[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: One of the new frontiers of astronomical research is the exploration of time variability on the sky at different wavelengths and flux levels. We have carried out a pilot project using DPOSS data to study strong variables and transients, and are now extending it to the new Palomar-QUEST synoptic sky survey. We report on our early findings and outline the methodology to be implemented in preparation for a real-time transient detection pipeline. In addition to large numbers of known types of highly variable sources (e.g., SNe, CVs, OVV QSOs, etc.), we expect to find numerous transients whose nature may be established by a rapid follow-up. Whereas we will make all detected variables publicly available through the web, we anticipate that email alerts would be issued in the real time for a subset of events deemed to be the most interesting. This real-time process entails many challenges, in an effort to maintain a high completeness while keeping the contamination low. We will utilize distributed Grid services developed by the GRIST project, and implement a variety of advanced statistical and machine learning techniques.