Science + Health

Stir-Fry Crickets and Sauteed Weeds: Why the Food of the Future Won’t Be Nutrient Powder

Remember Tang? It was the “space age” drink that in 1962 astronaut John Glenn sipped in orbit on his Mercury flight, and for a while thought to be the next generation of orange juice. It was considered convenient because it came in powder form, was less perishable than juice, and boasted lots of vitamins and calcium. Read more about Stir-Fry Crickets and Sauteed Weeds: Why the Food of the Future Won't Be Nutrient Powder »

From the Summer 2015 Confronting the Future issue of California.

Effluent Communities: Why Drought Will Mean Learning to Drinking Treated Sewage

It’s the kind of subject that lends itself to the lowest of low humor, but we’ll try to resist that temptation. Because at bottom (sorry), it’s among the most serious of subjects, speaking as it does to basic survival. We’re talking about water (again), of course. But more specifically, we’re talking about blackwater: Sewage.  And even more particularly, recycling sewage, treating it to the potable level and–gulp–drinking it again. Read more about Effluent Communities: Why Drought Will Mean Learning to Drinking Treated Sewage »

When Cancer Strikes Twice: “Being a Dancer Has Saved My Life in So Many Ways”

Brianna Mercado is tired of telling the same old story.

“It’s a cookie-cutter cancer story and I’m so much more than that,” she told a crowd last year at a TEDx talk.

Today, the 24-year-old UC Berkeley graduate and inspirational speaker has been asked to tell the story so many times that it’s become rote. But how can you truly express the fears and pain of knocking on death’s door not once, but twice? How do you verbalize it in a way that can make people understand the trauma and the terror? Read more about When Cancer Strikes Twice: "Being a Dancer Has Saved My Life in So Many Ways" »

The Good, The Bad and The Robot: Experts Are Trying to Make Machines Be “Moral”

Good vs. bad. Right vs. wrong. Human beings begin to learn the difference before we learn to speak—and thankfully so. We owe much of our success as a species to our capacity for moral reasoning. It’s the glue that holds human social groups together, the key to our fraught but effective ability to cooperate. We are (most believe) the lone moral agents on planet Earth—but this may not last. The day may come soon when we are forced to share this status with a new kind of being, one whose intelligence is of our own design. Read more about The Good, The Bad and The Robot: Experts Are Trying to Make Machines Be "Moral" »

Turbo-Charging Cloud Research: Now It’s Easier to Decipher Clues to Climate Change

For most people, clouds are mere grist for metaphor, as with Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now.” But clouds have deep implications beyond late 1960s pop music lyrics. Geophysical implications. Their frequency, type, direction, density and velocity all say a great deal about weather, climate—even atmospheric ozone depletion. The problem is that it’s hard to draw a bead on clouds, to obtain the precise measurements in real time that can translate into useful data. They are clouds, after all: nebulous, evanescent—indeed, vaporous. Read more about Turbo-Charging Cloud Research: Now It's Easier to Decipher Clues to Climate Change »

A Fish Tale with a Dam Hero? Pulling Coho Salmon Back from the Brink in Russian River

If the drought is hard on California’s lawns, it’s sheer murder on the state’s fish—especially the “salmonids,” that family of cold-water fishes that includes trout and salmon. But one rare salmon species is doing fairly well in the current water crisis. And it’s being helped by the kind of project usually associated with the wholesale destruction of native fisheries. Read more about A Fish Tale with a Dam Hero? Pulling Coho Salmon Back from the Brink in Russian River »

Anthropocene Now: Has the Human Race Created a New Geological Epoch?

There’s no question that humans have drastically altered the environment. But just how drastically? As a member of the Anthropocene Working Group, UC Berkeley paleontologist Anthony D. Barnosky works with an international team of geologists, archaeologists, biologists, and historians to determine whether humans have changed Earth’s geology and atmosphere enough to merit the establishment of a new geological epoch, and if so, when that should begin. Read more about Anthropocene Now: Has the Human Race Created a New Geological Epoch? »

From the Spring 2015 Dropouts and Drop-ins issue of California.

Survival Secrets: What Is It About Women That Makes Them More Resilient Than Men?

Two women face each other at a small table at the back of a café in Berkeley. A hot autumn sun pulses through the glass. One of the women, sturdy in a chambray shirt and large glasses, shakes her head with a false smile: “Then I just lost it.”

Her friend, a slightly older 60-something in running shoes, her lean left knee tucked below her chin, nods in understanding. Read more about Survival Secrets: What Is It About Women That Makes Them More Resilient Than Men? »

Antibiotic Overload: Experts Blame Livestock Use for Human Resistance, Even Obesity

Antibiotics were once a doctor’s best weapon against infections, but now some 2 million people a year become infected with bacteria that are resistant to them. On Tuesday, a panel of experts hosted by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism largely blamed the crisis—23,000 people die a year from infections that can’t be cured, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—on the livestock industry for overusing these life-saving drugs. Read more about Antibiotic Overload: Experts Blame Livestock Use for Human Resistance, Even Obesity »

Welcome to the Decentralized Energy Revolution: Cleanly Electrifying the World

While the boons of electricity are obvious to anyone who has watched a 49ers game on a 70-inch ultra HDTV or whipped up a frozen margarita in a blender, it also has its downsides—most of them environmental. Coal and natural gas power plants belch planet-warming CO2 into the atmosphere, while nuclear plants produce highly lethal radwaste. Read more about Welcome to the Decentralized Energy Revolution: Cleanly Electrifying the World »

Learning to Listen: Why Better Health Care May Start with a Simple “How Are You?”

After her second above-the-knee amputation, Ms. G., a 56-year-old woman with diabetes mellitus, started refusing her dialysis and wouldn’t tell the medical team why. Jodi Halpern, hen just a trainee on the psychiatric service, was sent to investigate. On entering the hospital room, Halpern recalls finding the woman in agonizing pain. When Halpern sat down to talk to her, Ms. G. eventually opened up and explained that her husband was divorcing her because he no longer loved her after her amputations. Halpern recalls explaining to her supervisors that Ms. G. Read more about Learning to Listen: Why Better Health Care May Start with a Simple “How Are You?” »

From the Spring 2015 Dropouts and Drop-ins issue of California.

Pages

Subscribe to Science + Health