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Science on the Spot

The Science on the SPOT original web video series goes behind the scenes at local Bay Area labs, follows breaking discoveries, and gets you special access to obscure science locations and collections, plus much more.

Predatory Plant: Lure of the Cobra Lily

KQED Science | March 3, 2014 | 0 Comments

Predatory Plant: Lure of the Cobra Lily

What lurks inside a hungry pitcher plant? The cobra lily, a carnivorous plant native to California, uses deception, patience and bacteria to catch and digest its prey. Watch it in action.

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Science of Beer: Tapping the Power of Brewer’s Yeast

KQED Science | February 11, 2014 | 3 Comments

Science of Beer: Tapping the Power of Brewer’s Yeast

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.

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200 Geeks, 24 Hours: Science Hack Day in San Francisco

KQED Science | December 3, 2013 | 1 Comment

200 Geeks, 24 Hours: Science Hack Day in San Francisco

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.

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ZomBees: Flight of the Living Dead

KQED Science | October 31, 2013 | 2 Comments

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.

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Science on the SPOT: Chasing Pumas

KQED Science | September 13, 2013 | 1 Comment

Science on the SPOT: Chasing Pumas

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.

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Science on the SPOT: The Glowing Millipedes of Alcatraz

QUEST | March 19, 2013

Science on the SPOT: The Glowing Millipedes of Alcatraz

More than a million visitors visit Alcatraz every year, but a recent discovery has revealed another attraction that lives within the shadows of this historic prison.

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Science on the SPOT: Preserving the Forest of the Sea

QUEST | February 5, 2013

Science on the SPOT: Preserving the Forest of the Sea

"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 ...

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Science on the SPOT: Shadows and Spiders– A Secret Cave in California

QUEST | November 20, 2012

Science on the SPOT: Shadows and Spiders– A Secret Cave in California

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 ...

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Science on the SPOT: Up all Night with SOFIA, NASA’s Flying Observatory

QUEST | June 27, 2012

Science on the SPOT: Up all Night with SOFIA, NASA’s Flying Observatory

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 ...

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Science on the SPOT: New Hope for Heart Repair

QUEST | April 18, 2012

Science on the SPOT: New Hope for Heart Repair

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 ...

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Science on the SPOT: Monarch Meetup

QUEST | April 6, 2012

Science on the SPOT: Monarch Meetup

Bugs normally don’t garner much adoration from people, but monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) are an exception. Monarch butterflies are arguably the most beloved and instantly identifiable insect in the United Sates. Perhaps nowhere else does an insect receive higher regard than in Pacific Grove, CA, which has gone so far ...

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Science on the SPOT: National Wildlife Health Center Investigates

QUEST | November 23, 2011

Science on the SPOT: National Wildlife Health Center Investigates

National Wildlife Health Center Investigates Educator Guide ( pdf ) A resource for using QUEST media in the classroom; created by QUEST Wisconsin. The setting could almost pass for a peaceful wildlife refuge, but for the daily rumbling of the Fed-Ex truck on the winding gravel ...

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Science on the SPOT: Resurrecting the Dead

QUEST | November 10, 2011

Science on the SPOT: Resurrecting the Dead

As Director of Human Health at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Dr. Linda Spurlock’s job is to educate the public through exhibits, programming, and health education classes. But, from time to time, she is asked to utilize her unique scientific training as a biological anthropologist and forensic artist ...

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Science on the SPOT: The Science of Salt Glaze Pottery

QUEST | October 27, 2011

Science on the SPOT: The Science of Salt Glaze Pottery

The Owen family can trace their pottery roots back six generations, so far back that their family’s artwork now rest in the The Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC. Ben Owen III has been making pottery since he was big enough to sit ...

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Science on the SPOT: Dark Matter: Inside the Compost Cycle

QUEST | September 6, 2011

Science on the SPOT: Dark Matter: Inside the Compost Cycle

Every day, San Francisco’s compostables – all 600 tons of them – are hauled away from the city. I found myself asking, “Where does it all go?” While looking for the answers, I found agronomist Bob Shaffer. Shaffer started out as a farmer, but soon realized that he was more interested ...

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Science on the SPOT: Salt Creek Tiger Beetles

QUEST | August 26, 2011

Science on the SPOT: Salt Creek Tiger Beetles

Salt Creek Tiger Beetle Educator Guide ( pdf ) A resource for using QUEST Nebraska video in the classroom; created by PBS/NPR partner station NET. If you ever want to meet someone enthusiastic about their job, catch up with the staff that works in the

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Science on the SPOT: Northern Pacific Rattlesnake Tracker

QUEST | August 17, 2011

Science on the SPOT: Northern Pacific Rattlesnake Tracker

Rattlesnakes are skilled swimmers, so take caution when reaching for that "stick" in the water. Image Courtesy of Mike Kahn / Green Stock Media Rattlesnakes have always inspired our imaginations, from Native American cultures who have depicted them in their art and religions, to portrayals ...

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Science on the SPOT: Rendezvous With Horseshoe Crabs

QUEST | August 10, 2011

Science on the SPOT: Rendezvous With Horseshoe Crabs

Horseshoe crabs are more closely related to spiders and scorpions than to crabs. DELAWARE BAY, DELAWARE – The empty shells of an unfortunate horseshoe crab or two are a common sight on the popular Jersey shore (that’s what locals call the beach in these parts) ...

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Science on the SPOT: Bats Beneath Us

QUEST | August 3, 2011

Science on the SPOT: Bats Beneath Us

Every summer, 250,000 female bats take up residence under a freeway bridge in California’s Central Valley, to wait for the birth of their pups. And each night, the hungry mammals exit the bridge in a stunning ribbon-like formation to hunt for insects. (I strongly recommend you watch the HD version ...

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Science on the SPOT: Green Eggs By The Gram – Sustainable Caviar

QUEST | July 27, 2011

Science on the SPOT: Green Eggs By The Gram – Sustainable Caviar

Four-year-old white sturgeons farmed by Sterling Caviar in Sacramento County. Photo: Jenny Oh Sturgeons, the fish whose eggs are known as caviar, have been around for about 250 million years. These giants are the largest of the freshwater fish and have been known to grow ...

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