It is a curious thing to consider that UC Berkeley, a school notably lacking a marine biology program, has produced not one, not two, but three published studies on the venerable octopus within the last year. But then octopuses, too, are curious to consider. They have three hearts; blue, copper-based blood; regenerating tentacles; and a level of sentience unique among invertebrates.
Science + Health
Next month will mark the 25th anniversary of the Oakland Hills Fire, the epochal conflagration that started on October 19 and, driven by strong northeasterly winds, burned more than 1,500 acres over three days, killing 25 people and destroying some 2,500 homes and 400 apartments.
Anyone who lived in the Bay Area at that time will recall the massive column of smoke that rose from the East Bay during the day and the walls of flame that limned the topography of the hills at night. Those three days felt nothing short of apocalyptic.
Posted on September 22, 2016 - 11:32am
When Randy Schekman looks up from his computer screen, which he now spends more time staring at than petri dishes, his eyes sometimes fall on a faded copy of Cell displayed nearby. The issue is dated June 17, 1994, and the cover depicts a swarm of magnified vesicles—tiny sacs that transport molecules inside cells—resembling a crowd of miniature suns.
In a letter to the editor in The New York Times last October, Susan Neely, president of the American Beverage Association, wrote: “Taxes on beverages do not improve public health.”
Posted on September 7, 2016 - 11:40pm
What’s in the brain that ink may character
Which hath not figured to thee my true spirit
King of hell no quarrel have I left thee
No lovely maid who gleaned in fields or skies
One pair of lines above is the work of Shakespeare. The other was written by a computer. Can you tell which is which?
Posted on August 30, 2016 - 12:54pm
Emily Burns was driving north from the Bay Area one day, idly woolgathering, when it hit her.
“Western sword ferns,” she recalls thinking. “They’re twice as big in the northern end of their range as in the southern end. And it struck me that it had to be due to water availability. The fact that it’s wetter in Redwood National Park in Humboldt County than, say, Lime Kiln Creek on the Big Sur coast translates as larger ferns in the north. It all seems obvious now, but there was nothing in the literature on it.”
Posted on August 24, 2016 - 2:50pm
Venezuela, whose citizenry and economy have both been unhealthy, is enduring yet another economic collapse, which has triggered yet another outbreak of disease. This time, it’s malaria. During the first six months of this year, 125,000 cases have been reported—a health crisis the government has tried to minimize, if not repudiate, and not for the first time.
Posted on August 22, 2016 - 5:15pm
In Apulia, Italy’s boot heel, the olive tree is sovereign.
“Olive trees pretty much cover the entire province,” says Rodrigo Almeida, an associate professor in Berkeley’s Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. “The olive tree defines Apulia’s identify. The people have a deep emotional connection to their trees. Families plant them to mark the births of their children. They cherish them.”
Posted on August 15, 2016 - 12:41pm
Generally speaking, frogs are a lusty and uninhibited bunch. When it comes to lovin’, most ranids prefer an orgiastic approach. They congregate in tepid ponds in huge numbers, the females laying masses of gelatinous eggs, which the males then inseminate. Typically, the males grasp the females with the forelimbs to stimulate egg extrusion. So many frogs can get into the act that they sometimes form huge “mating balls” of quivering amphibian flesh.
Posted on August 8, 2016 - 1:22pm
“When was I introduced to fat phobia?” Virgie Tovar hardly has to pause to answer this. “I had a fantastic body image until I was in kindergarten,” she says. “That was my introduction to fat shame.”
Posted on July 6, 2016 - 12:12pm
In the mid-2000s, William Fisk, a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, stumbled upon two obscure Hungarian studies that challenged common assumptions about the air indoors. The studies suggested that, even at relatively low levels, carbon dioxide could impair how well people thought and worked.
Remember pneumatic tubes, those compressed-air pipelines that whisked plastic canisters from basement mailrooms to penthouse boardrooms? Imagine being in one, traveling at more than 700 mph. You could make the round-trip from San Francisco to LA in a little over an hour. That may sound like science fiction, but it could one day be a reality thanks to the efforts of engineering students at UC Berkeley and elsewhere.
It may be time to change our minds about the impossibility of changing people’s minds. Again.
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.
1. You’ve been at the forefront of family planning debates for many years and are now working to bring to market an over-the-counter birth control pill for the first time in the United States. What are the public health benefits of readily available contraception?