Science + Health

De-extinction Could Reverse Species Loss. But Should We Do It?

THE MOST BELOVED BIRD IN HISTORY may very well have been a 29-year-old pigeon by the name of Martha. It was the early 1900s, shortly before the United States entered the First World War, and Martha was at the height of her fame. Perched on her humble roost at the Cincinnati Zoo, she was an object of fascination to the thousands of visitors who lined up just to catch a glimpse.

From the Fall 2021 issue of California.

Paleontology Is in the Midst of a Revolution.

THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA MUSEUM OF PALEONTOLOGY (UCMP) celebrates its centennial this year, but the story of its founding begins nearly two centuries ago, when California’s newly formed legislature commissioned a survey of the state, eager to map its gold deposits.

From the Fall 2021 issue of California.

Dr. Mireille Kamariza is Leading the Fight Against Tuberculosis

GROWING UP IN THE BURUNDI AND CAMEROON, Dr. Mireille Kamariza, dreamed of becoming an astronaut.

“I had a general curiosity towards nature,” says Kamariza. “I was particularly intrigued by the sky and the stars and the vastness of space. As a result, I had a fondness for science classes.”

Kamariza’s innovation uses a novel molecule she developed that essentially lights up TB bacteria, making the pathogen

From the Fall 2021 issue of California.

Calculating the Emotional Cost of Remote Learning

The past year has been very difficult for the kids. Prolonged school closures, which have lasted over a year for most middle and high schoolers in California, have deprived students of normal social and academic interactions—during one of the most important stages in their social-emotional learning. Adolescent brains are particularly geared toward seeking status and respect among their peers.

“We Are in A Race”: Surviving the Next Phase of the Pandemic

California periodically touches base on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic with John Swartzberg, a UC Berkeley Public Health Clinical Professor and a globally respected authority on infectious diseases and vaccinology. In February, Dr. Swartzberg was highly optimistic about the rollout of several effective vaccines and opined that the coronavirus might be largely contained by the summer.

CRISPR/Cas9 Sets Its Sights on Sickle Cell

When the gene-editing technology CRISPR/Cas9 was discovered in 2012 by Berkeley biochemist Jennifer Doudna and collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier, it changed genetics forever. “We’ve been able to read and write DNA for a long time. We have machines to sequence it (read); and to synthesize it (write). What we haven’t been able to do is to rewrite it—to edit it. And now we have a tool that lets you do something about that,” Doudna told California in 2014.

From the Summer 2021 issue of California.

SETI@Berkeley Has Their Ears Tuned to the Stars

SETI, or the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is alive and well at Cal. Researchers at the Berkeley SETI Research Center are collaborating on Breakthrough Listen, the largest ever scientific search for alien communications, using an array of telescopes and observatories to gather artificially generated, electromagnetic signals from across the universe.

From the Summer 2021 issue of California.

Slippery Slopes and Other Concerns About End of Life Options

As of 2016, the California End of Life Option Act offers legal protection to residents suffering from terminal illness who wish to access medical aid-in-dying, also known as physician-assisted suicide. But the law has hardly quelled the controversy. We spoke with Dr. Guy Micco, co-director of the Program for Medical Humanities at Berkeley who has had a long-standing interest in aging and death, about the ethical concerns in legalizing life-ending treatment.

From the Summer 2021 issue of California.

Death, Life, and The Right to Draw Your Own Line

DEBORA ENDED HER LIFE on a clear spring night in a Japanese hotel in San Francisco. She had sent her farewells to a few of us—close friends and her sister’s family—and left final instructions on the table beside the bed. Just after midnight, she drank two small bottles of the barbiturate, Nembutal, washed down the bitter taste with fruit juice, fastened a plastic bag over her head, and lay down on the bed to die. She knew it would be quick.

From the Summer 2021 issue of California.


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