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Preschoolers outsmart college students at figuring out gizmos

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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."

Peru’s Manu National Park sets new biodiversity record

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 02/18/2014 - 13:37
When it comes to amphibian and reptile biodiversity, the eastern slopes of the Andes stand out. A new survey of 'herps' in and around Peru's Manu National Park, conducted by Berkeley postdoc Rudi von May and his colleagues, found greater biodiversity than in any protected area worldwide.

Campus launches Rose Hills Innovator Program

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 02/18/2014 - 13:36
UC Berkeley has launched the Rose Hills Innovator Program, a new initiative to support distinguished early-career faculty in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The program aims to strengthen the efforts of campus researchers by providing seed support for projects with exceptionally high scientific promise and the potential to generate significant follow-on funding.

Lab coats being distributed free at Memorial Stadium this week

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 02/18/2014 - 09:27
The Office of Environment, Health and Safety is distributing free personal-protective equipment to all campus lab researchers through Feb. 27 at Memorial Stadium. Researchers may register online for a half-hour time slot.

Geographic variation of human gut microbes tied to obesity

UC Berkeley Science News - Fri, 02/14/2014 - 09:04
Obese people have a different balance of microbes in their guts, researches have shown. Now UC Berkeley and University of Arizona researchers have found that people living in northern latitudes have a greater proportion of bacteria associated with obesity than do people living farther south.