Science + Health

Vaccine Passports: Are They Legal—Or Even a Good Idea?

Even as California inches toward economic and social reopening, the virus is running rampant in other states—most notably, Michigan—and outside the U.S., in countries that have received little or no vaccine. There is increasing concern that the highly contagious variants now circulating could fuel a nationwide surge this summer.

We’re Four Months Into COVID Vaccines. Here’s What We Know So Far.

We’re well into the COVID vaccine rollout, and if you have more questions than ever, you’re not alone.

On Monday, March 15, Berkeley Events and the UC Berkeley School of Public Health invited four experts to a virtual public forum to discuss the ongoing vaccination strategy, focusing especially on questions of vaccine access, safety, and the results we’re seeing so far.

How COVID Is An Opportunity to Address Deep Anti-Vax Sentiment

As much as anyone in the world, Berkeley anthropology alumna Heidi Larson is confronted by public resistance to the COVID-19 vaccines. Larson is founder and director of the London-based Vaccine Confidence Project, a nonprofit that conducts global surveys monitoring public confidence in immunization programs. With the Project, Larson helps quantify vaccine approval by measuring people’s confidence in the importance, safety, and effectiveness of vaccines.

A Formula for Funny: The Surprisingly Smart Humor of The Simpsons

FOR CENTURIES, FERMAT’S LAST THEOREM defied mathematicians to prove that there are, in fact, no natural numbers for x, y and z that can satisfy the equation xn+yn=zn when n is greater than 2. Countless great minds tried and failed, until 1995, when mathematician Andrew Wiles, after years of monk-like devotion, provided the undisputed proof once and for all. 

From the Spring 2021 issue of California.

First Lady of Physics Gets Stamp of Approval

IN FEBRUARY, THE U.S. POSTAL SERVICE released a new Forever Stamp honoring the late Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu, one of the most influential nuclear physicists of her era.

Born in China in 1912, Wu came to America at age 24 and studied nuclear physics at Cal. As a graduate student, she worked at Berkeley’s Radiation Laboratory—now the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab—under Ernest O. Lawrence, for whom the lab was later renamed.

From the Spring 2021 issue of California.

Plant-based Creations from the Newest Crop of Food Entrepreneurs

At the Alt: Meat Lab, housed in the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, Berkeley students are developing plant-based alternatives to common animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs, and seafood. Under the tutelage of the Lab’s director and cofounder Dr. Ricardo San Martin, students study the basic principles of food science and collaborate on their own plant-based products.

From the Spring 2021 issue of California.

Plants for the People: The UC Botanical Garden Is Blooming and Ready for Visitors

ON JULY 14, 2020, THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA BOTANICAL GARDEN at Berkeley welcomed visitors for the first time since its closure four months earlier due to the coronavirus pandemic. The garden’s executive director, plant biology professor Dr. Lewis Feldman, stood by the gates, greeting the first arrivals. “When people came in, [they] burst into tears,” says Feldman. “It was, for them, as if something normal had been returned to their lives. … I think the garden here represents a return to what life was like. … It’s very renewing.”

From the Spring 2021 issue of California.

A Bug’s Life: Surviving Disease in the Colonies

It’s a warm, spring day. You’re sitting under a tree snacking on a bag of potato chips, when a breeze tickles your nose. You sneeze, sending a soggy crumb into the grass where it bonks an unsuspecting ant on the head. Unfazed, she nibbles the chip, then heaves it over her shoulder and carries it back to the colony. Little does she know that, during its brief flight from your mouth, this sticky glob picked up a fungal spore that is deadly to ants. Within a day she’ll be sick, within two she’ll be dead.

From the Spring 2021 issue of California.

Smooth Sailing? A Public Health Expert Is Hopeful About the Vaccine Rollout

California periodically touches base on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic with John Swartzberg, a UC Berkeley Public Health Clinical Professor Emeritus and an international authority on infectious diseases and vaccinology. In October, Dr. Swartzberg was hopeful that forthcoming vaccines would be at least 70 percent effective; as it turned out, they far surpassed that figure, with both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines approaching 95 percent efficacy.

Turns Out Nice Folks Don’t Finish Last After All

Turns out nice folks don’t finish last, after all. A UC Berkeley-led study published in August in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science found that “disagreeable individuals,” defined as those with combative, selfish, and manipulative traits, don’t achieve greater career success than their kinder counterparts. 

From the Winter 2020 issue of California.

The Search for Unisex Contraceptive Drugs Gets a Major Boost

When Polina Lishko received a call in September informing her that she had won a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award, she almost hung up. The physiologist had had so many grant applications turned down in recent years that several mentees had switched fields out of frustration. Now, she was being presented with $625,000 she hadn’t even applied for. “I initially, seriously, suspected it was a prank.” 

From the Winter 2020 issue of California.

Pages

Subscribe to Science + Health