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.
Two and a half million years ago, our hominin ancestors in the African savanna crafted rocks into shards that could slice apart a dead gazelle, zebra or other game animal. Over the next 700,000 years, this butchering technology spread throughout the continent and, it turns out, came to be a major evolutionary force, according to new research that combines the tools of psychology, evolutionary biology and archaeology.
Berkeley scientists show that the effects of chronic stress on fertility persist long after the stress is gone. This is because a hormone that suppresses fertility, GnIH, remains high even after stress hormone levels return to normal. In rats, they successfully blocked the hormone gene and restored normal reproductive behavior, suggesting therapeutic potential for stressed humans and animals in captive breeding programs.
UC Berkeley psychologist Fred Theunissen's work on songbirds could help improve hearing aids to allow people to home in on specific sounds in noisy environments, a particular problem for the hard of hearing. He and his graduate students study zebra finches, which are especially adept at listening in crowded, noisy environments, and developed an algorithm for reducing distortion in hearing aids.