Big NSF grant funds research into training robots to work with humans

What if robots and humans, working together, were able to perform tasks in surgery and manufacturing that neither can do alone? That’s the question driving new research by UC Berkeley robotics experts Ken Goldberg and Pieter Abbeel and colleagues from four other universities, who were awarded a $3.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

Special Anglo-American relationship to be studied in new program

Whether it involves Reagan and Thatcher, FDR and Churchill or the colonies and the crown, the special relationship between Great Britain and the United States is generally known – but not necessarily well-understood. That connection will be more deeply explored in a new Anglo-American studies program to be housed at UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS), thanks to a $1 million gift from the Anglo California Foundation.

Cloud forest trees drink water through their leaves

Tropical montane cloud forest trees use more than their roots to take up water. They also drink water from clouds directly through their leaves, University of California, Berkeley, scientists have discovered. While this is an essential survival strategy in foggy but otherwise dry areas, the scientists say that the clouds the trees depend on are now disappearing due to climate change.

Cleantech to Market Bridges Gap from Lab to Launch

Mechanical engineer Lindsay Miller, PhD 12, knew there was a market for her doctoral thesis project—a device the size of a stick of gum that harvests energy from machinery vibrations, generating enough electricity to run wireless sensors without ever having to change a battery.

New gene found that turns carbs into fat, could be target for future drugs

A gene that helps the body convert that big plate of holiday cookies you just polished off into fat could provide a new target for potential treatments for fatty liver disease, diabetes and obesity. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, are unlocking the molecular mechanisms of how our body converts dietary carbohydrates into fat.

Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Gives a Big Boost to BigBOSS

A $2.1 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to the University of California at Berkeley, through the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics (BCCP), will fund the development of revolutionary technologies for BigBOSS, a project now in the proposal stage designed to study dark energy with unprecedented precision.

Four faculty members named fellows of AAAS

Four University of California, Berkeley, faculty members have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the association announced today (Thursday, Nov. 29).

New Wetland Design Shows Leap in Cleansing Toxins from Salton Sea

A rotten-egg stench that fouled a swath of Southern California in September was traced to the Salton Sea — the latest episode in the environmental woes of California’s largest, but rapidly shrinking, inland lake. Now a new study has demonstrated a cost-effective method for using man-made wetlands to clean contaminants out of the freshwater rivers that flow into the sea.

Flame retardants linked to neurodevelopmental delays in children

Prenatal and childhood exposure to flame retardant compounds are linked to poorer attention, fine motor coordination and IQ in school-aged children, a finding by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health that adds to growing health concerns over a chemical prevalent in U.S. households.

Probing the depths of poll work

About a million Americans — 100,000 of them in California — will spend Election Day as poll workers. Karin Mac Donald and Bonnie Glaser, director and research specialist, respectively, at Berkeley Law’s Election Administration Research Center, say it’s a role that’s stressful and underappreciated.

Hermit crabs socialize to evict their neighbors

Social animals usually congregate for protection or mating or to capture bigger prey, but a University of California, Berkeley, biologist has found that the terrestrial hermit crab has a more self-serving social agenda: to kick another crab out of its shell and move into a larger home.

Sather Center targets transatlantic research

With several of its namesake’s descendants on hand for the occasion, UC Berkeley’s Peder Sather Center for Advanced Study is celebrating its launch today (Thursday) with a two-day campus conference.

Did bacteria spark evolution of multicellular life?

A new UC Berkeley study now suggests that bacteria may have helped kick off one of the key events in evolution: the leap from one-celled organisms to many-celled organisms, a development that eventually led to all animals, including humans.

Don’t be so fast to judge a cat by its color, study warns

Interested in the link between how cat color influences adoption rates, a University of California, Berkeley, researcher surveyed 189 people with experience of cats as pets and found that they were more likely to assign positive personality traits to orange cats and less favorable ones to white and tortoiseshell ones.

Keck observations reveal complex face of Uranus

The planet Uranus, known since Voyager’s 1986 flyby as a bland, featureless blue-green orb, is beginning to show its face. By using a new technique with the telescopes of the Keck Observatory, astronomers have created the most richly detailed, highest-resolution images ever taken of the giant ice planet.

Grave Matters

Thomas Laqueur studies the role of cemeteries in civilization.

The Best of Both Catalytic Worlds

Catalysts are substances that speed up the rates of chemical reactions without themselves being chemically changed. Industrial catalysts come in two main types – heterogeneous, in which the catalyst is in a different phase from the reactants; and homogeneous, in which catalyst and the reactants are in the same phase.

Arsenic water filter recognized with international prize

A team led by Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (Berkeley Lab)’s Ashok Gadgil is the recipient of the 5th Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water. Gadgil, head of the Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division and a Professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, will receive the Creativity Prize on behalf of the team.

Quantifying Nature’s Aquatic Requirements

Pescadero Estuary, located an hour south of San Francisco, is a coastal habitat under intense pressure from several interest groups, some human, others wild. And the estuary’s endangered fish species need specific seasonal water regimens and salinity levels to survive.

A Welcome Predictability

Synthetic biology is the latest and most advanced phase of genetic engineering, holding great promise for helping to solve some of the world’s most intractable problems, including the sustainable production of energy fuels and critical medical drugs, and the safe removal of toxic and radioactive waste from the environment.

Study Finds Flirting Can Pay Off for Women in Negotiations

When Madeleine Albright became the first female U.S. Secretary of State, she led high-level negotiations between mostly male foreign government leaders. In 2009, comedian Bill Maher asked Albright if she ever flirted on the job and she replied, “I did, I did.” Flirtatiousness, female friendliness, or the more diplomatic description “feminine charm” is an effective way for women to gain negotiating mileage.

Reports shows political preferences of California’s Asian Americans

Asian Americans, who account for 10 percent of registered voters in California, support a tax measure proposed by Governor Jerry Brown, are closely divided on the death penalty ballot measure, overwhelmingly support affirmative action, and support tax increases, according to two new reports from the National Asian American Survey.

Voters act on performance, not policy, new book says

Voters in U.S. presidential races make choices based on a candidate’s performance rather than on his or her policy positions – even when those stances run counter to the voters’ own, according to a new book by a University of California, Berkeley, political scientist.

Pushing innovations to industry's doorstep

A tiny laser that could enable smaller and faster smart phones and tablets. A glucosamine-like supplement that targets the underlying cause of multiple sclerosis. These are among research projects getting a boost this year from a UC grants program.

Cal Energy Corps interns field-test smart solutions

Recently returned from their summer sojourns, 32 UC Berkeley undergraduates shared experiences interning on myriad sustainability projects around the world during the second annual Cal Energy Corps symposium at the David Brower Center Thursday.

Conference explores California’s fiscal crisis

The University of California, Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) is sponsoring an all-day conference on Sept. 21, to explore “California’s Fiscal Crisis: Prospects for Deficit Reduction and Pension Reform in the Golden State.”

Berkeley Leads the Way in NSF Fellowships

The National Science Foundation fellowship is a crown jewel of graduate student awards and UC Berkeley students lead the nation in capturing these prestigious and highly competitive grants.

New ‘energy incentive’ links kilowatt usage with the bottom line

The Energy Incentive Program, as it’s named, encourages reduction in electricity usage through energy-saving measures by UC Berkeley building occupants as well as building managers like Stark. It’s one part of Operational Excellence’s work to save the campus $75 million annually.

New Report on Electric Vehicle Policies

The environmental law centers at UCLA and UC Berkeley Schools of Law today released a new report on industry actions and federal, state, and local policies needed to stimulate long-term, mass adoption of electric vehicles.

For Richmond residents, RBC spells restoration, remediation, renewal

A second community meeting was held at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium and UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory — the city’s partners in the joint campus — brought along some of the scientists themselves, who talked about their research and took questions from the audience.

Explosion of galaxy formation lit up early universe

Extremely bright, active galaxies formed and fully illuminated the universe by the time it was 750 million years old, or about 13 billion years ago, according to Oliver Zahn, a postdoctoral fellow at the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics (BCCP) at the University of California, Berkeley, who led the data analysis.

Crowd-sourced online reviews help fill restaurant seats, study finds

A new study by UC Berkeley economists analyzed restaurant ratings on and found that, on a scale of 1 to 5, a half-star rating increase translates into a 19 percent greater likelihood that an eatery’s seats will be full during peak dining times. The study, published this month in the Economic Journal, found that the increase is independent of changes in price or in food and service quality.

Synchronized Lasers Measure How Light Changes Matter

An international team of scientists led by Thornton Glover of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) the team was able to measure the optical manipulation of chemical bonds in the in a diamond sample, on the scale of individual atoms.

Temp workers face increased likelihood of poverty

California's temporary workers are twice as likely as other employees in California to live in poverty, receive food stamps and be on Medicaid, according to a new report from the UC Berkeley's Center for Labor Research and Education.

Intense prep for law school admission test alters brain structure

Intensive preparation for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) actually changes the microscopic structure of the brain, physically bolstering the connections between areas of the brain important for reasoning, according to neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley.

Speeding the Search for Better Carbon Capture

A computer model that can identify the best molecular candidates for removing carbon dioxide, molecular nitrogen and other greenhouse gases from power plant flues has been developed by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), the University of California (UC) Berkeley and the University of Minnesota.

ITS Centers Receive $2.5 Million to Improve Road Safety

California’s Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) has awarded $2.5 million in grants to two research and education centers affiliated with UC Berkeley's Institute of Transportation Studies to improve safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and drivers.

Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley Researchers Record First Direct Observations of Quantum Effects in an Optomechanical System

Scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley, using a unique optical trapping system that provides ensembles of ultracold atoms, have recorded the first direct observations of distinctly quantum optical effects – amplification and squeezing – in an optomechanical system.

New study links LA Unified’s new schools to elementary student performance benefits

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, examined the Los Angeles School District’s unprecedented school building program and found that thousands of children moving into new elementary schools over the 2002-2008 construction period enjoyed strong achievement gains that equaled up to 35 additional days of instruction, compared with the progress made by the average LA Unified student.

Girls with ADHD more prone to self-injury, suicide as they enter adulthood

“Like boys with ADHD, girls continue to have problems with academic achievement and relationships, and need special services as they enter early adulthood,” said Stephen Hinshaw, UC Berkeley professor of psychology and lead author of a study that reports after 10 years on the largest-ever sample of girls whose ADHD was first diagnosed in childhood.

Why are people overconfident so often? It’s all about social status

The lure of social status promotes overconfidence, explains Haas School Associate Professor Cameron Anderson. He co-authored a new study, “A Status-Enhancement Account of Overconfidence,” with Sebastien Brion, assistant professor of managing people in organizations, IESE Business School, University of Navarra, Haas School colleagues Don Moore, associate professor of management, and Jessica A. Kennedy, now a post-doctoral fellow at the Wharton School of Business.

Direct Imaging by Berkeley Lab Researchers Confirms the Importance of Electron-Electron Interactions in Graphene

Perhaps no other material is generating as much excitement in the electronics world as graphene. For the vast potential of graphene to be fully realized, however, scientists must first learn more about what makes graphene so super. The latest step in this direction has been taken by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley.

New Report Shows How California Can Improve Water Rights

The Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE) has drafted a new report that describes how California allocates water and identifies changes that would help the current system adapt to climate change. Co-written by Dan Farber, Deborah Lambe ’95, and UC Berkeley economist Michael Hanemann, the report focuses on practical, politically feasible measures.

CINEMA among tiny CubeSats to be launched Aug. 2

Eleven tiny satellites called CubeSats will accompany a spy satellite into Earth orbit on Thursday, Aug. 2, inaugurating a new type of inexpensive, modular nanosatellite. One of the 11 will be CINEMA (CubeSat for Ions, Neutrals, Electrons, & MAgnetic fields), an 8-pound, shoebox-sized package which was built over three years by 45 students from the University of California, Berkeley, Kyung Hee University in Korea, Imperial College London, Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, and University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez.

Future of California high-speed rail looks green

A new analysis gives Californians good reason to be optimistic about the green credentials of the state’s proposed high-speed rail project, due to begin construction in 2013 thanks to funding recently approved by state legislators. Arpad Horvath at the University of California, Berkeley, and Mikhail Chester at Arizona State University compared the future sustainability of California high-speed rail with that of competing modes of transportation, namely automobile and air travel.

Chemical makes blind mice see

A team of University of California, Berkeley, scientists in collaboration with researchers at the University of Munich and University of Washington, in Seattle, has discovered a chemical that temporarily restores some vision to blind mice, and is working on an improved compound that may someday allow people with degenerative blindness to see again.

Theoretical astrophysicist receives $500,000+, no strings attached

The Simons Foundation of New York initiated a new program of Simons Investigators this year, awarding 21 mathematicians, theoretical physicists and theoretical computer scientists $100,000 per year for 5-10 years, no strings attached. Theoretical astrophysicist Eliot Quataert was one of them.

UC Berkeley joins edX online learning initiative

UC Berkeley today has joined edX, a not-for-profit online learning initiative founded by Harvard University and MIT and launched last May. The campus will collaborate with edX to expand the number of universities that offer their courses on the edX platform. In a press release issued by edX, Chancellor Birgeneau said the campus is “committed to excellence in online education and the dual goals of distributing higher education more broadly and enriching the quality of campus-based education.”

Bakar Fellows advance commercially promising research

In its first year, the initiative will give research innovations by six early-career UC Berkeley faculty members — including technologies to move prosthetic limbs with the power of thought and to control Argentine ants using their own pheromones — a significant boost from the lab to the market.

White House report provides roadmap for revitalizing U.S. manufacturing

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) has released a new report that provides a roadmap for revitalizing the U.S. manufacturing industry, and thereby spur the creation of much-needed jobs. The PCAST report is a product of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) Steering Committee, whose membership includes leading manufacturing experts from industry and six universities, including UC Berkeley.

Higgs fever: Overflow crowd hears about new particle

A July 13 lecture and panel discussion drew overflow crowds to hear about the newly discovered Higgs boson. Physicists Beate Heinemann and Lawrence Hall explained the theory and experiment behind this “third” kind of stuff, while three others explored the implications of the discovery.

Not Your Typical Summer Job for High School Students

A summer job for eight high school students from the East Bay means working in a state-of-the art microbiology research laboratory on the next-step in bioenergy. The iCLEM program is a paid summer internship for high school students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds who fall outside the typical curve of academic enrichment. It is sponsored by the Joint BioEnergy Institute and the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center.

Discovery opens door to drugs for chronic infections

Using super-resolution microscopy and continuous fluorescent imaging, UC Berkeley physicists have for the first time revealed the structure of bacterial biofilms, which are responsible for the tenacious nature of bacterial diseases such as cholera and chronic sinusitus. The picture provides new targets for the development of drugs that can tear down these structures.

Flash of light switches right to left … for molecules

A research team that includes engineers from UC Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has created a way to quickly change the left-right orientation of molecules, or chirality, with a beam of light. The development could be applied across a wide range of fields, including reduced energy use for data-processing, homeland security and ultrahigh-speed communications.

Chemical engineers use lasers to put new spin on computing

Researchers at UC Berkeley and the City College of New York are using lasers to control the spin state of semiconductor materials, a development that could lead to the creation of even faster and smaller electronic devices. The researchers hope to see spintronics move beyond memory devices to the logic circuits that are the heart of modern computers.

Haas prof reports on the advantage of being first

New research finds that, when making choices, people consistently prefer the options that come first: first in line, first college to offer acceptance, first salad on the menu. A paper on these findings — coauthored by Dana Carney, assistant professor of management at the Haas School of Business — appears in the peer-reviewed journal PLoS ONE.

U.S. could quadruple biofuel use in 25 years, experts say

UC Berkeley scientists Chris Somerville and Heather Youngs of the Energy Biosciences Institute argue in The Scientist that within 25 years, the U.S. could scale up biofuel production to meet 30 percent of the nation’s demand for liquid transportation fuel, four times the current contribution.

Key to good design? Start with the end user

An engineer working on a project to improve parks would do well to visit a nearby park to get “a fuller context of what visitors experience,” says mechanical engineering grad student Lora Oehlberg. Oehlberg instructs classes at Berkeley known as the human-centered design course thread, looking at incorporating the needs of the end user into the engineering of goods, products or services.

Berkeley team awaits CERN results for Higgs boson

UC Berkeley physicists Beate Heinemann and Marjorie Shapiro, with their Berkeley Lab colleagues, are awaiting a July 4 announcement by their ATLAS experiment team at CERN as to whether the collaboration has detected the much-sought Higgs boson.

UC Berkeley Chemists Installing Carbon Dioxide Sensors in Oakland

Using inexpensive detectors that can fit inside a shoebox, UC Berkeley chemists are installing carbon dioxide and other air pollution sensors in 40 sites around Oakland to explore how detailed, neighborhood-by-neighborhood information can help communities monitor greenhouse gas and other harmful emissions.

Civil engineering grad student focuses on infrastructure, advocacy

Iris Tien, a graduate student in civil and environmental engineering, headed to Sacramento this past spring to lobby for state support of higher education and impress legislators with the importance of the kind of work she does on identifying weaknesses in the state’s water and power infrastructures.

Rewriting quantum chips with a beam of light

The promise of ultrafast quantum computing has moved a step closer to reality with a technique to create rewritable computer chips using a beam of light. College of Chemistry professor Jeffrey Reimer and researchers from The City College of New York used light to control the spin of an atom’s nucleus in order to encode information.

Q&A: Alison Gopnik on babies and learning

Best-selling author Alison Gopnik, a professor of psychology, discusses her research and UC Berkeley’s long history of focusing on how children learn. She and colleagues recently formed the Center for Developmental Cognitive Science to model the next generation of artificial intelligence on principles gleaned from children’s ability to learn rapidly, explore and reason.

Two UC Berkeley grads launch printable battery startup

With moral and monetary support from UC Berkeley and UC’s Office of the President, two UC grads – Christine Ho and Brooks Kincaid – have formed a company to create ‘printable’ batteries that are efficient, environmentally friendly and could be made as small as a postage stamp. The start-up is a tribute to the campus’s entrepreneurial environment and its innovative students.

Size matters: Images viewed on small screens may be distorted, study finds

Vision scientists at UC Berkeley have found that pictures viewed on the small screens of mobile devices often appear distorted compared to the same image viewed from a computer or TV monitor. The different viewing distances for the devices leads to this perceptual distortion. The researchers propose the use of longer focal lengths — 100mm — to create content that is viewed on small screens, and shorter focal lengths — 50 mm — for images used on larger devices, such as a television.

Analysis of global fire risk shows big, fast changes ahead

Climate change is widely expected to disrupt future fire patterns around the world — with some regions, such as the western U.S., seeing more frequent fires within the next 30 years, according to a new analysis led by UC Berkeley researchers in collaboration with an international team of scientists. The study used 16 different climate-change models to produce one of the most comprehensive projections to date of how climate change might affect global fire patterns.

Hindcasting helps scientists improve forecasts for life on Earth

Scientists at UC Berkeley have launched a unique program, the Berkeley Initiative in Global Change Biology, to use hindcasting – “predicting” what happened during past episodes of climate change – to improve the reliability and accuracy of computer models that forecast how plants and animals will adapt to a changing planet.

Let it burn: Prescribed fires pose little danger to forest ecology, study says

UC Berkeley-led research is giving the green light to fighting fire with fire. An analysis of controlled burns and mechanical thinning nationwide did not find substantial ecological harm from fuel-reduction treatments used to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. And with a rise in wildfires predicted in many parts of the country, researchers say more treatments are needed to manage this risk.

Tumor cells move faster through tight spaces

Tight spaces have the counterintuitive effect of aiding the spread of tumor cells, according to a new study led by UC Berkeley bioengineers. The researchers developed a 3D model to study the biophysical environment factors influencing tumor invasion and found that narrow channels gave cells traction to help them move faster. The findings have implications for certain cancers, including malignant brain tumors, which tend to infiltrate most rapidly along tissue interfaces and confined spaces, such as blood vessels and nerve tracts.

X-ray telescope to focus on hottest regions of black holes, supernovas

NASA is scheduled to launch an orbiting X-ray satellite on Wednesday, June 13, that will open a new window on the universe, allowing scientists to probe the roiling edges of black holes, exploding stars and the smallest, most frequent flares on the sun. UC Berkeley scientists and engineers helped build the instruments, will operate the satellite, and will analyze the data from supernova explosions.

Theorem unifies superfluids and other weird materials

UC Berkeley physicists Hitoshi Murayama and Haruki Watanabe have proved that counting the number of Nambu-Goldstone bosons in a material reveals the material’s behavior at low temperatures, unifying the description of weird materials such as superfluids, magnets and Bose-Einstein condensates, and allowing the design of new materials with spooky properties.

UC Berkeley students present recommendations for clean energy policy in Washington, DC

A group of students from UC Berkeley met with top energy policy makers in Washington DC to present their recommendations on developing a national clean energy plan. These recommendations were based on an extensive report that represented the culmination of a semester's worth of work in the class “Renewable Energy and Other Cleaner Fuels: Energy Policy to Save the Planet, the Country, and the Economy” co-taught by Jannifer Granholm and Steve Weissman in spring 2012.

The real culprit behind hardened arteries? Stem cells, says landmark study

Vascular diseases are actually a type of stem cell disease, according to a new study by UC Berkeley scientists. The discovery challenges a long-standing belief that smooth muscle cells contribute to clogged blood vessels, and could revolutionize research into therapies for heart attacks and strokes, which account for one in three deaths in the United States.

Scientists uncover evidence of impending tipping point for Earth

UC Berkeley professor Tony Barnosky and 21 scientists from around the world argue inNature magazine that planet Earth is frighteningly close to a tipping point that would send the globe into a state that could spell disaster for humans. The new Berkeley Initiative in Global Change Biology is focused on recognizing the signs of impending doom so that we can stop short of the precipice.

Environmental ed project teams Berkeley with global practitioners

A new environmental education program brings the latest research and expertise from UC Berkeley, to the far reaches of the world’s developing countries announced its inaugural call for proposals on June 5, 2012. The program, tirled “Sustainable Solutions: Teaming Berkeley with Global Practitioners,” is a pilot project funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Stealth behavior allows cockroaches to seemingly vanish

Cockroaches, known for their stealth behavior, have a strategy up their sleeve only recently discovered by UC Berkeley biologists. They are able to quickly disappear under ledges by flinging themselves off at full speed, grabbing the edge with hook-like claws on their hind legs, and swinging like a pendulum to land upside-down underneath.

California poll by IGS shows new open primary ballot boosts moderate candidates

The new “top two” ballot used in California’s primary election today (Tuesday, June 5) appears to give moderate candidates in state races a 6-7 percent boost compared to the traditional, more restricted ballot, according to preliminary results of a new study by the University of California, Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies.

Aging and breast cancer

A big step towards understanding the cellular basis for why women over the age of 50 are much more vulnerable to breast cancer has been taken by Berkeley Lab researchers. They determined that aging causes an increase in a type of adult stem cell believed to be at the root of many breast cancers, and a decrease in cells believed to serve as tumor suppressors.

A new tool to attack the mysteries of high-temperature superconductivity

Using ultrafast lasers, Berkeley Lab scientists have tackled the long-standing mystery of how Cooper pairs form in high-temperature superconductors. With pump and probe pulses spaced just trillionths of a second apart, the researchers used photoemission spectroscopy to map rapid changes in electronic states across the superconducting transition.

Hazy days: Berkeley Lab tackles pollution in Mongolia

Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) are known for designing high-efficiency cookstoves for Darfur and Ethiopia. Now they are applying their expertise to the windswept steppes of Mongolia, whose capital city, Ulaan Baatar, is among the most polluted cities in the world. The scientists are working with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a U.S. foreign aid agency, to improve air quality in the capital city by lowering emissions from outdated stoves and boilers.

I School grad student profiles rural Chinese Internet users

China has more than half a billion Internet users, 136 million of whom live in rural areas. School of Information PhD student Elisa Oreglia, in an award-winning ethnographic study, looks at how older, less-educated villagers — many of whom claim to be Web illiterate — often become comfortable with computers by observing their younger family members.

"Tree of Life" to harness big data, visualize complex relationships

UC Berkeley plant biologist Chelsea Specht is part of a unique collaboration to develop software that visualizes enormous amount of data across all of life, allowing scientists to see, at a glance, how organisms are related. The effort is supported by a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

The search for the earliest signs of Alzheimer's

For the past five years, volunteers from the City of Berkeley and surrounding areas have come to Berkeley Lab to participate in an ongoing study that’s changing what scientists know about Alzheimer’s disease. The goal of the Berkeley Aging Cohort Study is to reveal how our brains change as we age.

Wearable electronics - the next fashion fad?

Advances in materials science and electrical engineering have paved the way for a new type of electronic device: one that can bend and fold just like a piece of paper. Ana Claudia Arias, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, hopes to take this innovation to the next level. Her goal: "wearable electronics."

Preventive medicine for pipelines

A pipeline-monitoring system using MRI technology could warn of dangerous wear before explosions occur. The innovation was developed by Professor Emeritus Jerome Singer and two College of Engineering alums.

Microbe that can handle ionic liquids

Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have identified a tropical rainforest microbe that can endure relatively high concentrations of an ionic liquid used to dissolve cellulosic biomass for the production of advanced biofuels.

A new accelerator to study steps on the path to fusion

Berkeley Lab’s NDCX-II, the recently completed second generation Neutralized Drift Compression Experiment, is a compact accelerator whose dense ion beam will be able to deliver a powerful punch for producing warm dense matter – a step on the road to heavy-ion nuclear fusion.

Scientists Core Into Clear Lake to Explore Past Climate Change

One of the oldest lakes in the world, Clear Lake has deep sediments that contain a record of the climate and local plants and animals going back perhaps 500,000 years. UC Berkeley scientists are drilling cores from the lake sediments to explore this history and fine-tune models for predicting the fate of today’s flora and fauna in the face of global warming and pressure from a burgeoning human populations.

Ashok Gadgil gets $100,000 award for global innovation

The Lemelson-MIT Program has awarded Ashok Gadgil, professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the 2012 $100,000 Lemelson-MIT Award for Global Innovation. The award recognizes Gadgil, who is known for his work on affordable water disinfection systems and fuel-efficient cookstoves for developing nations, for “his steady pursuit to blend research, invention and humanitarianism for broad social impact.”

Bringing the electric grid into the 21st century

Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) are working on a project that would modernize the grid and essentially bring it into the Internet age by using automated control software to manage demand in real time.

Q&A with Richard Karp

Establishing a new research institute at a top-tier university is a major undertaking that required a great deal of teamwork to pull off. In a recent interview, Richard Karp, founding director of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing, gave the inside story on how it all came together.

Four UC Berkeley scientists elected to National Academy of Sciences

Four University of California, Berkeley, faculty members – physicists John Clarke and Bernard Sadoulet, chemist John Hartwig and ecologist Mary Power – have been elected members or foreign associates of the National Academy of Sciences, bringing UC Berkeley’s total NAS membership to 141.

AFRON builds robotics education, research, industry in Africa

Roboticists in Ghana and at UC Berkeley this week launched AFRON, the African Robotics Network, an initiative to enhance robotics education, research and industry in Africa. Co-founder is professor Ken Goldberg, a fellow with IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers).

Sustainability Summit marks progress toward ever-greener campus

At the campus's 9th Sustainability Summit, progress in "greening" the Berkeley campus was everywhere evident — from the sheer number of student projects in the works to the metric tons of greenhouse gases not being emitted thanks to new institution-wide programs.

CalCAP wins clean-air leadership award

UC Berkeley's Cal Climate Action Partnership was honored Thursday with a clean air award from Breathe California, for its leadership in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

Where’ve you been? Pathogen history is key to its virulence

When assessing the virulence of plant-borne diseases, knowing the pathogen's recent travel history may be just as important as identifying its particular strain, according to new research results by researchers at UC Berkeley, UC Davis and the USDA Agricultural Research Service.

New findings in breast cancer

A Berkeley Lab-University of Copenhagen collaboration found that luminal-like breast cancer cells with no detectable stem cell qualities can generate larger tumors than their basal-like counterparts. This contradicts prevailing beliefs and could impact future breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Nomura named Searle Scholar

Daniel Nomura, an assistant professor in nutritional sciences and toxicology, is one of 15 U.S. researchers in the chemical and biological sciences to be named a 2012 Searle Scholar.

A shiny new tool for imaging biomolecules

Berkeley Lab researchers have developed a technique for lacing artificial membranes with billions of gold nanoantennas that can boost optical signals from a protein tens of thousands of times without the protein ever being touched.

Better organic electronics

At Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry, scientists have provided the first experimental determination of the pathways by which electrical charge is transported from molecule-to-molecule in an organic thin film.

A surprising new kind of proton transfer

Berkeley Lab scientists at the Advanced Light Source and their colleagues investigating molecular components of RNA were surprised to find that protons can find ways to transfer even when hydrogen bonds are blocked.

A fragrant new biofuel

Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) researchers have identified methyl ketones, chemical compounds known for their fragrance and flavor, as strong biofuel candidates. Methyl ketones produced from glucose by engineered E. coli yielded high cetane numbers.

Risks of bioenergy underestimated, new report says

The net effect on climate of large-scale biofuels deployment is highly uncertain, and could actually lead to a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new paper co-authored by UC Berkeley researchers

The First Spectroscopic Measurement of an Anti-Atom

Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have played leading roles in designing and operating ALPHA, the CERN experiment that was the first to capture and hold atoms of antihydrogen, a single antiproton orbited by a single positron.

Physicist Marvin Cohen wins Dickson Prize in Science

Carnegie Mellon University will award its 2011 Dickson Prize in Science to Berkeley physics professor Marvin L. Cohen, a senior scientist at the Berkeley lab and one of the most influential condensed-matter physicists in the world.

Correct protein folding

Using the exceptionally bright and powerful x-ray beams of the Advanced Light Source, Berkeley Lab researchers have discovered a critical control element within chaperonin, the protein complex responsible for the correct folding of other proteins.

How good cholesterol turns bad

Berkeley Lab researchers have found new evidence pointing the way to the design of safer, more effective next generation CETP inhibitors that could help prevent the development of heart disease.

Two faculty named Sloan Research Fellows

UC Berkeley faculty members Sylvia Ratnasamy and Allan Sly are among 126 young scholars awarded prestigious research fellowships this year from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The $50,000 research award recognizes "rising stars" early in their careers.

For Chancellor Birgeneau, research is for life

Throughout his tenure as UC Berkeley chancellor, Robert Birgeneau has sustained a research interest in new materials, maintaining labs both on campus and at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Self-assembling nanorods

Berkeley Lab researchers have developed a relatively fast, easy and inexpensive technique for inducing nanorods to self-assemble into aligned and ordered macroscopic structures.

Bright lights of purity

Berkeley Lab researchers have discovered why a promising technique for making quantum dots and nanorods has so far been a disappointment. Better still, they’ve also discovered how to correct the problem.

Remote sensing places nature at our fingertips

UC Berkeley geologist Bill Dietrich and biologist Todd Dawson are two of many UC scientists placing remote sensors in natural reserves to map land, track animals and collect environmental data.

Berkeley Lab to Develop Novel Materials for Hydrogen Storage

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is aiming to solve how to store enough of hydrogen-powered fuel cells, in a safe and cost-effective manner, to power a vehicle for 300 miles by synthesizing novel materials with high hydrogen adsorption capacities.

Lab picks Richmond Field Station for a second campus

The Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, bursting at the seams of its home next door to UC Berkeley, announced Monday that it has picked the University of California’s bayside Richmond Field Station as the site of its second campus.

UCTC receives funding for new transportation research

The University of California Transportation Center (UCTC) on the UC Berkeley campus received a $3.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation and a matching amount from California’s Department of Transportation.

‘Income inequality didn’t just happen, it was engineered’

Political scientist Paul Pierson of UC Berkeley and Jacob Hacker of Yale say the vast and growing gap between America's haves and have-nots didn't just happen, but was deliberately and politically "engineered." Coauthors of the recent book "Winner-Take-All Politics," the two appeared on the Jan. 13 episode of "Moyers & Company."

Indian Country comes to Berkeley (and vice versa)

Berkeley faculty, staff and alumni collaborate on a four-day, first-of-its-kind Native American Museum Studies Institute designed to give Indians the tools to "tell their own stories, and to tell the stories from their perspective."

UC’s green investments pay off

The University of California is saving $32 million a year on energy and remains the higher-education leader in adopting green-building standards. Those achievements and others are outlined in the "2011 UC Annual Report on Sustainable Practices."

Berkeley Lab Director Paul Alivisatos Wins Wolf Prize in Chemistry

Paul Alivisatos, Berkeley Lab director and UC Berkeley professor, has won the prestigious Wolf Foundation Prize in Chemistry for 2012. Alivisatos is an internationally recognized authority on nanochemistry and a pioneer in the synthesis of semiconductor quantum dots and multi-shaped artificial nanostructures.

Biofuels, land and ethics

Growing dedicated energy crops on lands that won’t support food crops is one of the promises of emerging cellulosic fuels.Bioenergy Connection looks at how much land is available, its energy-producing potential and which plants are the most promising alternatives.

The Next Big Step Toward Atom-Specific Dynamical Chemistry

Chemists hope to understand precisely how electrical charges flow and different forms of energy move within molecules and across molecular boundaries. Berkeley Lab scientists are using powerful lasers to devise future light sources that can do the most demanding experiments

Leaping lizards and dinosaurs inspire robot design

Undergraduate and graduate students teamed up with biologist Robert Full to study how lizards use their tails when leaping. What they found can help design robots that are more stable on uneven terrain and after unexpected falls, which is critical to successful search and rescue operations.

Stellar discovery

It takes more than luck to find a supernova. California magazine offers a behind-the-scenes look at the organized search for these astronomical objects, and the role played by scientists at Berkeley.

Law prof’s book probes ‘whys’ behind Big Apple crime decline

Between 1990 and 2009, New York City saw its crime rate drop by more than 80 percent. In his latest book, “The City that Became Safe,” Professor Frank Zimring explores how NYC’s experience, focusing on harm-reduction strategies, challenges assumptions driving U.S. policies on crime and drugs.