If you're looking to buy an all-electric car you can drive on the freeway, your options are limited. $100,000 will buy you an electric sports car from Tesla. But an affordable all-electric vehicle remains elusive, due to the difficulty in making a battery that is powerful, long-lasting, and cheap. QUEST visits a local battery laboratory and investigates the odds of a breakthrough.
General Motors, Chrysler and Ford face an uncertain future. They have been lobbying Congress for a $25 billion bailout, which representatives seem reluctant to grant them. It seems like an odd time to be talking about technological breakthroughs in the automotive industry.
Foster City photographer and naturalist John Albers-Mead describes visiting the tide pools near Half Moon Bay as "a treasure hunt that changes by the minute." QUEST joins Albers-Mead on Moss Beach at low tide as he captures these sometimes-sunken treasures with his digital camera.
When I first began researching this story for QUEST, I was surprised that I hadn't heard more about geothermal energy. It's never lumped into that renewable energy laundry list that's recited by politicians and journalists alike — you know, "…solar, wind, hydroelectric and biofuels". But it turns out that geothermal energy has really great potential.
Meet the Bay Area's eclipse chasers – adventurers who travel the world to witness and document solar eclipses. In these rare moments, the moon covers the sun for a few minutes, leaving only its fiery atmosphere visible. Watch the China 2008 eclipse and learn about an invention that helped researchers photograph the sun's atmosphere in breathtaking detail.
Imagine a vast grassy plain covered with herds of elephants, bison and camels stretching as far as the eye can see. Lions, tigers, wolves and later, humans, hunt the herds on their summer migration. Africa? No, the Bay Area. During the close of the last Ice Age. Take a trip back 20,000 years, to a time when San Francisco Bay was just a riverbed and local wildlife looked a whole lot different.
The rocks, long known as the "Sunset Boulders", have attracted rock climbers for years. I've climbed these rocks before. But like so many other people, I had no idea I was touching history. During the Pleistocene, 10 to 20,000 years ago, this place was very different than it is today, inhabited by massive mega-fauna; bigger elephants, lions, bears and wolves, than we see today.
Unless you're one of the undecided voters, still dithering over your pick for the presidency, it's time to think about some of the other stuff on the ballot: the measures and propositions related to science and the environment. This blog is a round-up of QUEST and KQED's coverage of environmental election issues.
California ranks second-lowest in the U.S. in fourth and eighth grade science achievement, according to a recent study. Since a large part of California's economy is devoted to technology, it is vital that California get its students up to speed. How bad is the problem? And what are schools and informal science education organizations doing to fill the gap?
There are, of course, countless ways for concerned citizens to pitch in. As a former high school science teacher the five suggestions below are my personal recommendations – resources I wish I had known about when I was teaching and things I now give as someone who cares about students' understanding of science.
For hundreds of years, scientists have been poaching design ideas from structures in nature. Now, biologists and engineers at UC Berkeley are working together to design a broad range of new products, such as life-saving milli-robots modeled on the way cockroaches run and adhesives based on the amazing design of a gecko's foot.
My favorite Make projects all seem to have something to do with things that other people might say "Don't try this at home." In this case we went out to the Make Magazine "Test Lab" to learn how to make a small steel ball fly across the room using magnets… good clean fun in my book.
Through the eyes of these scientists, we witness the undersea life in bloom. They clearly have one of the best offices to go to work to each day.
Bio-inspired design borrows its creative inspiration from models and systems in nature, that is, plant and animal parts that have been slowly tweaked for over 3.8 billion years. But that doesn't mean that nature's designs are perfect.
California waters are some of the richest in the world. But declines in fish species have led state leaders to begin creating large protected areas, or "no fishing zones," similar to wilderness areas on land. Although controversial with some fishing groups, the zones may help bring back fish, birds and marine mammals currently on the brink.
QUEST teams up with Make Magazine to construct the latest must have, do-it-yourself device hacks and science projects. This week well show you how to make a tabletop linear accelerator that demonstrates the finer points of kinetic energy by shooting a steel ball.