Science

Sunny Side Up

A few days ago, we posted a piece on breakthroughs in thin-film solar cells, noting the development could lead to wider applications of solar technology.

Heated Debate

Perhaps you’ve seen the news: “Hotter Weather Actually Makes Us Want to Kill Each Other.”

That’s the snappy title that The Atlantic used to describe a new academic paper that looks at the relationship between climate change and human conflict.

Fact-Checking Relativity

Newsflash: The laws of physics remain in effect! For now, anyway.

That’s according to a team of Berkeley physicists who decided to peek under the hood of the universe and double-check that everything is still chugging along as expected. Namely, the researchers wanted to see if the speed of light, posited by one Albert Einstein to be the unbreakable speed limit for all things always and everywhere, is maybe a little flexible as upper-limit after all.

Accelerating the Accelerator

It’s been a mere five years since CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LCH) near Geneva pulverized its first atom, but it already needs an upgrade. Specifically, it needs better magnets—extremely large and powerful superconducting magnets.

Grass Roots Research

With news that an iceberg the size of Chicago has peeled off from Antarctica, attention has focused once again—however briefly—on global warming and the primary driver behind the phenomenon: atmospheric carbon. In other words, emissions—mostly carbon dioxide—from cars, factories, power plants, landfills and cows.

Slipping Through the Cracks

Homeless kids have many strange and unpleasant experiences—not least the status change when they hit puberty.

“They become criminalized,” says Colette Auerswald, M.S. ’89, a pediatrician and associate professor of community health and human development at Berkeley’s School of Public Health. “When kids develop pubic hair, they’re no longer considered vulnerable and charming children. They become pariahs, a problem. But they’re just as vulnerable, and their need for services and support is the same.”

Possible Nuclear Spring

These are hardly halcyon days for the nuclear power industry. The core failures and radiation releases at Japan’s Fukishima Daiichi complex caused by the 2011 earthquake and tsunamis have yet to be addressed. Following the catastrophe, Japan closed all but two of its nuclear power plants. New protocols implemented this month by the country’s Nuclear Regulation Authority may allow some plants to go back online, but enthusiasm for nukes remains at low ebb among Japanese citizens.

Engineering Magic

Few know better the crushing blow to idealism of undergraduate engineering courses than College of Engineering Dean S. Shankar Sastry. “They come out of high school ready to change the world, and they’re beaten into submission,” said Sastry in a phone interview. “Why do that? We need to find ways to celebrate their creativity, to help them integrate their experiences, so they leave with some of the same enthusiasm they had coming in.”

Talk about the Weather

 

The current flooding in Central Europe is already being hailed as the worst in decades. In some parts of the region, flooding is reaching or surpassing the destruction left behind by the 2002 “hundred-year floods” — not unlike those that hit California, as reported by Anne Pinckard in our upcoming Summer 2013 issue.

Parents of the Corn - Part 2

 

We contacted Professor Peggy Lemaux of the College of Natural Resources after today’s Supreme Court ruling upholding Monsanto’s seed patents, and asked her about genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Parents of the Corn

 

The Supreme Court ruling today, in which all nine judges ruled in favor of Monsanto, might be a patent case, but it is one involving a contentious topic: genetically modified (GMO) foods. It is an issue that over the years UC researchers have tried to bring some perspective to, given that it hinges as much on emotion as science.

Woz Up

When Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple Computer) finally graduated from Berkeley in 1986, 18 years after beginning his college career in Colorado, the name on his diploma read “Rocky Clark,” taken from the first name of his dog, Rocky Raccoon, and the last name of his then-wife, Candi Clark. Wozniak’s other nicknames include “The Woz” and “The Wizard of Woz.”

Science Roundup for May 1, 2013

Today in newslets: dorm room physics debates, smiley faces and is the dismal science insufficiently dismal?

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