Third human species discovered in Siberian cave

The discovery of a finger bone in a Siberian cave has led researchers, including UC Berkeley's Montgomery Slatkin, to conclude that there were three species of humans living 40,000 years ago. The new species, dubbed Denisovans, were neither modern humans nor Neanderthals, though they apparently bred with our ancestors.

Learning to Read the Genome

LBNL and UC Berkeley researchers have gone beyond the mere genetic sequence of the fruit fly to reveal the RNA and chromatin structures that tell us how cells work. The new analysis of the fruit fly and roundworm genomes was performed by the modENCODE team.

Smartphone users can report sudden oak death

To get a broader perspective on sudden oak death, which has felled hundreds of thousands of California's majestic oaks, UC Berkeley scientists have developed a smartphone app for hikers and other nature lovers to report trees they find that have succumbed to the disease.

Engineers take plasmon lasers out of deep freeze

UC Berkeley researchers have developed a new technique that allows plasmon lasers to operate at room temperature, overcoming a major barrier to practical utilization of the technology. Previous plasmon laser devices required temperatures as low as minus 450 degrees Fahrenheit to function properly.

2010 Livable Buildings Awards salute UCSF, Kavli projects

Kavli projects The top 2010 Livable Buildings Award from the University of California, Berkeley's Center for the Built Environment (CBE) goes to UC San Francisco for its transformation of the shell of a former manufacturing plant near UCSF's new Mission Bay research campus into environmentally and user friendly offices.

First measurement of magnetic field in Earth's core

Measurements of the magnetic field at the earth's surface can tell only so much about the dynamo producing the field in the planet's core. UC Berkeley geophysicist Bruce Buffett has now used precise astronomical position data to calculate tidal damping in the core and determine for the first time the magnetic field in the center of the planet. The measurement, 25 Gauss, is in the middle of what various scientists have predicted.

Emotional intelligence peaks as we enter our 60s, research suggests

Older people have a hard time keeping a lid on their feelings, especially when viewing heartbreaking or disgusting scenes in movies and reality shows, psychologists have found. But they’re better than their younger counterparts at seeing the positive side of a stressful situation and empathizing with the less fortunate, according to research from UC Berkeley.

Faces of Immigration Studies at Cal

The field of immigration studies at Berkeley is growing rapidly. Faculty research and courses examining the intersections of migration, race, citizenship, and politics have grown in recent years along with the changing demographics of the student population.

Project will monitor tremor activity beneath San Andreas Fault

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has donated $1.2 million to the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory to install a small network of earthquake sensors around the San Andreas Fault at Cholame to monitor faint tremors that have been discovered in the area.

Our brains are wired so we can better hear ourselves speak, new study shows

Like the mute button on the TV remote control, our brains filter out unwanted noise so we can focus on what we’re listening to. But when it comes to following our own speech, a new brain study from UC Berkeley shows that instead of one homogenous mute button, we have a network of volume settings that can selectively silence and amplify the sounds we make and hear.

Probing the haphazard rise of harsh supermaximum prisons

Across the nation, 25,000 high-risk prisoners are currently housed in "supermaximum" units designed for extreme sensory and social deprivation. Berkeley grad student Keramet Reiter — researching the rise of this harsh form of confinement — has pored through archives and listened to former prisoners' powerful accounts of near-total isolation and its psychological effects.

Survey highlights impact of war in northern Uganda

Just a few years ago, nearly all northern Ugandans were living in displacement camps as the Lord's Resistance Army terrorized the countryside. A new survey of northern Ugadans, conducted by the Human Rights Center, offers a rare snapshot of the relative calm that now prevails in the area, but also highlights widespread fears that the peace is only temporary.

New Report Provides Blueprint to Create Family Security Insurance

Researchers at Berkeley Law and Georgetown Law have released a blueprint for a national insurance program — which would replace wages when people need to take time off for health and care-giving. The report says this need is no longer an issue for individual families or select industries, but a national priority with major social and economic implications.

Museum web sites lauded by Science Magazine

Two online projects of the campus's Museum of Paleontology — "Understanding Evolution" and "Understanding Science" — have won Science's Prize for Online Resources in Education. The sites are one-stop shops for science teachers and get as many as 2.75 million page views per month during the school year.

Minimum wage hikes don’t eliminate jobs, study finds

Increasing the minimum wage does not lead to the short- or long-term loss of low paying jobs, according to a new study co-authored by UC Berkeley economics professor Michael Reich and published in the November issue of the journal The Review of Economics and Statistics.

Reserves give species new lease on life

The International Union for Conservation of Nature this year singled out the University of California's system of 36 natural reserves — a haven for the state's diverse ecosystems and species for nearly half a century — as one of the "20 best biodiversity success stories." Read more about the efforts by the reserves to reintroduce and foster the survival of endangered and threatened species.

Study shows a third of the lead in our air comes from Asia

In a first-of-its-kind study, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab scientists tracked the amount of lead transported across the Pacific over time. About a third of the airborne lead particles recently collected at two sites in the Bay Area came from Asia. The finding underscores the far-flung impacts of air pollution.

Jet lagged and forgetful? It's no coincidence

Holiday travel can leave people cranky and tired, in part because of jet lag, the result of your body's internal clock being out of synch with your current time zone. For chronic travelers, it's more than a passing annoyance, however. A new study shows that chronic jet lag can cause long-term brain changes that lead to memory and learning problems for at least a month after return to a normal schedule.

Jupiter gets its stripe back

Astronomers using three telescopes atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii have recorded the return of a unique belt on Jupiter that periodically fades from dark brown to white. It's most recent fade-out started earlier this year, but November observations show the brown returning. It appears that reflected sunlight off high elevation clouds of ammonia ice have been blocking our view of the darker clouds below.

Lactate-uptake mechanism may fuel the injured brain

The same basic biological mechanism that helps athletes develop endurance on a treadmill may someday help to save and improve the lives of patients with traumatic brain injuries, according to UC Berkeley Professor George Brooks and colleagues at UCLA. ScienceMatters@Berkeley describes the research and its potential medical application.

Will Ireland go bankrupt? Economic historian sheds light on latest eurozone crisis

UC Berkeley economic historian Barry Eichengreen, an expert on the international monetary and financial system, discussed the Irish economic crisis at a campus seminar Nov. 17. He said Ireland needs to restructure much of the bank debt that its government has effectively taken onto its balance sheet — debt that could reach a staggering 130 percent of GDP in the coming year.

Antihydrogen trapped for first time

The particle accelerators at CERN in Geneva produce scads of antiprotons, which five years ago were combined at high speed with positrons to create for the first time antimatter atoms: antihydrogen. Those atoms annihilated with normal matter within microseconds, but an international team involving UC Berkeley and LBNL physicists has succeeded in slowing such atoms down and trapping them for a tenth of a second. This will allow experiments on a type of matter that hasn't been available since shortly after the Big Bang 14 billion years ago.

IRLE's conference on "New Deal/No Deal?"

In the midst of forecasts of continuing economic woes and congressional gridlock, experts gathered recently at UC Berkeley to assess what worked and what didn’t during the Great Depression-inspired New Deal, the Obama administration’s still emerging efforts to ease the Great Recession, and prospects for relief, reform and recovery.

A New Twist for Nanopillar Light Collectors

UC Berkeley researchers have created unique dual-diameter nanopillars – narrow at the top, broad at the bottom – that absorb light as well or even better than commercial thin-film solar cells, using far less semiconductor material and without the need for anti-reflective coating.

$1 million grant to steer undergraduates into research

The Amgen Foundation has renewed a four-year, $1 million grant to UC Berkeley that to date has introduced 94 undergraduate students from a range of colleges and universities to laboratory research and steered more than three-quarters of them into graduate level research.

Jillian Banfield to receive Franklin Medal, L'Oreal-UNESCO award

Jillian Banfield, a biogeochemist and geomicrobiologist, will receive two prestigious awards – the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Earth and Environmental Science and the L-Oréal-UNESCO "For Women in Science" award – for her groundbreaking work on how microbes alter rocks and interact with the natural world.

Novel metamaterial vastly improves quality of ultrasound imaging

New "metamaterials" can overcome some of the limitations of microscopes and imagers, including ultrasound imagers. Researchers in the Nano-scale Science & Engineering Center have come up with a metamaterial to improve the picture quality of ultrasound by a factor of 50.

Neutron stars may be too weak to power some gamma-ray bursts

Long-duration gamma-ray bursts flash across the universe to signal the collapse of a massive star, but this collapsar model predicts either a neutron star or a black hole is left behind. New calculations of the energy released by gamma-ray bursts find it too large to be powered by a neutron star, even highly magnetized, spinning magnetars. Thus, UC Berkeley astronomers conclude, the likely power source is a black hole.

Phantom images stored in flexible network throughout brain

The ability to store phantom images in our brain in order to make visual comparisons is impaired by damage to the prefrontal cortex, but intact regions of the prefrontal cortex pick up the slack in less than a second. Damage to the basal ganglia, however, causes more widespread impairment of visual working memory. New studies by UC Berkeley neuroscientists show how the prefrontal cortex flexibly picks up new functions while retaining old.

Grant launches Berkeley Economic History Lab

The University of California, Berkeley’s Department of Economics is the recipient of a $1.25 million grant from the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) to develop a Berkeley Economic History Laboratory to train more historically literate economists who can contribute to policy debates and help avoid devastating economic crises.

Neural circuit ensures zebrafish will not bite off more than it can chew

UC Berkeley neuroscientists have found that when zebrafish larvae see large objects, like leaves or other zebrafish, inhibitory nerve cells fire in the brain to tamp down a prey response. But when the larvae see small, prey-size objects, fewer inhibitory nerve cells fire and the fish quickly responds. This simple neural circuit helps explain the visual filters that enable prey capture.

A Wiki for the Biofuels Research Community

Biofuels hold great promise as an alternative to greenhouse-gas-generating gasoline, if a cost-effective means of commercial production can be found. Professor Harvey Blanch and other researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute have designed an online wiki that allows experts to collectively analyze and discuss biorefinery data and production costs.

Study says solar systems like ours may be common

A survey of 166 nearby stars like our sun reveals increasing numbers of smaller planets down to the smallest detectable planets - about three times more massive than the earth. If this trend continues, UC Berkeley astronomers estimate, one of every four sun-like stars may have an earth-like planet.

Out of THEMIS, ARTEMIS: Earth's loss is moon's gain

Two of the five probes in the THEMIS mission have been redirected toward new orbits around the moon, extending UC Berkeley's study of the earth and moon's interaction with the solar wind. The new mission, dubbed ARTEMIS, began science operations Oct. 21 when the second of the two probes entered a parking orbit on the Earth-facing side of the moon.

Lab team detects six new isotopes - Cyclotron study of superheavy elements

A team of scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has detected six isotopes, never seen before. Information gained from the new isotopes will contribute to a better understanding of the theory of nuclear shell structure, which underlies predictions of an “Island of Stability,” a group of long-lasting isotopes thought to exist amidst a sea of much shorter-lived, intrinsically unstable isotopes of the superheavy elements.

Flight delays cost $32.9 billion, passengers foot half the bill

Delays from domestic flights put a $32.9 million dent into the U.S. economy, and half that cost is borne by airline passengers, according to a new report led by UC Berkeley researchers. The final report was delivered Oct. 18 to the Federal Aviation Administration, which commissioned the study.

Researchers examine California public, private workers’ pay, total compensation

California taxpayers are not overpaying or overcompensating their state and local workers compared to private sector employers, according to a policy brief released today (Monday, Oct. 18) by the Center on Wages and Employment Dynamics at UC Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment.Wages earned by California’s public employees are about 7 percent lower, on average, than those received by comparable private sector workers, according to the report. However, the researchers concluded that when taking into account the more generous benefits of government employees, there is no significant difference in the level of total compensation between the two sectors.

Scientists find signals that make cell nucleus blow up like a balloon

The size of a cell's nucleus varies by species, by cell type, and with disease: many cancer cells develop larger nuclei as they become more malignant. Working with the African clawed frog, Professor Rebecca Heald and post-doc Daniel Levy have discovered two proteins that control the size of the nucleus.

Focusing on a key event in life of a chromosome

If chromosomes are to separate properly during cell division, the microtubules in the cell must grab onto them and pull them apart. The place where the microtubules latch on is a large molecular complex called the kinetochore. Eva Nogales and her UC Berkeley/LBNL team have created the first high-resolution image of this junction and identified regulators that prevent errors that can lead to cancer or death.

Study shows females the equal of males in math skills

A large-scale analysis of existing research reinforces the growing consensus that the mathematical skills of boys and girls, as well as men and women, are substantially equal. The study team, including Marcia Linn, Berkeley professor of education, reviewed 242 research articles assessing the math skills of nearly 1.3 million people.

Doudna elected to Institute of Medicine

Jennifer Doudna has been elected a member of the Institute of Medicine, considered one of the highest honors in the fields of medicine and health. A professor of molecular and cell biology and an LBNL scientist, Doudna is one of only 12 IOM members on the UC Berkeley faculty.

NASA mission asks why Mars has almost no atmosphere

NASA has approved a mission to Mars called MAVEN that will collect data to understand why and how Mars lost its atmosphere. Half the instruments will be built at UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory under the direction of physicist Robert Lin.

Air pollution alters immune function, worsens asthma symptoms

Exposure to dirty air is linked to decreased function of a gene that appears to increase the severity of asthma in children, according to a joint study by researchers at Stanford University and UC Berkeley. While air pollution is known to be a source of immediate inflammation, this new study provides one of the first pieces of direct evidence that explains how some ambient air pollutants could have long-term effects.

X-rays linked to increased childhood leukemia risk

Diagnostic X-rays may increase the risk of developing childhood leukemia, according to a new study by UC Berkeley researchers. Specifically, the researchers found that children with acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL) had almost twice the chance of having been exposed to three or more X-rays compared with children who did not have leukemia.

Three UC Berkeley researchers receive NIH 'innovator' awards

Three UC Berkeley faculty members - Diana Bautista, Amy Herr and Donald Rio - have been singled out as innovators by the National Institutes of Health and will receive special grants designed to fund "transformative research" that could lead to major advances in medical science.

Women who get dental care have lower risk of heart disease, says study

A new study led by a UC Berkeley health researcher suggests that women who get dental care reduce their risk of heart attacks, stroke and other cardiovascular problems by at least one-third. The findings add to a growing body of research linking gum disease with risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

National Research Council ranks UC Berkeley's Ph.D. programs among nation's best

The first detailed survey since 1995 of doctoral programs at the nation's research universities shows that UC Berkeley continues to have the largest number of highly ranked graduate programs in the country. The rankings, by the National Research Council, confirm "that UC Berkeley is the nation’s preeminent public university for doctoral studies in a huge number and wide variety of disciplines," said graduate dean Andrew Szeri.

Two young faculty members named MacArthur 'genius' fellows

Two UC Berkeley faculty members, economist Emmanuel Saez and computer scientist Dawn Song, have been named MacArthur "genius" Fellows. They are among 23 recipients to receive the prestigious award – $500,000 in unrestricted funds over the next five years – announced Sept. 28 by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Fungal spores travel farther by surfing their own wind

Many fungi, including the destructive Sclerotinia, spew thousands of spores at once to give the spores an extra boost into their host plants. UC Berkeley, Harvard and Cornell researchers now show how this works. The near-simultaneous ejection of spores reduces drag to nearly zero and creates a wind that carries some of the spores 20 times farther than a single spore could travel solo.

Right or left? Brain stimulation can change the hand you favor

Each time we perform a simple task, like pushing an elevator button or reaching for a cup of coffee, the brain races to decide whether the left or right hand will do the job. But the left hand is more likely to win if a certain region of the brain receives magnetic stimulation, according to new research from UC Berkeley.

For neurons to work as a team, it helps to have a beat

When it comes to conducting complex tasks, it turns out that the brain needs rhythm, according to UC Berkeley researchers. Neuroscientists have found that cortical rhythms, or oscillations, can effectively rally groups of neurons in widely dispersed regions of the brain to engage in coordinated activity, much like a conductor will summon up various sections of an orchestra in a symphony.

Father absence linked to earlier puberty among certain girls

Girls in homes without a biological father are more likely to hit puberty at an earlier age, according to a new study led by researchers at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. The findings held only for girls in higher income households, and even after the girls’ weight was taken into account

Amateur astronomers track asteroids as they impact Jupiter

In 1994, amateur astronomers discovered the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 that made a dramatic impact on the planet Jupiter. They have found three small asteroid impacts on the planet since then — the most recent in August — providing helpful information for astronomers trying to assess the danger from near-Earth asteroids.

Researchers expand yeast's sugary diet to include plant fiber

Yeast cells don't normally eat complex sugars or carbohydrates, only simple sugars like glucose and sucrose. UC Berkeley's Jamie Cate and colleagues have now added genes to yeast that allow it to eat more complex sugars, called cellodextrins. These yeast could find use in the biofuels industry, which hopes to use cellulosic plant fibers to make alcohol.

Prop. 23 creates legal turmoil, cuts state revenue, reduces job growth

An independent analysis of Proposition 23 says the initiative would create legal uncertainty, reduce California state revenue, and jeopardize new and existing clean energy jobs. The white paper, released today by UC Berkeley School of Law's Center for Law, Energy & the Environment, reports Prop. 23 would also slow California's efforts to reduce climate change and could have a domino effect on other states.

Dan Kammen Appointed to World Bank

Energy-policy expert Dan Kammen has been appointed to a new position at the World Bank, where he will help distribute billions of dollars to developing countries to improve energy efficiency and foster low-carbon, renewable sources of energy.

Two scientists receive DOE grant for biofuels 'crop residue' research

Plant biologists Markus Pauly and Sarah Hake have been awarded a three-year, $793,000 grant from the Department of Energy for research on the genetic diversity of corn. They hope to identify and develop strains of corn with higher yields of fermentable sugars, allowing the plant's stems and leaves to be used for fuel production.

NASA Selects Investigations for First Mission to Encounter the Sun

NASA has chosen a UC Berkeley experiment and three others to fly aboard Solar Probe Plus, a satellite scheduled for launch in 2018 to explore the sun's million-degree atmosphere. Physicist Stuart Bale, director of the Space Sciences Lab, will lead development of instruments to detect radio emissions, magnetic fields, shock waves and dust as the spacecraft plunges into the sun.

Ecology and epidemiology in the age of GPS

Berkeley professor Wayne Getz uses global positioning technology, along with his background in mathematics, to help conserve zebra, buffalo and other animals in his native South Africa. In the process, he is helping to train the next generation of African-born ecologists.

UC Berkeley researchers launch high-tech transit study in Bay Area commute hot-spot

A new pilot project by transportation researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, seeks to determine whether commuters will use transit more often if they are provided with accessible, current and information-rich transit, parking and traffic options before they start their journeys. The field test takes place along the US 101 corridor between San Jose and San Francisco, one of the busiest commute routes in the Bay Area, and provides a comparison of real-time traffic, bus and Caltrain information for custom-selected routes.

NSF funds interdisciplinary team's grey water disinfection plan

A UC Berkeley team has been awarded a $2 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for research on biologically-inspired technologies for grey water reuse and thermal energy management that may propel sustainable building into a new era.The grant comes from the NSF’s Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation’s 2010 Science in Energy and Environmental Design program for engineering sustainable buildings. Leading UC Berkeley’s award-winning research team as principal investigator is Maria Paz-Gutierrez, assistant professor of architecture in the College of Environmental Design, and the only architect serving as principal investigator for any of the NSF’s eight EFRI-SEED grants this year.

North American continent is a layer cake, scientists discover

The North American continent is not one thick, rigid slab, but a layer cake of ancient, 3 billion-year-old rock on top of much newer material probably less than 1 billion years old, according to a new study by UC Berkeley seismologists. The new findings by Barbara Romanowicz and Huaiyu Yuan also indicate that the continent grew by addition of rock from subducting ocean floor, not by mantle plume upwelling from below.

Sunlight spawns many binary and 'divorced' binary asteroids

Sunlight spawns many binary and 'divorced' binary asteroids Asteroids that are slightly out of round can start spinning because of impinging sunlight. A new study by Czech astronomers and their international colleagues, including UC Berkeley's Franck Marchis, suggests that over millions of years, these asteroids may spin fast enough to fission into a binary asteroid system. The two bound asteroids eventually move far apart to become independent asteroids, or a "divorced" binary.

Researcher tweaks cells with mRNA, in quest to improve antivirals

Berkeley biochemist Britt Glaunsinger studies the cell-takeover tactics of herpes viruses. "Antivirals only work on viruses that are replicating," she says. Discovering ways "to lure latent viruses out of hiding, en masse," is critical to curing herpes, shingles, or HIV.

Einstein@Home's pulsar discovery proves value of volunteer computing

One of the world's most popular volunteer computing projects, Einstein@Home, has discovered an unusual pulsar from data captured by the giant radio dish in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. The project, built on UC Berkeley's BOINC platform, demonstrates the scientific value of volunteer computing.

UC Berkeley alters DNA testing program

The California Department of Public Health has instructed the University of California, Berkeley, not to proceed with a portion of its ground-breaking program to educate students about genetic testing and personalized medicine.

Frog evolution tracks rise of Himalayas and rearrangement of Southeast Asia

The spiny frogs of Asia have hard, nubby spines on their chests and arms and Popeye-like forearms in order to securely grasp females during mating in swift-flowing streams. Kunming Institute of Zoology and UC Berkeley biologists have conducted a genetic analysis of 24 species of spiny frogs to track the rise of the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau that led to their diversification.

UC Berkeley psychologists bring science of happiness to China

As the ranks of China's millionaires continue to grow, the pursuit of wealth in the nation is fast outpacing mental health and wellbeing, according to psychologists at the University of California, Berkeley, who are seeking to correct that imbalance and spread the science of happiness in China.

Coral tests show fast construction pace for Polynesian temples

Ancient Polynesians went from building small-scale temples to constructing monumental, pyramid-shaped temples in just 140 years, not in four or five centuries as previously calculated, according to research led by a University of California, Berkeley, anthropologist and published this week in the print edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Capturing carbon

Researchers at Berkeley and other universities to find ways to capture carbon dioxide, produced by burning coal and natural gas, from the waste stream of power plants so that it can be sequestered underground.

Tibetans adapted to high altitude in less than 3,000 years

UC Berkeley's Rasmus Nielsen teamed up with Chinese researchers to compare the genomes of Tibetans living above 14,000 feet to Han Chinese living at essentially sea level. They found that within the last 3,000 years, Tibetans evolved genetic mutations in a number of genes having to do with how the body deals with oxygen, making it possible for Tibetans to thrive at high altitudes while their Han relatives cannot.

Labor Center launches monthly black jobs report

UC Berkeley's Center for Labor Research and Education officially launched a series of monthly reports that highlight the employment outlook in the black community as national jobless numbers hover around 10 percent and African Americans fare far worse.The Labor Center's "Black Employment and Unemployment" detailed data brief for June will be available online shortly after researchers assess a monthly national jobs report to be issued Friday from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

California high-speed rail ridership forecast not reliable, study finds

The California High-Speed Rail Authority's forecasts of demand and ridership for a new San Francisco-to-Los Angeles high-speed train are not reliable because they are based on an inconsistent model, according to a new study by researchers at UC Berkeley's Institute of Transportation Studies. The study is the first academic review of the rail authority's ridership forecasts, which was included in California's successful application for federal stimulus dollars.

Experiment tests underpinnings of quantum field theory, Bose-Einstein statistics of photons

The world of elementary particles is divided between bosons, such as photons, and fermions, including electrons and neutrinos. Fermions and bosons play by separate rules, which makes chemistry possible as well as superconductivity. But do bosons sometimes play by fermion rules? Two UC Berkeley physicists asked that question, and found — so far — that the answer is, no.

A Taste of Andean History

Of all of the advances people have developed over the millennia, food plants may be the most important. By examining the plant remains on early settlements, Berkeley professor of anthropology Christine Hastorf pieces together how ancient peoples worked, ate, traded and worshiped.

Botanical Garden braces for blooming corpse plant

The UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley, nestled in Strawberry Canyon just above the central campus, features a mind-boggling 12,000 kinds of plants and breathtaking views of the Bay Area. The term breathtaking soon will describe the rotten flesh-like stench of the garden’s about-to-blossom Titan Arum, aka the corpse plant

New gecko species identified in West African rain forests

Using a new statistical method to compare the genes of 50 specimens of the West African forest gecko, two former UC Berkeley students have determined that the widely distributed species is actually four distinct species that appear to have evolved over the past 100,000 years as the rain forest fragmented with increasing aridification.

New bacterial signaling molecule could lead to improved vaccines

In a 20-year quest to determine why Listeria bacteria produce a uniquely strong immune response in humans, UC Berkeley scientists have found part of the answer: an unsuspected signaling molecule that the bacteria pump out and which ramps up production of interferon by the host. Interferon mobilizes the immune system to fight off bacteria and viruses.

Earthquake simulation shows off the potential for safer bridges

With a series of computer-controlled earthquakes, simulating some of the most devastating in recent memory, engineers from Berkeley's Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER) showed off new technology designed to keep bridges not just from collapsing in a catastrophic temblor but open to traffic. A 30-foot scale-model bridge, set up on the shake table (earthquake simulator) at the Richmond Field Station, was the star of the show, put on by Berkeley's Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER).

Study finds governor’s budget would cost jobs, economic output

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's cuts-only approach to balancing the state budget will leave deep economic scars, according to a new report issued today (Thursday, May 27) by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. But it adds that balancing cuts with targeted revenue increases would save nearly 250,000 jobs - half of them in the private sector.

IGS goes Web 2.0 with information resource on state propositions

The University of California, Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) is taking a decidedly Web 2.0 tack to help voters sort through the facts, fiction and political posturing around five propositions on the state's June 8 primary election ballot. IGS has collaborated to produce California Choices, a comprehensive resource guide with a unique and colorful multimedia presence and an online tool that, along with a wealth of related data, lets voters electronically share their personal positions on ballot propositions.

STEREO, SOHO spacecraft catch comet diving into sun

Four UC Berkeley post-doctoral fellows have tracked a comet deeper into the sun's atmosphere than ever before, just short of its evaporation in the photosphere using instruments aboard NASA's twin STEREO spacecraft.

Bobbing for carbon

Marine plankton convert a huge portion of the carbon in seawater into seafood. Exactly how much of this biological carbon gets stored in the oceans has a tremendous impact on future climate scenarios. Jim Bishop, a Berkeley professor of earth and planetary science, has designed robots that can measure ocean carbon in all seasons and weathers—critical data for a warming world.

Preventing cells from getting the kinks out of DNA

A new discovery by UC Berkeley biochemists could pave the way for new research into how to re-design some of the standard antibiotic and anti-cancer drugs to make them more effective poisons for cancer cells and harmful bacteria.

Scientists benefit as much as students from "Cleantech to Market" program

Launched as a pilot project at Berkeley Lab, the Cleantech to Market program is finishing its first semester as an official class at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, and it's safe to say the students learned more than they expected on how to take a technology from the laboratory to the marketplace. What was less expected is how much the scientists got out of the program.

On the Trail of Cellular Mysteries

UC Berkeley assistant professor of bioengineering Mohammad Mofrad has been busy uncovering the mysteries of how human cells behave when physical force is applied to them, working at the exact intersection of engineering and biology.

Biotech incubator opens its doors at UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley's QB3 will launch a biotech incubator on May 6, hoping to duplicate the success of a similar incubator at QB3's Mission Bay outpost. UC Berkeley grad Wesley Chang, CEO of the start-up Aperys, LLC, is the first tenant of the QB3 Garage@Berkeley.

Proposition 16 would protect utility monopoly and block public power

An independent analysis of Proposition 16 finds that it would protect the monopoly status of investor-owned energy utilities and block the development of publicly-owned electric power companies, if passed by California voters. The initiative could also slow the development of renewable energy, according to a white paper released by the UC Berkeley School of Law's Center for Law, Energy & the Environment.

Downsizing the prison-industrial complex

California has created, through its laws and policies, a hugely bloated correctional system, says Barry Krisberg, a well-known advocate of criminal-justice reform. With 170,000 prisoners held in dozens of overcrowded facilities located mostly in rural areas, the system is financially unsustainable — setting the stage, potentially, for smarter policies, he says.

Weird, ultra-small microbes turn up in acidic mine drainage

For nearly a decade, Jillian Banfield and her UC Berkeley colleagues have been studying the microbe community that lives in one of the most acidic environments on Earth: the drainage from a former copper mine in Northern California. One group of these microbes seems to be smaller, and weirder, than any other known, free-living organism.

Scientists report first genome sequence of frog

The African clawed frog, Xenopus, has helped scientists understand how embryos develop and the many chemical reactions going on inside dividing cells. Now, scientists report the first draft genome sequence of Xenopus, setting the stage for a more complete genetic analysis of this popular frog.

California Assembly committee endorses statistician's election auditing method

Since 1965, California counties have been required to hand tally one percent of all ballots after an election to validate the machine count, despite the fact that available auditing techniques lack any statistical basis. UC Berkeley's Philip Stark has now provided statistically sound methods for conducting these audits, and a proposed bill, AB 20203, will establish a statewide pilot program to test these methods.

Five professors win Guggenheims

Five Berkeley professors have been named 2010 Guggenheim fellows, an award conferred for "achievement and exceptional promise."

Can California fix the Delta before disaster strikes?

Finding ways to better manage the overlapping infrastructure systems in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is the goal of a four-year, $2 million project headed by UC Berkeley researchers and funded by the National Science Foundation.

For post-boomers, public education is worth more than Social Security and Medicare

It's easy to assume retiring baby boomers will benefit from Social Security and Medicare at the expense of younger generations, as analysts estimate that these government-run programs will pay out more than they collect in payroll taxes by 2017. But a far-reaching new study from UC Berkeley concludes that younger Americans are actually getting the better deal when the value of public education is also taken into account.

Conservators' Art: Preserving Egypt's Past

The Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley will display rare artifacts from its vast Egyptian collection in an exhibition that opens on April 29, 2010. The exhibition provides a unique perspective on how museums blend technology and the humanities to conserve and understand ancient objects.

Researchers enable a robot to fold towels

A team from Berkeley's Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences department has figured out how to get a robot to fold previously unseen towels of different sizes. Their approach solves a key problem in robotics -- how to deal with flexible, or "deformable," objects.

Rethinking nuclear power

With climate change concerns escalating, fossil fuel supplies diminishing and electricity consumption expected to double in 10 years, nuclear power has regained some of its lost luster.

Astronomers see historical supernova from new angle

By observing visible “light echoes,” astronomers have assembled one of the first 3-D perspectives of a cosmic object. The new view of the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A confirms that it formed during a lopsided explosion.Astronomers see historical supernova from new angle

Helium rain on Jupiter explains lack of neon in atmosphere

When the Galileo probe descended through Jupiter's atmosphere in 1995, it found neon to be one-tenth as abundant as predicted. This unexpected finding has led two UC Berkeley researchers to propose that this is due to a rain of helium that depletes Jupiter's layers of neon as well as helium.

Genome sequenced for amoeba that flips into free-swimming cell

Scientists have sequenced the genome of a weird creature that exists as an amoeba until the food runs out, then turns into a two-tailed swimmer to find new hunting grounds. The organism, called Naegleria, is an early eurkaryote ? a cell with a nucleus and internal organs ? and could shed light on the origin of complex cells like those in humans.

Pesticide atrazine can turn male frogs into females

The herbicide atrazine, one of the world's most widely used pesticides, screws up the sex lives of adult male frogs, emasculating three-quarters of them and turning one in 10 into females, according to a new study by UC Berkeley's Tyrone Hayes.

NSF awards $24.5 million for center to stem increase of electronics power draw

The NSF has awarded $24.5 million to UC Berkeley researchers to head an ambitious, multi-institutional center that could one day lead to a million-fold reduction in power consumption by electronics. The researchers said such a dramatic increase in energy efficiency could allow the digital revolution to continue well beyond the limits that would otherwise be imposed by its growing demand for energy.

An afternoon nap markedly boosts the brain's learning capacity

If you see a student dozing in the library or a co-worker catching 40 winks in her cubicle, don’t roll your eyes. New research from UC Berkeley shows that an hour’s nap can dramatically boost and restore your brainpower. Indeed, the findings suggest that a biphasic sleep schedule not only refreshes the mind, but can make you smarter.

Music Groups Transcend Politics in the Middle East

Berkeley ethnomusicologist Ben Brinner traveled to Israel and the West Bank to study the lives of Palestinian musicians. He found the coalescing of a new musical scene, a creative response by both Palestinian and Israeli musicians to the musical and political circumstances of their region.

Speaking About the Way We Speak

Does the language we speak influence the way we think? Alice Gaby, a professor of linguistics at Berkeley, became particularly interested in this question as she studied an Aborignal language.

New fiber nanogenerators could lead to electric clothing

In research that gives literal meaning to the term "power suit," UC Berkeley engineers have created energy-scavenging nanofibers that could one day be woven into clothing and textiles. The technology could eventually lead to wearable 'smart clothes' that can power hand-held electronics through ordinary body movements.

Strongest evidence to date links exploration well to Lusi mud volcano

New data provide the strongest evidence to date that the world's biggest mud volcano, which killed 13 people in 2006 and so far has displaced 30,000 people in East Java, Indonesia, was not caused by an earthquake, according to an international scientific team that includes researchers from Durham University and the UC Berkeley.

Storm runoff and sewage treatment outflow contaminated with household pesticides

Pyrethroid pesticides were supposed to be a benign replacement for organophosphate use around the home, but UC Berkeley studies show that these insecticdes are showing up at toxic levels in storm runoff and even in the effluent from sewage treatment plants. While the levels are not high enough to harm fish, they may be enough to kill the mayfly, caddisfly and stonefly larvae upon which the fish feed.