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Science & Tech

Spotlight

By Anabel Sosa

Blind thinkers, scientists, and artists showing us the way.

Professor David Card

Workingman’s Economist

By Kweku Opoku-Agyemang

When Cal professor and labor economist David Card got the early-morning phone call from Sweden last October informing him that he’d won the 2021 Nobel Prize in  economics, he thought it was a buddy back home in Ontario pulling his leg. “My old friend, Tim, who lives in Guelph, I thought it was one of his practical jokes,” Card told the Canadian news media. 

Sight Unseen

By Leah Worthington and Illustration by David Junkin

The paradox of blindsight might unlock the mystery of consciousness.

The View from the Trenches

By Glen Martin and Photos by Marcus Hanschen

Two years into the pandemic, SARS-CoV-2 continues to defy predictions. At the date of this writing, the Omicron variant—as contagious as ultra-transmissible viruses such as measles, if somewhat less severe than earlier COVID variants—continues to spread rapidly. While the surge appears to be ebbing in some areas of the United States, hospitalizations remain high and, nationally, about 2,500 deaths are reported daily. 

Peregrines in Love

By Hayden Royster

If Berkeley has a celebrity couple, it’s Annie and Grinnell, the peregrine falcons who alighted on the Campanile and have called it home since late 2016. Year after year, the lovebirds have nested and fledged their chicks, generating 24/7 entertainment for those tuning in to the Cal Falcons live cams (first installed in 2019). Viewers have had unprecedented access to the daily lives of a falcon family: first meals, first flights, the one kid who just won’t leave the nest. It was like Jon & Kate Plus 8, but with a lot more dead pigeons and doves. 

D9PEX9 Homeless young Iraq War veteran begging on 34th Street in New York City. There are many war casualties wandering city streets

Unpacking PTSD

By Dhoha Bareche

A study led by researchers from Berkeley and UCSF may help explain why some people are more resilient to traumatic stress than others and lead to possible therapies. Published in December in the journal Translational Psychiatry, the study found a link between increased myelination in the brain’s gray matter and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Running Start for Perlmutter

By Hayden Royster

Named after Cal’s Nobel-winning cosmologist Saul Perlmutter, Ph.D. ’86, Berkeley’s newest supercomputer was launched in May 2021 by the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and hailed as one of the fastest ever. The next month, it ranked fifth on the coveted TOP500 list, the biannual record of the world’s most powerful commercially available supercomputers. 

Out with a Bang

By Margie Cullen

If a star dies in the universe and no one is around to see it, does it make an explosion? Scientists can now confirm that it does. 

Forestry worker thinning trees to prevent large forest fires

Making Forest Thinning Work

By Anabel Sosa

Amid a string of record-setting wildfire years in the state, California and the U.S. Forest Service have set an ambitious goal of “treating” 1 million acres of forest annually in order to reduce fire risk and increase forest resilience. It’s a costly proposition. 

Our No- to Low-Snow Future

By Krissy Waite

The Sierra Nevada—the “Snowy Range”—is about to get a lot less snowy according to a study co-led by Berkeley Lab researchers. Published in the journal Nature Reviews Earth & Environment in October, the study concludes that certain mountain ranges in California and the western United States could be nearly snowless for years at a time in a matter of decades. 

FIRST PERSON

By Robin Dellabough, as told to Anabel Sosa

I was 66. It was 2018, and a friend of mine said she had done 23andMe. So I thought oh, what the hell.

DT0NCE Seattle Washington USA Man hugging tree in lush green forest

Editor’s Note

By Pat Joseph

Eyes open, eyes closed, it didn’t matter, I saw the same thing: an ant venturing deeper and deeper into a fern. Then somehow I became that ant, in the fern, going deeper and deeper.