UC Berkeley Science News

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News from the University of California, Berkeley
Updated: 1 hour 55 min ago

Fierce solar magnetic storm barely missed Earth in 2012

Tue, 03/18/2014 - 11:41
UC Berkeley physicist Janet Luhmann & former postdoc Ying Liu report that a rapid succession of coronal mass ejections – the most intense eruptions on the sun – sent a pulse of magnetized plasma barreling into space & through Earth’s orbit on July 23, 2012. Had it hit Earth, it could have disrupted the electrical grid, satellites, GPS & our increasingly electronic lives.

New DNA-editing technology spawns bold UC initiative

Tue, 03/18/2014 - 02:00
UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco are launching the Innovative Genomics Initiative (IGI) to lead a revolution in genetic engineering based on a new technology already generating novel strategies for gene therapy and the genetic study of disease. The leader of the initiative, Berkeley professor Jennifer Doudna, is one of the discoverers of the new technology, called CRISPR/Cas9.

Berkeley physics Ph.D. takes “Particle Fever” to the big screen

Fri, 03/14/2014 - 10:29
UC Berkeley Ph.D. Mark Levinson has returned to the Bay Area to premiere his new documentary, 'Particle Fever,' about the discovery of the Higgs boson. The film, which he directed and coproduced, includes Berkeley physicists Lawrence Hall and Yasunori Nomura, along with several campus alums.

Indian company licenses Berkeley invention that removes arsenic from water

Mon, 03/10/2014 - 11:58
An Indian company has licensed a new technology invented by a team led by UC Berkeley professor and Berkeley Lab scientist Ashok Gadgil that cheaply and easily removes arsenic from water. Arsenic in water is a public health problem all over the world, particularly in rural villages of South Asia.

Preschoolers outsmart college students at figuring out gizmos

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 12:00
In a world where children are learning to use smartphones before they can even tie their shoelaces, it may not be surprising to learn that preschoolers can outperform college students in certain learning tasks because they are more flexible and less biased in their ideas about cause and effect. UC Berkeley psychologists show this in a game they call "Blickets."

Colored diamonds are a superconductor’s best friend

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 10:47
Physicists Dmitry Budker of UC Berkeley and Ron Folman of Ben-Gurion University show that color centers in diamonds, among the most sensitive magnetic sensors known today, can help researchers learn about the much ballyhooed but still mysterious high-temperature superconductors.

James Hurley receives award for work on proteins in cell membranes

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 16:39
James Hurley, professor of molecular and cell biology, received the 2014 Hans Neurath Award from The Protein Society for his "ground-breaking contributions to structural membrane biology and membrane trafficking." The award for basic research in protein science comes from the only international society promoting research on proteins.

Using carbon to control the light

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:09
Graphene is the new frontier when it comes to speeding up the transmission of electrical pulses far beyond what silicon can do. Feng Wang, assistant professor of physics and a Bakar Fellow at UC Berkeley, is working to develop novel integrated graphene-based optoelectronics for next-generation computing and high-sensitivity infrared imagers.

Berkeley team takes its energy innovation to Capitol Hill

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 12:24
BERKELEY — A research team from the Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley appeared on Capitol Hill Thursday (Feb. 27) to show off their innovation in energy efficiency: a backpack-mounted system for quickly mapping energy use throughout a building and identifying ways to reduce it. The project was selected to be part of a tech showcase called Energy Innovation on the […]

Inez Fung leads U.S. team in joint report on climate change

Thu, 02/27/2014 - 13:45
The U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the U.K. Royal Society released a joint report on Feb. 27 presenting the evidence and causes of global climate change. U.S. lead and UC Berkeley professor Inez Fung appeared at a public briefing in Washington, D.C., to launch the report, which is meant to be a guide for policymakers and educators.

Closest, brightest supernova in decades is also a little weird

Thu, 02/27/2014 - 09:13
When supernova SN2014J was first noticed in January 2014, astronomers called it the closest and brightest supernova in decades. Berkeley astronomer Alex Filippenko and his team found that it is also weird: it brightens faster than expected for Type Ia supernovae, which are used to measure cosmic distances. The finding may reveal unsuspected new physics inside these exploding stars.

Starving out an enemy of California agriculture

Wed, 02/26/2014 - 15:53
Powdery mildew can eat its way through an acre of grapes, among other valuable crops, in no time. UC Berkeley biologist Mary Wildermuth has identified plant genes that feed the destructive fungus and, as a Bakar Fellow, is working to apply her discovery to protect commercially viable crops through selective breeding.

Art in Science: A Berkeley perspective

Tue, 02/25/2014 - 17:22
The Feb. 27-28 exhibit, “Art-in-Science: The intersection of image and research,” drew record crowds to see sculpture, painting, photography, origami, multi-media and digital art by scientists and artists — now or formerly at UC Berkeley — whose works portray the artistic face of science. The exhibit was sponsored by Science@Cal and the EBI.

Jennifer Doudna receives Lurie Award for gene editing breakthrough

Tue, 02/25/2014 - 09:00
Jennifer Doudna, professor of molecular and cell biology, is the 2014 recipient of the Lurie Prize in the Biomedical Sciences from the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health. Doudna, who studies what she calls “the secret life of RNA,” will receive a medal and $100,000 honorarium on May 20 in Washington, D.C.

Free lab coats draw a crowd, as event continues through Thursday

Mon, 02/24/2014 - 17:03
More than 1,000 campus lab researchers and staff got fitted for free lab coats, safety glasses and goggles at Memorial Stadium Monday. The four-day distribution event continues through Thursday, Feb. 27.

More Ph.D. students get sneak preview of non-academic careers

Mon, 02/24/2014 - 11:00
Scientists spend a lot of time crunching numbers to draw conclusions from data. And so it's hardly surprising that Ph.D. students and postdoctoral researchers at last week's "Beyond Academia" career conference were doing just that. "The likelihood that we will land tenure-track positions is about 10 percent," said molecular biology postdoc Magda Strzelecka. “It would be great to have an academic job, but I want to be prepared in case it doesn’t work out.”

Chemical temporarily restores sight in blind mice

Thu, 02/20/2014 - 16:35
Richard Kramer, a professor of molecular and cell biology who developed a technique to get undamaged eye cells to take over the function of dead rods and cones, has found a new and better chemical that may one day restore sight to those with degenerative eye diseases. He and Ivan Tochitsky showed that the chemical could temporarily restore light-sensitivity to blind mice.

NuSTAR takes first peek into core of supernova

Wed, 02/19/2014 - 11:00
NASA's high-energy X-ray satellite NuSTAR has peered for the first time into the heart of an exploding star in the final minutes of its existence, providing details of the physics of the core explosion inaccessible until now, says team member Steven Boggs, professor and chair of physics.

Seizing control of brain seizures

Wed, 02/19/2014 - 09:25
As a grad student at the Hebrew University, after serving in the Israeli army, Daniela Kaufer showed that extreme stress can break down the physiological barriers that normally protect the brain. The finding would eventually lead Kaufer, now a Bakar Fellow at Berkeley, to uncover a change in brain chemistry that triggers epileptic seizures.

I School’s Tapan Parikh named a 2014 Sloan Research Fellow

Tue, 02/18/2014 - 17:53
Tapan Parikh thinks information tools like mobile phones can help transform the lives of poor people in rural India, Guatemala and other countries. He's a Sloan Foundation "rising star."