Science + Health

In the Navajo Nation, Fighting COVID and Years of Neglect

The scene is familiar: A hospital bed, a respirator, medical personnel in full PPE. But while the attending doctor is from San Francisco, California, the hospital is located 1,000 miles away, in the middle of 27,000 miles of vast, desert land.

We All Waste Food. One Researcher Wants to Know Why and How We Can Waste Less.

One July morning in 2016, in the predawn quiet of a Nashville suburb, Laura Moreno and her team of assistants looked more like investigators on a clandestine raid than scientists. With goggles, gloves, and coordinated efficiency, they removed garbage bags from every bin on the block, just barely beating the garbage truck to the spoils. They spent the next several weeks in an unventilated facility where they sorted and tallied everything from unpeeled bananas and sprouting russet potatoes to half-eaten take-out and sealed boxes of cereal.

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.

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