News

December 20, 2016

Pop-outs: How the brain extracts meaning from noise

When you’re suddenly able to understand someone despite their thick accent, or finally make out the lyrics of a song, your brain appears to be re-tuning to recognize speech that was previously incomprehensible.
December 7, 2016

Drones help monitor health of giant sequoias

Todd Dawson’s field equipment always includes ropes and ascenders, which he and his team use to climb hundreds of feet into the canopies of the world’s largest trees, California’s redwoods.
October 31, 2016

Does your mind jump around, stay on task or get stuck?

During downtime, some of us daydream while others might focus on a to-do list, or get stuck in a negative loop. Psychology has traditionally defined all these thought patterns as variations of “mind-wandering.”
October 20, 2016

Lab frog DNA shows what happens when genomes collide

The genome sequence of the most common laboratory frog reveals that it originated when different frog species hybridized and the genome doubled, paralleling events that led to the origin of vertebrates.
October 17, 2016

Genome engineering paves way for sickle cell cure

A team of physicians and laboratory scientists has taken a key step toward a cure for sickle cell disease, using CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing to fix the mutated gene responsible for the disease in stem cells from the blood of affected patients.
October 10, 2016

Smallest. Transistor. Ever.

For more than a decade, engineers have been racing to shrink the size of components in integrated circuits. Now, a research team at UC Berkeley has surpassed a theoretical limit of physics and created the smallest transistor reported to date.
October 7, 2016

When women are more likely to lie

Would you tell a lie to help someone else? A new study says women won’t lie on their own behalf, but they are willing to do so for someone else if they feel criticized or pressured by others.
September 9, 2016

In startup sweepstakes, it’s Cal vs. Stanford

Once again, Stanford and UC Berkeley were neck and neck in competing for the largest number of tech startups created by undergraduate alums, according to the industry analytics firm PitchBook.
August 11, 2016

The caddisfly and its amazing underwater tape

Patina Mendez is a caddisfly expert, so it’s no surprise that when KQED Science’s Deep Look wanted to get up close and personal with a caddisfly, they asked Mendez for help.

August 10, 2016

The psychology behind the tiny house movement

The motivation behind the tiny house movement likely revolves around a desire to live modestly while conserving resources — environmental consciousness, self-sufficiency, and the desire for a life of adventure.

August 8, 2016

How sunflowers follow the sun

Sunflowers not only pivot to face the sun as it moves across the sky during the day, but they also rotate 180 degrees during the night to greet the morning sun.

August 3, 2016

Sprinkling of neural dust opens door to electroceuticals

UC Berkeley engineers have built the first dust-sized, wireless sensors that can be implanted in the body, bringing closer the day when a Fitbit-like device could monitor internal nerves, muscles or organs in real time.

August 2, 2016

Elders use brain networks differently for short-term recall

Older people’s short-term memory is generally slower and less accurate compared to younger people. But a new University of California, Berkeley, study suggests that brains that continue to perform well in old age do so by rallying more of the brain to complete mental tasks.

July 26, 2016

Sexual rivalry may drive frog reproductive behaviors

It may be hard to imagine competing over who gets to kiss a frog, but when it comes to mating, a new study concludes that some frogs have moved out of the pond onto land to make it easier for the male in the pair to give sexual rivals the slip.

July 8, 2016

Stars ignite in new supercomputer simulation

Like fireworks bursting through a smoky haze, protostars ignite within colossal filaments of gas in a new supercomputer simulation of stars forming inside molecular clouds.

June 30, 2016

Fetal surgery stands to advance from new glues inspired by mussels

UC Berkeley engineer Phillip Messersmith is happy to be learning lessons from a lowly mollusk, with the expectation that the knowledge gained will enable him and fellow physicians to prevent deaths among their youngest patients — those who haven’t been born yet.

June 27, 2016

To improve Beijing’s air quality, cut household fuel use too

China’s plans to curb Beijing’s health-damaging air pollution by focusing on restricting emissions from power plants and vehicles may have limited impact if household use of coal and other dirty fuels is not also curtailed, according to a new study.

June 23, 2016

‘Dark vortex’ confirmed on Neptune

New images obtained by the Hubble Space Telescope confirm the presence of a “dark vortex” in the atmosphere of Neptune, a rare type of feature that can persist for years.

June 21, 2016

California is new headquarters for smart manufacturing institute

On June 20, at a conference of global business leaders in Washington, D.C., President Obama announced the creation of a new $140 million Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CESMII), to be headquartered at UCLA, with a Berkeley-based regional center.

June 20, 2016

Taiwan’s Tang Prizes awarded to Doudna, Rosenfeld

Taiwan’s top science award, the Tang Prize, has gone to two UC Berkeley scientists well-known in the fields of biochemistry and physics: Jennifer Doudna, for her invention of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, and Arthur Rosenfeld, often called the “godfather of energy efficiency.”

June 16, 2016

Breakout: How black hole jets punch out of their galaxies

A simulation of the powerful jets generated by supermassive black holes at the centers of the largest galaxies explains why some burst forth as bright beacons visible across the universe, while others fall apart and never pierce the halo of the galaxy.

June 16, 2016

California county health programs yield high returns

Return on investment in county public health departments in California exceeds return on investment in many other areas of medical care, according to a new study by a University of California, Berkeley economist.

June 6, 2016

Copper is Key in Burning Fat

A new study is further burnishing copper’s reputation as an essential nutrient for human physiology. A research team has found that copper plays a key role in metabolizing fat.

June 2, 2016

Universe expanding faster than expected

Astronomers have obtained the most precise measurement yet of how fast the universe is expanding, and it doesn’t agree with predictions based on other data and our current understanding of the physics of the cosmos.

May 27, 2016

Faster, more efficient CRISPR editing in mice

UC Berkeley scientists have developed a quicker and more efficient method to alter the genes of mice with CRISPR-Cas9, simplifying a procedure growing in popularity because of the ease of using the new gene-editing tool.

May 26, 2016

Translating Genes’ Instructions

Sackler Sabbatical Exchange recipient Hiten Madhani studies how genome cutting machines in cells, called spliceosomes, are able to pluck genes away from other sequences of “letters” in strands of RNA.

May 20, 2016

President Obama awards National Medals to Alivisatos, Hu

President Barack Obama yesterday honored two UC Berkeley faculty members at the White House, awarding chemist Paul Alivisatos with the National Medal of Science and electrical engineer Chenming Hu with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

May 17, 2016

Copper: A new player in health and disease

Chris Chang, who is part of the Sackler Sabbatical Exchange Program, carries out experiments to find proteins that bind to copper and may influence the storage and burning of fat.

May 12, 2016

Star has four mini-Neptunes orbiting in lock step

A four-planet system observed several years ago by the Kepler spacecraft is actually a rarity: Its planets, all miniature Neptunes nestled close to the star, are orbiting in a unique resonance that has been locked in for billions of years.

May 9, 2016

An Energy Strategy that Can Take the Heat

Water and energy are tightly linked in the 21st century. Per Peterson’s research seeks to develop water-saving ways of cooling energy plants, both nuclear and solar.  

May 5, 2016

Breastfeeding is good for yet another reason, researchers discover

A mother’s breast milk supports immune responses in her newborn that help the infant’s gut become a healthy home to a mix of bacterial species, thanks in part to newly identified antibodies from the mother, according to a study by UC Berkeley researchers.

May 3, 2016

Genetic switch could be key to increased health and lifespan

Newly discovered genetic switches that increase lifespan and boost fitness in worms are also linked to increased lifespan in mammals, offering hope that drugs to flip these switches could improve human metabolic function and increase longevity.

May 1, 2016

Life with machine: Robot relationships get real

Berkeley’s renowned programs in artificial intelligence and robotics involve scores of professors in the College of Engineering. Their aim is to create machines with the intelligence to better serve and work with human beings.

April 20, 2016

Do gut microbes shape our evolution?

Scientists increasingly realize the importance of gut and other microbes to our health and well-being, but one UC Berkeley biologist is asking whether these microbes — our microbiota — might also have played a role in shaping who we are by steering evolution.

April 18, 2016

Study helps map path to improved cassava production

A new analysis of the genetic diversity of cassava will help improve strategies for breeding disease resistance and climate tolerance into the root crop, a staple and major source of calories for a billion people worldwide.

April 11, 2016

Wealth of unsuspected new microbes expands tree of life

Researchers at UC Berkeley, who have discovered more than 1,000 new types of bacteria and Archaea over the past 15 years lurking in Earth’s nooks and crannies, have dramatically rejiggered the tree to account for these microscopic new life forms.

April 7, 2016

Space weather satellite ICON on course for summer 2017 launch

NASA’s newest space weather research satellite, the Ionospheric Connection Explorer, is on course for a summer 2017 launch after UC Berkeley scientists and their colleagues shipped its four instruments to Utah for testing, prior to being packed into the final satellite.

April 4, 2016

Scientists Push Valleytronics One Step Closer to Reality

Scientists at the Berkeley Lab have taken a big step toward the practical application of “valleytronics,” which is a new type of electronics that could lead to faster and more efficient computer logic systems and data storage chips in next-generation devices.

April 4, 2016

Clintons, Conan at Berkeley, but student commitment’s the star

A parade of luminaries took part in Clinton Global Initiative University this weekend, but the event was all about the students, more than 1,200 of whom assembled at UC Berkeley for three days of inspiration, cooperation and “commitment to action.”

March 24, 2016

Climate Change is Here. Now What?

On March 24, Berkeley Lab’s Bill Collins, an internationally recognized expert in climate modeling and climate change science, updated the Science in the Theater audience on what we know about climate change.

March 18, 2016

Three new Signatures Innovation Fellows announced

Three faculty members have been selected as 2016-17 Signatures Innovation Fellows, receiving as much as $100,000 per year each for up to two years to pursue commercially promising data science and software projects.

March 3, 2016

Bromances may be good for men’s health

Male friendships, portrayed and often winked at in bromance movies, could have healthful effects similar to those seen in romantic relationships, especially when dealing with stress.

February 23, 2016

Sloan Foundation honors eight young faculty members

Eight UC Berkeley assistant professors are among 126 new fellows announced today by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The Sloan Research Fellowships, awarded annually since 1955, honor early-career scientists and scholars.

February 22, 2016

“Deep Learning”: A Giant Step for Robots

Bakar Fellow Pieter Abbeel studies deep learning in robots. The robot BRETT (Berkeley Robot for Elimination of Tedious Tasks) has mastered a range of skills, including folding laundry, knot-tying, and basic assembly.

February 19, 2016

Three young faculty members honored by White House

Three UC Berkeley faculty members named as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

February 18, 2016

Saul Perlmutter to lead WFIRST dark energy team

Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley Scientists to participate in new NASA space telescope project that will explore mysteries of dark energy, hunt for distant planets and retrace universe's history during 6-year mission.

February 16, 2016

A New Recipe for Construction

Bakar Fellow Ronald Rael is advancing a type of 3-D printing that could add more beauty, variety and sustainability to building designs.

February 16, 2016

Paul Alivisatos awarded Dan David Prize for nanoscience research

Paul Alivisatos, UC Berkeley’s newly appointed vice chancellor for research and the outgoing director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has been awarded the international Dan David Prize for his contributions in the field of nanoscience.

February 16, 2016

The critical zone: Studying where all of life happens

Science isn’t generally considered an extreme sport, but you wouldn’t know that by watching researchers in the Eel River Critical Zone Observatory scale hundred-foot-tall trees and wade through rushing rivers.

February 8, 2016

How Many Lasers can You Fit into a Shoebox?

Bakar Fellow Holger Müller is redesigning an instrument known as an atom interferometer, capable of making extremely precise measurements of distance and gravity.

February 1, 2016

Savvy Software Lightens MRI Burden

The Bakar Fellows Program supports Michael Lustig’s collaborations with clinicians and industry to speed adoption of the new MRI imaging strategies.

January 26, 2016

The case for accepting more, not fewer, Syrian refugees

Kate Jastram, an attorney and UC Berkeley expert in forced migrations, says closing U.S. doors to Syrian refugees would deepen America’s anti-Muslim reputation and alienate the 3.3 millions Muslims already living here.

January 21, 2016

Weaving a New Story for COFS and MOFs

There are many different ways to make nanomaterials but weaving, the oldest and most enduring method of making fabrics, has not been one of them – until now.

January 19, 2016

Big Thinking About Big Data

To Michael Jordan, the smart way to extract and analyze key information embedded in mountains of “Big Data” is to ignore most of it. Instead, zero in on collections of small amounts of data.

January 14, 2016

The state, the drought and El Niño: It’s complicated

Just last year, researchers were saying there was no end in sight for California’s recent drought. But things are looking up. El Niño has swept into the Golden State and is breathing life back into the area.

January 11, 2016

Will computers ever truly understand what we’re saying?

From Apple’s Siri to Honda’s robot Asimo, machines seem to be getting better and better at communicating with humans. But some neuroscientists caution that today’s computers will never truly understand what we’re saying.

January 11, 2016

Growth rings on rocks give up North American climate secrets

Scientists have found a new way to tease out signals about Earth’s climatic past from soil deposits on gravel and pebbles, adding an unprecedented level of detail to the existing paleoclimate record and revealing a time in North America’s past when summers were wetter than normal.