Thanks to images obtained over the past nine years by the Hubble Space Telescope, UC Berkeley astronomers were able to narrow down the identity of the companion star to a supernova first observed in August. It was not a bright red giant or helium star, but probably a more modest star like the sun, a subgiant or even a white dwarf.
Astronomers led by UC Berkeley’s Reinhard Genzel, also of the Max Planck Institute in Germany, have observed a cloud of gas several times the mass of Earth approaching the 4.3 million solar-mass black hole at the center of the Milky Way. Theorist Eliot Quataert calculates that the cloud will not survive the encounter, but will be heated and shredded in 2013.
Tens of thousands of working Californians’ family members could be denied access to affordable health insurance under proposed regulations to the federal healthcare law, says a new report released by researchers at UC Berkeley and UCLA.
Trees are dying in Africa’s Sahel, and human-caused climate change is to blame, according to a new study led by a scientist at UC Berkeley. Using climate change records, aerial and satellite images and field data, researchers found that one in five tree species disappeared in the past half-century. They attribute the tree deaths to the historic drops in rainfall and increased temperatures in the region.
UC Berkeley neuroscientist John Ngai and colleagues have discovered a genetic trigger that makes the nose renew its smell sensors, providing hope for new therapies for people who have lost their sense of smell due to trauma or old age.
Could cultivating dense fields of weeds help mitigate climate change by soaking up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere? Berkeley scientists Dennis Baldocchi and Whendee Silver are exploring that possibility in California’s agricultural heartland, the San Joaquin Valley. National Public Radio reports.
A nurse refuses to help an ailing alcoholic who is upset to find a hospital detox unit closed. A hospital clerk brushes off a deceased woman’s grieving family as they try to pay her bills and claim her belongings. A charge nurse keeps the mother of gunshot victim from seeing her son, saying the emergency room is “too busy.” These harsh, real-life scenarios helped inspire Eve Ekman, a UC Berkeley doctoral student in social welfare, to study empathy burnout in the workplace, a condition expected to skyrocket this year due to the stress caused by the nation’s financial crisis.
UC Berkeley astronomer Chung-Pei Ma, graduate student Nicholas McConnell and colleagues have discovered the largest black holes to date ‑- two monsters with masses equivalent to 10 billion suns that are threatening to consume anything, even light, within a region five times the size of our solar system.
At some point in their evolution, crocodiles gave up the fast growth they had shared with their relatives, the dinosaurs. The Economist reports on the work of paleontologist Sara Werning, a UC Berkeley doctoral student, who studies the development of prehistoric vertebrates over evolutionary time.