Science + Health

In Flew Enza: Remembering the Plague Year in Berkeley

In 1918, America was at war and students arriving at the University of California in the fall of that year found their campus transformed. From the Center Street entrance, the view of the hills was now obscured by large new barracks and the dark smoke issuing from the powerhouse gave the place the look of a factory. Everywhere young men wore the khaki uniforms of the various military outfits represented on campus—the Student Army Training Center, the School of Military Aeronautics, the Naval Unit, and the Ambulance Corps. Read more about In Flew Enza: Remembering the Plague Year in Berkeley »

From the Fall 2017 Bugged issue of California.

Physics Monopole-y: A Key to a Unified Theory of Everything?

Eighty-six years ago, physicist Paul Dirac theorized the existence of magnetic monopoles; that is, magnet poles that exist independent of each other. Not north and south together. North. And south. Separately.

Nearly a century later, Felix Flicker, a Berkeley theoretical physicist and post-doctoral researcher in the lab of Norman Yao, is working to help prove Dirac’s theory. “There was this sort of philosophical point I was thinking of,” Flicker says. “You can’t have the left end of a stick without the right end, can you?” Read more about Physics Monopole-y: A Key to a Unified Theory of Everything? »

From the Fall 2017 Bugged issue of California.

One Woman’s Idea to Save a Whale, and Aid a Community

Katherina Audley is afflicted by fish fever, but she didn’t contract the dire malady from sautéing a flounder. She was born in Alaska, where the five varieties of Pacific salmon flourish, and all are totemic species for the locals. Alaskans spend what Lower forty-eighters may consider an inordinate amount of time catching, preserving, preparing, eating and thinking about fish. And not just salmon, but halibut, rockfish, grayling, steelhead and rainbow trout, char, northern pike, and whitefish. Read more about One Woman's Idea to Save a Whale, and Aid a Community »

Bee-laboring the Point: Berkeley Researchers and Volunteers Track Native Pollinators

Halting mid-sentence, UC Berkeley entomologist Gordon Frankie swings a net towards a flowering beardtongue plant. He reaches into the net and pulls out a wool-carder bee. Holding it between three fingers, he offers it to the volunteers of the Sonoma Bee Count. “Do you see the horns on the tip of the abdomen? That’s clearly a male. Who wants to hold it?” All four volunteers bravely step forward to take it (male bees are unable to sting). “We were the first group to record this guy in California about six years ago,” says Frankie. Read more about Bee-laboring the Point: Berkeley Researchers and Volunteers Track Native Pollinators »

Do Cool Pavements Moderate Global Warming? It’s Complicated

If you’re considering ways to reduce urban heat and moderate global warming, cool pavements just seem like a no brainer. Asphalt, after all is dark; it absorbs heat. But light colored cement or asphalt treated with a whitish surfacing agent can reflect heat. That should make cities cooler and also reduce air conditioning demands, cutting back on electricity production and the planet-warming carbon emissions that spew from fossil-fueled power plants. Win-win, right? Read more about Do Cool Pavements Moderate Global Warming? It's Complicated »

Where Did the Sun Go? An Eclipse Primer

If you’re in North America, chances are you’ve heard that there will be a solar eclipse on August 21. You may even be traveling—or know people who are traveling—a goodly distance for the best view of what is essentially a monumental overcast.

So what’s the big deal?

Glad you asked! We’ve got answers to your most burning questions about the solar event of the century. Read more about Where Did the Sun Go? An Eclipse Primer »

Bob Bea Takes Us on a Deep Dive Through His Dire Oroville Report

Like everyone else, Robert Bea was appalled when almost 200,000 Californians living below Oroville Dam were ordered to flee for their lives on February 12th.  The evacuation was necessitated by severe erosion of the dam’s primary and emergency spillways caused by massive releases of water following torrential winter rains. But unlike most citizens, Bea knew the incident wasn’t engendered strictly by the vagaries of nature or an act of God. Human error was at play. Read more about Bob Bea Takes Us on a Deep Dive Through His Dire Oroville Report »

Is Peeing in the Pool Dangerous or Just Gross?

For many swimmers, the bracing aroma of swimming-pool chlorine is assurance that pool water is free of disease-causing microbes.

Unfortunately, that summery smell may actually signal troublesome levels of urine, sweat, and body-care products in the water. And according to researchers, bodily fluids in pool water are worse than unsavory—they react with pool disinfectants, forming chemical compounds that may be hazardous to your health. Read more about Is Peeing in the Pool Dangerous or Just Gross? »

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