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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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.

Add nature, art and religion to life’s best anti-inflammatories

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 02/02/2015 - 10:00
Taking in such spine-tingling wonders as the Grand Canyon, Sistine Chapel ceiling or Schubert’s “Ave Maria” may give a boost to the body’s defense system.

Edible Ed 101’s food all-stars serve up ambitious spring menu

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 10:13
Michael Pollan's opening lecture for Edible Education 101 at UC Berkeley this spring drew a crowd in person and online Monday. His talk on food and the many ways it matters is now viewable online

Quantum computer as detector shows space is not squeezed

UC Berkeley Science News - Wed, 01/28/2015 - 11:19
UC Berkeley physicists used partially entangled atoms identical to the qubits in a quantum computer to demonstrate more precisely than ever before - to one part in a billion billion - that space is uniform in all directions and not squeezed.

Nobel laureate and laser inventor Charles Townes dies at 99

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 16:52
Charles Hard Townes, a professor emeritus of physics who built the first microwave amplifier -- the maser -- and designed the first laser, died Jan. 27 at the age of 99. After receiving the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics, he went on to pioneer the use of lasers in astronomy.

Long dry spell doomed Mexican city 1,000 years ago

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 09:58
The former city and now archaeological site called Cantona in the highlands east of Mexico City appears to have been abandoned nearly 1,000 years ago as a result of a prolonged dry spell that lasted about 650 years, according to a new study by geography graduate student Tripti Bhattacharya and professor Roger Byrne.

Edible Education 101 livestreams tonight

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 01/26/2015 - 14:23
UC Berkeley professor Michael Pollan kicks off the popular Edible Education 101 course tonight, and his lecture on the modern food system will be livestreamed starting at 6:30 p.m. Guest lecturers this semester include Mark Bittman and Eric Schlosser.

Lentils, a mighty force for improving the food system

UC Berkeley Science News - Sun, 01/25/2015 - 17:00
“Lentil Underground,” a new book by a recent Ph.D. and ongoing researcher at UC Berkeley, makes the case that lentils could help restore American farmland and farmers whose soil and profits have been depleted by decades of industrial agriculture.

Opinion: Making a brain map we can use

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 17:00
What is the brain, and how can we better understand how it works? On the NPR website "13.7 cosmos & culture," UC Berkeley philosopher Alva Noë thinks out loud about an ambitious project to map the brain's system of connections, cell by cell.

Scientists set quantum speed limit

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 09:30
The flip side of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, the energy time uncertainty principle, establishes a speed limit for transitions between two states. UC Berkeley physical chemists have now proved this principle for transitions between states that are not entirely distinct, allowing the calculation of speed limits for processes such as quantum computing and tunneling.

Warmer, drier climate altering forests statewide

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 13:04
Thanks to historical data preserved in UC Berkeley's libraries, campus botanists have been able to compare tree survey data from the 1920s and '30s with forest service data today. They find a decline in large trees and an increase in the density of small trees in forests throughout the state. The large tree decline seems to be caused by water stress.

Was first nuclear test the start of new human-dominated epoch, the Anthropocene?

UC Berkeley Science News - Fri, 01/16/2015 - 13:57
Is Earth at the dawn of a new geological epoch dominated by human-influenced geologic and environmental change? Anthony Barnosky is part of a group that proposes that this new era, called the Anthropocene, indeed began at the start of the nuclear era with the 1945 Trinity nuclear bomb test in New Mexico.

Three nearly Earth-size planets found orbiting nearby star

UC Berkeley Science News - Fri, 01/16/2015 - 06:00
A team of astronomers has found the closest star yet with cool, Earth-size planets that could have the characteristics - solid surface and lukewarm temperatures - conducive to life. The team includes grad student Erik Petigura, Geoff Marcy and colleagues at the universities of Arizona and Hawaii.

Historic plutonium sample traced to Seaborg, Manhattan Project

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 17:40
A tiny sliver of plutonium safely stored on the UC Berkeley campus is making news for its connection to a momentous point in history. Nuclear scientists have recently determined with near certainty that the plutonium was created by a team led by the late UC Berkeley chemist Glenn Seaborg as part of the Manhattan Project.

Q&A: Alivisatos, Kavli directors explore future of nanoscience

UC Berkeley Science News - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 11:00
In advance of the inaugural symposium Jan. 15-16 of the new Kavli Energy NanoScience Institute, Kavli ENSI director Paul Alivisatos joins Paul McEuen, director of the Kavli institute at Cornell, and Nai-Chang Yeh, director of the Kavli institute at Caltech, to discuss the future of nanoscience.