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Why do geysers erupt? Loops in their plumbing

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 09:44
Volcanologist Michael Manga and his students have studied geysers in Chile and Yellowstone National Park, threading sensors and cameras into the boiling water, and have come up with an explanation for why geysers erupt periodically. They've even built a laboratory geyser that erupts every 20 minutes. The key: the loops and bends in their plumbing.

U.S.-Cuba relations: A historic change, but pitfalls ahead

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 16:23
December's announcement that Cuba and the United States would take steps toward normalizing relations was historic, but bumps and potholes lie ahead, writes Harley Shaiken, chair of Berkeley’s Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS), in his introduction to the cover story of the new Berkeley Review of Latin American Studies. The magazine can be viewed online.

Sloan fellowships give research boost to nine young faculty members

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 11:00
Nine UC Berkeley faculty members were awarded 2015 Sloan Research Fellowships to boost their early-career research. They are Naomi Ginsberg and Thomas Maimone in chemistry; Benjamin Handel in economics; Vivek Shende, Richard Bamler and Lin Lin in mathematics; Helen Bateup and Polina V. Lishko in neuroscience; and James Analytis in physics.

Astronomers, physicists celebrate as Campbell Hall rises again

UC Berkeley Science News - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 16:03
On Thursday, Feb. 12, the campus celebrated the resurrection of Campbell Hall, the home of the astronomy department with a literal and figurative bridge to the physics department. Aside from new offices & classrooms, the building houses a new precision measurement lab and a new telescope and teaching observatory.

How a student’s good idea has cut water use and could save money, too

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 13:04
When Karen Andrade, a Ph.D. student in the School of Environmental Science, Policy & Management, came to UC Berkeley, she was surprised to discover how challenging it was for outside organizations to partner with students and faculty on research projects. She came up with the idea of Science Shop to fill the gap. Its first project could result in water and cost savings at University Village.

Brain’s iconic seat of speech goes silent when we actually talk

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 13:00
The brain's speech area, named after 19th century French physician Pierre Paul Broca, shuts down when we talk out loud, according to a new study that challenges the long-held belief that "Broca's area" governs all aspects of speech production.

Creating love in the lab: The 36 questions that spark intimacy

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 02/12/2015 - 15:00
Around the time of the Summer of Love in 1967, Arthur Aron, then a UC Berkeley graduate student in psychology, kissed fellow student Elaine Spaulding in front of Dwinelle Hall, and formed a romantic and professional partnership. Among the couple's most enduring claims to fame are 36 questions that break down the barriers to intimacy, a fitting topic this Valentine's Day.

Berkeley, the National Park Service and the vital role of science in the parks

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 02/12/2015 - 12:23
"Science for the Parks, the Parks for Science: The Next Century," a new video collaboration by UC Berkeley and the National Park Service, takes viewers along to see firsthand the value of science in the national parks. Next month, Berkeley is co-hosting a conference on the parks as they enter their second century.

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.