Robin Marks

Robin Marks is the owner and operator of Discovery Street Tours, which offers science-themed walking tours in San Francisco. She is also a long-time science writer, and president of the Northern California Science Writers' Association. She loves to climb big hills, investigate tidbits of everyday life, and do chemistry experiments with her food.

Exploring the Pulgas Water Temple Area

The San Francisco Peninsula Watershed, managed by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, is home to trails that offer access to remote wilderness, Northern California geology, and opportunities to appreciate the complexity of providing 2.4 million people with a clean water supply.

Exploring Angel Island

On October 12, 2008, Angel Island was ravaged by a wildfire. In just 2 days, 303 acres went up in smoke. We're visiting the island a year later to see how the land is recovering and learn how the fire helped one scientist unearth a bit if the island's history.

Exploring the Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail

Local nature lovers can enjoy the rare opportunity to hike, bike, or ride their horses through pristine stands of old growth Douglas Fir, evergreen and fragrant coastal scrub while enjoying ridge-top vistas of our watershed lands, reservoirs, the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. To protect our watershed, hiking on the trail is restricted to docent-led ventures three days a week, with advanced registration.

Exploring Pescadero State Beach

Pescadero State Beach is no simple place. Scanning its expanse, you can see ocean beach, streams, grasses, cattails, bushy scrub, and tall, ancient trees. If you look more closely you can see over 250 species of birds. The landscape, especially at the water, is never the same two days in a row.

Exploring Samuel P. Taylor State Park

Less than an hour’s drive north from San Francisco, the 2,882 acres of Samuel P. Taylor State Park is within easy driving distance of some of northern California’s most dramatic outdoor scenery. The park features a unique contrast of coastal redwood groves and open grassland.

Exploring Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve

As sure as the earth moves in Berkeley, there's a volcano just off Skyline Boulevard. Not just any volcano. This one's laying on its side with its guts exposed. At Sibley Regional Volcanic Preserve, you'll find the rocky body and layered underpinnings of one of the largest volcanoes that once dotted our geologic neighborhood.

Web Extra: Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve

As sure as the earth moves in Berkeley, there is a volcano just off Skyline Boulevard. Not just any volcano, mind you. This one's laying on its side with its guts exposed. At Sibley Regional Volcanic Preserve, you'll find the rocky body and layered underpinnings of one of the largest volcanoes that once dotted our geologic neighborhood.

Seed banking: saving both agri- and -culture

It’s more than the genes that feed us. Some have dubbed it the “doomsday vault“; others, taking a more positive tone, call it a repository of biodiversity. However you look at it, the Global Seed Vault is a fortress. Buried under almost 500 feet of Arctic permafrost, secured against bomb blasts, earthquakes, and potential thieves, … Continue reading Seed banking: saving both agri- and -culture →

Exploring Alum Rock Park

Just a few minutes outside of San Jose, you'll find a place to explore 100 million years of history. Alum Rock Park, created in 1872 as the first municipal park in California, offers both ancient rocks and new geologic changes (and lots of nice trails and wildlife, too). Despite its longevity and proximity to a populous urban area, it remains one of the less-visited jewels in the Bay Area's crown.

Gleaning scientific observations from ancient myths

I had the privilege this week of interviewing Isabel Hawkins, an astronomer and director of the Center for Science Education at Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory. We talked about how people use evidence in science, how it is that we know what we know. Hawkins isn’t your ordinary astronomer. She began her career in an ordinary … Continue reading Gleaning scientific observations from ancient myths →

Using life as a tool

Companies like GenoCAD allow users to piece together their own designer DNA. “Synthetic biology” seems like a contradiction in terms, doesn’t it? I mean, if it’s biological, it’s natural, right? And if it’s natural, then it’s not synthetic. Sure. Except that modern science has sorta blurred all those nice convenient boundaries. Nothing has demonstrated this … Continue reading Using life as a tool →

The Eyes Have It

How can you tell when someone’s smile is fake? See if you can tell from the 2 images below:* A real, spontaneous smile incorporates tiny muscles around the eye that are nearly impossible to contract at will. You can see this for yourself in an exhibit called “Polite Smile, Delight Smile” part of the Exploratorium’s … Continue reading The Eyes Have It →

Wired for wireless: the genetics of text messaging

I love my cell phone. We have a serious relationship. One that may be biologically predetermined. Let me explain. On New Year’s Eve I brought my phone with me to San Francisco’s Ocean Beach, where I traditionally go, rain or shine, to watch the year’s last sunset. I was by myself, but I wasn’t alone. … Continue reading Wired for wireless: the genetics of text messaging →