Scientists at Stanford University and Lockheed Martin are playing pivotal roles in a nearly billion-dollar NASA mission to explore the sun. A spacecraft launched in early 2010 is obtaining IMAX-like images of the sun every second of the day, generating more data than any NASA mission in history.
In this QUEST web extra, Stanford University astrophysicist Todd Hoeksema explains how solar sound waves are a vital ingredient to the science of helioseismology, in which the interior properties of the sun are probed by analyzing and tracking the surface sound waves that bounce into and out of the Sun.
Hepatitis C is a virus that causes cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. It's the leading cause for liver transplants in the U.S., and an estimated 4 million Americans have the disease. Current treatments are difficult to tolerate and are often ineffective, but recent breakthroughs from Bay Area scientists may soon produce a cure for the disease that claims more than 10,000 American lives each year.
For thousands of years and countless generations, migratory birds have flown the same long-distance paths between their breeding and feeding grounds. Understanding the routes these birds take, called "flyways," helps conservation efforts and gives scientists better knowledge of global changes, both natural and man-made. QUEST heads out to the Pacific Flyway with California biologists to track the rhythm of migration.
The roadway across the Golden Gate Bridge rises and falls as much as 16 feet depending on the temperature. When the sun hits the bridge, the metal expands and the bridge cables stretch. As the fog rolls in, the cables contract and the bridge goes up. Curators from the Outdoor Exploratorium in San Francisco have set up a scope two miles away so you can see how the bridge is moving up or down depending on the weather.
What's the coolest critter in the ocean under 4 inches long? The Dwarf Cuttlefish! These little guys can change their color and texture, and feeding time is a show like no other. Get an up-close look at these tiny underwater aliens as QUEST visits them at the California Academy of Sciences.
Did you know that about 95 percent of what we think is taste is actually smell? Or that the way we perceive flavor comes from a complex relationship between our senses, emotions and memories? As scientists decode how our taste and olfactory receptors work, top California chefs are taking that knowledge and creating alchemy in the kitchen.
Is there a difference in taste between eggs gathered right from the farm and ones bought at the supermarket? Sebastian Nava, Research Assistant at the Culinary Institute of America, Greystone, presents his ongoing study of store-bought eggs and their country cousins.
Over the years The Monterey Bay Aquarium has had success holding a handful of great white sharks in their enormous outer bay exhibit tank. In the process scientists have learned much about these animals and millions of visitors have gotten a chance to meet a live white shark up close and personal.
Along with cable cars and seagulls, the Golden Gate Bridge foghorn is one of San Francisco's most iconic sounds. But did you know that if you hear that foghorn off in the distance, you can calculate how many miles you are from the bridge? Using the Speed of Sound exhibit at the Outdoor Exploratorium at Fort Mason, Shawn Lani shows us how sound perception is affected by distance.
The new self-anchored suspension bridge being built to replace the vulnerable eastern span of the Bay Bridge is scheduled to open in 2013 and will be seismically and aesthetically revolutionary in its design. QUEST explores the engineering features that will give the new bridge the strength and flexibility to withstand the next "big one."
Worldwide sharks are now threatened due to extreme overfishing to satisfy the shark fin trade. QUEST ventures to The Farallon Islands and discovers that the creature of our imaginations may not be the monster we think it is. See why scientists are now tracking the movements of great white sharks in hopes of protecting them.
In our first installment of QUEST's new Science on the SPOT web series, we go behind-the-scenes at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Meet the intrepid dive team who keeps the enormous Outer Bay Exhibit tank spic-and-span while swimming in 40 pounds of stainless steel, shark-resistant armor.
Lying 28 miles off the coast of San Francisco, the Farallon Islands sit amid one of the most productive marine food webs on the planet and host the largest seabird breeding colony in the continental United States. QUEST ventures out for a rare visit to learn what life is like on the islands and meet the scientists who call this incredibly wild place home.
Armed with laser technology, Bay Area engineers are helping create detailed virtual records of the world's great monuments. Their realistic recreation of the Mexican ruins of Chichén Itzá is the basis for "Tales of Maya Skies," a new half-hour film about Maya astronomy designed especially for a planetarium. The film opens at Oakland's Chabot Space & Science Center on November 21. QUEST takes you behind the scenes.
San José photographer Doug Nomura has learned just how to track his subjects to create arresting photos of birds in flight. He focuses his work on the Bay Trail, a 300-mile trail around the Bay. QUEST joins Nomura on the bayfront in Sunnyvale as he works to photograph the many bird species that call the South Bay's mudflats home, or stop here as part of their migration.
Stanford University's Drew Endy is a synthetic biologist, or as he puts it, someone who makes biology easier to engineer. He's one of the leading lights of this relatively new scientific field which builds on disciplines like computer science, electrical engineering and genetics. Find out why Endy is passionate about the cutting edge of biology.
There's a hidden danger in San Francisco bay: mercury. A potent neurotoxin that can cause serious illness, mercury has been flowing into the bay since the mining days of the Gold Rush Era. It has settled in the bay's mud and made its way up the food chain, endangering wildlife and making many fish unsafe to eat. Now a multi-billion-dollar plan aims to clean it up. But will it work?