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Unique Sulawesi frog gives birth to tadpoles

UC Berkeley Science News - Wed, 12/31/2014 - 12:00
Amid the amazing biodiversity of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi lives a 5-gram frog that gives direct birth to tadpoles, without ever laying eggs. This unique reproductive strategy, found in a group of fanged frogs endemic to the island, is described for the first time by UC Berkeley herpetologist Jim McGuire and colleagues from Indonesia and Canada.

Berkeley gamma-ray experiment tests new balloon technology over Antarctica

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 12/29/2014 - 12:07
Berkeley physicist Steve Boggs leads a new gamma-ray experiment launched over Antarctica on Dec. 28 aboard the first of NASA's new 'super pressure' balloons, which aim to keep experiments aloft for more than 100 days. The experiment, the Compton Spectrometer and Imager (COSI), searches for polarized gamma rays from exploding stars and other cosmic phenomena.

UC Berkeley 2014: The year in pictures

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 12/23/2014 - 09:00
Marked by a monthlong celebration of the Free Speech Movement and the unveiling of plans for an ambitious new Berkeley Global Campus, 2014 at UC Berkeley was both a year to remember and a time to reimagine the future.

Berkeley researchers develop new standard for sharing neuroscience data

UC Berkeley Science News - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 09:15
Berkeley Lab researchers have developed a computational framework for standardizing neuroscience data to assist data sharing among neuroscientists worldwide, much as the jpeg and TIFF standards have made sharing digital images easy. The researchers are part of the UC Berkeley, Berkeley Lab and UCSF partnership called BRAINSeed.

Sensing distant tornadoes, birds flew the coop. What tipped them off?

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 10:00
A UC Berkeley-led research team found that golden-winged warblers in Tennessee fled the path of tornado-generating storms one to two days ahead, well before any local signs of troubling weather. Signs point to the use of infrasound as Mother Nature's early warning system.

Students show off ‘autonomous vehicles’ at L.A. Drone Expo

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 15:53
UC Berkeley engineering students joined civil engineering professor Raja Sengupta at the first-ever Drone Expo in Los Angeles on Saturday, demonstrating their "unmanned autonomous vehicles" to a crowd of some 4,000 hobbyists and enthusiasts.

Berkeley innovators named fellows of National Academy of Inventors

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 11:17
Biochemist Jennifer Doudna, chemical engineer Jay Keasling and chemist Richard Mathies were among 170 people named fellows of the National Academy of Inventors. The organization honors innovators who have file patents in the United States.

Study reveals resilience of Roman architectural concrete

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 13:30
An international research team studying the mortar used to build such Roman architectural marvels as the Pantheon, Trajan’s Markets and the Colosseum has found a secret to the material's resilience. Led by scientists at UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab, the team found that as the mortar cures, it forms a crystalline binding hydrate that prevents microcracks from propagating.

Scientists measure speedy electrons in silicon

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 12/11/2014 - 12:00
Attosecond lasers provide the shortest light pulses yet, allowing observation of nature’s most short-lived events. Berkeley researchers have used these lasers for the first time to take snapshots of electrons jumping from silicon atoms into the conduction band of a semiconductor, the key event behind the transistor.

Mark Bittman’s menu to include UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 12/11/2014 - 11:00
Mark Bittman, popular food writer and New York Times columnist, will be a distinguished visiting fellow on campus during spring semester, collaborating with faculty, staff and students connected to the Berkeley Food Institute.

Food luminaries to light up spring semester

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 12/11/2014 - 11:00
The Berkeley Food Institute is drawing food and agriculture experts to campus from across the country to address challenges and find solutions to problems in the food sector. Among the luminaries headed to campus this spring is New York Times columnist and writer Mark Bittman, who will co-host the popular Edible Education 101 course. Also: Q&A with Mark Bittman

Can organic crops compete with industrial agriculture?

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 17:01
An analysis of 115 studies comparing organic and conventional farming finds that the crop yields of organic agriculture are higher than previously thought. Researchers also found that taking into account methods that optimize the productivity of organic agriculture could minimize the yield gap between organic and conventional farming.

Lick supernova search gets critical instrument upgrade

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 10:57
The Kast spectrograph on the 3-meter Shane Telescope at UC's Lick Observatory will receive a much-needed upgrade thanks to a $350,000 donation by the Kast family & the Heising-Simons Foundation. Berkeley astronomer Alex Filippenko says the upgrade will help the automated supernova search in the quest to understand dark energy & the accelerating expansion of the universe.

New therapy holds promise for restoring vision

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 15:11
A new genetic therapy developed by UC Berkeley scientists has not only helped blind mice regain light sensitivity sufficient to distinguish flashing from non-flashing lights, but also restored light response to the retinas of dogs, setting the stage for future clinical trials of the therapy in humans. The therapy involves inserting photoswitches into retinal cells that are normally "blind."

Scientists detect brain network that gives humans superior reasoning skills

UC Berkeley Science News - Wed, 12/03/2014 - 10:00
When it comes to getting out of a tricky situation, we humans have an evolutionary edge over other primates. UC Berkeley scientists have found mounting brain evidence that helps explain how humans have excelled at “relational reasoning,” a cognitive skill we use to solve problems.

Student searches for supernovas, secret to dark energy

UC Berkeley Science News - Sat, 11/29/2014 - 17:00
Graduate student Danny Goldstein created a computer algorithm that can sort through thousands of 570-megapixel images taken each night in search of tiny points of light indicating a distant supernova explosion. He created the algorithm, which runs on the Energy Department'’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at Berkeley Lab, for the Dark Energy Survey.

Dodging a sixth mass extinction

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 15:48
Integrative biology professor Anthony Barnosky not only has a new book out, Dodging Extinction, but also appears in a new documentary airing Nov. 30 on the Smithsonian Channel. The film, Mass Extinction, Life at the Brink, also features UC Berkeley geologist Walter Alvarez and Barnosky's wife, Stanford ecologist Elizabeth Hadly.

‘Sleepless in America’ documentary to feature Berkeley research

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 11:00
UC Berkeley neuroscientist and sleep researcher Matthew Walker will be featured Nov. 30 in Sleepless in America, a documentary on the National Geographic Channel that lays out in gripping detail the perils of getting too little sleep.

New mushroom discovered on campus — the first since 1985

UC Berkeley Science News - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 12:16
For the first time in 30 years, a new species of mushroom has been discovered on the UC Berkeley campus, to the delight of the researchers who found it. Else Vellinga and Nhu Nguyen, the researchers, named it Helvella dryophila,

National Medal of Science ceremony streamed live from White House Nov. 20

UC Berkeley Science News - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 15:13
President Barack Obama will honor three UC Berkeley faculty members on Thursday, Nov. 20, at a White House ceremony for the 19 new winners of the National Medals of Science and National Medals of Technology & Innovation.