UC Berkeley Science News
News from the University of California, Berkeley
Updated: 3 hours 21 min ago
UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner is the next speaker (Sat., Mar. 23, 10 a.m.) in the Nano-High series of talks sponsored by Berkeley Lab. Any high school student or teacher can sign up online and drop in to hear about cutting-edge scientific issues of the day. Keltner's talk is titled "The Compassionate Instinct: A Darwinian Tale of Survival of the Kindest."
A team of scientists has produced high-quality standardized biological parts that can be mixed and matched by biotech researchers creating new drugs, fuels or chemicals. The DNA sequences that encode all the parts are free and available online. The project, detailed in three research papers, is the work of researchers at the International Open Facility Advancing Biotechnology (BIOFAB), a collaboration led by UC Berkeley and Stanford University and funded by the National Science Foundation.
Berkeley physicist Michael Crommie has demonstrated in graphene a strange behavior predicted more than 60 years ago and which holds important implications for the future of graphene-based electronic devices. He and colleagues have imaged the “atomic collapse” states theorized to occur around super-large atomic nuclei.
The American Chemical Society awarded UC Berkeley chemist John Hartwig its Herbert C. Brown Award For Creative Research In Synthetic Methods “for the creative discovery and insightful development of fundamentally new, broadly utilized" chemical reactions, such as syntheses using transition metals as catalysts.
UC Berkeley and University of Hawaii scientists have shown that complex molecules can form on icy rocks in space, suggesting that comets may have seeded early Earth with the building blocks of life. The team zapped icy snowballs of carbon dioxide and hydrocarbons, producing complex molecules, such as dipeptides, that are capable of catalyzing the formation of more complex structures.
The human genome is contained within a vast jumble of DNA. Each of its 20,000 or so genes must be turned on at the right time and in the right cells. Now, Berkeley molecular biologist Eva Nogales and her research team have glimpsed the cellular machinery that accomplishes that feat. They describe their findings in the journal Nature.
Physicist Hitoshi Murayama has been chosen deputy director of the newly established Linear Collider Collaboration, an international consortium that will coordinate development of the next big atom smasher. The collaboration, announced Feb. 21, will coordinate R&D on detectors and accelerators for an electron-positron collider to complement the proton collider at CERN in Switzerland.
Chemist Jay Groves and colleagues at Berkeley Lab have used cutting-edge tools to reveal the workings of the epidermal growth factor receptor, which is screwed up in numerous cancers. Their picture of how the receptor changes structure when activated could help scientists understand other cancer triggers.
For a front-row view of a biological spectacle, newt love, there’s no better spectator stand than the banks of the UC Botanical Garden’s Japanese Pool, and no better time than now. Docents are on hand at specified times to explain the life-cycle and mating rituals of these lively and fascinating amphibians.
Ancient languages hold a treasure trove of information about the culture, politics and commerce of millennia past. Yet, reconstructing them to reveal clues into human history can require decades of painstaking work. Now, UC Berkeley scientists have created an automated “time machine,” of sorts, that will greatly accelerate and improve the process of reconstructing hundreds of ancestral languages.
After looking for intelligent radio signals from 86 stars with known planets, UC Berkeley scientists have, for the first time, calculated the odds of finding intelligent civilizations in the Milky Way Galaxy. Fewer than one in a million stars probably are advanced enough for us to detect, though that means there are still potentially millions of such civilizations in the galaxy.
A team of scientists from the Berkeley Geochronology Center and UC Berkeley have determined the most precise dates yet for the dinosaur extinction 66 million years ago and for the well-known impact that occurred around the same time, and concluded that they were simultaneous. While the impact probably was not the sole reason for the dino die-off, it was likely the last straw.
KQED Quest producer Sheraz Sadiq profiles Kathy Ann Miller, a curator and seaweed expert in UC Berkeley's University Herbarium, in the video "Preserving the Forest of the Sea." Sadiq says he was struck by Miller's "enthusiasm and warmth, especially when describing her herbarium 'home' and its red, green and brown-hued precious occupants whom she has cherished for over 30 years."