The Science of Sustainability

KQED serves the people of Northern California with a public-supported alternative to commercial media. Home to the most listened-to public radio station in the nation, one of the highest-rated public television services and an award-winning education program, and as a leader and innovator in interactive technology, KQED takes people of all ages on journeys of exploration — exposing them to new people, places and ideas.

Mercury Poisoning: Interview with Dr. Jane Hightower (web only)

Mercury Poisoning: Interview with Dr. Jane Hightower (web only)

Dr Jane Hightower was one of the first Bay Area doctors to start diagnosing mercury poisoning in her patients. In this audio clip, she explains how to know if you might be getting too much mercury from the fish you eat. And, she tells us what she feeds her 10-year old twin boys. (Hint: No tuna fish sandwiches in the Hightower home.)

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Mercury in the Bay – Part 2

Mercury in the Bay – Part 2

Last week, we took a look at how mercury enters the San Francisco Bay. This week: Now that it's here, how is it affecting us? Quest talks to local fisherman, a physician, and a Bay ecologist to find out how we're contending with the Bay's worst toxin.

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Earth Day TV Special: Where We've Been, Where We're Headed

Earth Day TV Special: Where We've Been, Where We're Headed

Journey back in time to the birth of the Bay Area's environmental movement. Meet the everyday people who rescued the Bay Area from environmental disaster and continue to inspire a new generation.

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Mercury in the Bay – Part 1

Mercury in the Bay – Part 1

You might not know it from the textbooks, but California's gold rush was also a mercury rush. Quicksilver mines near San Jose provided gold miners with the mercury they needed to separate gold from ore. 150 years later, we're still facing the consequences of gold-rush era mercury.

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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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Resurveying California's Wildlife 100 Years Later

Resurveying California's Wildlife 100 Years Later

In the early 1900's, researchers from UC Berkeley's Museum of Vertebrate Zoology traveled around California and created detailed records of the wildlife they found. A century later, scientists are revisiting the same sites — they've found that global warming is already having an impact.

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MAKE it at Home: Table-Top Biosphere

MAKE it at Home: Table-Top Biosphere

QUEST teams up with Make Magazine to construct the latest must have, do-it-yourself device hacks, whiz-bang gizmos and techno do-dads.

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Doggie DNA: Human Genetics through Dogs

Doggie DNA: Human Genetics through Dogs

It's often said dogs and their owners resemble each other. Now, researchers at UC-San Francisco are looking for those connections on a whole new level. They're searching for the genes that cause common psychiatric problems in humans – by looking at the DNA of dogs.

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Alzheimer's: Is the Cure in the Genes?

Alzheimer's: Is the Cure in the Genes?

By 2050, as our population ages, 15 million Americans will suffer from Alzheimer's disease– triple today's number. Researchers at San Francisco's Gladstone Institutes have found that a gene may hold the key to a cure.

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Biofuels: Beyond Ethanol

Biofuels: Beyond Ethanol

For years there's been buzz — both positive and negative — about generating ethanol fuel from corn. But thanks to recent developments, the Bay Area is rapidly becoming a world center for the next generation of green fuel alternatives. Meet the scientists investigating the newest methods for converting what we grow into what makes us go.

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Cool Critters: Sharks of the Bay

Cool Critters: Sharks of the Bay

Do sharks live in San Francisco Bay? QUEST heads out on a shark-tagging expedition to unlock the secrets of some of the bay's biggest and least known predators.

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Cement – A Dirty Business

Cement – A Dirty Business

California has 11 coal-fired power plants, all used to heat limestone into cement — making us one of the biggest cement-producing states in the country. These kilns produce 95% of the state's airborne mercury pollution and 2% of its greenhouse gas emissions. Mostly, they've slipped under the radar of regulators, but that is changing fast.

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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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Interview with Astronomer Jill Tarter,  Part I (web only)

Interview with Astronomer Jill Tarter, Part I (web only)

Web Extra: Part I of our complete November 2007 interview with astronomer Dr. Jill Tarter of SETI Institute on site at the Allen Telescope Array in Hat Creek, CA.

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Interview with Astronomer Jill Tarter, Part II (web only)

Interview with Astronomer Jill Tarter, Part II (web only)

Web Extra: Part II of our complete November 2007 interview with astronomer Dr. Jill Tarter of SETI Institute on site at the Allen Telescope Array in Hat Creek, CA.

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SETI: The New Search for ET

SETI: The New Search for ET

Is anyone out there? For over 40 years scientists have been searching for extraterrestrial intelligence, but they've found nothing. Now the new Allen Telescope Array, a string of 350 radio telescopes, is being built 300 miles north of San Francisco and is breathing new life into the search.

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The Fierce Humboldt Squid

The Fierce Humboldt Squid

A mysterious sea creature up to 7 feet long, with 10 arms, a sharp beak and a ravenous appetite, has invaded ocean waters off Northern California. Marine biologists are working to discover why they have headed up from South America.

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Wild Prices for Wild Salmon

Wild Prices for Wild Salmon

Consumer appetite for salmon is booming at a time when the supply is about to dry up. With an impending year-long fishing ban in place, prices for wild salmon — that is, salmon caught in the ocean off California and Oregon — are expected to skyrocket. What are the alternatives for shoppers?

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Chevron's Plans

Chevron's Plans

Richmond city officials are expected to approve a controversial upgrade to the Chevron refinery plant. Quest reports on the decision and explores the debate around Chevron's billion dollar proposal.

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