Science + Health

Suffer the Children: Long-Term Study Hopes to Unravel Complexities of Chemical Exposure

Chamacos means “little children,” and it’s also an acronym for Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas. Since 1999, when the UC Berkeley-led program enrolled 601 pregnant mothers for a long-term study investigating the impact of agricultural and other chemicals on children, the project’s prolific research output—78 published papers to date—has made news numerous times. Read more about Suffer the Children: Long-Term Study Hopes to Unravel Complexities of Chemical Exposure »

From the Spring 2016 War Stories issue of California.

American Mastadon: Did Forests Edge Out Megafauna, Or the Other Way Around?

Why does North America have so many trees and so few elephants?

One of the many mysteries in the fossil record is the late-Quaternary extinction, that wholesale shift of plant and animal life as the Ice Age ended at the close of the Pleistocene and the beginning of the Holocene, a die-off that included about half of the world’s large-bodied animals. Forests grew up, and into the tar pit went the saber-tooth tiger, giant horses, five-ton sloths, and honking big mammoths and mastodons. Read more about American Mastadon: Did Forests Edge Out Megafauna, Or the Other Way Around? »

From the Spring 2016 War Stories issue of California.

‘Once a Doper, Always a Doper’—Olympic Runner Denounces 2nd-Chance Racers

The way Alysia Montaño sees it, she should have one Olympic and two world championships medals, instead of none. The former UC Berkeley runner finished fourth in the 800 meters at the 2011 world championships, fifth in the 2012 London Olympics, and fourth again at the 2013 world championships. In each of those races, she finished behind athletes who now face bans after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. Read more about 'Once a Doper, Always a Doper'—Olympic Runner Denounces 2nd-Chance Racers »

Opium Dreamland: Reporter Sam Quinones on Heroin, Pills and his Punk-Rock Roots

Punk rock, which was big during the years writer Sam Quinones spent at UC Berkeley, turned out to be more than just the background noise of an undergraduate life.

For Quinones, who double-majored in economics and American history, it provided an opportunity. He produced several punk shows while he was a student living at the now-shuttered Barrington Hall co-op, bringing in well-known bands such as The Dead Kennedys and Black Flag. “They were probably the biggest shows ever at Barrington Hall,” he said. Read more about Opium Dreamland: Reporter Sam Quinones on Heroin, Pills and his Punk-Rock Roots »

From the Fall 2015 Questions of Race issue of California.

Like Fungi in the Bank: Sierra Nevada Forests Invest in Fire-Withstanding Fungi

The Rim Fire, sweeping through the Sierra Nevada in 2013, rendered 257,000 acres of vegetation into ash, razed whole stands of trees, and ranked as the third biggest wildfire in California history. But the conflagration also sparked a discovery, if you happened to be a mycologist running a field experiment in the area. UC Berkeley Ph.D. Read more about Like Fungi in the Bank: Sierra Nevada Forests Invest in Fire-Withstanding Fungi »

From the Spring 2016 War Stories issue of California.

Retraction Action: Science Fraud Is Up, but More Retractions Could Be a Good Thing

Scientific retractions are on the rise. In 2001 there were 40 incidents in which published results of scientific research were retracted, but in less than a decade that number had ballooned to 400. And yes, the publication rate had also increased during that time, but by only 44 percent—not nearly enough to explain away a tenfold jump in retractions.

So why is this happening? Read more about Retraction Action: Science Fraud Is Up, but More Retractions Could Be a Good Thing »

Bench Press for Success? Research Finds We See Muscle Men as Leaders

You can dress for success all you want, but if you’re a male, you might want to also make sure you hit the weights. A new study finds that people are more willing to perceive leadership qualities and confer status to men who are muscular.

As for females, the study suggests being buff doesn’t make a difference. Read more about Bench Press for Success? Research Finds We See Muscle Men as Leaders »

California’s Water System Leaks Like a Sieve—How To Save Millions of Gallons

The drought may not have caused California’s water crisis, but it’s certainly brought it to the attention of a public largely uninterested in it until government fiat made shorter showers and dead lawns de rigueur. State water demand has outstripped supply for decades. Water rights claims for the massive State Water Project and federal Central Valley Project outpace average annual supplies by at least five fold. Read more about California's Water System Leaks Like a Sieve—How To Save Millions of Gallons »

Kill the Suckers: Would a Mosquito Apocalypse Be a Catastrophe or a Godsend?

When I was growing up in Queens, NY, mosquitoes tortured us all through the muggy summers. I ran around with pink splotches of calamine lotion covering my arms and legs. The cold of the lotion soothed the itch for about seven seconds. Never stopped me from scratching. We hated mosquitoes. We wanted them to disappear—not just from Queens, but from the face of the earth. Read more about Kill the Suckers: Would a Mosquito Apocalypse Be a Catastrophe or a Godsend? »

Heat Wave: Does State’s Slip into an Early Spring Mean El Niño Rains Are Almost Over?

All the recent sunshine and budding crocuses and gentle zephyrs may feel like the current El Niño is over, that we can bid adieu to the pounding rain, the surging rivers, the landslides, the Sierra blizzards, the stranded motorists on Donner Summit. Don’t bet on it. Read more about Heat Wave: Does State's Slip into an Early Spring Mean El Niño Rains Are Almost Over? »

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