Science + Health

Berkeley Engineers Catch Waves for Clean Energy

If you’ve ever been knocked over by a breaking wave, you’ve felt the ocean’s power, but did you ever imagine it could be turned into electricity?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), waves, tidal currents, and thermal gradients along American coastlines could potentially generate some 2,640 terawatt-hours (TWh) a year. That’s more than half the total U.S. production—enough to power as many as 200 million American households—emissions free. Read more about Berkeley Engineers Catch Waves for Clean Energy »

From the Spring 2017 Virtue and Vice issue of California.

Your Brain on Drugs: Five Questions for David Presti

More than 550 Berkeley students take your course Drugs and the Brain every year. What do you hope your students take away from the class?

Respect for the power of drugs, and specifically that all drugs are poisons as well as medicines. This is embedded in the ancient Greek word pharmakon. The origin of our words pharmacy, pharmaceutical, and pharmacology, it means both medicine and poison. While the ancients appreciated this dual property of drugs, it is often overlooked, even forgotten, in contemporary society. Read more about Your Brain on Drugs: Five Questions for David Presti »

From the Spring 2017 Virtue and Vice issue of California.

Horns, Haloes, and Heroism: The Science of Doing the Right Thing

Yesenia Guitron knew something was wrong at the bank branch where she worked. She was getting complaints from customers—many from Mexico and undocumented—that they were being charged for accounts they had never opened and were receiving debit cards they had never requested. Guitron, a personal banker at a local Wells Fargo in the Napa Valley town of St. Helena, began to realize that some of her colleagues, under intense pressure to open accounts, were doing so without customers’ knowledge. Read more about Horns, Haloes, and Heroism: The Science of Doing the Right Thing »

From the Spring 2017 Virtue and Vice issue of California.

The SF Bay-Delta Is Invaluable. What Will Happen to It Under Trump?

The Bay-Delta, comprised of San Francisco Bay and the shared delta of the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers, is the largest estuary on the west coast of the continental United States. It sustains valuable salmon and Dungeness crab fisheries, supports hundreds of family farmers who work the rich peat soils of its reclaimed islands, serves as a recreational relief valve for millions of Bay Area urbanites and the main source of drinking water for around 25 million Californians. Read more about The SF Bay-Delta Is Invaluable. What Will Happen to It Under Trump? »

Sinful or Saintly? Christians Navigate Sex Online

One might not think the subject of kink figures much into Christian intercourse (verbal or otherwise). But apparently, evangelical marriage is actually “spicy,” and that’s “the way God intended it to be.” Or at least, that’s what some are preaching as gospel on Christian sex websites, information hubs and support groups for “Jesus-is-love”-makers who want keep their freaky sex nice ‘n holy. Read more about Sinful or Saintly? Christians Navigate Sex Online »

Reading Roundup: Planet Nine, UC and Trump, the Woolly Mammoth

The Sad Last Days of the Woolly Mammoth

Hoping to shed light on the woolly mammoth’s decline, UC Berkeley bioinformatics researcher Montgomery Slatkin and a colleague compared the genomes of two of the hairy giants and found that they were mutational hot messes in their last days, with trouble finding where to pee and translucent satin coats that may have looked cool at parties but were hardly enough to protect them from the elements. Read more about Reading Roundup: Planet Nine, UC and Trump, the Woolly Mammoth »

Dammed If We Do: What Could Happen If Oroville Dam Fails

The news from Oroville Dam on Tuesday is nominally better. Water isn’t flowing over the top of wall at the auxiliary spillway, and erosion has stopped. Water releases are ahead of inflows, and the reservoir’s level is falling. Perhaps most encouraging for the close to 200,000 displaced locals downstream of the dam, the evacuation alert has been downgraded. Read more about Dammed If We Do: What Could Happen If Oroville Dam Fails »

Marriage Is Driving Some to Drugs And It May Not Be a Bad Thing

Writer Ayelet Waldman was teaching a class on drug policy reform at UC Berkeley when she and her husband, the popular novelist Michael Chabon, decided that MDMA, the illegal party drug fueling those all-night raves, might also be a medicine that could save their marriage. They got the idea after Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin, the psychedelic chemist and so-called “godfather of ecstasy,” spoke to her class.  Read more about Marriage Is Driving Some to Drugs And It May Not Be a Bad Thing »

Uncovered California: ACA Repeal’s Full Cost

No state did Obamacare quite like California.

Here, we built our own state-insurance market. Here, we got a jumpstart on shifting low-income residents onto Medi-Cal (the state’s Medicaid program) as early as 2010. Here, insurance policies were standardized, consumer protections were tightened, and multi-lingual, statewide PR campaigns were kicked into overdrive. While other, redder states dragged their institutional heels, California took to the Affordable Care Act with gusto. Read more about Uncovered California: ACA Repeal's Full Cost »

Greening the Planet: The Fertilizer Effect of CO2 Slows Warming

A new study led by UC Berkeley Lab researcher Trevor Keenan suggests that increased plant growth is slowing the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a finding that could help explain the mystery of why the uptick in CO2 concentrations has leveled off since 2002, even as emissions have increased. “We believed one of the planet’s main carbon sinks had unexpectedly strengthened,” Keenan explained in a Lab press release. “The question was: which one?” Read more about Greening the Planet: The Fertilizer Effect of CO2 Slows Warming »

From the Winter 2016 Reality Bites issue of California.

People Are Strange When You’re Sleep Deprived

Got a lousy night’s sleep? Feeling kinda grouchy? Turns out waking up on the wrong side of the bed won’t just make you cranky. It will make others seem that way, too. A 2015 study from the UC Berkeley Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory found that a single sleepless night can fundamentally alter the way we perceive others—making even the mellowest of fellows seem like the strangest of dangers. Read more about People Are Strange When You're Sleep Deprived »

From the Winter 2016 Reality Bites issue of California.

Alumni Gazette: Rocket Science, Woman Power, and Updating The League

Ever hear that old cliché “This ain’t rocket science?” I wouldn’t use it around Ashley Chandler Karp because what she does is rocket science. A propulsion engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, she’s helping design the next generation of rockets, which will bring samples from Mars back to Earth for more extensive testing than can be done on the Martian surface.

As if that weren’t ambitious enough, they also have to figure out a way to transport the stuff here without getting any contamination from the Red Planet on the container. Read more about Alumni Gazette: Rocket Science, Woman Power, and Updating The League »

From the Winter 2016 Reality Bites issue of California.

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