Science + Health

Don’t Mind If I Do: Mind-Controlling Fungus Infects, Hijacks Fly

As the sun set on Berkeley one evening in 2015, a fruit fly, whom we’ll call Bill, crawled his way up the tender green skin of a watermelon. Moving slowly, as if hypnotized, he reached the top of the melon, extended his proboscis and released a gluey gunk that gently adhered his tiny limbs to the fruit. His body tensed as his wings pulled up and back behind him; he was still as a statue—poised, elegant.

Newly Discovered Spiky-Headed Dino Hints at Dino Migrations

“This one was a plant-eater and has kind of a wide grin. Not too fearsome, but I wouldn’t want to get whacked by that bony-tailed club,” says UC Berkeley grad Randall Irmis, discussing a spiky-headed dinosaur assembled before us in squat, bony glory at the Natural History Museum of Utah (NHMU), on the University of Utah’s campus. Curator of Paleontology at the museum, Irmis and others recently discovered this new dinosaur, an herbivore that roamed southern Utah 76 million years ago.

Don’t Get Down, Get Outside: How Awe-Inspiring Nature Heals

About three years ago, UC Berkeley psychology PhD candidate Craig L. Anderson started investigating the components and implications of awe. Not the bad kind of awe—the sort you might experience if a mushroom cloud suddenly loomed on the horizon. But the good kind, specifically the variety associated with nature and all its manifold wonders: A sunset on a South Pacific atoll, icebergs calving from an Alaskan glacier, a hike through alpine meadows. Or in Anderson’s case, river-rafting.

Gird Your Genes: What DNA Matching Might Mean for Your Privacy

The recent capture of a suspect for the notorious Golden State Killer crimes was a vindication of both diligent detective work and modern technology. More than four decades after the first incident attributed to the GSK, which ultimately tallied at least 12 murders, 45 rapes, and more than 100 home burglaries, 72-year-old Joseph DeAngelo was arrested in his California home.

The Secret of the Sea Nomads

The Bajau people, commonly known as “sea nomads,” live in coastal regions of the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia. They spend some 60 percent of their working hours in the sea, foraging for food at depths of up to 230 feet below the surface. Bajau divers are known to hold their breath for several minutes at a time.

How do they do it? Researchers think they have found the key: larger spleens.

Findings like these are a reminder that humans, like all animals, are products of evolution.

From the Summer 2018 Our Town issue of California.

Five Questions for David Patterson

1. The Turing Award is often called the Nobel Prize of Computing. Counting faculty and alumni, Berkeley claims more Turing laureates than almost any other university in the world. That surprises a lot of people. Should it?

Let’s just say our competitors aren’t burdened with an overdeveloped case of humility.

From the Summer 2018 Our Town issue of California.

Should Our Pets Be Vegans, Too?

It’s a cruel world, but a new Berkeley start-up aims to make it just bit kinder and gentler. Wild Earth, a company spearheaded by biohacking wunderkind Ryan Bethencourt, is working up a line of fungus-based pet foods. It’s the kind of venture that, at first whiff, lends itself to some Anthony Bourdain like lampooning: It’s not enough that you don’t want to eat anything with a face. You don’t want your dog to do any face-eating either.

Save Water, Drink Hopless Beer

Here in the Bay Area, where local, organic, and fresh have long been dominant adjectives as well as a prevailing ethos around what we consume, genetically modified alternatives are forcing consumers to confront a new understanding of authenticity when it comes to food and drink. And what’s brewing at Berkeley might just have beer enthusiasts clutching their pearls—or their hops.

From the Summer 2018 Our Town issue of California.

Molecules of Life: Seeing the Way to Longer, Healthier Living

The Breakthrough

Researchers at Berkeley have produced the first detailed picture of the molecular structure of human telomerase, an enzyme that plays key roles in both the repair of aging cells and the endless cellular rejuvenation typical of cancers. Berkeley biology professors Kathleen Collins and Eva Nogales published their discovery, complete with 3D images, in the journal Nature in April.

The Background

From the Summer 2018 Our Town issue of California.

Fresh Blood: What Theranos Leaves In Its Wake

The big question is why the scam wasn’t detected earlier. Theranos promised the moon—or at least a full battery of blood tests from a minim of blood—but it never came close to delivering.

Does Science Benefit From the Search for Sasquatch?

Last week, we published a two-part profile on UC Berkeley grad and anthropologist Grover Krantz, known to many as the original “Bigfoot scientist.” (You can find the first part of the profile here and the second half here.) Today, we examine the question of whether mythological creatures like Bigfoot are worthy of scientific analysis.

The Musical Mathematics of Rob Schneiderman

The best jazz musicians can bend and twist time, changing meter mid-phrase to fold a melody back on itself, or stretching a beat so that it seems to hang, pregnant, in mid-air. As a first-call pianist in New York City, Rob Schneiderman spent more than a decade expanding and compressing music’s temporal dimensions with jazz legends such as trumpeter Chet Baker, trombonist J.J. Johnson, and saxophonist James Moody, while also recording a series of critically hailed albums under his own name.

WATCH: What’s In A Fossil?

Want more? For a behind-the-scenes tour of the ancient bones of the Campanile, check out Part 1 here.

Pages

Subscribe to Science + Health