Every winter, California newts leave the safety of their forest burrows and travel as far as three miles to mate in the pond where they were born. Their mating ritual is a raucous affair that involves bulked-up males, writhing females and a little cannibalism.
Sea otters aren’t just cute -- they’re a vivid example of life on the edge. Unlike whales and other ocean mammals, sea otters have no blubber. Yet they're still able to keep warm in the frigid Pacific waters. The secret to their survival? A fur coat like no other.
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.
The Bay Area’s proving to be a trendsetter in yet another way: events that celebrate science. The annual Bay Area Science Festival is getting underway with 50 events over 10 days.
The San Jose Children's Discovery Museum has a new program that introduces seventh, eighth and ninth graders to digital SLR cameras and the basic principles of photography. It's also a first-time science experience for many students.
The science of earthquake prediction is fraught with the human tendency to seek conclusions beyond the reach of the data. In this setting, even the fruitless hypothesis of sunspots is seductive.