What does it mean to be blue? The wings of a Morpho butterfly are some of the most brilliant structures in nature, and yet they contain no blue pigment -- they harness the physics of light at the nanoscale.
Plenty of animals build their homes in oak trees. But some very teeny, tricky wasps make the tree do all the work. “What nerve!” you might say. What… gall! And you’d be right. The wasps are called gall-inducers. And each miniature mansion that the trees build for the wasps' larvae is weirder and more flamboyant than the next.
There’s a story in every grain of sand: tales of life and death, fire and water. If you scooped up a handful of sand from every beach, you'd have a history of the world sifting through your fingers. From mountain boulders to the shells of tiny ocean creatures, follow the journey that sand takes through thousands of years across entire continents to wind up stuck between your toes.
Tiny and delicate, pygmy seahorses survive by attaching to vibrant corals where they become nearly invisible to both predators and researchers. Now, biologists at the California Academy of Sciences have successfully bred them in captivity for the first time. Finally, they're able to study the seahorses' amazing act of camouflage up close.
Activists are hoping local residents will do what state legislators haven’t done -- shut down the controversial oil production technique known as hydraulic fracturing.
Whether it’s a lager or ale, sour or bitter, dark or light, most beer has one thing in common: yeast. KQED Science visits a commercial yeast laboratory and a local brewery to reveal how this key ingredient is a major player in both science history and beer production.
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.
What happens when you fill up a giant space with over 200 eager science fans from around the Bay Area for a weekend? You get Science Hack Day San Francisco, a two-day event where a diverse group of "hackers" -- from developers and designers to scientists and students -- works side-by-side to see what they can quickly create within 24 consecutive hours.
Steve Jurvetson is a leading Silicon Valley venture capitalist and a board member of rocket maker and launch services company, SpaceX. He shares what it takes to launch a successful start-up in the high-stakes space industry.
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.
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.
With the World Series in full swing, most Americans would probably say they know the basic rules of baseball: the pitcher throws it, the batter hits it, three strikes and you’re out. But underneath it all, the rules that truly govern this game are the laws of physics. “When you go to a ballgame you’re […]
NASA's "Engineer with a Mohawk" has become a pop culture phenom (62,000 Twitter followers isn't too shabby). But under that comb beats the heart of a true explorer, as we found when he dropped by for a visit.
Join a research team from University of California, Santa Cruz as they track, tranquilize and collar a wild puma. The special GPS collars collect data on the puma’s location and behavior, and they reveal how the big cats survive in their shrinking habitat in the Bay Area.
"Walking down the stacks, you almost feel like you’re in Indiana Jones looking for the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant," said Kathy Ann Miller, PhD, a curator and seaweed expert as she led me down a long, nondescript corridor flanked by row upon row of one ...
Human beings have always been fascinated with caves. These clandestine spaces carved by mysterious forces elicit our natural curiosity, while at the same time the foreboding depth of their darkness creates a very visceral apprehension. Coupled with the baseline fear of earthquakes that many of us in California share, caves ...
Seen from the exterior with its rear canopy closed, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) aircraft looks much like a typical jumbo jet you might see at any airport– perhaps even reminiscent of another well-known, heavily modified Boeing 747, Air Force One. "SOFIA has a lot of characteristics ...
More than 5 million people in the United States live with damaged hearts that make it difficult to walk and carry out other simple daily tasks. Pacemakers and drugs can help, but they don’t repair the heart muscle that has died as a result of a heart attack or clogged ...