UC Berkeley

Back with a Vengeance: Berkeley’s Head Epidemiologist On the Return of Pertussis

Professor Arthur Reingold is Head of Epidemiology at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health

California: Is whooping cough coming back?

We certainly are having a resurgence of pertussis in the United States, although it’s never gone away. It is a threat to very young infants, particularly those too young to be vaccinated or who have not yet had a complete series of the vaccines. 

Where does pertussis come from? How can you catch it?

From the Summer 2014 Apocalypse issue of California.

Blister On The Sun: A Near-Miss Raises Questions about Effects of Large Solar Storm

Dr. Janet Luhmann sort of wishes Earth had been hit by a giant gust of solar wind in the summer of 2012. Sure, the cloud of magnetically charged protons and electrons would’ve gotten tangled up in our planet’s own magnetic field, probably disabling global positioning and other communications satellites and overloading many of our electrical transformers—potentially knocking us back to the Candle Age. But, she says, “It would have been an interesting experiment.”

From the Summer 2014 Apocalypse issue of California.

Think an Old-Time Matchmaker is an Anachronism in Digital Age? Think Again

In an age of Tinder and Match.com, of TV romance carnivals such as The Bachelor, Judith Gottesman is a proud anachronism—an old-fashioned matchmaker in a new age. Her business, Soul Mates Unlimited, concentrates on matches for Jewish singles all over California, including many in their golden years.

“Don’t think because they are 75, 85 or 95, that they want to settle for a warm breathing body,” she says, sitting at a café near her home in San Rafael, where she works. “They are looking for soul mates.”

No Joy in Mudville: Amid Drought, California’s Reservoirs are Clogged with Gunk

As the drought drags on and reservoir levels keep dropping, our politicians predictably are clamoring for new dams. But there may be a better and cheaper way to squeeze more water out of California’s desiccated watersheds: Clean out the gunk behind existing reservoirs. That’s because dams collect sediment from eroding watersheds along with water. Our reservoirs rapidly are filling up with silt, sand and rocks—and the more sediment, the less room there is to collect life-sustaining water.

Cari Borja’s Berkeley Salon: Designer Stages 52 Dinners for Intriguing Friends and Strangers

Racks of gowns, manikins, and sewing machines crowd the edges of Cari Borja’s design studio, but a huge dining table occupies the center. It’s where she holds the dinners that resemble the fieldwork of an anthropologist outside the Ivory Tower. For a series of 52 meals—44 already served—she has transformed her studio into a salon where guests, from the famous to the unknown, discover connections and savor a slow meal.

Aliens Are Almost Surely Out There—Now Can We Find the Money to Find Them?

Dan Werthimer thinks his testimony last week before the House Subcommittee on Science, Space and Technology went pretty well. As director of the SETI Research Center at Berkeley, Werthimer updated committee members on the search for extraterrestrial life, and provided a generally upbeat evaluation: ET microbial life likely is ubiquitous throughout the galaxy, and new technologies have improved the chances of detecting signals from advanced alien civilizations.

Not Holding Their Tongues: Can the Commencement Speech Be Saved?

When a band of student protesters booed and heckled UC President Janet Napolitano at Laney College over the weekend—to the point where graduates could barely hear her—she became but the latest in a series of invited speakers who’ve suddenly found themselves in the thick of guerilla war over commencement addresses.

POSTERity: Hunt for Depression-era National Park Posters Leads to Berkeley

It all started 43 years ago. Doug Leen was working as a seasonal ranger at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, and his supervisor told him to clean out a complex of outbuildings south of Jenny Lake. Leen began hauling junk out of a barn when he saw it hanging from a nail: an old cardboard government poster featuring the park’s rugged peaks.

Mass Appeal: Researchers Score Public Support—and Cash—Via Crowdfunding

Marcus Lehmann is at work alongside a 50-meter-long water tank in a high-ceilinged engineering lab at UC Berkeley’s O’Brien Hall, surrounded by wrenches, tape, wires, electronics, pipes, lab notebooks and other flotsam and jetsam. Within the tank, he generates ocean-like waves to test a promising invention: a carpet-like device that captures wave energy. It holds the promise of someday being able to harness the power of the ocean, a potential huge source of renewable energy.

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