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Our Top Science Stories from 2013

, KQED Science | December 19, 2013 | 0 Comments
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From the debut of the world’s largest solar plant to Comet ISON, zombified bees to the physics of sailing — it’s been another year of diverse storytelling from the KQED Science team. Here’s a round-up of our top 10 stories (based on page views) that you’ve enjoyed in 2013. Please let us know what other stories you’ve enjoyed in the comments section below and if there’s anything you’d like to see in the coming season!

As World’s Largest Solar Thermal Plant Opens, California Looks to End Solar Wars

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After controversy over a threatened species delayed several large solar projects, state officials are trying to broker an agreement between conservation groups and solar companies on a path forward for renewable energy. Read more.

ZomBees: Flight of the Living Dead

Something strange and unsettling is happening to Bay Area honeybees. Entomologists at San Francisco State University have identified the culprit: a tiny parasitic fly is causing the bees to exhibit bizarre nocturnal behaviors before suffering a gruesome demise. Read more.

Silicon Valley Goes to Space

Commercial space ventures are taking off and opening up space like never before. With its culture of risk and game-changing startups, Silicon Valley is playing a starring role in many of these new space companies. But risks and costs emerge with the increasing privatization of space. Read more.

Could Rooftop Solar Kill Utilities? California Grapples with Solar’s Success

As rooftop solar power grows, the electric utility business model could change. (Photo: Lauren Sommer/KQED)

As rooftop solar power grows, the electric utility business model could change. (Photo: Lauren Sommer/KQED)

As increasing numbers of Californians generate their own electricity, they rely less on electric utilities. That’s raising major questions about the future of California’s utilities. Read more.

How Do These Boats Sail Faster Than the Wind?

Emirates Team New Zealand and Oracle Team USA during race three of the America's Cup finals on September 8, 2013. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Emirates Team New Zealand and Oracle Team USA during race three of the America’s Cup finals on September 8, 2013. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)


It isn’t magic; it’s just physics. And it’s an idea as simple as rocket science, which in this case really breaks down to what you learned from riding a bike. Read more.

Comet ISON: Comet of the Century or Fanciful Fluff?

Hubble Space Telescope Image of Comet ISON, April 2013

Hubble Space Telescope Image of Comet ISON, April 2013

A comet named ISON has been hailed as a possible “comet of the century.” But scientists aren’t sure yet if it will survive a hairpin turn around the sun. Read more.

Garcinia Cambogia: The Fastest Fat-Buster or Another Fad Diet?

garcinia cambogia fruit

Garcinia cambogia fruit, photograph courtesy of Vssun via Wikimedia Commons.

Garcinia cambogia has been called the ”newest, fastest fat-buster” and a “magic ingredient that lets you lose weight without diet or exercise,” but scientific research questions its effectiveness. Read more.

Birders Flock to See Blue-Footed Boobies

A blue-footed booby fails to blend in with the pelicans and cormorants at  Año Nuevo State Park earlier this week. It's the brown and white bird at the lower left. (Photo: Jennifer Rycenga)

A blue-footed booby fails to blend in with the pelicans and cormorants at Año Nuevo State Park earlier this week. It’s the brown and white bird at the lower left. (Photo: Jennifer Rycenga)

Blue-footed boobies are most commonly seen down in the Gulf of California or the Galapagos, but this week they’ve been flooding the Southern California coast, and making their way up north, where very few have come before. Read more.

California’s Tarantulas Are on the Move During Mating Season

Wandering male tarantulas go searching for females in the fall, never to return home again.  Photo by Robert Kanagaki, EBRPD

Wandering male tarantulas go searching for females in the fall, never to return home again. Photo by Robert Kanagaki, EBRPD

Male California tarantulas are now roaming through the Bay Area looking for love. Find out more about where you can see them, what they’re doing and what dangers they face from naturalist Sharol Nelson-Embry. Read more.

It’s Official: Toxic Flame Retardants No Longer Required in Furniture

Starting next year, shoppers will be able to buy sofas that don't contain flame retardant chemicals.

Starting next year, shoppers will be able to buy sofas that don’t contain flame retardant chemicals.

California overturns a nearly 40-year-old law that made your sofa potentially menacing. Read more.

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Category: Astronomy, Audio, Energy, Environment, Health, Physics, Video

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About the Author ()

Jenny is happy to wear multiple hats at KQED; she works as an Interactive Producer for the Science & Environment unit and blogs for Bay Area Bites, KQED's popular food blog. Jenny graduated with honors from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Film and Television program and has worked for WNET/PBS, The Learning Channel, Sundance Channel and HBO.