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Birthday bash to celebrate laser inventor Charles Townes’ 99th

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 10:47
Laser inventor and Nobel laureate Charles Hard Townes, professor emeritus of physics, turns 99 on Monday (July 28), and an adoring campus is throwing him a long-overdue birthday party. In a new video, he says he's still having fun with physics.

On Capitol Hill, Keasling calls for ‘national initiative’ to boost bioengineering

UC Berkeley Science News - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 17:00
UC Berkeley professor and synthetic-biology pioneer Jay Keasling was on Capitol Hill Thursday, stressing the need for a federal strategy to ensure continued U.S. leadership in a field he said can yield significant medical benefits for people throughout the world, “and even save lives.”

Tiny laser sensor heightens bomb detection sensitivity

UC Berkeley Science News - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 10:00
UC Berkeley researchers are developing ultra-sensitive bomb detectors using tiny laser sensors. Experiments showed that the nanoscale plasmon sensors could detect airborne explosives at concentrations below one part per billion, a result that is much more sensitive than published results to date for other optical sensors.

Scientists enlist big data to guide conservation efforts

UC Berkeley Science News - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 04:55
UC Berkeley's Brent Mishler and Australian colleagues have created a model of biodiversity that takes into account both the number and distribution of species and their evolutionary relationships in order to identify lineages that need preservation, in particular rare endemics.

Giant laser recreates extreme conditions inside planets

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 12:16
Using the world's largest laser at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's National Ignition Facility, scientists including UC Berkeley's Ray Jeanloz have created the extreme temperatures and pressures found inside planets like Jupiter. These experiments are vital for understanding how dirty, carbon-rich planets, including newly discovered exoplanets, formed.

Professor and nuclear chemist Heino Nitsche has died at 64

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 09:49
Heino Nitsche, professor of chemistry and LBNL senior scientist, passed away unexpectedly at home July 14. A native of Germany, Nitsche was a nuclear chemist who focused on the synthesis and chemistry of superheavy elements. He was part of a team that confirmed superheavy elements 114 and 117, so far unnamed

How posture and gestures affect state of mind

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 17:00
Most are aware of the mind-body connection — how mental processes can affect a person's physical state. But what about the reverse? Berkeley Wellness reports on how body position, posture, gestures, even facial expressions may influence how we think, feel and behave.

Berkeley seismologists tie Louisiana sinkhole to gas-charged quakes

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 16:09
UC Berkeley seismologists Doug Dreger and Avinash Nayak looked at seismic records of quakes that preceded the formation of a massive sinkhole near Bayou Corne, La., in 2012, and determined that they came from strong underground gas discharges, which may have caused the collapse of a salt dome now flooded with water.

Extinct human cousin gave Tibetans advantage at high elevation

UC Berkeley Science News - Wed, 07/02/2014 - 10:00
Tens of thousands of years ago, the common ancestors of Han Chinese and Tibetans interbred with a mysterious human-like group known as Denisovans and picked up a unique variant of a gene for hemoglobin regulation that later helped them adapt to a low-oxygen environment on the high Tibetan plateau, reports UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology Rasmus Nielsen.

Worm, fly development surprisingly similar, Berkeley study finds

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 17:00
Grad student Jingyi Jesscia Li, plant and microbial biology professor Steve Brenner and colleagues compared the genes activated during development in the early fruit fly and nematode (C. elegans) and found them to be surprisingly similar. Fruit flies actually use these genes twice, once during larval development and again during metamorphosis. The research is part of the modENCODE project.

Drunken monkeys: what animals tell us about our thirst for booze

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 12:15
Robert Dudley, an evolutionary physiologist and professor of integrative biology, discusses his new book, "The Drunken Monkey, Why we drink and abuse alcohol" (UC Press 2014). Dudley talks about his motivations for writing the book, the evidence that our attraction to alcohol is an evolutionary adaptation, and what this means for efforts to prevent alcohol abuse.

Berkeley a big part of new UC initiative on global food needs

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 10:45
The University of California is launching an initiative to marshal resources across the UC campuses — including Berkeley's 90 courses, 150 faculty and staff and multiple institutes and centers devoted to the study of agriculture and food — to address global food challenges.

Fact sheet on food/ag studies and research at UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 10:34
UC Berkeley offers a wide array of programs and initiatives related to food and agriculture systems, encompassing many disciplines, departments, academic program areas, institutes, centers, student initiatives and services spanning the campus and the community. A fact sheet.

Blind lead the way in brave new world of tactile technology

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 09:00
Imagine feeling a slimy jellyfish, a prickly cactus or map directions on your iPad display. Virtual textured touchscreens are where tactile technology is headed. New research has found that people are faster at navigating tactile technology when using both hands and several fingers. Moreover, blind people in the study outmaneuvered their sighted counterparts.

Don DePaolo honored for research on Earth’s geochemical structure

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 08:00
Don DePaolo, professor of earth and planetary sciences and LBNL researcher, received the Harry Hess Medal of the American Geophysical Union for groundbreaking research on the geochemical structure of Earth’s mantle, the isotopic and trace element chemistry of oceanic volcanoes, and the origin of granitic igneous rocks.

Ahoy! Student video blogs from the Cascadia earthquake zone

UC Berkeley Science News - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 15:52
Richard Allen, professor of earth and planetary sciences and director of the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory, is taking 10 students on a research cruise to study the Cascadia subduction zone, a major source of Northwest coast earthquakes. The students hope to send daily video blogs about their experiences and the science of subduction quakes @BerkeleySeismo.

Puya powering up to flower

UC Berkeley Science News - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 15:40
The Botanical Garden's Puya inches toward flowering, though just when is a puzzle.

Three young researchers named 2014 Pew Scholars

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 13:26
BERKELEY — Three young UC Berkeley researchers have been selected as 2014 Pew scholars, The Pew Charitable Trusts announced this week. The researchers are: Elçin Ünal, assistant professor of molecular and cell biology, who was selected as one of 22 2014 Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences. The award supports promising early-career scientists in the health sciences, particularly young researchers […]

Berkeley physicists detect smallest force ever measured

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 12:10
UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab physicists have detected what is believed to be the smallest force ever measured: approximately 42 yoctonewtons. A yoctonewton is one septillionth of a newton and there are approximately 3 x 10^23 yoctonewtons in one ounce of force. They employed a combination of lasers to push and probe a cloud of ultracold atoms.

Young researcher discovers source of disco clams’ light show

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 06/24/2014 - 16:01
The disco clam was named for the rhythmic, pulsing light that ripples along the lips of its mantle. UC Berkeley graduate student Lindsey Dougherty now reports that the mirror is actually a highly reflective, densely packed layer of silica spheres a mere 340 nanometers across never before seen in animals.