Things were looking pretty sunny for alternative energy sources back in 2005. Though still resisted by conservative politicians and allied voters, human-caused climate change was accepted as fact by the vast majority of scientists, many business leaders, and even the Pentagon. Energy security was a major concern for the armed services, given that U.S. troops were fighting and dying in Iraq, home to the world’s fifth largest reserve of oil—the substance that America was “addicted to,” according to President (and former oil man) George W. Bush.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
The year was 1956. Barry Barish was a junior at Cal doing research at the California Radiation Laboratory, or Rad Lab (known today as the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory). When his professors were too busy to see him, he’d wander into the 184-inch cyclotron—a larger sequel to Ernest Lawrence’s fabled particle accelerators—invented at Berkeley and famous for blasting into existence an array of new heavy elements, including plutonium, berkelium, and californium.
In a corner of the Digital Imaging Lab in the basement of UC Berkeley’s Moffitt Library, recent graduate Olivia Dill is checking on the latest shipment of fragile wax recordings from the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology. These hard wax tubes, invented by Thomas Edison in the 1880s, are one of the earliest sound recording media.
Posted on January 3, 2017 - 12:44pm
In the mid-2000s, William Fisk, a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, stumbled upon two obscure Hungarian studies that challenged common assumptions about the air indoors. The studies suggested that, even at relatively low levels, carbon dioxide could impair how well people thought and worked.
The recent inclusion of four new elements to the periodic table was cause for the clinking of champagne glasses at places where people cook up such exotic stuff, including Berkeley. One reason is that credit for some of these latest discoveries goes to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which was itself birthed out of UC Berkeley.
Posted on January 7, 2016 - 8:16pm
Have you ever been engrossed in your favorite episode of Star Trek on your smartphone and thought “Hey! The color of Kirk’s uniform doesn’t look pure!” Yeah, most of us probably wouldn’t think that. But with quantum dots seeping into modern displays, our viewing expectations could drastically change.
As the 2015 U.N. climate change conference continues in the outskirts of Paris—pursuing a global agreement to slow down the devastating effects of global warming—there will be graphs. There will be charts. There will be slideshows.
But if presenters really want to tug at a world leader’s heartstrings, they might want to bring a violin. Break out a synthesizer, a keyboard, and play a snippet of what climate change sounds like: Earth, out of tune and distorted, an orchestra gone a little haywire.
Posted on December 4, 2015 - 11:06am
As the drought deepens and associated angst spikes, a variety of solutions have been bruited about our parched state: New reservoirs. Rigorous (even draconian) conservation. Recycling. Hauling icebergs from Alaska. Fervent prayer.
And marine desalinization.
Posted on June 3, 2015 - 4:00pm
For most people, clouds are mere grist for metaphor, as with Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now.” But clouds have deep implications beyond late 1960s pop music lyrics. Geophysical implications. Their frequency, type, direction, density and velocity all say a great deal about weather, climate—even atmospheric ozone depletion. The problem is that it’s hard to draw a bead on clouds, to obtain the precise measurements in real time that can translate into useful data. They are clouds, after all: nebulous, evanescent—indeed, vaporous.
Posted on June 1, 2015 - 2:23pm
Perhaps you think that you shall never see a poem as lovely as the genome sequence of the loblolly pine tree—which, as you undoubtedly knew, happens to be the longest genome yet sequenced.
Posted on April 22, 2014 - 8:31pm
Let the other universities brand themselves with the presidents they’ve produced, the corporations they’ve midwifed, their location in a small town outside of Boston, or their number one football team.
At Berkeley, we’re OK with being number 97. On the periodic table of elements. You may have heard of “the table,” as we call it around here. It’s sort of the ingredients list for the universe. All of it, including presidents, corporations, slushy college towns, and inferior (spiritually) football teams.
It turns out the secret to health and longevity isn’t that complicated: Run if you can, walk if you can’t. Also more is better than less, and faster is better than slower. Those are the ineluctable conclusions of the world’s longest-running study on the health benefits of running and walking—a tracking of 160,000 runners and walkers that is also debunking some conventional wisdom about fitness.
Posted on December 16, 2013 - 4:25pm
Posted on November 14, 2013 - 4:41pm
Cal is replete with geniuses, of course, but it’s always gratifying when one is recognized as such. That happened today to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory physicist and “sound savior” Carl Haber, who has been named one of 2013’s MacArthur Genius Grant recipients.
Posted on October 23, 2013 - 3:22pm