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Five innovative faculty named Bakar Fellows

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 16:37
Five new faculty innovators have joined the ranks of the Bakar Fellows Program, which supports Berkeley faculty working to apply scientific discoveries to real-world issues in the fields of engineering, computer science, chemistry and biological and physical sciences. The 2015-16 fellows are computer scientists Pieter Abbeel and Michael Lustig, physicist Holger Müller, architect Ronald Rael and chemist Ke Xu.

Hunting supernovas with supercomputers

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 05/21/2015 - 09:20
Thanks to supercomputer models produced by Berkeley physicist Dan Kasen, astronomers were able to quickly find and study a distant Type Ia supernova, the kind used for calibrating the cosmos. These rare early measurements confirmed a theory that at least some Type Ia supernovae are produced when a white dwarf pulls mass from a binary companion until it explodes.

In post-Soviet Russia, Lenin’s body still a powerful symbol

UC Berkeley Science News - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 05:00
For 90 years, the embalmed corpse of Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin has been on public display in Moscow’s Red Square. But ever since the Soviet Union collapsed, a debate has raged over whether to move it - or bury him once and for all. UC Berkeley social anthropologist Alexei Yurchak, an expert on the science and politics surrounding the corpse, believes the body won't be moved anytime soon.

Cold-blooded animals find it hard to adjust to global warming

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 05/19/2015 - 15:59
Cold-blooded and other animals that are unable to regulate their internal temperature may have a hard time tolerating global warming, according to an analysis by biologists Alex Gunderson and Jonathon Stillman from UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University.

Discovery paves way for homebrewed drugs, prompts call for regulation

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 13:00
A research team led by UC Berkeley bioengineers has completed key steps needed to turn sugar-fed yeast into a microbial factory for producing morphine and potentially other drugs, including antibiotics and anticancer agents. The process could soon become as straightforward as making homebrewed beer, prompting calls for urgent regulation.

Drug perks up old muscles and aging brains

UC Berkeley Science News - Wed, 05/13/2015 - 08:28
UC Berkeley researchers have discovered that a small-molecule drug simultaneously perks up old stem cells in the brains and muscles of mice, a finding that could lead to drug interventions for humans that would make aging tissues throughout the body act young again.

Space Sciences Lab teams up with Emirates to send weather satellite to Mars

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 05/12/2015 - 08:15
The United Arab Emirates announced last week a plan to send a satellite to Mars in 2021, partnering with the University of Colorado, Boulder, UC Berkeley and Arizona State to help build the instruments. The Emirates Mars Mission, the first interplanetary mission of the Arab world, is designed to observe weather phenomena like Martian clouds and dust storms.

Forecasting the impact of climate change, welcome or not

UC Berkeley Science News - Fri, 05/08/2015 - 11:31
Plant ecologist David Ackerly, a UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology, has calculated that some animals and plants would need to migrate as much as four miles a year to track their preferred temperature in a rapidly warming climate. He is one of the architects of the Berkeley Initiative in Global Change Biology, an ambitious research effort.

New awards fund work between U.S., Chinese women scientists

UC Berkeley Science News - Fri, 05/08/2015 - 10:00
The Chau Hoi Shuen Foundation Women in Science Program is now funding three women faculty members to allow them to collaborate with women scientists in China. The program is designed to encourage joint research projects that might not get off the ground otherwise.

Some star explosions are lopsided, X-ray telescope finds

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 05/07/2015 - 17:00
Based on measurements by NuSTAR's X-ray telescope, physicist Steve Boggs & colleagues found that a 1987 stellar explosion in the Large Magellanic Cloud was lopsided, providing the best proof yet that core collapse supernovas - those that produce a neutron star or pulsar - are not symmetric. The outer layers are blown off in one direction, while the neutron star rebounds in the other.

Young biologists: First time in the field, and curious about life

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 05/07/2015 - 13:00
Watch students who may have not have thought much about biology take their first plunge into the world of plants and wildlife on a three-day visit to the UC Natural Reserve System’s Hastings Natural History Reservation in Carmel Valley. They're in Berkeley's Biology Scholars Program, which supports underrepresented minority students pursuing the life sciences.

Human security at risk as depletion of soil accelerates, scientists warn

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 05/07/2015 - 11:00
Scientists warn that humans have been depleting soil nutrients at rates that are orders of magnitude greater than our current ability to replenish it. They say that fixing this imbalance is critical to global food security over the next century.

UC Berkeley scientists begin monitoring tremors on San Andreas Fault

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 05/07/2015 - 08:00
The first of four borehole seismometers will be installed underground in Central California to monitor faint tremors beneath the San Andreas Fault, part of UC Berkeley’s TremorScope project to determine the link between tremors and earthquakes.

Young physics professor receives DOE early career grant

UC Berkeley Science News - Wed, 05/06/2015 - 13:51
James Analytis, an assistant professor of physics, has been awarded one of the Department of Energy’s coveted Early Career Research Program grants to pursue work on exotic behavior in metals.

Chemical Footprinting: New tools for tracking green chemistry business practices

News from the GreenChemBlog - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 09:43
Chemical Footprinting: Identifying Hidden Liabilities in Manufacturing Consumer Products In an unassuming low-rise in the Boston suburbs, Mark Rossi tinkers with a colorful dashboard on his laptop screen while his border collie putters around his feet. Rossi is the founder of BizNGO and Clean Production Action, two nonprofit collaborations of business and environmental groups to […]

Neuroscientist works to see through Alzheimer’s disease

UC Berkeley Science News - Fri, 05/01/2015 - 12:28
If early intervention is key, then so is the ability to detect even the slightest sign of neurological damage. UC Berkeley neuroscientist William Jagust is using statistical and computational approaches to refine PET scan sensitivity to identify a possible Alzheimer precursor.

Citizen science helps predict spread of sudden oak death

UC Berkeley Science News - Fri, 05/01/2015 - 00:01
Efforts to predict the emergence and spread of sudden oak death, an infectious tree-killing disease, have gotten a big boost from the work of grassroots volunteers. A joint study led by researchers at UC Berkeley and NC State reveals that years of data from SOD Blitz, a survey project in which volunteers are trained to identify symptoms of sudden oak death, led to better predictive models of the disease's spread.

Al Gore at UC Berkeley: ‘Democracy has been hacked’

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 04/30/2015 - 14:07
In an impassioned campus speech, former Vice President Al Gore urged nearly 400 UC Berkeley students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members to "stop tolerating the destruction of humankind" and the environment and to redouble their efforts to stop climate change.

Did dinosaur-killing asteroid trigger largest lava flows on Earth?

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 04/30/2015 - 11:30
The asteroid that slammed into the ocean off Mexico 66 million years ago and killed off the dinosaurs probably rang the Earth like a bell, triggering volcanic eruptions around the globe, according to a team of UC Berkeley geophysicists. The impact may have re-ignited the eruptions at the Deccan Traps, initiating the largest lava flows on Earth.

Fossils help identify marine life that may be at high risk of extinction today

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 04/30/2015 - 11:00
Seth Finnegan, assistant professor of integrative biology, led an international study of marine extinctions over the past 23 million years to better understand the "natural" extinction risk in groups ranging from mammals to corals. Their findings can help guide conservation efforts in today's oceans.