Flowing 330 miles from the Sierras to the delta, the San Joaquin River is California's second longest river. But since the construction of Friant Dam near Fresno in the 1940s, most of the San Joaquin's water has been siphoned off to farmland in the Central Valley. Now, after years of lawsuits, a new effort to restore the river is offering hope that fish and farmers can co-exist.
San Francisco's fickle summer weather has earned it the nickname "Fog City." Science on the SPOT asks UC Berkeley's Todd Dawson to clear up the mysterious origins of this weather phenomenon, and share his research on how fog is integral to our state's ecology.
Most of us think ants are just pests. But not Brian Fisher. Known as "The Ant Guy," he's on a mission to show the world just how important and amazing these little creatures are and in the process, catalog all of the world's 30,000 ant species before they become casualties of habitat loss. But he can't do it without our help.
The Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine sanctuaries cover more than 9,500 square miles of ocean habitat. Patrolling such an immense area by boat would take days, but now sanctuary managers are taking to the air in a rugged de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter bush plane to get a bird's eye view.
They are otherworldly creatures that glow in the dark, without brains or bones, some more than 100 feet long. And they live just off California's coast. Join two top marine biologists who have devoted their careers to unlocking the mysteries of jellyfish and alien-like siphonophores.
In our second episode of Science on the SPOT, join us on a behind-the-scenes trip deep into the massive collection of marine mammal skulls at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. You'd be surprised how much you can learn about an animal's life– and death– by reading their bones.
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.
Everyone can appreciate the value of a good night's sleep. But did you know that a lack of sleep can have real consequences for your health? QUEST investigates how sleep affects our minds and bodies and uncovers why some people are genetically programmed to need less sleep than others.