News

December 19, 2013

A Micro-Muscular Break Through

Vanadium dioxide is poised to join the pantheon of superstars in the materials world. Already prized for its extraordinary ability to change size, shape and physical identity, vanadium dioxide can now add muscle power to its attributes.

December 13, 2013

Big turnout for launch of big-data center

A throng turned out for Thursday’s high-spirited launch of the Berkeley Institute for Data Science. Designed to help researchers across the disciplines harness data in order to spur discoveries and create knowledge, the center for data-related teaching and collaboration will be housed in Doe Library.

December 11, 2013

Schekman receives Nobel Medal in Stockholm ceremony

Newly minted Nobel Laureate Randy Schekman used his Nobel acceptance speech Dec. 10 in Stockholm to encourage more support for basic research, the “freedom of inquiry (that) nourished the careers of today’s Laureates.”

December 10, 2013

Classroom treaty talks speak volumes on climate politics

While negotiators stalled in Warsaw, students in Kate O’Neill’s class on international environmental politics made headway in a simulated climate-change conference — and learned some vital lessons about the challenges facing their real-world counterparts.

December 3, 2013

Report warns of climate change ‘tipping points’ within our lifetime

UC Berkeley’s Tony Barnosky joined climate scientists this morning at a press conference at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., to summarize a new report issued today focusing on the short-term effects of climate change and the need to monitor them closely.

November 21, 2013

Clinic Cautions Against Dangers of Unchecked Surveillance

The Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic has submitted an amicus brief in support of a federal case against the National Security Agency (NSA). Represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a coalition of 22 organizations—from gun ownership advocates to Greenpeace—asserts that the NSA’s ongoing practice of collecting and storing vast numbers of Americans’ phone records is illegal.
November 18, 2013

Students tackle climate change in neighboring Richmond

Residents of Richmond, Calif., on the northeastern edge of San Francisco Bay, expect climate change to present their city with major challenges –- from rising sea levels to higher temperatures, flood risks and increased energy and water consumption –- in coming years. For help meeting these challenges, the city is turning to planning students at UC Berkeley.

November 13, 2013

New data science institute to help scholars harness ‘big data’

In a world awash in data, UC Berkeley is meeting the flood head-on by establishing a new institute to support faculty, researchers and students in their efforts to mine this information in areas as diverse as astronomy and economics, genetics and demography.

November 3, 2013

UC Berkeley report raises alarm about falling wages, outsourcing at U.S. airports

The outsourcing of airport jobs that once sustained middle-class careers has left many airport workers in jobs characterized by insecurity and low wages, according to a new University of California, Berkeley, study released today (Monday, Nov. 4). According to the study, this trend poses problems for workers, the communities surrounding airports and the flying public.
November 1, 2013

3-D gesture-recognition chip could be a boon to wearable gadgets

Researchers at Berkeley Engineering and UC Davis are developing a tiny chip that uses ultrasound waves to detect a slew of gestures in three dimensions. The technology, called Chirp, could eventually be used in everything from helmet cams to smart watches.
October 31, 2013

Researchers developing brain-controlled prosthetic devices

USA Today reports that scientists at the UCSF-UC Berkeley Center for Neural Engineering and Prostheses are among many teams nationwide working on brain-machine interfaces, promising bionic limbs controlled by users' thoughts.
October 28, 2013

Berkeley Lab Scientist Invents Portable DNA Extraction Kit, Helps Haiti

What does the coastal community of Bolinas, California have in common with the impoverished island nation of Haiti? The surprising answer is a fledgling sanitation strategy whereby human waste is composted into nutrient-rich fertilizer, all supported by research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientist Gary Andersen.
October 15, 2013

Low-wage fast-food jobs leave hefty tax bill, report says

The fast-food industry costs American taxpayers nearly $7 billion annually because its jobs pay so little that 52 percent of fast-food workers are forced to enroll their families in public assistance programs, according to a report released today (Tuesday, Oct. 15) by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley.
October 7, 2013

Wedded bliss or blues? Scientists link DNA to marital satisfaction

What makes some people more prone to wedded bliss or sorrow than others? Researchers at UC Berkeley and Northwestern University have found a major clue in our DNA. A gene involved in the regulation of serotonin can predict how much our emotions affect our relationships, according to a new study that may be the first to link genetics, emotions, and marital satisfaction.

October 7, 2013

Randy Schekman awarded 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Randy W. Schekman, professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, has won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his role in revealing the machinery that regulates the transport and secretion of proteins in our cells. He shares the prize with James E. Rothman of Yale University and Thomas C. Südhof of Stanford University.

October 3, 2013

Blocking nerve cells could halt symptoms of eczema

Some 10 percent of the population suffers from eczema at some point in their lives. The chronic skin condition, for which there are no cures or good treatments, causes symptoms ranging from dry, flaky and itchy skin to flaming red rashes and, particularly in children, nasal allergies and asthma.

October 3, 2013

UC Berkeley, Berkeley Lab announce Kavli Energy NanoScience Institute

The Kavli Foundation has endowed a new institute at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) to explore the basic science of how to capture and channel energy on the molecular or nanoscale and use this information to discover new ways of generating energy for human use.

September 27, 2013

Newly released climate change report reinforces need for action

The release today (Friday, Sept. 27) of Assessment Report 5, a new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), bolsters the conclusions of its 2007 report that humans are responsible for global warming, and it highlights the need for immediate action to reduce carbon emissions.

September 17, 2013

Got calcium? Mineral key to restoring acid rain-damaged forests

Calcium can do much more than strengthen bones. The mineral is a critical nutrient for healthy tree growth, and new research shows that adding it to the soil helps reverse the decades-long decline of forests ailing from the effects of acid rain.

September 17, 2013

Four new species of ‘legless lizards’ discovered living on the edge

California biologists have discovered four new species of reclusive legless lizards living in some of the most marginal habitat in the state: a vacant lot in downtown Bakersfield, among oil derricks in the lower San Joaquin Valley, on the margins of the Mojave desert, and at the end of one of the runways at LAX.
September 6, 2013

Grant for Newborn Genetic Screening

Computational Biologist Steven Brenner will be part of an ambitious effort to assess whether large-scale gene sequencing aimed at detecting disorders and conditions can and should become a routine part of newborn testing.

August 27, 2013

Office too hot or cold? Researchers aim for comfort, energy efficiency

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, are working to take research innovations from their labs into the real world to cut commercial building energy consumption by close to a third, and give office workers an unprecedented sense of control over their thermal environments.

August 25, 2013

Cocaine’s effect on mice may explain human drug-seeking behavior

Cocaine can speedily rewire high-level brain circuits that support learning, memory and decision-making, according to new research from UC Berkeley and UCSF. The findings shed new light on the frontal brain’s role in drug-seeking behavior and may be key to tackling addiction.

August 2, 2013

Research Brief: Auto lubricant could rev up medical imaging

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, have built a device that could speed up medical imaging without breaking the bank. The key ingredient? An engine lubricant called molybdenum disulfide, or MoS2, which has been sold in auto parts shops for decades.

August 1, 2013

Secondhand Smoke in Bars and Restaurants Means Higher Risk of Asthma and Cancer

In the first study to evaluate the health risks of exposure to secondhand smoke for patrons of restaurants and bars, researchers have found that the risks are well above the acceptable level. The study assessed the risk for lung cancer and heart disease deaths among both patrons and servers and also for asthma initiation—the first study to do so—among servers.

August 1, 2013

College launches new energy engineering major

The College of Engineering has launched a new major—driven largely by undergraduate interest—that focuses in a comprehensive way on the generation, transmission and storage of energy, with additional courses on energy policy.

July 29, 2013

Quest to test Einstein’s speed limit

Albert Einstein’s assertion that there’s an ultimate speed limit – the speed of light – has withstood countless tests over the past 100 years, but that didn’t stop University of California, Berkeley, postdoc Michael Hohensee and graduate student Nathan Leefer from checking whether some particles break this law.

July 24, 2013

Research Brief: Technology could bring high-end solar to the masses

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed an inexpensive new way to grow thin films of a material prized in the semiconductor and photovoltaic industries, an achievement that could bring high-end solar cells within reach of consumer pocketbooks.

July 10, 2013

Of Aging Bones and Sunshine

Study at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source links vitamin D deficiency to accelerated aging of bones.

July 2, 2013

The Fold-Up Boat

Anton Willis (M. Arch '07) has reinvented kayaks for urban dwellers with his inception and production of "the world's first origami kayak." Willis launched Oru Kayak on Kickstarter with a successful campaign resulting in 473 boat orders and $43,806 in pledges.

June 12, 2013

Researchers develop easy and effective therapy to restore sight

Researchers at UC Berkeley have developed an easier and more effective method for inserting genes into eye cells that could greatly expand gene therapy to help restore sight to patients with blinding diseases ranging from inherited defects like retinitis pigmentosa to degenerative illnesses of old age, such as macular degeneration.

June 4, 2013

To improve today’s concrete, do as the Romans did

In a quest to make concrete more durable and sustainable, an international team of geologists and engineers has found inspiration in the ancient Romans, whose massive concrete structures have withstood the elements for more than 2,000 years.

May 16, 2013

Bach to the blues, our emotions match music to colors

Whether we’re listening to Bach or the blues, our brains are wired to make music-color connections depending on how the melodies make us feel, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley.

May 15, 2013

Students think big ideas in tackling societal problems

Closing out almost nine months of intense competition, UC Berkeley’s annual Big Ideas contest honored this year’s crop of outstanding social projects last week during a special awards celebration at the Blum Center for Developing Economies.

May 9, 2013

Flawed Diamonds Promise Sensory Perfection

From brain to heart to stomach, the bodies of humans and animals generate weak magnetic fields that a supersensitive detector could use to pinpoint illnesses, trace drugs – and maybe even read minds. Sensors no bigger than a thumbnail could map gas deposits underground, analyze chemicals, and pinpoint explosives that hide from other probes.

May 9, 2013

Heady mathematics: Describing popping bubbles in a foam

Two University of California, Berkeley, researchers have now described mathematically the successive stages in the complex evolution and disappearance of foamy bubbles, a feat that could help in modeling industrial processes in which liquids mix or in the formation of solid foams such as those used to cushion bicycle helmets.

May 9, 2013

Howard Hughes Medical Institute names three new campus investigators

Nicole King, Russell Vance and Michael Rape took different routes to UC Berkeley’s Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, but they’ve ended up with one of the mostly highly sought positions at any American university: a fully subsidized appointment, with added research funds, as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator.

May 6, 2013

Scrutinizing Space Storms for a Calmer Life on Earth

Thomas Immel and his team at the Space Sciences Lab will design, build and operate two instruments and oversee development of two others to be loaded on a solar-powered satellite for a two-year science mission tentatively set to launch in 2017.

April 30, 2013

Three faculty members named to National Academy of Sciences

In recognition of their excellence in original scientific research, three UC Berkeley faculty members have been elected members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), one of the highest honors given to a scientist or engineer in the United States.

April 30, 2013

Is antimatter anti-gravity?

Antimatter is strange stuff. It has the opposite electrical charge to matter and, when it meets its matter counterpart, the two annihilate in a flash of light.

April 25, 2013

Malaria milestone ‘took a village’

On April 25, World Malaria Day, the nonprofit Zagaya released a video Illustrating why, in the words of UC Berkeley synthetic biologist Jay Keasling, “it took a village” to create an accessible treatment for malaria that will be essential to eradicating the disease.

April 22, 2013

Packing Power

Tanja Cuk is testing how to optimize new devices for both power delivery and energy storage. Her focus is an alternative to conventional batteries, called a “supercapacitor,” which could deliver more power than current batteries.

April 16, 2013

UC Berkeley selected to build NASA’s next space weather satellite

NASA has awarded the University of California, Berkeley, up to $200 million to build a satellite to determine how Earth’s weather affects weather at the edge of space, in hopes of improving forecasts of extreme “space weather” that can disrupt global positioning satellites (GPS) and radio communications.

April 15, 2013

Creating a New Trail to Solve an Old Problem

Ants normally distinguish friend from foe by detecting colony-specific molecules called pheromones that coat their bodies. Neil Tsutsui has identified the recognition pheromones and other chemical signals, and has shown in experiments that the ants’ behavior can be tweaked by exposing them to identical, environmentally harmless synthetic pheromones.

April 8, 2013

The Cell’s “Everywhere” Molecule

Michael Rape studies ubiqutins that form chains, “like pearls on a string,” he says. In 2008, his lab discovered a new member of this chain configuration and determined how an enzyme called Ube2S is able to assemble it inside cells. Without the Ube2S enzyme and the ubiquitin chain, he found, cells cannot divide. But with too much Ube2S – and too many ubiquitin chains – cell division runs out of control.

April 3, 2013

Computers that can identify you by your thoughts

Instead of typing your password, in the future you may only have to think your password, according to School of Information researchers. A new study explores the feasibility of brainwave-based computer authentication as a substitute for passwords.

April 2, 2013

Campus poised to join Obama’s BRAIN initiative

Three UC Berkeley scientists were among a gathering of the nation’s top scientists at the White House this morning (Tuesday, April 2) as President Barack Obama announced a major national initiative to develop new tools to create real-time traffic maps of the human brain.

April 2, 2013

Introducing the Dreambox

The Dreambox, a fabrication vending machine designed by industrial engineering and operations research Senior Will Drevno along with Haas Berkeley alumni David Pastewka and Richard Berwick, uses off-the-shelf fused deposition processes to print plastics as 3D objects.

April 1, 2013

Beyond Genomics - Mining the Proteome

Lab tests that detect prostate cancer can’t reveal if the cancer poses a real risk. It looks for elevated levels of a protein called PSA, but about 80 percent of cancers that generate high PSA levels grow so slowly and may never need treatment. New research by Amy Herr points the way to a much more refined assessment of proteins and the promise of better diagnosis and treatment of a range of diseases. 

April 1, 2013

3-D printer wows students at UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley alumni, David Pastewka and Richard Berwick, along with a current senior Will Drevno were featured on ABC7 News for their business and invention – the Dreambox.

March 25, 2013

Mind Over Matter

It still sounds futuristic, but the time is approaching when people paralyzed by stroke or spinal cord injury will be able to regain the experience of movement. Neuroengineer Jose Carmena and bioengineer Michel Maharbiz have joined forces in a project supported by the Bakar Fellows Program to move this technology from the laboratory to the real world.

March 25, 2013

Making Art Out of Earthquakes

UC Berkeley’s Ken Goldberg, Professor of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, is featured in The Atlantic for his recent work, Bloom - “an Internet-based earthwork”.

March 19, 2013

Professor makes case for U.S.-Mexico border without walls

As the United States reconsiders immigration policy reform – particularly between the United States and Mexico – the focus should be on immigration and integration instead of tougher border security, says University of California, Berkeley, professor of city and regional planning Michael Dear, the author of the new book, “Why Walls Won’t Work: Repairing the US-Mexico Divide.”

March 12, 2013

Wild bees get boost from diverse, organic crops

Fields with diversified, organic crops get more buzz from wild bees, concludes a synthesis of 39 studies on 23 crops around the world published March 11 in the journal Ecology Letters.

March 5, 2013

Berkeley-led consortium gets $3.4 million for transit research

Researchers at the University of California Transportation Center (UCTC), a research consortium led by UC Berkeley that includes the UC and California State University systems, have received a $3.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

February 11, 2013

Scientists create automated ‘time machine’ to reconstruct ancient languages

Ancient languages hold a treasure trove of information about the culture, politics and commerce of millennia past. Yet, reconstructing them to reveal clues into human history can require decades of painstaking work. Now, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have created an automated “time machine,” of sorts, that will greatly accelerate and improve the process of reconstructing hundreds of ancestral languages.

February 11, 2013

New Details on the Molecular Machinery of Cancer

Researchers with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley have provided important new details into the activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), a cell surface protein that has been strongly linked to a large number of cancers and is a major target of cancer therapies.

February 8, 2013

Intelligent civilizations rarer than one in a million

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have now used the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia to look for intelligent radio signals from planets around 86 of these stars. While discovering no telltale signs of life, the researchers calculate that fewer than one in a million stars in the Milky Way Galaxy have planetary civilizations advanced enough to transmit beacons we could detect.

February 7, 2013

New evidence comet or asteroid impact was last straw for dinosaurs

In an attempt to resolve the issue, scientists at the Berkeley Geochronology Center (BGC), the University of California, Berkeley, and universities in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom have now determined the most precise dates yet for the dinosaur extinction 66 million years ago and for the well-known impact that occurred around the same time.

February 7, 2013

Two UC Berkeley faculty members named to NAE

Two faculty members at the University of California, Berkeley, have been named to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Election to the NAE is considered one of the most prestigious professional distinctions accorded to an American engineer.

February 6, 2013

Bakar Fellow Dr. Michael Rape awarded the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science

Dr. Michael Rape, Bakar Fellow and Associate Professor of Cell and Development and Biology at UC Berkeley, was awarded the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science. He is a leading biochemical researcher helping to unravel the mysteries of the ubiquitin system, which tags damaged or bad proteins for destruction, and others for elimination to enable certain processes to occur, and therefore vital to the health of all life-forms.

February 5, 2013

Berkeley Lab Study Finds Big Energy Savings in The New York Times Building

Designing a building holistically, and making sure that its components and systems work together according to design intent, can pay big dividends in energy savings and occupant satisfaction, according to a study of The New York Times Building by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).

January 31, 2013

Unmasking galaxies’ hidden black holes

Most galaxies have a massive black hole at their center, astronomers suspect, but only a few dozen examples are known out of billions of galaxies in the cosmos. Now astronomers have developed a quick technique that could potentially uncover and weigh 10 times more massive black holes.

January 28, 2013

Earthquake alert system may be coming

The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported on the work of Richard M. Allen, Director of the UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory, for helping to develop an early warning system that flashes imminent danger when a damaging earthquake is about to strike.

January 27, 2013

Poor sleep in old age prevents the brain from storing memories

The connection between poor sleep, memory loss and brain deterioration as we grow older has been elusive.  But for the first time, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found a link between these hallmark maladies of old age. Their discovery opens the door to boosting the quality of sleep in elderly people to improve memory.

January 25, 2013

Playwright/alum Stan Lai to discuss creativity, theater

Stan Lai, considered the leading playwright/director in Asia and one of the region’s most prolific, is taking a break from his hectic schedule and heading back to his alma mater, the University of California, Berkeley, for a series of public talks and workshops about his own artistic practice and the state of modern theater.

January 18, 2013

Scientist sees the light on solar energy

Heinz Frei, the acting director of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory was recently featured in the San Francisco Chronicle. JCAP’s efforts focus on generating fuels from sunlight.

January 17, 2013

Campus to lead $27.5 million TerraSwarm Research Center

Researchers in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences have been awarded $27.5 million over five years to spearhead the new TerraSwarm Research Center, which will address the huge potential — and risks — of the pervasive integration of smart, networked sensors connecting our world.

January 17, 2013

Berkeley Law Launches Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice

On the eve of the 40-year anniversary of Roe v. Wade, UC Berkeley School of Law today announced the formal launch of its new Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice (CRRJ). It is one of the first research centers to study the legal, economic, and social impact of reproductive laws on women, families, and communities.

January 17, 2013

New Key to Organism Complexity Identified

The enormously diverse complexity seen amongst individual species within the animal kingdom evolved from a surprisingly small gene pool. The key to morphological and behavioral complexity, a growing body of scientific evidence suggests, is the regulation of gene expression by a family of DNA-binding proteins called “transcription factors.”

January 10, 2013

A rock is a clock: physicist uses matter to tell time

What is the simplest, most fundamental clock? UC Berkeley physicist Holger Müller and his colleagues have shown that a single atom is sufficient to measure time. Conversely, the frequency of matter can be used to define its mass.

January 9, 2013

The Farthest Supernova Yet for Measuring Cosmic History

The Supernova Cosmology Project, based at Berkeley Lab and headed by UC Berkeley physicist and Nobel Laureate Saul Perlmutter, has discovered the most distant supernova yet that can be used in cosmological studies. Announced at the American Astronomical Society meeting, it will help answer questions about dark energy and the fate of the universe.

January 8, 2013

Earth-size planets common in galaxy

An analysis of the first three years of data from NASA’s Kepler mission, which already has discovered thousands of potential exoplanets, contains good news for those searching for habitable worlds outside our solar system. It shows that 17 percent of all sun-like stars have planets one to two times the diameter of Earth orbiting close to their host stars, according to a team of astronomers.

January 8, 2013

Beyond manifesto: How to change the food system

Scientists from Berkeley and other institutions lay out a scientific case that biologically diversified agricultural practices can contribute substantially to food production while creating far fewer environmental harms than industrialized, conventional monoculture agriculture—that is, large swaths of land devoted to growing single crops using chemical inputs.

January 7, 2013

Cheap and easy technique to snip DNA could revolutionize gene therapy

A simple, precise and inexpensive method for cutting DNA to insert genes into human cells could transform genetic medicine, making routine what now are expensive, complicated and rare procedures for replacing defective genes in order to fix genetic disease or even cure AIDS.

January 7, 2013

Exocomets may be as common as exoplanets

Comets trailing wispy tails across the night sky are a beautiful byproduct of our solar system’s formation, icy leftovers from 4.6 billion years ago when the planets coalesced from rocky rubble. The discovery by astronomers of six likely comets around distant stars suggests that comets – dubbed “exocomets” – are just as common in other stellar systems with planets.

January 7, 2013

Researchers find minimal state cost from Medicaid expansion in California

As the California Legislature prepares to consider bills relating to implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and expanding Medicaid, the state has the opportunity to significantly increase health insurance coverage at minimal cost to the state budget, according to a joint study by the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
January 3, 2013

How Computers Push on the Molecules They Simulate

Because modern computers have to depict the real world with digital representations of numbers instead of physical analogues, to simulate the continuous passage of time they have to digitize time into small slices. This kind of simulation is essential in disciplines from medical and biological research, to new materials, to fundamental considerations of quantum mechanics...