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February, 2007
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Searching for Science in the Vast Wasteland

Sitcoms, cop shows, doctors and lawyers in distress — new TV shows are a dime a dozen. But science TV is a much rarer breed, even on cable. It's a happy event that a new science series has started right here in Berkeley Lab's Bay Area backyard.

The series is called QUEST; it's produced by KQED, and it's truly multiplatform, going way beyond weekly TV. As one of a dozen advisory-board partner institutions, Berkeley Lab is proud to have played a very small part in getting it off the ground. 

Be assured, the high-definition TV is lively, airing for half an hour each Tuesday just before NOVA. Newsy radio stories run each Friday morning, and there's a vigorously interactive website open 24/7. The site includes a blog with continually updated essays by local scientists and an opportunity for net surfers to talk back and sound off about the radio and TV episodes. Also included: guides to personal explorations of sites like earthquake faults and sea otter home waters, helpful links, a growing gallery of science photos, and — a unique value — a gradually increasing library of educator guides and downloadable curriculum aids, keyed to the media presentations and in line with the State of California's science education standards.

Granted, KQED QUEST is oriented to the San Francisco Bay Area (which it defines as between the sea and the mountains, and from Sacramento to Monterey); QUEST was kick-started by a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and is funded mostly by Bay Area philanthropies, plus the National Science Foundation.

But in fact the quest is worldwide. Many of the TV and radio episodes are relevant anywhere, and they're posted on the website in remarkably high fidelity. Like the other internet features, they are available anywhere you happen to be logged on. Have a look for yourself, at

If you have questions and comments about this issue of Science@Berkeley Lab, drop us an email.

Paul Preuss, Editor, Science@Berkeley Lab