In 1966, the same year that I finished my studies at UC Berkeley, the psychology department made a scientific breakthrough. A graduate student discovered that watching an extremely graphic film documenting the subincision rites (the ritual cutting of the undersides of the penises) of Australian aboriginal boys could raise stress levels, particularly in men. Read more about Out of the Gate: Laughing Through Tears »
Science + Health
An archaeological mystery that called into question the racial history of the Americas has finally been solved. After consecutively assigning him Caucasian, Japanese, and Native American ancestry, a team of scientists including some at UC Berkeley say they have finally determined the geographic origins of the Kennewick Man. Read more about Who Is Kennewick Man? Study Determines Racial ID of 8,500-Year-Old Skeleton »
Any third grader can tell you what killed the dinosaurs: an asteroid that smashed into Earth 66 million years ago, obliterating T. Rex, Triceratops, and Velociraptor, and paving the way for mammals to thrive.
But that theory was wildly controversial when first introduced in 1980 by Berkeley Nobel laureate Luis Alvarez and his son, Walter, a UC Berkeley paleogeologist. Their idea plunged the paleontology community into decades of acrimonious debate before it became the accepted explanation. Now the theory is being challenged once again. Read more about A Smoking Gun: The Asteroid that Killed the Dinosaurs May Have Had Help »
UC Berkeley bioengineer John Dueber knows too well that sometimes the most important scientific discoveries have harmful consequences. Just recently, Dueber and a team of scientists discovered the final step in modifying common yeast cells to manufacture opiates. Their finding was published in the July issue of Nature Chemical Biology, alongside a warning urging scientists and policymakers to work together to address the development’s possible consequences. Read more about Brewing Trouble: A New Process Could Make it Too Easy to Manufacture Opiates »
If you fly over parts of Tsavo today—and I challenge anyone to do so, if you have the eyes for it – you can see lines of snares set out in funnel traps that extend four or five miles. Tens of thousands of animals are being killed annually for the meat business. Carnivores are being decimated in the same snares and discarded. Read more about Lionizing Cecil Makes Us Feel Good, But a Trophy Hunting Ban Will Accelerate Slaughter »
Posted on August 3, 2015 - 7:10am
In the 3.5 billion-year history of life on planet Earth, a century seems barely mentionable and a decade seems insignificant—but the new revelation of a project involving a Russian billionaire, three UC Berkeley researchers and $100 million just may have laid the groundwork for this decade’s shot at eternal distinction. Read more about Turbo-Charging the Hunt for ETs: This Will Give our Decade a Shot at Cosmic Stardom »
Posted on July 27, 2015 - 10:56am
Ever since the inception of our species, humans have wanted to peer inside each other’s minds. A major reason we want to do this is because we lie. We lie a lot, and on the whole, we are quite good at it. The capacity for deception is possibly one of the most significant cognitive gifts we received through evolution.
But it turns out that we lack an equal genius for spotting deception. Instead we keep trying to capitalize on technology—hoping it can do the detecting for us. Read more about Catching the Brain in a Lie: Is "Mind Reading" Deception Detection Sci-Fi—or Science? »
Posted on July 22, 2015 - 11:19am
The waters in and around San Francisco Bay are replete with shipwrecks—200 at least. But they’re exceedingly difficult to find, says James Allan, one of the nation’s leading maritime archeologists. He is determined to bring their secrets up from the depths.
Allan cites two primary factors that made these submerged vessels so elusive: The Gold Rush and the “dynamic” nature of the bay and its coastal environs. Read more about Sunken Treasures: Maritime Archeologist Sets Out to Explore the Ships Buried Beneath Us »
Posted on July 13, 2015 - 4:34pm
As drought continues to crisp up the state—increasing the potential for catastrophic fire and further taxing plants already competing for water resources—many conservationists are supporting a plan by UC Berkeley, the city of Oakland and East Bay Regional Parks District plan to cut, chop, mulch and deter the future growth of many non-native trees. Read more about Fired Up: Controversy Still Raging Like Wildfire Over Tree-Cutting Plan in East Bay »
Posted on July 9, 2015 - 3:15pm
Brittany Maynard’s battle with virulent brain cancer was compelling and heartbreaking, but today it wasn’t enough to sway key California lawmakers. Her decision to end her life last year at age 29 galvanized a campaign to make it legal for doctors to prescribe lethal drugs for terminally ill patients, but this morning the sponsors of the End of Life Option Act shelved the bill until next year, acknowledging that for now, they lacked the votes to secure passage in the Assembly Health Committee. Read more about The End for 'Brittany's Bill'? Legislators Balk at Doctor-Assisted Suicide for the Terminally Ill »
Posted on July 7, 2015 - 1:00pm
In March of last year, Alice Waters, the food activist and owner of the Chez Panisse restaurant, surprised everyone by prematurely announcing the University of California’s plans for a major, sweeping initiative to take on the many problems in the food system—not just on campuses but around the globe. Read more about A Year In, the University of California's Global Food Initiative Sows Success and a Few Fears »
Posted on July 2, 2015 - 8:13am
In the beginning, David Breslauer’s office was infested with spiders—lurking in the corners, hunkered down on their webs, crawling up his arms. “I had one right above my desk, and it pooed on my computer like a pigeon,” he says. And these were large, long-legged beasties, too: Nephila clavipes, an orb-weaving species commonly used in scientific studies. Read more about From Spider-Infested Digs, U.S. Company Devises Way to Spin Silk—Sans the Spiders »
Posted on June 29, 2015 - 4:11pm
Enacting one of the toughest vaccine mandates in the country, California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill to require virtually all California school children to be vaccinated against potentially deadly diseases—or be home-schooled. Read more about Unvaccinated Out of Options: Cal Adopts Tough Requirement for Childhood Vaccines »
Posted on June 25, 2015 - 10:58am
Emerging from the San Jose train station on my superfast electric bike, I lean into the first turn, boosted by the latest in lithium-ion battery technology. I’m headed to a business meeting at the Hayes Mansion, eight miles south of the commercial heart of Silicon Valley.
Space has long been the province of dreamers. Science fiction writers have authored visions of our future with faster-than-light travel, colonies on other planets, and massive space elevators shuttling people to orbit. Read more about Real Deal on the Final Frontier: A Former Astronaut on the Realities of Space Travel »