A taste of Chez Panisse history

It’s tough to rustle up a new story about the most written-about restaurant in Berkeley, but California Magazine has dipped deep into the Chez Panisse archive at the Bancroft Library and come up with a fascinating look at its early days.


Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) researchers have developed computer assisted design (CAD)-type tools for engineering RNA components to control genetic expression in microbes. This holds enormous potential for microbial-based production of advanced biofuels, biodegradable plastics, therapeutic drugs and a host of other goods now derived from petrochemicals.

New video shows reconstruction of 'brain movies'

UC Berkeley scientists Jack Gallant and Shinji Nishimoto have wowed the world by using brain scans and computer modeling to reconstruct images of what we see when we’re watching movies. UC Berkeley broadcast manager Roxanne Makasdjian has produced a video of how they achieved this breakthrough, and where they’re headed.

Study details how dengue infection hits harder second time around

One of the most vexing challenges in the battle against dengue virus, a potentially fatal mosquito-borne virus, is that getting infected once can put people at greater risk for a more severe infection down the road. A new study with UC Berkeley researchers details how the interaction between a person’s immune response and a subsequent dengue infection could mean the difference between getting a mild fever and going into a fatal circulatory failure.

Trimming time in stacks

Computer science graduate student Aditi Muralidharan has developed a sophisticated text-analyzing tool that could speed literary searches for humanities scholars and other researchers.

Luke Lee gets $1.5 million Gates Foundation grant to develop diagnostic chip

Luke Lee, professor of bioengineering and co-director of the Berkeley Sensor & Actuator Center, gets nearly $1.5 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a portable microfluidic chip that can be used to diagnose multiple infectious diseases, such as HIV, TB and malaria, at the same time.

Wildlife researchers want your old socks

Those old or unpartnered socks clogging up your sock drawer are wanted by a Berkeley-led team of wildlife scientists studying the rare and elusive Pacific fisher in its Sierra habitat. Meat-stuffed socks are catnip to the furry little weasels, and chewing through the socks keeps them around long enough to be photographed. The project goes through 2,000 socks a year, so the researchers are appealing for sock donations.

Lower classes quicker to show compassion in the face of suffering

Emotional differences between the rich and poor, as depicted in such Charles Dickens classics as “A Christmas Carol” and “A Tale of Two Cities,” may have a scientific basis. Researchers at UC Berkeley have found that people in the lower socio-economic classes are more physiologically attuned to suffering, and quicker to express compassion than their more affluent counterparts.

Closing in on cosmic mystery surrounding supernovas

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.

Disaster looms for gas cloud falling into Milky Way’s central black hole

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.

Climate change blamed for dead trees in Africa

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.

Research could help people with declining sense of smell

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.

Can ‘carbon ranching’ offset emissions in California?

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.

Researcher takes on ‘empathy fatigue’ in the workplace

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.

Berkeley hosts manufacturing brainstorm

Leaders from academia, government and industry gathered at UC Berkeley Monday to discuss partnership strategies to re-establish the United States as a global leader in advanced manufacturing.

Record massive black holes discovered lurking in monster galaxies

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.

Fast-growing dinos, slow-growing crocs

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.

Bacteria turn switchgrass into advanced biofuels

Jay Keasling and his colleagues at the Joint BioEnergy Institute have engineered bacteria to turn switchgrass – a hard to digest plant – into gasoline, diesel and jet fuels. This could vastly reduce the cost of producing plant-based fuels to replace fuels from oil and coal.

Dream sleep takes sting out of painful memories

They say time heals all wounds, and new research from UC Berkeley indicates that time spent in dream sleep can help. UC Berkeley researchers have found that during the dream phase of sleep, also known as REM sleep, our stress chemistry shuts down and the brain processes emotional experiences and takes the painful edge off difficult memories.

Taking bushmeat off the menu could increase child anemia

When the dinner menu includes endangered species, human nutritional needs must contend with efforts to manage wildlife resources, according to a new UC Berkeley study. Researchers estimate that a loss of access to bushmeat as a source of food would lead to a 29 percent jump in the number of children suffering from anemia.

Native bees often better pollinators than honey bee

Honey bees get most of the buzz, but some native bees are better at spreading pollen. Berkeley biologists Gordon Frankie and Claire Kremmen say that natives may hold the solution to world pollination problems that affect important crops.

Is a stranger trustworthy? You'll know in 20 seconds

There’s definitely something to be said for first impressions. New research from UC Berkeley suggests it can take just 20 seconds to detect whether a stranger is genetically inclined to being trustworthy, kind or compassionate. See if you can guess which people shown in the video have the empathy gene.

Wood smoke from cooking fires linked to pneumonia, cognitive impacts

UC Berkeley-led researchers have found a dramatic one-third reduction in severe pneumonia diagnoses among children in homes with smoke-reducing chimneys on their cookstoves. Reducing wood smoke could have a major impact on the burden of pneumonia, the leading cause of child mortality in the world, the researchers said. A separate pilot study also found a link between prenatal maternal exposure to woodsmoke and poorer performance in markers for IQ among school-aged children.

How to feed a starving world? A new center at Berkeley seeks solutions

How to feed a fast-growing world where 900 million people are undernourished? Claire Kremen, a conservation biologist, sees traditional, sustainable practices as the solution. She and a group of Berkeley colleagues are establishing a new Berkeley Center for Diversified Farming Systems to find ways to scale up agroecological practices around the globe. A special report from the College of Natural Resources.

This is not your grandmother’s microscope

See how CellScope, a project initiated by UC Berkeley engineers, has opened up the microscopic world to more people. The lightweight, mobile microscopes are not only being used in developing countries to diagnose disease, but also in classrooms to get kids excited about science.

How hummingbirds shake off the rain

Ever wonder how birds are able to fly in the rain? Robert Dudley and Victor Ortega-Jimenez showed that hummingbirds shake their heads with 34 g’s of force, much like a dog flings off water. But hummingbirds do this in flight in the heaviest downpour without losing control.

UC Berkeley start-up creates energy-efficient buildings

In 2005, Charlie Huizenga and two UC Berkeley MBA graduates started Adura Technologies to install energy efficient wireless lighting systems in buildings. Their technology, based on innovations by UC Berkeley architects and engineers, has significantly reduced lighting costs in more than 2 million square feet of public and private buildings, including UC Berkeley’s undergraduate library.

Perlmutter, Filippenko in NOVA special

Newly minted Nobel Laureate Saul Perlmutter is among the physicists and astronomers interviewed in the premier episode of a four-part NOVA series, “The Fabric of the Cosmos,” which aired November 2, 2011 on PBS stations around the country. In the San Francisco Bay Area, the one-hour episode was viewed on KQED-TV at 9 p.m.

Chemical engineer is redefining “clean”

David Graves, UC Berkeley professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, is experimenting with low-temperature plasmas as a way to remove tenacious infectious molecules, such as the prions that cause mad cow disease, from surgical instruments. He hopes low-cost plasma devices can be used in developing countries to sterilize water, wounds and medical supplies.

Findings offer new clues into the addicted brain

What drives addicts to choose drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, gambling, overeating or kleptomania — despite the risks? Campus neuroscientists have pinpointed the locations in the brain where calculations are made that can result in addictive and compulsive behavior. Their astonishing findings could lead to improved treatments for many addictions and disorders.

Teachers have little time to teach science, study shows

A statewide survey by researchers at UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science indicates that elementary school teachers don’t have the time or training to adequately teach science. “High quality science learning opportunities are only available in about 10 percent of California elementary school classrooms on a regular basis,” says lead researcher Rena Dorph.

Student finds inspiration in the clouds

UC Berkeley graduate student Greg Goldsmith may have his head in the clouds, but he is firmly grounded in the reality of global warming and the danger it poses to the Central American cloud forests he loves. He developed an elementary school curriculum as a way to help save them.

BERC symposium energizes Cal students

Record attendance at last week’s fifth-annual Energy Symposium at UC Berkeley demonstrated the swelling interest among students on campus and nationwide in bridging the gap between universities’ renewable energy research and the private sector.

CalSol zips to the finish in Aussie solar race

UC Berkeley’s Solar Vehicle Team, is one day from successfully completing the 3,000-kilometer trans-Australia World Solar Challenge, which brought 37 solar cars to the Aussie outback. This is the first time Berkeley has competed.

Berkeley to launch first “Ethics of Green Chemistry” class

The Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry will develop a new college course on the public ethics of green chemistry. The effort, funded by a $300,000 National Science Foundation grant, highlights the role of ethics in understanding why and how legal, market, business, political and societal systems can affect the chemical production system.

Cycads are not “living fossils” from Dinosaur Age

Plants called cycads flourished during the dinosaur era, but unlike the dinosaurs, they survived into the present and have been collected and treasured as “living fossils.” A new study by UC Berkeley biologists demolishes that idea. Living cycads are not “fossils” – they evolved only within the past 12 million years.

Berkeley team confirms reality of global warming

Physicist Richard Muller and a team of Berkeley statisticians, physicists and climatologists began a project earlier this year to reanalyze 1.6 billion temperature records, some dating back to 1800, to address some of the concerns of climate change skeptics. Their conclusions confirm that global warming is real.

Immigration program faulted for wrongful arrests, detentions

Most of those arrested in a fast-growing federal immigration-enforcement program are jailed without bond, access to a lawyer or a court hearing, say researchers at Berkeley Law’s Earl Warren Institute. Based on data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, “Secure Communities by the Numbers” is the first in-depth analysis of the far-reaching information-sharing scheme.

Researchers turn viruses into molecular Legos

UC Berkeley researchers have turned a benign virus into building blocks for assembling structures that mimic collagen, one of the most important structural proteins in nature. The “self-templating assembly” process they developed could eventually be used to manufacture materials with tunable optical, biomedical and mechanical properties.

As need for care grows, women fill the gap

Even as the social safety net frays and the number of people needing care swells, the ranks of traditional family caregivers are steadily shrinking. Who will absorb the cost and impact of care? Women, writes Evelyn Nakano Glenn, professor of ethnic and women’s studies, in her newest book, “Forced to Care: Coercion and Caring in America.”

$2.5 million grant to fund global change research

The Berkeley Initiative in Global Change Biology was awarded a $2.5 million grant by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for research focusing on global change forecasting for California ecosystems. The grant funds seven major projects involving faculty members from eight campus departments.

For six decades he’s paved the way for a smoother ride

Often it’s an unexpected pothole or a bumpy road that draws our attention to pavement conditions. But for Professor Carl Monismith, co-director of the campus’s Pavement Research Center, the technology of road surfaces has been his passion for the past 60 years.

Robotic roach gets wings, sheds light on evolution of flight

When UC Berkeley engineers outfitted a six-legged robotic bug with wings in an effort to improve its mobility, they unexpectedly shed some light on the evolution of flight. The wings nearly doubled the running speed of the 25-gram robot. Find out why that wasn’t good enough for takeoff.

Two UC Berkeley faculty named to Institute of Medicine

Barbara Abrams, professor of epidemiology and of maternal and child health, and Carolyn Bertozzi, professor of chemistry and of molecular and cell biology, have been named to the prestigious Institute of Medicine (IOM), one of the highest national honors in the fields of health and medicine.

Look inside a nano testing machine

Video shows how Berkeley scientists use amazing equipment to develop materials to make future nuclear power plants more reliable and durable.

Modified corn genes may improve biofuel efficiency

Modified corn genes have the potential to make switch grass a much more efficient biofuel, according to new research by a team led by George Chuck of Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources. The study was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Kicking hybrids out of carpool lanes slows all traffic

The end of a California program granting free access to carpool lanes by solo drivers of hybrid cars has unintentionally slowed traffic in all lanes, according to a new report by researchers at UC Berkeley’s Institute of Transportation Studies. It turns out that when regular-use lanes became more congested with the addition of more hybrids, the carpool lanes slowed down as well. The transportation engineers explain this counterintuitive result.

Wall Street protests echo researcher’s findings on growing income gap

Emmanuel Saez, a UC Berkeley economist, received a 2010 MacArthur “genius” award for his research on the growing income gains of super-wealthy American households and the parallel income erosion of the other 99 percent of the nation. In a Q & A, Saez talks about the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, in light of his work.

For Berkeley physicist, worldwide fame and campus parking

For Berkeley physicist Saul Perlmutter, Tuesday, Oct. 4 began before 3 a.m. with a press call from Sweden, and soon a meaningful moment with his sleepy but excited 8-year-old. Then — quickly and inevitably — came the deluge of phone calls and e-mails, celebratory events and photo ops. And, it goes without saying, a coveted parking pass.

Survey gives clues to origin of Type Ia supernovae

One white dwarf or two? That’s what astronomers have been asking about Type Ia supernovae, the key to measuring cosmic distance. Is the explosion from one white dwarf grown fat from feeding off another star, or are two white dwarfs merging? A new study suggests the latter.

Saul Perlmutter awarded 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics

Saul Perlmutter, UC Berkeley professor of physics and LBNL senior scientist, will share the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics with two other scientists, including former UC Berkeley postdoc Adam Riess, for their discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. This discovery in 1998 led to the realization that the universe is largely composed of an enigmatic “dark energy.”

Oak disease in Bay Area sees big jump, researchers say

The deadly pathogen known as sudden oak death is spreading throughout the SF Bay Area, infecting more trees in more places than have ever been seen before, according to researchers tracking the disease. were double and in some cases triple what they were last year,” said Matteo Garbelotto, the UC Berkeley forest pathologist.

NSF awards $2 million to expand Sierra Nevada water sensors

CITRIS researchers at UC Berkeley and UC Merced have received a $2 million NSF grant to expand their network of wireless sensors in the Sierra Nevada. The sensors enable remote monitoring of snow depth, stream flow, water content in soil and use of water in vegetation – data that will be used to help manage one of the most precious resources in the state.

Grim retirement picture projected for California

Nearly half of California workers will retire in or near poverty, according to a new study by UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education. The authors found that retirees across the state rely overwhelmingly on Social Security income, a trend that could worsen as future workers retire without employer-sponsored benefits.

Students Building Satellite That’s Seen as Future of Space Research

An international team of students from Berkeley, South Korea, Puerto Rico and London is building a tiny CubeSat spacecraft, designed to carry out research high above the Earth, in Berkeley’s Space Sciences Lab. CubeSats are the wave of the future for space science research and education.

Easily embarrassed? Study finds people will trust you more

If tripping in public or mistaking an overweight woman for a mother-to-be leaves you red-faced, don’t feel bad. A new UC Berkeley study suggests that people who are easily embarrassed are also more trustworthy, and more generous. In short, embarrassment can be a good thing.

Film by public policy grad students wins Emmy

“Presumed Guilty,” a film made by public-policy grad students Roberto Hernández and Layda Negrete, won an Emmy Award in New York two weeks ago. The documentary probing the Mexican criminal justice system was honored for best investigative journalism.

Cal Energy Corps interns showcase research partnerships worldwide

The very first cohort of Cal Energy Corps student interns showcased an wide array of sustainable-energy research and service they conducted around the world this summer, at a Sept. 22 campus symposium. Their projects ranged from a low-tech food dehydrator, with a community on Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast, to advanced science to improve the formulation of new biofuels.

Not enough sleep gets in the way of success

Catching z’s can seem overrated when school is demanding, your body is young, and you’re newly on your own. Students, researchers, and health care providers grapple with the whys and hows of sleep.

Lessons to be Learned from Nature in Photosynthesis

Lessons to be learned from nature could lead to the development of an artificial version of photosynthesis that would provide us with an absolutely clean and virtually inexhaustible energy source, says Berkeley Lab photosynthesis authority Graham Fleming and three international colleagues.

Bees outpace orchids in evolution

Orchid bees aren’t so dependent on orchids after all, according to a new study that challenges the prevailing view of how plants and their insect pollinators evolve together. It turns out that the orchids need their bees more than the other way around, a finding with implications in conservation biology as bee populations decline worldwide.

DOE grant to fund research into new nuclear reactors

Nuclear engineering professors Per Peterson and Ehud Greenspan are part of a $7.5 million project led by MIT and funded by the Department of Energy to research salt-cooled nuclear reactor technology. The grant is part of a larger initiative by the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy University Projects to maintain U.S. leadership in nuclear energy research.

Bioengineers reprogram muscles to combat degeneration

UC Berkeley researchers have turned back the clock on mature muscle tissue, coaxing it back to an earlier stem cell stage to form new muscle. Moreover, they showed in mice that the newly reprogrammed muscle stem cells could be used to help repair damaged tissue. The achievement is described in the Sept. 23 issue of the journal Chemistry & Biology.

Scientists use brain imaging to reveal the movies in our mind

Imagine tapping into the mind of a coma patient, or watching one’s own dream on YouTube. With a cutting-edge blend of brain imaging and computer simulation, UC Berkeley scientists are bringing these futuristic scenarios within reach. Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and computational models, researchers have succeeded in decoding and reconstructing people’s dynamic visual experiences – in this case, watching Hollywood movie trailers.

Turning data into democratic action

The Social Apps Lab at CITRIS creates free applications based on playful ways to get users to explore their environments, engage local issues, promote public health, and become active citizens. Their current projects include tackling dengue fever, reducing asthma, and engaging citizens in local urban issues.

New research points to lessons from Dutch cannabis system

The Netherlands’s system of quasi-legal retail marijuana sales – steadily evolving since 1976 – may have modestly increased the number of marijuana users, but does not seem to have intensified their use of marijuana or the likelihood that they will move on to harder drugs, says a new UC Berkeley study in the journal Addiction.

Ferroelectrics could pave way for ultra-low power computing

UC Berkeley engineers have shown that by using ferroelectric materials, they can pump up the charge accumulated at a capacitor for a given voltage, a phenomenon called negative capacitance. The achievement could reduce the power draw of today’s electronics, and break the bottleneck that has stalled improvements in computer clock speed.

A century later, Ishi still has lessons to teach

On the 100th anniversary of the making of the Yahi survivor’s historic “wood duck” recording, a daylong conference dedicated itself to correcting the record, and to remembering him as an educator, a pioneer and a man.

Catch an exploding star

Don’t miss the supernova of a generation! Discoverer Peter Nugent of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory told PBS NewsHour how, when and where to find it in the night sky, preferably after Monday’s full moon. Hint: snag a good pair of binoculars.

Success of amphibian social networking spawns Reptile BioBlitz

Photos and observations posted to the website of the Global Amphibian BioBlitz now cover more than 700 species: 10 percent of the world’s frog, toad and salamander species that the social networking effort hopes to track. This success has now spawned a Reptile BioBlitz.

Long distances can’t keep this pair apart

UC Berkeley researchers have found evidence that leafflower trees and leafflower moths, two species that are mutually dependent upon each other, managed to colonize South Pacific islands separately, and then reconnect again. The findings contradict a long-standing belief in island biology that highly specialized organisms cannot establish themselves on remote islands.

There’s something in the California air

UC scientists built and worked in towers — some as tall as 1,500 feet — as part of the largest single atmospheric research effort in the state. The data they’ve collected will guide policymakers dealing with air pollution.

Namwali Serpell wins prize for promising women writers

UC Berkeley’s Namwali Serpell, an assistant professor of English and a novelist, is one of six winners of the 2011 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, which is given annually to women writers who demonstrate excellence and promise in the early stages of their careers.

Prof traces role of photography in black freedom struggle

African American activists have long recognized the potential power of visual imagery to advance their quest for self-determination. Faculty member Leigh Raiford, in a new book, explores the role of photography in the black freedom struggle — from the heyday of the white lynch mob to the Civil Rights movement and the Black Power era.

Ishi’s life and legacy

Mari Lyn Salvador, director of UC Berkeley’s Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, answers questions about “A Century of Ishi,” a Sept. 8 conference about one of the most well-known American Indians of the past 100 years.

Tree-killing pathogen traced to California

California has emerged as the top suspect as the source of a pathogen responsible for a global pandemic of cypress canker disease. The genetic detective work by researchers at UC Berkeley and in Italy spotlights the hazards of planting trees and other vegetation in regions where they are not native.

Playing video games helps adults with lazy eye

African American activists have long recognized the potential power of visual imagery to advance their quest for self-determination. Faculty member Leigh Raiford, in a new book, explores the role of photography in the black freedom struggle — from the heyday of the white lynch mob to the Civil Rights movement and the Black Power era.

UC Berkeley among the best

The Center of World-Class Universities of Shanghai Jiao Tong University has recognized the academic excellence of Pac-12 member institutions in its 2011 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), including naming Stanford and UC Berkeley as two of the top five universities in the world.

Flame retardants linked to lower birthweight babies

A new study led by UC Berkeley researchers links prenatal exposure to flame retardant chemicals commonly found in homes to lower birthweight babies. For every tenfold increase in levels of PBDEs in a mother’s blood during pregnancy, there was a corresponding drop of 115 grams in her baby’s birthweight, the study found.

‘Supernova of a generation’ discovered by Berkeley scientists

Skywatchers should get their binoculars and telescopes ready. Scientists at UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab caught a supernova soon after its explosion. The supernova, located in the Big Dipper constellation, is appearing brighter than any other supernova of its type in the last 30 years. Earthlings might even be able to see it with good binoculars in 10 days’ time.

Storing vertebrates in the cloud

UC Berkeley is leading an effort to take information on the vertebrate collections in museums around the world and store it in the cloud for easy use by researchers and citizen scientists alike.

From cracks in the campus budget, a new research community blooms

Born of financial crisis, Berkeley’s Institute for the Study of Societal Issues has cultivated a more collaborative, community-based approach to social-science research. In the process, a rickety old campus building has been transformed into a place where scholars can do more with less.

Thawing Permafrost Could Release Vast Amounts of Carbon and Accelerate Climate Change by the end of this Century

Billions of tons of carbon trapped in permafrost may be released into the atmosphere by the end of this century as the Earth’s climate changes, further accelerating global warming, a new computer modeling study led by a Berkeley Lab scientist indicates. The study also found that soil in high-latitude regions could shift from being a sink to a source of carbon dioxide by the end of the 21st century as the soil warms in response to climate change.

Same-sex zebra finches just as faithful as their hetero counterparts

A study of zebra finches shows that songbirds in same-sex relationships are just as faithful to one another as those paired with opposite-sex partners. The study’s findings, published in the journal Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, suggest that relationships between animals are not just limited to procreation, according to UC Berkeley psychologist Julie Elie.

New neutrino data may shed light on post-Big Bang matter formation

Researchers studying the birth of the universe are getting some of the most accurate measurements to date of neutrinos, electrically neutral particles that zip about close to the speed of light. They hope that the data, obtained from the Daya Bay Reactor Neutrino Experiment, an international collaboration led by U.S. and China scientists, will reveal how matter was formed immediately after the Big Bang. Physicists from Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley are leading the U.S. team.

UC Berkeley shines again in ranking of world universities

UC Berkeley remains the world’s top public university in the 2011 Academic Ranking of World Universities issued today by Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The annual list of the world’s best 500 universities is based almost entirely on scientific research strength. Eight of the top 10 spots went to U.S. universities, including UC Berkeley.

UC Berkeley among the best

The Center of World-Class Universities of Shanghai Jiao Tong University has recognized the academic excellence of Pac-12 member institutions in its 2011 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), including naming Stanford and UC Berkeley as two of the top five universities in the world.

Treasury official who spotted $2 trillion error is recent economics Ph.D.

John Bellows may not have the household-name recognition of Timothy Geithner, Ben Bernanke or Christina Romer. But the U.S. Treasury Department’s acting assistant secretary has generated widespread buzz in finance and policy circles since finding a $2 trillion error in the Standard & Poor’s (S&P) calculations it used to support a historic decision to downgrade the nation’s credit rating.

Cal Energy Corps interns report from the field

Cal Energy Corps participants fanned out this summer to internship projects across the world, from India and Denmark to Washington, D.C. Many of these talented young people are sharing periodic, first-person updates on their transformative experiences in the field.

Berkeley historian follows the guns

Historian Brian DeLay’s research traces the roots of the modern arms trade all the way back to the mid-18th century, when weapons were manufactured in America or Britain only to be distributed or sold throughout the northern hemisphere.

Fungi helped destroy forests during mass extinction 250 million years ago

The Permian extinction 250 million years ago was the largest mass extinction on record, and among the losers were conifers that originally blanketed the supercontinent of Pangaea. Now researchers say that climate change led to the proliferation of tree-killing soil fungi that helped destroy the forests – something that could happen as a consequence of global warming today.

Cybersecurity center developing techniques to attack the attackers

A UC Berkeley-led center to defend cyberspace is taking a proactive approach to securing the nation’s networks against attacks. Researchers from the Team for Research in Ubiquitous Secure Technology (TRUST), funded by the National Science Foundation, are developing systems with built-in immune systems that can recognize and protect against invasions. They are also influencing policy and have worked on pioneering California legislation requiring companies to notify individuals whose private information may have been compromised.

Berkeley public health projects part of UC initiative to address critical state issues

Researchers from UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health are studying the conditions of low-wage workers in Chinatown as well as the impact on health from the use of greener cleaning products as part of a new UC-funded multi-campus research program. The Center for Collaborative Research for an Equitable California is one of three dozen UC multi-campus programs focusing on critical issues in the state.

Nuclear commission outlines new strategies for managing radioactive waste

The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future has released a draft report that recommends significant changes to the U.S. strategy for managing the country’s growing stockpile of high-level nuclear waste. Per Peterson, UC Berkeley professor and chair of nuclear engineering, is one of 15 members of the commission, which was formed in 2010 after plans to store nuclear waste at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain were halted.

Mu-ming Poo nurtures young neuroscientists in Shanghai

Neuroscientist Mu-ming Poo “leads a double life,” according to a piece in the journal Nature. He spends three-quarters of his time doing research on campus, but for the past decade has spent one day a week nurturing budding neuroscientists at the Institute of Neurosciences in Shanghai.

Invisibility cloak makes bumps disappear

It can’t quite cover Harry Potter, yet, but an invisibility cloak developed by UC Berkeley engineers was able to bounce visible light waves away from a microscopic object about as big as a red blood cell. The experiment using the reflective silicon oxide and silicon nitride material was described in the journal Nano Letters.

Nuclear science meets social science in novel summer program

A summer school program designed to improve the social scientific literacy of nuclear engineers will use Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis as a case study. The six-day program, to be held in Berkeley from July 31 to Aug. 5, is being organized by faculty at UC Berkeley and the University of Tokyo.

Are cancers newly evolved species?

Molecular biologist Peter Duesberg’s theory that cancer results from chromosome disruption rather than a few gene mutations has led him to propose that cancers are actually evolving into autonomous species, akin to parasites.

Getting to the root of the water cycle

In a remarkable outdoor laboratory in the Sierra, UC Merced and UC Berkeley researchers are using sensors to gather a mother lode of data to greatly improve ecological measurement and hydrologic forecasting.

New NSF center tackles urban water infrastructure

The NSF has announced a five-year, $18.5 million grant to fund a new Engineering Research Center (ERC) to re-invent the country’s urban water infrastructure, which is seeing increasing challenges from age, population growth and the effects of climate change. The new center will be led by Stanford University in partnership with UC Berkeley, Colorado School of Mines and New Mexico State University.

NSF launches new cyberinfrastructure project to succeed TeraGrid

The NSF has launched a massive five-year, $121 million project involving 17 institutions, including UC Berkeley, to bring advanced digital services to the nation’s scientists and engineers. Collectively known as the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), the new project replaces the TeraGrid, which for 10 years provided researchers with computational and data resources in an open infrastructure to support scientific discovery.

Students take first prize in FAA airport design competition

Airports could save millions in fuel, time and emissions costs if airlines shared gates and coordinated flights with each other, according to a novel proposal by UC Berkeley engineering students. The students’ proposal to improve airport efficiency earned them first prize in an FAA airport design contest.

No artist is an island, says faculty author Shannon Jackson

Art that looks directly at the institutions that, for better or for worse, surround and support our lives is the subject of a new book, “Social Works: Performing Art, Supporting Publics,” by Shannon Jackson, professor of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies

Tools and Toys for Builders: New Test Center for Low-Energy Buildings

Like a giant, life-size set of building blocks, the new User Test Bed Facility will allow researchers and manufacturers to test buildings systems and components under “real-world” conditions by swapping out systems and changing configurations and then allow rigorous monitoring of performance of every key building element that impacts energy consumption.

Using neutrinos to probe Earth’s hot core

UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab physicists are part of a large international collaboration, called KamLAND, that used a neutrino detector in Japan to learn about the sources of heat in Earth’s interior. According to Stuart Freedman, the results indicate that only half the heat comes from radioactive decay; the rest from other processes.

Twin ARTEMIS probes to study moon in 3-D

Some two years ago, two of five THEMIS satellites were boosted from their orbits around Earth toward permanent lunar orbits. The second of two is destined to arrive at the moon on Sunday, July 17. The probes, renamed the ARTEMIS mission, will acquire 3-D data on the moon’s magnetic fields.

Ecosystems take hard hit from loss of top predators

A new paper reviewing the impact of the loss of large predators and herbivores high in the food chain confirms that their decline has had cascading effects in marine, terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems throughout the world. The study, co-authored by UC Berkeley researchers, highlights the impact “apex consumers” have on the dynamics of fire, disease, vegetation growth, and soil and water quality.

How to improve California’s public-transit system

Steps that California policy makers and businesses can take to improve the state’s chronically underfunded public transit system are outlined in a new report by a research fellow at the UC Berkeley and UCLA law schools. Titled “All Aboard: How California Can Increase Investment in Public Transit

Schekman to lead new journal launched by Howard Hughes institute

Cell biologist Randy Schekman, professor of molecular and cell biology and current editor of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has been named the first editor of a new journal that the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society, and the Wellcome Trust aim to launch next year.

Cal scientist keeps tabs on forest health

Jordan Zachritz, a UC Berkeley graduate student in ecosystem sciences, has been studying Sudden Oak Death and similar tree-killing diseases in hopes he and his peers can find ways to stop them and save California’s forests.

Berkeley Researchers Apply NMR/MRI to Microfluidic Chromatography

By pairing an R&D 100 award-winning remote-detection version of NMR/MRI technology with a unique version of chromatography specifically designed for microfluidic chips, Berkeley Lab researchers have opened the door to a portable system for highly sensitive multi-dimensional chemical analysis that would be impractical if not impossible with conventional technologies.

Gray whales likely survived the Ice Ages by changing their diets

If ancient gray whale populations migrated and fed the same as today’s whales, what happened during the Ice Ages, when their major feeding grounds disappeared? UC Berkeley and Smithsonian paleontologists argue that gray whales utilized a range of food sources in the past, including herring and krill, in addition to the benthic organisms they consume today. As a result, prewhaling populations were two to four times greater than today’s population of around 22,000.

Breaking Kasha’s Rule

Berkeley Lab researchers created tetrapod molecules of semiconductor nanocrystals and watched them break a fundamental principle of photoluminescence known as “Kasha’s rule.” The discovery holds promise for multi-color light emission technologies, including LEDs.

Magnetic memory and logic could achieve ultimate energy efficiency

Information theory dictates that a logical operation in a computer must consume a minimum amount of energy. Today’s computers consume a million times more energy per operation than this limit, but magnetic computers with no moving electrons could theoretically operate at the minimum energy, called the Landauer limit, according to UC Berkeley electrical engineers.

Laundry duty getting you down? Robots to the rescue!

Folding laundry may seem mundane, but for a robot, identifying a 3-D object and manipulating it correctly, it’s an exercise that requires intelligence that humans may take for granted. Pieter Abbeel and his team of engineers are developing increasingly efficient strategies and algorithms to help robots fold towels, forming the foundation for the next generation.

Scientists catalog genetic aberrations in ovarian cancer

UC Berkeley researchers Terry Speed, Elizabeth Purdom, John Ngai and Yoon Gi Choi have joined colleagues at Berkeley Lab and around the country in creating the first comprehensive catalog of the genetic aberrations responsible for an aggressive type of ovarian cancer that causes most ovarian cancer deaths. This “atlas” could lead to targeted treatment based on a person’s cancer fingerprint.

Patrick Kirch awarded Gregory Medal for Pacific research

Patrick V. Kirch, a UC Berkeley professor of anthropology and integrative biology and an authority on the archaeology of the Pacific Islands, has been awarded the 2011 Herbert E. Gregory Medal for Distinguished Service to Science in the Pacific Region.

Testing irradiated materials on the nanoscale

Radiation damages metal and other materials, which can be a problem in nuclear power plants. UC Berkeley/LBNL materials scientist Andrew Minor and colleagues have developed a way to test nano-sized samples to determine how well they withstand the effects of radiation.

Latino communities have higher nitrate levels in drinking water

San Joaquin Valley communities with large Latino populations are exposed to disproportionately high levels of the agricultural chemical nitrate through their drinking water, according to a UC Berkeley study. When ingested via drinking water, nitrate can lead to numerous health problems, particularly among women and young children.

New leaders named to CITRIS healthcare initiative

Two new leaders have been named to head up the CITRIS healthcare initiative ‘Delivering Quality Healthcare Everywhere for Californians.’ Thomas Nesbitt of UC Davis will serve as faculty director, Edmund Seto of UC Berkeley as associate director. The project’s mission is to improve access and reduce healthcare disparities by creating a trusted network for patients, providers, healthcare officials and educators.

Black hole rips star to shreds

A bright gamma-ray flare observed in March 2011 by the Swift satellite was not your typical gamma-ray burst, according to UC Berkeley astronomers and their colleagues. Its long duration and location at the center of a distant galaxy suggests that the flare was emitted as a star was ripped apart by a massive black hole.

Eco-driving: Ready for prime time?

UC researchers are optimistic that improved driving techniques can cut fuel use by 10 to 20 percent. And the time may be right to sell the public on these methods, they say.

New neurons help us to remember fear

UC Berkeley’s Daniela Kaufer and colleagues have discovered one way by which emotions such as fear affect memory. The brain’s emotional center, the amygdala, induces the hippocampus, a relay hub for memory, to generate new neurons. In a fearful situation, these newborn neurons are activated by the amygdala, providing a “blank slate” for the new fearful memory.

A pillow fight on auto-pilot

In a recent Pioneers in Engineering competition, local high school engineers scrambled to design and assemble robots destined to pile pillows in a goal. For the Berkeley Engineering honors students behind the contest, it’s a chance to build and teach.

New website makes California climate change science available to all

Extensive climate change research being conducted at California universities and research centers is now openly available through a public website,, developed at UC Berkeley and sponsored by the California Energy Commission and the California Natural Resources Agency.

New Intel lab will focus on secure computing

Intel Labs announced a second Intel Science and Technology Center to open at UC Berkeley with a focus on secure computing. Funded by $15 million over five years, the new center will encourage tighter collaboration between university thought leaders and Intel.

CERN group traps antihydrogen for more than 16 minutes

The ALPHA experiment at CERN in Geneva has successfully trapped rare antihydrogen atoms for 1,000 seconds, or more than 16 minutes. This is long enough to start experimenting for the first time on antimatter atoms to determine whether they act like normal matter.

Burst at edge of universe may be most distant object

A gamma-ray burst observed in 2009 happened 13.14 billion years ago, only 520 million years after the universe was born. If confirmed, this flash of light from the early universe could be the most distant object discovered to date, says UC Berkeley post-doc Antonino Cucchiara.

Can Social Networking Save the World’s Amphibians?

Amphibian lovers have teamed up to create a social networking site, the Global Amphibian Blitz, where citizen scientists can submit photographs of amphibians in order to help scientists track their worldwide decline and hopefully find a way to halt it.

Aggressive Efficiency and Electrification Needed to Cut California

Emissions In the next 40 years, California’s population is expected to surge from 37 million to 55 million and the demand for energy is expected to double. Given those daunting numbers, can California really reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, as required by an executive order? Scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who co-wrote a new report on California’s energy future are optimistic that the target can be achieved, though not without bold policy and behavioral changes as well as some scientific innovation.

Radical new Intel transistor based on UC Berkeley’s FinFET

In early May, Intel announced a radical new transistor design: a 3D device that will enable the production of integrated-circuit chips that operate faster with less power. The breakthrough has its roots in research begun in 1997 by a team led by Berkeley electrical engineers Chenming Hu, Jeff Bokor and Tsu-Jae King Liu.

Toxic flame retardants found in many foam baby products

A new study has found that many baby products, including nursing pillows, changing pads and strollers, contain levels of flame retardant that could expose infants to more of these chemicals than the government recommends as safe.

UC Berkeley SETI survey focuses on Kepler’s top Earth-like planets

UC Berkeley is searching for evidence of intelligent life on planets identified by the Kepler space telescope team as having Earth-like environments. This search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) uses the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and targets 86 stars with possible planetary systems.

Engineers to help paraplegic student walk at graduation

Graduating senior Austin Whitney, wheelchair-bound since a 2007 car accident paralyzed him from the waist down, plans to stand and walk at this year’s commencement ceremony. He will be wearing a robotic exoskeleton developed by UC Berkeley engineers to improve mobility for paraplegics.

UC Berkeley launches groundbreaking disability research initiative

UC Berkeley on May 11 announced a new research initiative that will make it a worldwide leader in disability studies. It includes two new faculty positions and multidiscipinary research projects related to disability that involve 10 faculty members from eight campus units. The effort will be housed in the Haas Diversity Research Center.

Graphene optical modulators could lead to ultrafast communications

UC Berkeley researchers have shown that graphene, a one-atom-thick layer of crystallized carbon, can be tuned electrically to modify the amount of photons absorbed. This ability to switch light on and off is the fundamental characteristic of a network modulator, opening the door to optical computing in handheld electronics.

Two UC Berkeley faculty members get DOE research awards

Two UC Berkeley faculty members are among 65 scientists awarded Early Career Research Awards by the Department of Energy. The five-year research grants were given to David Savage, assistant professor of molecular and cell biology, and Junqiao Wu, assistant professor of materials science and engineering.

Sun-driven and Australia-bound

A team of Berkeley students is burning lots of midnight oil to build a car powered completely by the sun. Their sleek solar vehicle, named Impulse, is on track to compete this October in the world’s premier solar car competition: an 1,800-mile road race across Australia.

National Academy of Sciences elects new members

Three UC Berkeley faculty members were among the National Academy of Sciences’ 72 new members and 18 foreign associates announced today. Membership in the NAS is considered one of the highest honors given a scientist or engineer in the U.S.

Immigrants often eat high-calorie American junk food to fit in

A new study by researchers at UC Berkeley and the University of Washington suggests immigrants and their children often gain weight because they eat junk food to fit in with American culture. The findings will be published in the June issue of Psychological Science.

Big Ideas @ Berkeley winners announced

Big Ideas @ Berkeley, an annual student competition at UC Berkeley, has announced its 2011 winners. The contest challenges student teams to develop projects aimed at solving the world’s most pressing problems. Out of more than 200 entries, some 50 teams were selected and will share $265,000 in prizes.

Why the eye is better than a camera

The human eye long ago solved a problem common to both digital and film cameras: how to get good contrast in an image while also capturing faint detail. New experiments by UC Berkeley neurobiologists show how the eye achieves this without sacrificing shadow detail.

Fungus may be to blame for historic amphibian decline

A fungal pathogen may be the culprit behind the rapid decline of amphibians in recent decades, according to a new study by researchers at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University. By swabbing the skin of amphibians preserved in UC Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, scientists confirmed through DNA the presence of the deadly Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or Bd, fungus. They also determined that salamanders in parts of Mexico and Guatemala, and frogs and salamanders in Costa Rica’s Monteverde cloud forests began to disappear at the same time the fungus first appeared in these areas.

Pain and itch connected down deep

A new study of itch adds to growing evidence that the chemical signals that make us want to scratch are the same signals that make us wince in pain.

Backyard buzz: Bees in your garden

Student multimedia specialists from the J-School chronicle the Urban Bee Project, where researchers in a small Berkeley garden are working to make sure the world’s top pollinators keep busy.

Undergrad wins Young Botanist of the Year award

Berkeley senior Gracie Benson-Martin, a plant and microbial biology major, has been honored by the Botanical Society of America, for her research on a genus of tropical plants found throughout South and Central America.

Architect named Fulbright NEXUS scholar for Western Hemisphere research on sustainable, affordable housing

María-Paz Gutierrez, a University of California, Berkeley, assistant professor of architecture, has been named to the 2011-2012 Fulbright Regional Network for Applied Research (NEXUS) Scholar Program as part of a 20-member team working to promote best practices in fighting poverty and inequality in the Western Hemisphere. She will be focusing on building a sustainable, affordable housing prototype for deployment in an emergency, especially flooding.

MBA students, Haas School faculty win sustainability research grants

The Haas School of Business’s Center for Responsible Business made an Earth Day announcement today (Friday, April 22) that several MBA students and Haas School faculty have won research grants to work on innovative sustainability projects dealing with reinforcing friends’ healthy habits to green supply chains and clean water.

Symposium to report ROI on programs investing in girls

Positive outcomes and lessons to be learned from new approaches to help girls and women struggling in developing countries will be explored at an April 28 symposium to be hosted by the Center for Evaluation of Global Action (CEGA), based at UC Berkeley.

Prenatal pesticide exposure tied to lower IQ in children

A new UC Berkeley study has found that prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides – widely used on food crops – is related to lower intelligence scores in children. Every tenfold increase in measures of organophosphates detected during a mother’s pregnancy corresponded to a 5.5 point drop in overall IQ scores in children at age 7, the researchers found.

Agilent helps launch new synthetic biology center

Agilent Technologies Inc. has signed up to support the newly launched Synthetic Biology Institute (SBI), which will help advance efforts to engineer cells and biological systems in ways that could transform health and medicine, energy, the environment and new materials.

Saez wins AEA prize for tax paper

Emmanuel Saez, the E. Morris Cox Professor of Economics at UC Berkeley, has been named by the American Economic Association as recipient of the first ever American Economic Journal: Economic Policy “Best Paper Prize” for his “Do Taxpayers Bunch at Kink Points?”

Study shows need to eliminate sex bias in research

A recent study by UC Berkeley neuroscientists Emily Jacobs and Mark D’Esposito highlights the need to include female animals in research studies, since sex hormones have an impact on how females respond. The research, published April 6, showed that estrogen levels affected how women scored on memory tests.

When it comes to carbon footprints, location and lifestyle matter

A UC Berkeley analysis of the carbon footprints of households around the country shows that consumers need different strategies in different cities to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. An online “carbon calculator” helps consumers decide how to change their lifestyles for the maximum reduction in their footprints.

Deloitte offers to turn QB3 into “innovation ecosystem”

The California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3), which has branches at UC Berkeley, UCSF and UC Santa Cruz, will work with Deloitte to improve the institute’s efforts to convert bioscience innovation into a driver for jobs, companies and improved health in California.

New site maps state’s severe traffic collisions

UC Berkeley researchers have launched a powerful new tool, the Transportation Injury Mapping System, that allows online searches of serious and fatal crashes in California. Users can view the history of crashes by county, city, neighborhood or along specific routes.

Tata Consultancy partners with campus to interpret personal genomic variation

Thanks to initial funding from the India-based Tata Consultancy Services, the Center for Computational Biology has launched a pioneering initiative to develop a software platform to analyze differences in people’s genomes and bring closer the day when one’s personal genome will be a starting point for health and medical advice.

Novel technique reveals how glaciers sculpted their valleys

Using a new technique called thermochronometry, UC Berkeley and Berkeley Geochronology Center scientists have detailed the 2.5 million year history of the beautiful and distinctive U-shaped glacial valleys of Fiordland National Park in New Zealand.

School of Social Welfare to help develop plan to deliver social services to China’s needy

As China turns its attention to the social needs of its citizens, the School of Social Welfare is partnering with Beijing Normal University to develop a strategy to deliver services to China’s needy, thanks to a three-year planning grant from the Ford Foundation. Julian Chow, an associate professor of social welfare, will manage the Berkeley-Beijing Normal University initiative.

Berkeley Lab Researchers Make First Perovskite-based Superlens for the Infrared

Berkeley Lab researchers have fabricated superlenses from perovskite oxides that are ideal for capturing light in the mid-infrared range, opening the door to highly sensitive biomedical detection and imaging. It may also be possible to turn the superlensing effect on/off, opening the door to highly dense data writing and storage.

UC Berkeley, UCSF join forces to advance frontier of brain repair

Researchers at UC Berkeley and UCSF have launched the joint Center for Neural Engineering and Prostheses to develop technology that can translate brain signals into movements controlling prosthetic limbs, circumventing damaged or missing neural circuits in people suffering from disabling conditions.

Closing in on the Pseudogap

In a three-pronged attack on one of the stubbornest problems in materials sciences, groups from Berkeley Lab, UC Berkeley, SLAC, and Stanford have produced the strongest evidence yet that the mysterious pseudogap, hallmark of high-temperature superconductors, is not a gradual transition to the superconducting phase, as long supposed, but instead is a unique and hitherto unknown phase of matter.

Sugar’s highs, lows: UC researchers weigh in

UC researchers weigh in People in the U.S. today consume 21 times more sweet stuff than the pilgrims and pioneers did, scientists from Berkeley and other UC campuses reported at a recent symposium on sugar and other sweeteners.

Echoes of Mengele and Tuskegee, this time in Guatemala

Medical historian Susan Reverby, who first revealed postwar U.S. government medical experiments on Guatemalan prisoners and mental patients, said the story “fits the trope of a grade-B horror move.” But she warned a Berkeley audience that it’s “too easy” to distance ourselves from those who conducted the research.

Report says green economy producing jobs, but urges work quality improvement

To achieve the state’s energy efficiency goals and provide better career opportunities for Californians, the state should modify its clean energy programs and its extensive but fragmented training and education programs, according to a report led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, released today (Thursday, March 17).

Metallic glass: The strongest, toughest material yet?

Robert Ritchie, a professor and scientist at UC Berkeley and at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is highlighted in a CBS Interactive video about his work developing and testing metallic glass. He and his students strive to create structural materials that are resistant to fracture, yet strong.

Nuclear Experts Say U.S. Safe from Japan Radiation

Radiation from a tsunami-crippled nuclear power plant in Japan does not pose a public safety risk to people outside of the disaster area, UC Berkeley nuclear engineers told an overflow audience of about 100 people at the Institute for East Asian Studies.

New blood analysis chip could lead to disease diagnosis in minutes

A major milestone in microfluidics could soon lead to stand-alone, self-powered chips that can diagnose diseases within minutes. The device, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley, Dublin City University in Ireland and Universidad de Valparaíso Chile, is able to process whole blood samples without the use of external tubing or external components.

Berkeley Lab Scientists Control Light Scattering in Graphene

Scientists at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley have learned to control the quantum pathways that determine how light scatters in graphene. As a sheet of carbon just a single atom thick, graphene’s extraordinary crystalline structure gives rise to unique electronic and optical properties. Controlling light scattering not only provides a new tool for studying graphene but points to practical applications for managing light and electronic states in graphene nanodevices.

Jillian Banfield profiled in L’Oréal-UNESCO video

UC Berkeley’s Jillian Banfield was named the 2011 North American Laureate at the 13th Annual L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards ceremony in Paris on March 3, which included the screening of a video interview with Banfield discussing her research and philosophy of science.

Berkeley Scientists Achieve Breakthrough in Nanocomposite for High-Capacity Hydrogen Storage

Berkeley researchers have designed a new composite material for hydrogen storage consisting of magnesium metal nanoparticles embedded in a Plexiglas-type polymer that rapidly absorbs and releases hydrogen at modest temperatures without oxidizing the metal after cycling. This achievement is a major breakthrough in materials design for hydrogen storage, batteries and fuel cells.

World’s top 100 universities for 2011: UC Berkeley is #4

The U.S. boasts the most reputable universities in the world according to a new global reputation ranking. The list, published March 14 by the Times Higher Education, is the first of its kind looking solely at the reputations of institutions for teaching and research. The U.S. dominates with seven universities in the top ten and a massive 45 in the total rankings.

UC Botanical Garden adopts eco-friendly fertilizing method

The UC Botanical Garden recently began using an alternative fertilizer — compost “tea” — brewed from high-grade organic vegetable matter. The method provides not only provides nutrients but reduces water use and helps to suppress disease.

Law student’s book features former Liberian child soldiers

“And Still Peace Did Not Come,” a book coauthored by Berkeley Law student Emily Holland ’12, reveals haunting personal recollections of Liberian child soldiers and their victims. A former TV producer and humanitarian journalist with experience in Africa, Holland specializes in international law and human rights and teaches street law to youth at a juvenile detention facility.

As we sleep, speedy brain waves boost our ability to learn

Scientists have long puzzled over the many hours we spend in light, dreamless slumber. But a new study from UC Berkeley suggests we’re busy recharging our brain’s learning capacity during this traditionally undervalued phase of sleep, which can take up half the night.

Has the Earth’s sixth mass extinction already arrived?

UC Berkeley biologists and graduate students delved into the fossil record to compare past animal extinctions — in particular the five “mass extinctions” that occurred within the past 540 million years — with today’s extinctions. They find that, while the rate of extinctions today is higher than during past mass extinctions, conservation efforts could help us avoid a sixth.

Designing city streets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

City planners in the U.S. have typically designed streets to enhance the comfort of the automobile driver. Unfortunately, these same features tend to discourage foot traffic, bicycles, and transit use — and increase greenhouse gas emissions. A new report from Berkeley Law examines the historical basis for these design habits, and the feasibility of choosing a better way.

Turning bacteria into butanol biofuel factories

While ethanol is today’s major biofuel, researchers aim to produce fuels more like gasoline. Butanol is the primary candidate, now produced primarily by Clostridium bacteria. UC Berkeley chemist Michelle Chang has transplanted the enzyme pathway from Clostridium into E. coli and gotten the bacteria to churn out 10 times more n-butanol than competing microbes, close to the level needed for industrial scale production.

Homoplasy: When look-alikes are unrelated

Nature is replete with animals and plants that have similar shapes or behaviors but are unrelated. They evolved these characteristics, such as long bodies in salamanders, independently, often through alteration of an entirely different set of genes. This process, called homoplasy, can tell us a lot about how evolution works, UC Berkeley biologists argue.

CITRIS researchers deploy IT tools to help monitor California water supply

While more than half of California’s water comes from snow in the Sierra Nevada, it is difficult for water managers to measure and track through the year. Now, scientists at UC Berkeley and UC Merced — supported by the multi-campus Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) — are using networks of wireless sensors to measure snow depth and other environmental factors.

Meditation beats dance for harmonizing body and mind

The body is a dancer’s instrument, but is it attuned to the mind? A new study from UC Berkeley suggests that professional ballet and modern dancers are not as emotionally in sync with their bodies as are people who regularly practice Vipassana or mindfulness meditation.

How Kleopatra got its moons

The asteroid Kleopatra was first seen as a bright dot in the asteroid belt in 1880, but only in 2000 was it found to have a highly elongated, dogbone shape. UC Berkeley and French astronomers have now found two moons orbiting the asteroid, newly named Alexhelios and Cleoselene after the twins of Queen Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony.

T. rex more hyena than lion

Was T. rex really the king of the forest? A new census of dinosaurs in Montana’s Hell Creek Formation shows that T. rex was far too abundant to be a top predator. It probably subsisted on a broad variety of dead as well as live animals, much like today’s hyena.

Probability expert looks at the Electoral College

The political controversy surrounding the Electoral College — the institution whereby we elect the president of the United States — is as old as the republic. Associate Professor Eichanan Mossel, an expert in in probability theory, uses his tools to pit the Electoral College system against the simple majority-voting system. How prone to error is the Electoral College, and what are the odds that an election outcome will actually be flipped by random error?

What’s your emotional intelligence?

How’s your emotional intelligence? Find out by taking a short quiz issued by UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. Look at 20 facial expressions and guess what emotion is being conveyed. The test draws on extensive research conducted by UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner and UCSF psychologist Paul Ekman.

Saul Perlmutter Wins the Einstein Medal

Berkeley Lab’s Saul Perlmutter has won the Einstein Medal presented annually by the Albert Einstein Society of Bern, Switzerland, for his role in discovering the accelerating expansion of the universe by observing very distant supernovae.

Fighting cancer across the disciplines

Berkeley biophysicist Jan Liphardt, director of the new Bay Area Physical Sciences-Oncology Center, believes that a new, multidisciplinary approach to understanding fundamental aspects of cancer is key to making progress in the ongoing war against the disease.

Study to examine giant sequoia groves

Forestry scientists are working to understand how wildfire and other “disturbances” affect the health of some of the oldest trees on the plant — the giant sequoias of the Sierra Nevada.

Transportation experts to help test plug-in hybrids

UC Berkeley transportation experts will test 10 Toyota Prius plug-in hybrids during the next year as part of a year-long demonstration and research program. The researchers are partnering with the Bay Area Air District, Toyota and San Jose for the project, which was kicked off today (February 15)

Tick population plummets in absence of lizard hosts

The Western fence lizard’s reputation for helping to reduce the threat of Lyme disease is in jeopardy. A new study led by UC Berkeley researchers found that areas where the lizard had been removed saw a subsequent drop in the population of the ticks that transmit Lyme disease. The decline in tick numbers seems to suggest a decreased risk of human exposure to Lyme disease when the lizard is gone.

Jim Crow signs as symbols of subjugation, trophies of triumph

In the mid 1960s, landmark laws brought an official end to the system of legal segregation known as Jim Crow. Professor Elizabeth Abel explores the “visual politics” of a system that shaped experience and perception throughout the American South (and beyond) for nearly a century — in a book praised by historian Henry Louis Gates as giving “new focus to our national dialogue on race.”

Ground-based lasers vie with satellites to map Earth’s magnetic field

Oil and mineral companies, climatologists and geophysicists all rely on expensive satellites to measure the Earth’s magnetic field, but there may be a cheaper option. UC Berkeley physicist Dmitry Budker proposes shining a pulsed orange laser on the layer of sodium atoms 90 km above the Earth to directly read the local magnetic field.

Charles Harris honored by American Chemical Society

Earlier this spring, Charles Harris, professor of chemistry, received the Ahmed Zewail Award In Ultrafast Science & Technology from the American Chemical Society. In a profile of Harris in Chemical & Engineering News, the energetic 70-year-old chemist is quoted as saying, “If I do ever retire, it’ll be to continue doing research.”

In online dating, blacks more open to romancing whites than vice versa

Has Valentine’s Day become post-racial? Not yet, it seems. New research from UC Berkeley suggests that when it comes to dating, cyberspace is as segregated as the real world. Data gathered from more than 1 million profiles of singles looking for love online show that whites overwhelmingly prefer to date members of their own race, while blacks, especially men, are far more likely to cross the race barrier in hopes of being struck by Cupid’s arrow.

Access to IT helps female researchers more than males

Access to information technology benefits female research scientists more than their male counterparts, increasing research productivity and collaboration, according to a new study co-authored by assistant professor Waverly Ding of the Haas School of Business.

Addressing societal as well as technological challenges of biofuels

Producing cheap liquid biofuels is not the only challenge in weaning the U.S. off fossil fuels. A team supported by the Energy Biosciences Institute identified social, economic and environmental issues that need to be addressed, including the impacts on farmers and on public health.

Two bear cubs join orphaned bruins at Sagehen

Two yearling black bears have joined other relocated bruins at Sagehen Creek Field Station near Truckee. This brings to eight the number of orphaned cubs offered new homes by the reserve and its manager, Jeff Brown.

Researchers turn Salmonella into anti-viral gene therapy agent

UC Berkeley researchers have converted Salmonella bacteria from a foodborne pathogen into a safe delivery vehicle for anti-viral agents. They inserted virus-stopping ribozymes into Salmonella that had their ability to cause disease disabled, and then used the bacteria to effectively treat mice infected with cytomegalovirus. It is the first time bacteria have been successfully engineered to treat a viral infection.

A 411 on water’s next drop

The Berkeley-based student project NextDrop uses mobile phones to alert residents in developing countries when water is flowing in their neighborhood’s notoriously unreliable taps. NextDrop, co-winner of last year’s Big Ideas contest on campus, began a pilot study last summer in the south India city of Hubli.

Kepler telescope discovers six planets around distant star

UC Berkeley astronomer Geoffrey Marcy is among Kepler team members who have announced hundreds of new planet candidates discovered by the space telescope. Among the confirmed planets are six orbiting a star dubbed Kepler-11. This is the largest number of planets around any star besides the Sun.

Bread mold genomes demo 'reverse-ecology'

In a demonstration of “reverse-ecology,” UC Berkeley biologists have shown that one can determine an organism’s adaptive traits by looking first at its genome and checking for variations across a population. The study offers a powerful new tool in evolutionary genetics research, one that could be used to help monitor the effects of climate change and habitat destruction.

Cow rumen yields enzyme bonanza

Sequencing of microbes in the rumen of the cow has turned up a treasure trove of new enzymes that degrade tough plant material, providing new avenues for research to boost biofuel production from plants. The research, funded by the Energy Biosciences Institute, involves UC Berkeley chemical engineer Doug Clark and colleagues at LBNL and the Joint Genome Institue.

Chemist Gabor Somorjai awarded frontiers of knowledge prize

University Professor of Chemistry Gabor Somorjai has been awarded the 3rd annual BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award. Accompanied by a $550,000 prize, the award by the Spanish foundation honors Somorjai’s “pioneering experimental and conceptual contributions to the understanding of surface chemistry and catalysis at a microscopic and molecular level.

Study finds greenhouse gas emissions can hurt companies' stock value

A study by the Haas School’s Yuan Sun and colleagues at UC Davis and the University of Otago, New Zealand, found that the stock value of a company typically drops when it increases carbon emissions. The finding supports arguments that firms should be required to disclose to investors any action that impacts climate change.

A Different Kind of Language Syllabus

German Professor Claire Kramsch approach to language acquisition focuses on the inner experience of language learners, which she believes cannot be separated from the learner's mother tongue: "Instructors can help students engage that gap between the native tongue and the new language."

James Berger receives National Academy of Science honor

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has honored 13 individuals with awards recognizing extraordinary scientific achievements in the areas of biology, chemistry, physics, economics and psychology. James M. Berger, Walter and Ruth Schubert Family Chair in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UC Berkeley, is the recipient of the NAS Award in Molecular Biology.

Right-wing studies? At Berkeley?

Neither left nor right, the 2-year-old Center for the Comparative Study of Right-Wing Movements is leading the effort to fill a scholarship gap with roots in the Cold War. Proximity to People’s Park has nothing to do with it.

Forget Planet X! New technique could pinpoint Galaxy X

Many large galaxies, such as the Milky Way, are thought to have hundreds of satellite galaxies, many of them too dim to see because they are dominated by dark matter. Post-doctoral fellow Sukanya Chakrabarti and astronomy professor Leo Blitz have developed a method to search for these “dark” satellite galaxies, and have predicted that the Milky Way has a companion dwarf galaxy not yet discovered.

Microbes in the preemie gut

UC Berkeley scientist Jill Banfield, with colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh and Stanford University, have for the first time sequenced and reconstructed the genomes of most of the microbes in the gut of a premature newborn and documented how the microbe populations changed over time. Banfield and pediatric surgeon Michael Morowitz hope that characterizing gut microbes of normal and sick infants could lead to cause of necrotizing enterocolitis in preemies.

New Interdisciplinary Center Examines Nuclear Power

Several dozen scholars, analysts, scientists, and students gathered in Berkeley for an unprecedented and often contentious workshop on the future of nuclear power. The workshop, sponsored by UC Berkeley’s newly formed Center for Science, Technology, Medicine and Society, brought together social scientists and their counterparts in science, engineering, and policy.

New guide helps engineers design safer skyscrapers

Designing skyscrapers to withstand earthquakes is getting easier thanks to a team of researchers and practitioners organized by the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER) at UC Berkeley. A new guide developed by PEER’s Tall Building Initiative, led by UC Berkeley structural engineering professor Jack Moehle, has standardized the design and review process for evaluating the seismic safety of buildings over 140 feet tall.

Polymer membranes with molecular-sized channels that assemble themselves

Many futurists envision a world in which polymer membranes with molecular-sized channels are used to capture carbon, produce solar-based fuels, or desalinate seawater, among many other functions. This will require methods by which such membranes can be readily fabricated in bulk quantities. A technique representing a significant first step down that road has now been successfully demonstrated. Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley researchers — led by materials scientist Ting Xu — have developed a solution-based method for inducing the self-assembly of flexible polymer membranes with highly aligned subnanometer channels.

Four UC Berkeley faculty named AAAS fellows

Four UC Berkeley faculty members have been named 2010 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science.

Wildlife biologists put dogs' scat-sniffing talents to good use

UC Berkeley biologists have harnessed dogs' natural talent for sniffing out the scat of other animals for a good cause. With the help of Working Dogs for Conservation, a Montana-based nonprofit organization, researchers are fine-tuning the use of dogs as a non-invasive tool for wildlife studies and management.

Possible missing link between young and old galaxies

UC Berkeley astronomers may have found the missing link between young, gas-filled, star-forming galaxies and older, gas-depleted galaxies typically characterized as “red and dead.” Leo Blitz and Katherine Alatalo report that a long-known “early-type” galaxy, NGC 1266, is expelling molecular gas, mostly hydrogen, from its core. The unusual galaxy may help explain how gas-filled galaxies rid themselves of their molecular gas.

Advance makes MRI scans more than seven times faster

UC Berkeley physicist David Feinberg, in collaboration with physicians at the University of Minnesota, has combined two new techniques to speed MRI scans of the brain by more than a factor of 10. The faster functional MRI scans will boost the national effort to map the brain’s wiring, called the Human Connectome Project.