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News from the University of California, Berkeley
Updated: 16 min 20 sec ago

Anxious people more apt to make bad decisions amid uncertainty

2 hours 57 min ago
Highly anxious people have more trouble deciding how best to handle life’s uncertainties. They may even catastrophize, interpreting, say, a lover’s tiff as a doomed relationship or a workplace change as a career threat. Investigating this dynamic, scientists have found evidence of a glitch in the brain’s higher-order decision-making circuitry that could eventually be targeted in the treatment of anxiety disorders.

First detailed look at the guts of world’s smallest lifeforms

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 13:47
UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab scientist Jill Banfield and colleagues have for the first time snapped detailed microscopic photos of what may be the smallest forms of life on Earth: common bacteria that appear to pack their DNA very tightly. The team also sequenced the genomes of these strange bacteria.

Bakar Fellow works to bring the invisible to light

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 10:58
EECS professor Laura Waller is working on computational imaging methods for quantitative phase microscopy, which can be applied in a variety of scientific and industrial settings. Her work is supported by the Bakar Fellows Program for young faculty whose work holds commercial promise.

UC’s first Nobel Prize presented in Berkeley 75 years ago

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 09:00
UC's first Nobel Prize was awarded in 1939 to Ernest Lawrence for the invention of the atom smasher, but the prize ceremony in Sweden was canceled because of looming war in Europe. So Sweden shipped the prize to San Francisco, and the Swedish consul general presented it to Lawrence on Feb. 29, 1940, during a special white-tie ceremony in Wheeler Hall.

Back to the future: Berkeley and the national parks start a second century of science

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 15:23
A conference focusing on the science emphasis of the National Park Service’s centennial will take place March 25-27 at UC Berkeley, exactly a century after an historic conference on campus paved the way for the birth of the NPS. The conference is called "Science for Parks, Parks for Science: The Next Century."

Study IDs key birds that host Lyme disease bacteria in California

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 12:00
A new UC Berkeley-led study has found that birds are more important than previously recognized as hosts for Lyme disease-causing bacteria in California. Small mammals have been identified in previous studies as wildlife hosts of the Lyme disease spirochete bacterium in California, but fewer studies have looked at the role of birds as reservoirs.

Why do geysers erupt? Loops in their plumbing

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 09:44
Volcanologist Michael Manga and his students have studied geysers in Chile and Yellowstone National Park, threading sensors and cameras into the boiling water, and have come up with an explanation for why geysers erupt periodically. They've even built a laboratory geyser that erupts every 20 minutes. The key: the loops and bends in their plumbing.

U.S.-Cuba relations: A historic change, but pitfalls ahead

Mon, 02/23/2015 - 16:23
December's announcement that Cuba and the United States would take steps toward normalizing relations was historic, but bumps and potholes lie ahead, writes Harley Shaiken, chair of Berkeley’s Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS), in his introduction to the cover story of the new Berkeley Review of Latin American Studies. The magazine can be viewed online.

Sloan fellowships give research boost to nine young faculty members

Mon, 02/23/2015 - 11:00
Nine UC Berkeley faculty members were awarded 2015 Sloan Research Fellowships to boost their early-career research. They are Naomi Ginsberg and Thomas Maimone in chemistry; Benjamin Handel in economics; Vivek Shende, Richard Bamler and Lin Lin in mathematics; Helen Bateup and Polina V. Lishko in neuroscience; and James Analytis in physics.

Astronomers, physicists celebrate as Campbell Hall rises again

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 16:03
On Thursday, Feb. 12, the campus celebrated the resurrection of Campbell Hall, the home of the astronomy department with a literal and figurative bridge to the physics department. Aside from new offices & classrooms, the building houses a new precision measurement lab and a new telescope and teaching observatory.

How a student’s good idea has cut water use and could save money, too

Tue, 02/17/2015 - 13:04
When Karen Andrade, a Ph.D. student in the School of Environmental Science, Policy & Management, came to UC Berkeley, she was surprised to discover how challenging it was for outside organizations to partner with students and faculty on research projects. She came up with the idea of Science Shop to fill the gap. Its first project could result in water and cost savings at University Village.

Brain’s iconic seat of speech goes silent when we actually talk

Mon, 02/16/2015 - 13:00
The brain's speech area, named after 19th century French physician Pierre Paul Broca, shuts down when we talk out loud, according to a new study that challenges the long-held belief that "Broca's area" governs all aspects of speech production.

Creating love in the lab: The 36 questions that spark intimacy

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 15:00
Around the time of the Summer of Love in 1967, Arthur Aron, then a UC Berkeley graduate student in psychology, kissed fellow student Elaine Spaulding in front of Dwinelle Hall, and formed a romantic and professional partnership. Among the couple's most enduring claims to fame are 36 questions that break down the barriers to intimacy, a fitting topic this Valentine's Day.

Berkeley, the National Park Service and the vital role of science in the parks

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 12:23
"Science for the Parks, the Parks for Science: The Next Century," a new video collaboration by UC Berkeley and the National Park Service, takes viewers along to see firsthand the value of science in the national parks. Next month, Berkeley is co-hosting a conference on the parks as they enter their second century.

23-year Rocky Mountain experiment finds dramatic changes due to global warming

Wed, 02/11/2015 - 10:34
Energy & resources professor John Harte has studied a plot of land in the Rocky Mountains for 23 years to determine the effects of warming on the environment, and documented a warming & drying of the soil that leads to fewer wildflowers and more shrubs. Surprisingly, nearby meadows and grasslands are already showing such ecosystem changes due to global warming.

Google gives Lick Observatory $1 million

Tue, 02/10/2015 - 01:01
Google Inc. has given $1 million to the UC’s Lick Observatory in what astronomer Alex Filippenko hopes is the first of many private gifts to support an invaluable teaching and research resource for the state. The funds will augment the $1.5 million the UC Office of the President gives annually to operate the mountaintop observatory for the 10-campus UC system.

Opinion: In sci-fi worlds, the science matters

Mon, 02/09/2015 - 11:56
For sci-fi fan David Litt, a chemistry grad student, it's not OK if the atmosphere around an imagined planet is made of highly explosive gasses. What do sci-fi writers themselves say about plausibility? Read Litt's blog post in Berkeley Science Review.

Electricity from biomass with carbon capture could make western U.S. carbon-negative

Mon, 02/09/2015 - 09:15
Biomass conversion to electricity combined with new technologies for capturing and storing carbon, which should become viable within 35 years, could result in a carbon-negative power grid in the Western United States by 2050. That prediction comes from an analysis by UC Berkeley professor Daniel Kammen and grad student Daniel Sanchez of the Energy and Resources Group.

Launch of new genomics initiative draws enthusiastic industry, academic partners

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 15:24
UC Berkeley and UCSF scientists joined colleagues from the biopharmaceutical industry on Feb. 4 to celebrate the launch of the Innovative Genomics Initiative, which aims to perfect gene editing technology discovered at Berkeley and apply it to the development of new drugs to fight disease globally.

Bakar Fellows Program seeks early-career faculty pursuing innovative research

Wed, 02/04/2015 - 16:08
The Bakar Fellows Program, now entering its fourth year, is inviting applications from other early career professors interested in innovative research that hold commercial promise.