ONE AUGUST AFTERNOON IN 2010, Michael Mann was opening mail in his office at Penn State University when a dusting of white powder emerged from an envelope. At first he thought it was his imagination. “I figured maybe it’s just an old dingy envelope or something,” Mann recalled. His next thought: anthrax.
In late August, the Amazon was aflame, and so was social media. Everyone from regular citizens to celebrities and politicians wanted to express their outrage. But in the rush to retweet and regram, some people forgot to fact-check.
The longstanding and oft-tweeted claim that the Amazon acts as the “lungs of the Earth,” producing 20 percent of our oxygen? It’s simply incorrect, says Jeffrey
Posted on October 2, 2019 - 3:29pm
When the Tubbs and Nuns wildfires exploded across Sonoma County in 2017, firefighters found they lacked critical information. Details on the vegetation, structures, and roads distributed across the landscape would have helped them better evacuate residents and allocate fire suppression resources.
Posted on August 7, 2019 - 4:23pm
Hot Hot Heat
This Saturday, NASA plans to launch the Parker Solar Probe, a spacecraft designed to touch the edge of the solar corona, the aura of plasma that surrounds the sun. It will be the first-ever spacecraft to enter into the orbits of Venus and Mercury, a feat scientists have dreamt of for decades.
Posted on August 10, 2018 - 1:50pm
John Cho Is (Finally) the Leading Man
Star Trek actor John Cho, ‘96, stars in director Kognada’s Sundance hit debut, Columbus, in theaters now. Cho plays a translator who rushes from Seoul, Korea to his hometown of Columbus, Indiana to take care of his father, who is in a coma. Though best known for his role as Hikaru Sulu in the recent Star Trek revamps, Cho got his start as a fill-in for an extra in a UC Berkeley play. He went on to travel with the Berkeley Repertory Theater and star in the Harold and Kumar film franchise.
Posted on August 17, 2017 - 10:39am
If you’re in North America, chances are you’ve heard that there will be a solar eclipse on August 21. You may even be traveling—or know people who are traveling—a goodly distance for the best view of what is essentially a monumental overcast.
So what’s the big deal?
Glad you asked! We’ve got answers to your most burning questions about the solar event of the century.
Posted on August 14, 2017 - 4:35pm
This interview has been edited for clarity.
1. How would you describe the route that led you to a simulated Mars mission?
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.
Space has long been the province of dreamers. Science fiction writers have authored visions of our future with faster-than-light travel, colonies on other planets, and massive space elevators shuttling people to orbit.
If there’s an appropriate place to apply the Precautionary Principle, beaming high-powered messages to exoplanets that could support intelligent life might seem a good place to start. Or maybe not. It all depends on one’s cosmic perspective.
Posted on April 15, 2015 - 4:31pm
Today UC Berkeley scientists are announcing that they have probably identified, in samples returned from a NASA probe, particles of interstellar matter—the first samples of “stardust” from beyond our solar system.
Obtaining the dust motes has been an achievement of staggering technical proficiency in extracting the infinitesimal from the infinite.
Posted on August 14, 2014 - 10:57am
Editors’ Note: The Summer 2014 issue of California magazine is called “This is the End.” Every day this week: a different catastrophic scenario.
It started with a flash.
At a few minutes past 9:00, one crystalline morning last February, a burst of light brighter than 30 suns illuminated Chelyabinsk, Russia, a southern industrial city known mostly for making tractors. Thanks to smartphones, surveillance cameras, and Russian auto-dash cams, we have a voluminous record of what happened next.
Beyond the scintillating lights of the auroras borealis and australis is a complicated atomic phenomenon that Berkeley scientists are exploring by launching a rocket into the northern lights.