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Science Roundup for May 1, 2013

May 1, 2013

Today in newslets: dorm room physics debates, smiley faces and is the dismal science insufficiently dismal?

What if antimatter is, like, anti-gravity? What if you dropped a ball of antimatter and it fell u/? It sounds like the kind of question usually investigated by sophomores with the aid of gravity bongs. Physics has generally presumed that antimatter is, like everything else, subject to gravity, but the thing is, nobody’s ever been able to check. Until now, that is. In this week’s “Nature Communications,” a team of 37 scientists, including 7 from Cal’s physics department and LBNL describe an experimental method for measuring gravity’s effect on anti-hydrogen. So, stay tuned for radical weight loss opportunities involving antimatter. (All interactions between antimatter and matter will result in some pretty sudden weight loss.)

In case the ol’ semicolcolon-parenthesis wasn’t cutting it: A team out of the Cal’s Greater Good Science Center led by psychologist Dacher Keltner  and enlisting Pixar artist Matt Jones  has come up with a new set of smiley-face icons  to replace the more familiar but somewhat limited ASCII-based smiles and winks known as emoji. The icons are intended to indicate a more complex range of emotions and are available for Facebook’s Android and iOS messaging apps. They will no doubt be a big boon to people who can’t use their words.

A positive take on the no-growth economy: Today, May 1, at 4 p.m. in 110 Barrows Hall, Professor Richard Norgaard will give a talk on the climate-challenged society.  Norgaard is one of the founders of a field called ecological economics, which applies the noncontroversial ecological idea that constant growth is a recipe for collapse and applies to economics, a field where, traditionally, no such thing is believed. You may remember Norgaard from a profile of him in our Winter 2009 issue, wherein he opined that growth and consumption are no longer increasing human happiness.

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