar-B." Upon its successful launch, the spacecraft was bestowed its nickname, Hinode (pronounced “heh NO day”), […]

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Science of Big Waves

Science of Big Waves

The organizers of the famous Maverick surf contest have voted that the conditions are right for hanging ten this weekend. The monster waves at Mavericks attract big wave surfers from around the world. But what exactly makes these Half Moon Bay waves so big?

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Nobel Laureate George Smoot and the Origin of the Universe

Nobel Laureate George Smoot and the Origin of the Universe

QUEST TV talks with George Smoot, big bang researcher at UC Berkeley and winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics.

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Nobel Laureate George Smoot and the origin of the Universe

Nobel Laureate George Smoot and the origin of the Universe

QUEST TV talks with George Smoot, big bang researcher at UC Berkeley and winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics. You may watch the George Smoot TV story online. Sudden Oak Death and Science of Big Waves (episode #108), which also features this short story, airs tonight on QUEST at 7:30pm on KQED 9, […]

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Science of Big Waves

Science of Big Waves

A monster lurks just off the coast of Northern California. Known as "Maverick's," this surf break north of Half Moon Bay generates some of the biggest waves in the world, and draws the big wave surfers that live for them. But what makes these waves so big? QUEST talks with scientists who are getting to […]

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Why does it … matter? Part II

Why does it … matter? Part II

Half hour exposure of star trails above the Keck Telescopes taken by yours trulyThe dark matter that I discussed in my last post is quite bizarre, but makes up only a small fraction of the universe. The dominant material in the universe actually appears to be some kind of "dark energy". Since no one has […]

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Ask a Scientist: Science Cafés (radio)

Ask a Scientist: Science Cafés (radio)

It's a typical evening at a popular SF cafe – cappuccinos, beer, conversation… and a lecture on mathematical theorems? Bay Area "science cafés" have exploded in popularity, putting scientists and everyday folks face-to-face for casual science lectures and Q&A.

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Why does it … matter?

Why does it … matter?

A work for SFMOMA?Standing on Earth and looking out into space, it’s easy to assume that you have it figured out. There are stars, gases, metals– all 'normal matter' that we can see, made up of electrons and protons. From this vantage point, there is no reason to believe that there is anything else out […]

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Colors of Night

Colors of Night

Double star Albireo, at the head of Cygnus the Swan. Credit: Conrad Jung, through Chabot’s 8-inch telescope, Leah.I occasionally get an email or a phone call from someone wanting to know what that strange, dazzling light was they saw in the sky that looked too unusual to be a star, or a planet, and was […]

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