News

May 25, 2022

How preserving a country’s languages can lead to decolonization

For more than 15 years Barrios-Leblanc’s research has focused on promoting Philippine language and literature. She has published several Philippine language textbooks and award-winning collections of poetry. Berkeley News spoke with her about the role that literature can play in impacting political movements, and why preserving Philippine languages is important work in the efforts toward decolonization.
May 25, 2022

Like it or not, we’re prone to adopt popular beliefs, even fake ones

As social creatures, we humans care what others think and are influenced by the number of likes, hearts and retweets on social media posts. The downside? An attraction to popular beliefs — whether they’re true or false — can speed up the spread of conspiracy theories, suggests new UC Berkeley research.
May 24, 2022

Skydiving salamanders live in world’s tallest trees

Salamanders that live their entire lives in the crowns of the world’s tallest trees, California’s coast redwoods, have evolved a behavior well-adapted to the dangers of falling from high places: the ability to parachute, glide and maneuver in mid-air.
May 24, 2022

AI reveals unsuspected math underlying search for exoplanets

AI, also called machine learning, can reveal something deeper, University of California, Berkeley, astronomers found: unsuspected connections hidden in the complex mathematics arising from general relativity — in particular, how that theory is applied to finding new planets around other stars.
May 10, 2022

Effects of January’s Tonga eruption felt at the edge of space

An underwater volcano that erupted in the South Pacific in January sent a 300-mile-wide plume of ash some 25 miles above the surface, generated a tsunami that injured and killed people thousands of miles away along the coasts of North and South America, produced a sonic boom that was heard 6,000 miles away in Alaska, and created atmospheric shock waves that circled Earth several times.
May 6, 2022

Predicting flooding from rain falling on Sierra snowpack

Research conducted at UC Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Laboratory (CSSL) is providing a much-needed tool for state water managers that could help them prepare for potential flooding during rain-on-snow events in the Sierra Nevada.
May 6, 2022

Berkeley’s Bakar BioEnginuity Hub opens its doors

UC Berkeley’s campus community this week celebrated the grand opening of the Bakar BioEnginuity Hub (BBH), the campus’s bold new home for research and innovation. After two years of seismic upgrades and renovations, BBH celebrated its opening this month. Bakar Labs, the facility’s flagship life sciences incubator, has been operational since mid-November, offering space to tenant companies.
May 5, 2022

Was this hyena a distant ancestor of today’s termite-eating aardwolf?

Of the hundred or so known species of hyena — living and extinct — that stalked the earth, all have been meat eaters or omnivores except one, the aardwolf, which, mysteriously, eats termites. What happened in the history of fearsome hyenas that led one group to give up raw meat and turn to insects? Two fossil skulls of a 12- to 15-million-year-old hyena that once lived in the Gansu province of China may shed light on that mystery.
May 4, 2022

What is the role of reparations in delivering climate justice?

On Thursday, a panel of leading scholars will join Daniel Aldana Cohen, UC Berkeley assistant professor of sociology and director of the Socio-Spatial Climate Collaborative, to discuss how addressing the climate crisis requires tackling these long-standing racial and global inequalities and also dismantling the political and economic systems that created them.
May 2, 2022

Attack on LGBTQ+ rights: The politics and psychology of a backlash

Some states are seeking to ban school discussion and books that feature LGBTQ issues. Texas is targeting doctors and parents who provide gender-affirming medical care to transgender teenagers. Florida has gone to war against Disney World, after Disney publicly opposed the state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law.
April 28, 2022

Model pinpoints glaciers at risk of collapse due to climate change

As climate change warms the planet, glaciers are melting faster, and scientists fear that many will collapse by the end of the century, drastically raising sea level and inundating coastal cities and island nations. A University of California, Berkeley, scientist has now created an improved model of glacial movement that could help pinpoint those glaciers in the Arctic and Antarctic most likely to rapidly slide downhill and fall into the ocean.
April 27, 2022

Solar beats nuclear at many potential settlement sites on Mars

The high efficiency, light weight and flexibility of the latest solar cell technology means photovoltaics could provide all the power needed for an extended mission to Mars, or even a permanent settlement there, according to a new analysis by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley.
April 26, 2022

UC Berkeley's Rediet Abebe named Carnegie Fellow

Rediet Abebe, a UC Berkeley assistant professor of computer science, will be a member of the 2022 class of Andrew Carnegie Fellows, the Carnegie Corporation of New York announced April 26.
April 22, 2022

Berkeley Talks: Damilola Ogunbiyi on driving an equitable energy transition

In episode 139 of Berkeley Talks, Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary General for Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), gives the UC Berkeley Energy and Resources Group’s 28th Annual Lecture on Energy and Environment. In the March 31, 2022 talk, Ogunbiyi discusses how to drive a just, inclusive and equitable transition to affordable and sustainable energy for all, and how the Russia-Ukraine war is affecting energy markets around the world.
April 22, 2022

In White House meeting, Berkeley scholar says advanced tech can support nature

Nature is vitally important to the U.S. economy but we tend to take it for granted, doing little to measure the nation’s wealth of natural resources or their economic impact. But at a high-level White House meeting Thursday, Berkeley scholar Solomon Hsiang said that advanced technology is creating powerful new tools for measuring nature’s resources and their economic value.
April 18, 2022

Leadership philanthropy funds new Engineering Student Center

Powered by a $30 million challenge match grant from an anonymous alum, UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering has raised more than $74 million in gifts to transform the engineering student center into a vibrant hub of learning and discovery, cross-disciplinary collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship.
April 14, 2022

Andrew Dillin shares Lurie Prize for work on aging

Andrew Dillin shared the 2022 Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences for work on the aging process. The prize, awarded annually by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH), recognizes outstanding achievements by promising scientists aged 52 or younger. Dillin shared the prize with Anne Brunet of Stanford University, who conducts parallel work on aging.
April 13, 2022

More oil and gas wells in redlined neighborhoods: Historically marginalized communities are exposed to more wells with their accompanying pollution

New research  from Berkeley Public Health and the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management published today in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology shows that community exposure to oil and gas wells is more likely in historically redlined neighborhoods, exposing residents to environmental stressors such as water and air pollution. The study results add to evidence that structural racism in government policy is associated with more oil and gas wells being situated in marginalized neighborhoods.
April 7, 2022

Engineered crystals could help computers run on less power

In a study published online this week in the journal Nature, University of California, Berkeley, engineers describe a major breakthrough in the design of a component of transistors — the tiny electrical switches that form the building blocks of computers — that could significantly reduce their energy consumption without sacrificing speed, size or performance.
April 6, 2022

Advancing New Battery Design with Deep Learning

A team of researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine) recently moved this effort forward with the development of deep-learning algorithms to automate the quality control and assessment of new battery designs.
April 4, 2022

Using Trump’s vaccine endorsement boosts COVID-19 shots

A video compiled from Fox News clips of former President Trump and his family urging his supporters to get vaccinated against COVID-19 proved to be a cheap and effective way to convince some vaccine skeptics to get their shots.
April 4, 2022

T. rex’s short arms may have lowered risk of bites during feeding frenzies

In a new paper appearing in the current issue of the journal Acta Palaeontologia Polonica, Padian floats a new hypothesis: The T. rex’s arms shrank in length to prevent accidental or intentional amputation when a pack of T. rexes descended on a carcass with their massive heads and bone-crushing teeth.
April 1, 2022

First-of-its-kind research shows dangers of secondhand cannabis smoke

A new paper published March 30, 2022, in JAMA Network Open by authors Patton Khuu Nguyen, MPH, and Berkeley Public Health Professor of Environmental Health Sciences S. Katharine Hammond, is the first to quantify SHCS levels from social cannabis smoking using a bong in the home. The research reveals concentrations greatly exceeded those in homes with tobacco cigarette or hookah smoking and decayed very slowly, which suggests that, contrary to popular beliefs, bong smoking is not safe for those nearby.
April 1, 2022

Berkeley Voices: Biologist confronts deep roots of climate despair

In this Berkeley Voices episode, Bree Rosenblum, a professor of global change biology at UC Berkeley, talks about why we need to stop blaming each other for the environmental crisis that we’re in, and instead confront its root causes and expand our ideas of what it means to be human on our planet.
March 31, 2022

Now fully complete, human genome reveals new secrets

A three-year-old consortium has finally filled in remaining DNA, providing the first complete, gapless genome sequence for scientists and physicians to refer to. The newly completed genome, dubbed T2T-CHM13, represents a major upgrade from the current reference genome, called GRCh38, which is used by doctors when searching for mutations linked to disease, as well as by scientists looking at the evolution of human genetic variation.
March 31, 2022

Polynesian Island yields ‘treasure trove’ of fungal biodiversity

In a new study published today in the Journal of Biogeography, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, provide the first detailed description of the stunning array of fungi that make their home on the Polynesian island of Mo’orea. The collection includes more than 200 species of macrofungi — that is, fungi producing visible, fruiting bodies — many of which may be new to science.
March 30, 2022

UC Berkeley drills 400-foot borehole to explore geothermal heating on campus

Early this past Monday morning, a small team of University of California, Berkeley, engineers gathered around a two-story-tall drilling rig parked at an out-of-the-way spot on the north side of campus. As the overnight rain turned to drizzle, the team watched as a drilling crew used a massive 8-inch-wide drill bit to start punching a new borehole in the soil.
March 30, 2022

Monkeys often eat fruit containing alcohol, shedding light on our taste for booze

For 25 years, UC Berkeley biologist Robert Dudley has been intrigued by humans’ love of alcohol. In 2014, he wrote a book proposing that our attraction to booze arose millions of years ago, when our ape and monkey ancestors discovered that the scent of alcohol led them to ripe, fermenting and nutritious fruit. A new study now supports this idea, which Dudley calls the “drunken monkey” hypothesis.
March 24, 2022

How housing production, policies impact displacement

New research from UC Berkeley will provide lawmakers with previously unavailable data that pinpoint the impact that new housing production, rent stabilization and just-cause eviction policies have on residential displacement.
March 24, 2022

A month at war: Berkeley’s Ukrainian students turn shock, anger into action

Among the small community of Ukrainians and Ukrainian-Americans at UC Berkeley, other students tell similar stories. The invasion four weeks ago triggered a nearly overwhelming surge of anxiety and anger, but many have found ways to transform those emotions into action, sometimes working with anti-war Russian students and others from the region.
March 21, 2022

‘Off label’ use of imaging databases could lead to bias in AI algorithms, study finds

Significant advances in artificial intelligence (AI) over the past decade have relied upon extensive training of algorithms using massive, open-source databases. But when such datasets are used “off label” and applied in unintended ways, the results are subject to machine learning bias that compromises the integrity of the AI algorithm, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Texas at Austin.
March 21, 2022

With climate change, Berkeley snow lab’s mission remains critical

The lab has an unparalleled record, going back more than 75 years, of daily or even hourly temperature, snowfall and snowpack measurements. While there are several hundred automated snow and precipitation stations throughout the Sierra Nevada, only CSSL has a snow scientist on site to cross-check measurements — there are four different instruments in Schwartz’s backyard that measure precipitation — and provide a measure of the water content in the snow every two to three days.
March 18, 2022

Antabuse may help revive vision in people with progressive blinding disorders

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that a drug once widely used to wean alcoholics off of drinking helps to improve sight in mice with retinal degeneration, which may revive sight in humans with the inherited disease retinitis pigmentosa (RP), and perhaps in other vision disorders, including age-related macular degeneration.
March 18, 2022

Two endangered glass frogs discovered near Andean mining sites

An international team of biologists and researchers have identified two new species of endangered glass frogs near active mining areas in the Andes, discoveries they say highlight the region’s “cryptic diversity” while simultaneously underscoring the importance of conservation in a global hotspot for biodiversity.
March 17, 2022

Expand state-funded housing opportunities to combat homelessness

Our latest research paper, California’s Homekey Program: Unlocking Housing Opportunities for People Experiencing Homelessness, focuses on the lessons learned from Homekey, one of the most significant programs through which the state has stepped up its investments in addressing homelessness.
March 15, 2022

Using magical electrons for electrochemistry

In a study recently published in Nature Chemistry(link is external), a team led by Kwabena Bediako, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at UC Berkeley, in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University professor and theorist Venkat Viswanathan(link is external), has demonstrated that stacking two single layers of graphene with a slight rotation – a so-called twist – between the lattices can modulate the rate of an electrochemical reaction on the graphene surface.
March 15, 2022

Study answers questions about an elusive tiny molecule

A new study with implications for atmospheric chemistry has answered some long-enduring questions about the chemical reactivity of an air pollutant molecule with aerosol, revealing the vital role played by the interface between water and gas. The results carry impacts for environmental and climate science, as well as human health.
March 14, 2022

The Climate Crisis: Justice and Solutions

Despite the grim findings of the latest U.N. Climate Report, UC Berkeley associate adjunct professor and report lead author Patrick Gonzalez expresses a “science-based optimism” about humanity’s ability to cut carbon emissions and limit the worst projected impacts of climate change.
March 14, 2022

How Indigenous burning shaped the Klamath’s forests for a millennia

A new study published online today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences combines scientific data with Indigenous oral histories and ecological knowledge to show how the cultural burning practices of the Native people of the Klamath Mountains — the Karuk and the Yurok tribes — helped shape the region’s forests for at least a millennia prior to European colonization.
March 13, 2022

What Putin’s war in Ukraine means for our global climate crisis

Since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine just over two weeks ago, payments to Russia for fossil fuels have already exceeded 9 billion euros ($10 billion) from European Union member states alone, according to the Europe Beyond Coal’s tracker. And while the war in Ukraine came as shocking news to many, the involvement of the fossil fuel industry in a global disaster is no longer unfamiliar.
March 11, 2022

X-Ray Crystallography Goes Even Tinier

Supported by high-performance computing resources at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have debuted a new form of X-ray crystallography that gets around some of these limits, broadening the range of materials and processes that can be investigated using crystallography.
March 9, 2022

Study shows more air pollution in areas of historical redlining

Historic patterns of housing discrimination dating from the 1930s still drive air pollution disparities in hundreds of American cities today, according to a major new study from a team of researchers at UC Berkeley and the University of Washington.
March 4, 2022

Berkeley Voices: ‘The past will be present when Roe falls’

In this Berkeley Voices episode, Berkeley Law professor Khiara M. Bridges discusses the history of reproductive rights in the U.S., what’s at stake when Roe v. Wade is overturned and why we should expand our fight for reproductive justice.
March 1, 2022

Did rapid spin delay 2017 collapse of neutron stars into black hole?

When two neutron stars spiral into one another and merge to form a black hole — an event recorded in 2017 by gravitational wave detectors and telescopes worldwide — does it immediately become a black hole? Or does it take a while to spin down before gravitationally collapsing past the event horizon into a black hole? Ongoing observations of that 2017 merger by the Chandra X-ray Observatory, an orbiting telescope, suggests the latter: that the merged object stuck around, likely for a mere second, before undergoing ultimate collapse.
March 1, 2022

As the World Watches Ukraine, Berkeley Law Experts Discuss Recent Events and What to Expect

As the fighting in Ukraine continued Feb. 28, some of Berkeley Law’s international law experts gathered to discuss the legal and strategic implications of what’s happened — and what might come next. The hybrid roundtable drew a crowd in person and online and was moderated by Berkeley Law Professor Katerina Linos and co-sponsored by the office of Dean Erwin Chemerinsky and the school’s Miller Institute for Global Challenges and the Law, where Linos is the co-faculty director.
March 1, 2022

HYPPO: Leveraging Prediction Uncertainty to Optimize Deep Learning Models for Science

Leveraging support from the Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), a team of researchers in the Computing Sciences Area has developed a new software tool for conducting hyperparameter optimization (HPO) of deep neural networks while taking into account the prediction uncertainty that arises from using stochastic optimizers for training the models.
February 28, 2022

Berkeley Talks: UC Berkeley experts on the invasion of Ukraine

In episode 135 of Berkeley Talks, UC Berkeley political scientist George Breslauer and economics professor Yuriy Gorodnichenko discuss Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine — what his motivations are and how they compare to Adolf Hitler’s and Joseph Stalin’s, if the invasion was avoidable and what should be done about it.
February 28, 2022

U.S. patent appeal board rules against UC in CRISPR interference

Today (Feb. 28) the Patent and Trial Appeal Board (PTAB) of the U.S .Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued its decision in the interference proceeding relating to the use of the foundational CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing system in eukaryotic cells, that is, plants and animals.
February 25, 2022

With defiance and solidarity, Berkeley’s Ukrainian scholars respond to invasion

In the hours immediately following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Berkeley News asked Ukrainian faculty and students at UC Berkeley for their reactions. Their thoughts ranged across issues of family, geopolitics and justice, but each of them, in their own ways, expressed shock and defiance — and hope that the global community would rally to protect democracy and freedom.
February 25, 2022

New simulations refine axion mass, refocusing dark matter search

Physicists searching — unsuccessfully — for today’s most favored candidate for dark matter, the axion, have been looking in the wrong place, according to a new supercomputer simulation of how axions were produced shortly after the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago.
February 24, 2022

Putin’s war and its economic and geopolitical realities

We must do what we can to contain Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine. But we also need to be clear-eyed about it, and face the costs. As I’ve said before, economics can’t be separated from politics, and neither can be separated from history. Here are eight sobering realities.
February 23, 2022

New Project Tracking Campaign to Curtail Reproductive Rights Showcases Cross-Campus Alliance

Berkeley Law’s Human Rights Center(opens in a new tab) has exposed war crimes, atrocities, and other international law violations around the globe for nearly 30 years. A new project that’s just been released instead scrutinizes a domestic issue: the legal, scientific, and medical campaign to curtail reproductive rights, as part of a collaboration with the Investigative Reporting Program at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
February 11, 2022

Thwarting disinformation, defending democracy — scholar sees a new approach

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter— in the space of barely a decade, these massive data platforms and others have transformed society. But each is like a black box: While they are blamed for undermining public health and eroding democracy, and while their profits mount to tens of billions of dollars every year, their innermost operations are largely hidden from view.
February 11, 2022

Slicing the way to wearable sensor prototypes

Engineers at UC Berkeley have developed a new technique for making wearable sensors that enables medical researchers to prototype test new designs much faster and at a far lower cost than existing methods.
February 8, 2022

Our mathematical reasoning is shaped by language and culture, studies show

Some cultures are fixated on numbers. Others don’t even have words for numbers. And then there’s Bolivia’s Indigenous Tsimane’ community, which has members who can count indefinitely, and others who can’t count beyond the “number words” they know, according to a new UC Berkeley study.
February 3, 2022

Racial resentment: The insidious force that divides America

Centuries of slavery, Jim Crow laws and other structural racism have imposed far-reaching costs on Black individuals and communities. What sets the current era apart is wide acceptance among Americans that racism is wrong and harmful. But where blunt racial prejudice has faded, racial resentment is potent, but widely misunderstood.
February 3, 2022

Losing amphibian diversity also means losing poison diversity

While frog and salamander declines worldwide have made scientists outspoken about the need to preserve amphibian genetic diversity, two University of California, Berkeley, biologists emphasize another important reason for conserving these animals: their poisons.
February 1, 2022

Lessons on wildfire resilience from a 4,000-acre forest lab

For more than 50 years, York and other Berkeley forestry researchers have used Blodgett as a living laboratory to study how different land management treatments — including prescribed burning, restoration thinning and timber harvesting — can reduce the risk of severe wildfire and improve a forest’s resilience to the impacts of climate change.
January 28, 2022

Berkeley Talks: The EU in crisis

The co-editors of The Palgrave Handbook of EU Crises discuss their research that explores the European Union’s institutional and policy responses to crises across policy domains and institutions, including the Euro crisis, Brexit, the Ukraine crisis, the refugee crisis and the global health crisis caused by COVID-19.
January 26, 2022

AAAS adds ten new fellows from UC Berkeley

Ten members of the UC Berkeley community – including nine faculty and one staff member — have been elected American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) fellows, one of the most distinctive honors within the scientific community.
January 24, 2022

Could Ukraine be a tombstone for Russian power? Or for the Western alliance?

Berkeley News talked with two veteran Russia scholars: George Breslauer and M. Steven Fish, both political scientists at UC Berkeley. Based on their decades of research and experience with contemporary Russia, they offered compelling insights into the mind and heart of Russia’s leader: his immediate objectives in Ukraine and his overarching vision for Russia. They also reflected on the U.S. response to Putin’s military threat, the field of options for both sides, and possible long-term scenarios.
January 13, 2022

Copper-based chemicals may be contributing to ozone depletion

Copper released into the environment from fungicides, brake pads, antifouling paints on boats and other sources may be contributing significantly to stratospheric ozone depletion, according to a new study from the University of California, Berkeley.
January 12, 2022

Some birds sing the same song for hundreds of thousands of years

A new study by biologists from the University of California, Berkeley, and Missouri State University in Springfield, however, documents songs in East African sunbirds that have remained nearly unchanged for more than 500,000 years, and perhaps for as long as 1 million years, making the songs nearly indistinguishable from those of relatives from which they’ve long been separated.
January 12, 2022

Like our social media feeds, our brains take a little while to update

Like our social media feeds, our brains are constantly uploading rich, visual stimuli. But instead of seeing the latest image in real time, we actually see earlier versions because our brain’s refresh time is about 15 seconds, according to new UC Berkeley research.
January 11, 2022

Study: Safe drinking water remains out of reach for many Californians

An estimated 370,000 Californians rely on drinking water that may contain high levels of the chemicals arsenic, nitrate or hexavalent chromium, and contaminated drinking water disproportionately impact communities of color in the state, finds a new analysis led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, Los Angeles.
January 7, 2022

Anxiety and PTSD linked to increased myelin in brain

A recent study links anxiety behavior in rats, as well as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in military veterans, to increased myelin — a substance that expedites communication between neurons — in areas of the brain associated with emotions and memory.
January 6, 2022

Astronomers see death throes of giant star before violent explosion

Astronomers have long suspected that massive stars become red supergiants at the end of their lives, hiccup a few times and then explode in a classic supernova visible across the universe. But no one had ever seen this scenario play out in a single star -- until now.