Science + Health

That’s So Metal: You Won’t Believe How These Bacteria Get Around

When we say “internal compass,” we’re usually referring to something metaphorical, a person’s innate sense of right and wrong. But for UC Berkeley microbiologists Arash Komeili and David Hershey, the term is literal: The two study magnetotactic bacteria, which navigate using tiny magnetic iron crystals called magnetosomes. Read more about That’s So Metal: You Won't Believe How These Bacteria Get Around »

From the Summer 2016 Welcome to There issue of California.

Flowing Consequences: Was Lifting Our Water Restrictions Really a Wise Move?

The decision by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration to lift mandatory water restrictions is good news for any Californian who likes to raise petunias and zucchini and take showers lasting longer than three minutes. But is it really a good idea? After all, last winter’s greatly hyped and much-anticipated El Niño turned out to be something of a bust. Read more about Flowing Consequences: Was Lifting Our Water Restrictions Really a Wise Move? »

I Just Don’t Get It: Why Do So Many People Treat Pets as Human Equals?

This rumination begins with a phone call from my brother, but it’s really about domestic animals, dogs and cats mostly, and our changing mores about them: How they are now viewed as peers and family members rather than pets, how we’ve come to define ourselves as their guardians rather than their owners, whether our growing obsession with them is somehow a simulacrum for the complicated and messy human relationships that formerly dominated our lives, and whether apotheosizing them somehow minimizes our sensitivity to human suffering. Read more about I Just Don't Get It: Why Do So Many People Treat Pets as Human Equals? »

Hunger at UC Berkeley: A Sizeable Share of Students are Financially Forced to Skip Meals

UC Berkeley sophomore Anthony Carrasco loves his Monday afternoon class lecture on the History of Punishment, but sometimes the torture feels a little too literal.

“Instead of thinking about the Panopticon, I start thinking about heating up the stove and frying eggs. I start to imagine all the things I could put on the eggs: cheese, hot sauce, salt, pepper,” he says. “It’s very difficult to process everything that’s going on and deal with just being really hungry.” Read more about Hunger at UC Berkeley: A Sizeable Share of Students are Financially Forced to Skip Meals »

An Unusual Life Unfolding: Noted Bear Biologist Gains Acclaim in Origami World

Bernie Peyton is profoundly dyslexic, and that made his early years growing up in New York City difficult. School was hellish: He struggled to read, he was bullied, and it was hard to make friends. Then when he was 9, his stepfather gave him a book that changed his life.

Peyton still has the book—a beautifully illustrated instruction manual on origami by Isao Honda that contains examples of various works pasted to the pages. He recently opened the volume in his Berkeley home, and thumbed through it reverently. Read more about An Unusual Life Unfolding: Noted Bear Biologist Gains Acclaim in Origami World »

Strength in Numbers: Inside the Berkeley Institute Where Math Geeks Rule

Ever see the TV game show Let’s Make a Deal? Contestants are given a choice of three doors and told that behind one of them is a shiny new sports car. If they pick door No. 1, the host may open door No. 2 to reveal that there’s nothing behind it. Then he asks if they want to stick with door No. 1 or switch to door No. 3. What’s the best move? Read more about Strength in Numbers: Inside the Berkeley Institute Where Math Geeks Rule »

The Blind Leading the Blind: Designing an Inclusive World

Joshua Miele has been blind ever since a violent acid attack took away his vision before his 5th birthday. But he says he no longer spends time wishing he could see. Instead, from his office at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco, he dreams up new technologies for the blind, and helps turn those visions into reality: maps that can talk, YouTube videos that can speak, electronic gloves that can text. Read more about The Blind Leading the Blind: Designing an Inclusive World »

Stretch Your Appeal: In Fast-Paced Dating World, Take Up Space to Stand Out

In online dating, a picture is worth much more than a thousand words. When Christian Rudder, a founder of OKCupid, analyzed the dating website’s data, he found that profile photos drove 90% of users’ choices. With so much riding on a split-second impression, what’s the best way to impress potential mates? Read more about Stretch Your Appeal: In Fast-Paced Dating World, Take Up Space to Stand Out »

Suffer the Children: Long-Term Study Hopes to Unravel Complexities of Chemical Exposure

Chamacos means “little children,” and it’s also an acronym for Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas. Since 1999, when the UC Berkeley-led program enrolled 601 pregnant mothers for a long-term study investigating the impact of agricultural and other chemicals on children, the project’s prolific research output—78 published papers to date—has made news numerous times. Read more about Suffer the Children: Long-Term Study Hopes to Unravel Complexities of Chemical Exposure »

From the Spring 2016 War Stories issue of California.

American Mastadon: Did Forests Edge Out Megafauna, Or the Other Way Around?

Why does North America have so many trees and so few elephants?

One of the many mysteries in the fossil record is the late-Quaternary extinction, that wholesale shift of plant and animal life as the Ice Age ended at the close of the Pleistocene and the beginning of the Holocene, a die-off that included about half of the world’s large-bodied animals. Forests grew up, and into the tar pit went the saber-tooth tiger, giant horses, five-ton sloths, and honking big mammoths and mastodons. Read more about American Mastadon: Did Forests Edge Out Megafauna, Or the Other Way Around? »

From the Spring 2016 War Stories issue of California.

‘Once a Doper, Always a Doper’—Olympic Runner Denounces 2nd-Chance Racers

The way Alysia Montaño sees it, she should have one Olympic and two world championships medals, instead of none. The former UC Berkeley runner finished fourth in the 800 meters at the 2011 world championships, fifth in the 2012 London Olympics, and fourth again at the 2013 world championships. In each of those races, she finished behind athletes who now face bans after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. Read more about 'Once a Doper, Always a Doper'—Olympic Runner Denounces 2nd-Chance Racers »

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