Posted on February 2, 2018 - 11:54am
What to fix, and what to replace? That’s the big question for Orville Dam. It has been almost a year since water brimmed to the top of Oroville reservoir and the tallest dam in the United States suddenly showed signs of possible, even imminent failure. Emergency releases eroded both the primary and secondary spillways with horrifying rapidity, and evacuations were ordered for 200 thousand downstream residents.
Posted on January 31, 2018 - 4:13pm
The annual flu season is in full career across most of the country and parts of California have been particularly hard hit. We reached out to Arthur Reingold, head of epidemiology at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, for some answers about the nature of the influenza virus, what we can do to control it, and the risk of another flu pandemic like the one of 1918.
Posted on January 22, 2018 - 12:59pm
MIT Technology Review says 2017 was the year robots backflipped into our hearts, with exhibit A being Atlas, Boston Dynamics’ incredibly gymnastic bot, which (resisting the urge to say ‘who’) not only sticks the landing on an honest-to-god backflip, but raises its arms afterward as if in celebration.
Posted on January 12, 2018 - 3:22pm
Feel it yet? That dire sense of déjà vu? It probably depends on your livelihood or interests. If you’re a Bay Area boulevardier or the type once described in singles ads as a lover of long walks on the beach, you’re no doubt delighted by the unceasing blue skies and unseasonably pleasant temperatures. But it’s another matter if you’re a farmer, salmon fisherman, water agency manager, skier or whitewater kayaker. Your income—or at least, your sense of well-being— is directly determined by what falls from the sky.
Posted on January 3, 2018 - 5:31pm
You’ve probably been told, “Wikipedia is not a source. Don’t cite it. Don’t use it.”
Many high school and university instructors warn students against using Wikipedia, but new research illuminating the online encyclopedia’s impact on academia might prompt teachers to reconsider.
Things were looking pretty sunny for alternative energy sources back in 2005. Though still resisted by conservative politicians and allied voters, human-caused climate change was accepted as fact by the vast majority of scientists, many business leaders, and even the Pentagon. Energy security was a major concern for the armed services, given that U.S. troops were fighting and dying in Iraq, home to the world’s fifth largest reserve of oil—the substance that America was “addicted to,” according to President (and former oil man) George W. Bush.
The year was 1956. Barry Barish was a junior at Cal doing research at the California Radiation Laboratory, or Rad Lab (known today as the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory). When his professors were too busy to see him, he’d wander into the 184-inch cyclotron—a larger sequel to Ernest Lawrence’s fabled particle accelerators—invented at Berkeley and famous for blasting into existence an array of new heavy elements, including plutonium, berkelium, and californium.
The Affordable Care Act, never a particularly robust program, now appears headed for the ICU. But that isn’t to say the dream of universal health care is dead.
Many advocates say we can still get there from here; we just have to go through the states. Or more accurately, big, blue and economically powerful states. California, specifically.
Posted on December 6, 2017 - 5:28pm
Strategies to deal with climate change have focused largely on reducing emissions of CO2 and other planet-warming compounds from industry, transportation and agriculture. The news isn’t particularly heartening on that front. After three years of leveling off, CO2 levels are expected to rise by two percent by the end of 2017, due largely to increased coal-burning in China.
Posted on November 30, 2017 - 4:24pm
Disastrous wildfires are popularly associated with drought. But the North Bay fires followed one of the wettest winters in decades.
The nightly news tends to make things even more confusing. During drought, newscasters sound the alarm about dead trees and the general flammability of parched forests. After wet winters, dire warnings are issued about the abundant growth of grass and brush that will become tinder during the hot, dry days of California’s summer and fall. So are wet winters worse for fires? Or are dry winters worse?
Posted on November 20, 2017 - 4:29pm
We’re still living large. Very large. According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, 39.8 percent of adult Americans and 18.5 percent of American youths were obese in 2016. While these rates aren’t much worse than those from a couple of years ago, they’re not any better either. Obesity, in short, is a slow motion crisis that is stripping health and ultimately longevity from almost half the population.
Posted on November 13, 2017 - 5:07pm
Richard Muller is a Berkeley physics professor, senior scientist at Berkeley Lab, and founder of the group Berkeley Earth, a non-profit established to systematically address the concerns of climate change skeptics. (Muller considers himself a converted skeptic.) He is the author of numerous books including The Instant Physicist and most recently Now: The Physics of Time.
Posted on October 31, 2017 - 1:19pm