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Climate change puts ecosystems on the run
To keep up with global warming, the average ecosystem will need to shift about a quarter mile each year, says a new study by scientists at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley.
(23 December)

Sun and moon trigger deep tremors on San Andreas Fault
When the sun and moon are aligned with the San Andreas Fault they tug on it enough to increase the tremor rate deep underground. While these faint tremors have not been linked to earthquakes, the tremors are associated with increased stress on the fault and may up the risk for future quakes.
(23 December)

New human reproductive hormone could lead to novel contraceptives
Given the ubiquity of fertility clinics and the popularity of in vitro fertilization, one would think that doctors fully understand the reproductive system. It's surprising, then, that a new reproductive hormone has been discovered in humans, one that suppresses fertility. The discovery by UC Berkeley neuroscientists could lead to new contraceptives and treatments for cancer and disorders such as precocious puberty.
(22 December)

University of Tokyo, UC Berkeley to exchange scholars in cosmology, other areas
The University of Tokyo and the University of California, Berkeley, formalized an agreement Dec. 17 to encourage research and educational exchanges between the campuses, which are considered to be the top public universities in the world.
(18 December)

Five UC Berkeley academics among new AAAS fellows
Four University of California, Berkeley, faculty members, plus an educator with the campus's Museum of Paleontology, have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the largest general scientific society in the world.
(18 December)

Study shows loss of 15-42 percent of mammals in North America
Many biologists warn that the planet's plants and animals are headed toward a mass extinction as a result of human-caused environmental damage, including global warming. A UC Berkeley/Penn State team has now analyzed the status of North American mammals, estimating that they may be one-fifth to one-half the way toward a mass extinction event like the "Big Five" the Earth has seen in the last 450 million years.
(18 December)

Discovery of 4.4 million-year-old "Ardi" named Breakthrough of the Year
The journal Science has named the discovery of "Ardi," the oldest hominid skeleton ever found, its "Breakthrough of the Year 2009." An international team co-led by UC Berkeley's Tim White took 17 years to assemble and analyze the skeleton and thousands of other fossils found with it. The analysis, published in the Oct. 2 Science, revolutionizes our understanding of the earliest human ancestors appearing not long after the human lineage diverged from that of chimps.
(17 December)

H1N1 influenza adopted novel strategy to move from birds to humans
The 2009 H1N1 virus, which ignited a worldwide "swine flu" panic earlier this year, used a novel strategy to cross from birds into people, UC Berkeley scientists have found. The finding could help those surveilling the world for new flu variants and those developing antiviral drugs.
(08 December)

Cutting greenhouse pollutants could directly save millions of lives worldwide
Six international studies published this week in the British journal The Lancet show that cutting greenhouse gases, in particular ozone and black carbon, can save millions of lives worldwide in addition to slowing climate change.
(25 November)

UC Berkeley research garners nearly $65 million in federal stimulus money
Since the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, UC Berkeley has received nearly $65 million in research funds from the federal government, primarily from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.
(19 November)

Some of us may be born more empathetic, new study suggests
Could it be that the generous Mother Teresa and the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge from “A Christmas Carol” were influenced by their genes? Researchers at the UC Berkeley have found compelling evidence that people who are more empathetic possess a particular variation of the oxytocin receptor gene.
(16 November)

Report calls for coordinated family-friendly policies in research sciences
Women in the sciences must often choose between family and academic careers, according to a new report authored by researchers at the Berkeley Center on Health, Economic & Family Security (Berkeley CHEFS) at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.
(12 November)

Chromosomes dance and pair up on the nuclear membrane
Abby Dernburg and colleagues have looked at the amazingly precise choreography of chromosomes as they pair up during meiosis - the process by which cells create egg and sperm with half the normal number of chromosomes - and found a critical role played by the cytoskeleton.
(12 November)

Vibrations key to efficiency of green fluorescent protein
Green fluorescent protein (GFP) has invaded thousands of research labs around the world, thanks to its versatility in labeling cells and organisms. Now, UC Berkeley chemists have discovered why GFP is such an efficient emitter of green light.
(12 November)

Rapid supernova could be new class of exploding star
Post-doc Dovi Poznanski was looking through seven-year-old data when he chanced upon a very strange supernova that flashed and was gone in less than a month, when 3-4 months is typical. The unusually rapid supernova appears to match the predicted behavior of a thermonuclear explosion on a white dwarf that has drawn helium from its companion.
(05 November)

New analyses of dinosaur growth may wipe out one-third of species
Paleontologists Mark Goodwin and Jack Horner have dug for 11 years in the Hell Creek Formation of Montana in search of every dinosaur fossil they can find, accumulating specimens of all ages and stages of development. Their new report on the growth stages of dome-headed dinosaurs shows that two named species are really just young pachycephalosaurs. They say that perhaps one-third of all named dinosaurs may not be separate species, but juvenile or subadult stages of other known dinosaurs.
(30 October)

When ants attack: Researchers recreate chemicals that trigger aggression in Argentine ants
Researchers have identified and synthesized the chemical cues by which Argentine ants distinguish colony-mates from rivals. By exploiting these chemicals, researchers have demonstrated that normally friendly Argentine ants can turn against each other and fight.
(27 October)

New $16 million center to push, pinch and probe cancer cells & tissues
The National Cancer Institute is opening a new front in the war on cancer, funding 12 physical science-oncology centers across the country to see what engineers, mathematicians, chemists and physicists can learn about cancer cells. UC Berkeley's Jan Liphardt heads one center that will receive nearly $16 million over five years.
(26 October)

Climate treaty needed to limit soot & other greenhouse pollutants
UC Berkeley Ph.D. candidate Stacy Jackson argues in Science that policymakers should plan a summit now to look at short- and medium-lived greenhouse pollutants, which range from soot to ozone and methane, and their near term impact on climate.
(22 October)

Error in climate treaties could lead to more deforestation
A team of 13 prominent scientists and land-use experts has identified an important but fixable error in legal accounting rules for bioenergy that could, if uncorrected, undermine efforts to reduce greenhouse gases by encouraging deforestation.
(22 October)

NSF authorizes $29 million for world's deepest underground lab
UC Berkeley's proposal to build lab facilities in a South Dakota mine has received an additional $29 million in support from the National Science Foundation. The funds, which are for a preliminary design, set the stage for later construction funds that would create the world's deepest underground laboratory for experiments in physics, geology and biology.
(15 October)

Skin cells may provide early warning for cancer risk elsewhere in body
If susceptibility to cancer is the result of inherited genetic mutations, then all the body's cells should have these mutations. Since skin cells are easy to culture, argues cell biologist Harry Rubin, by observing the behavior of skin cells in a Petri dish it may be possible to detect those mutations that increase our cancer risk.
(15 October)

College of Chemistry steers course to sustainable 'green' chemistry
The College of Chemistry is moving toward sustainable "green" chemistry with a new emphasis on sustainability in its undergraduate courses, a new endowed chair in sustainable chemistry, and its participation in the campuswide Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry.
(08 October)

Alfalfa sprouts key to discovering how meandering rivers form
Restoring rivers to their natural state is now hit-and-miss, primarily because scientists don't really know what makes a river meander. A scale model using alfalfa sprouts to represent vegetation now shows that strong banks and fine sediment are key.
(05 October)

Cal grad and former Cal professor win Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Most of the work for which Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider and John Szostak won this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine took place at UC Berkeley, while Blackburn was a professor of molecular and cell biology and Greider was her graduate student.
(05 October)

On the trail of our ancestors
The groundbreaking discovery of the partial skeleton of Ardipithecus ramidus, a hominid species dating back 4.4 million years, is the latest in a long line of contributions UC Berkeley researchers have made toward the elucidation of the human ancestral tree. To learn more about what it's like to be a hominid fossil hunter, Sarah Yang from UC Berkeley Media Relations interviewed Leslea Hlusko, associate professor of integrative biology and the associate faculty member of the Human Evolution Research Center at UC Berkeley.
(01 October)

Ethiopian desert yields oldest hominid skeleton
The oldest hominid skeleton found in Africa, dating from 4.4 million years ago, revolutionizes our understanding of how humans evolved from the last common ancestor of apes and humans.
(01 October)

Scientists discover clues to what makes human muscle age
A study led by UC Berkeley researchers has identified critical biochemical pathways linked to the aging of human muscle. By manipulating these pathways, the researchers were able to turn back the clock on old human muscle, restoring its ability to repair and rebuild itself. The findings provide promising new targets for stemming the debilitating muscle atrophy that accompanies human aging, the researchers say.
(30 September)

Postmenopausal women benefit from endurance training as much as younger women
After menopause, decreased estrogen and changes in body composition affect women's metabolism. But does this affect women's response to exercise? A new UC Berkeley study shows that postmenopausal women benefit as much as younger women do from endurance training, improving both cardiovascular and respiratory fitness.
(17 September)

Photoswitches shed light on burst swimming in zebrafish
A new technique employing photoswitches and gene targeting is proving a boon to biologists because it allows researchers to non-invasively turn on small populations of cells as easily as flipping a light switch. Developed at UC Berkeley, the new and flexible technique has helped answer a long-standing question about the function of a class of enigmatic nerve cells in the spinal cord.
(16 September)

Sierra Nevada birds move in response to warmer, wetter climate
If the climate is not quite right, birds will up and move rather than stick around and sweat it out, according to a new study led by UC Berkeley biologists. The findings reveal that 48 out of 53 bird species studied in California's Sierra Nevada mountains have adjusted to climate change over the last century by moving to sites with the temperature and precipitation conditions they favored.
(14 September)

Research Roundup
This semester's On the Same Page program, aimed at focusing the attention of incoming L&S undergrads on a single work or creator, is built around Professor of Journalism Michael Pollan's game-changing take on industrial agriculture and America's food systems, The Omnivore's Dilemma.
(10 September)

Improving vaccines to trigger T cell as well as antibody response
Most successful vaccines stimulate antibodies that attack and kill viruses as they scoot from one cell to another. But what about viruses and other pathogens that never leave the cell? A new theory of how the immune system recognizes pathogens suggests ways to make vaccines that trigger both antibodies and a T cell response, targeting extracellular as well as intracellular pathogens.
(03 September)

World's smallest semiconductor laser heralds new milestone in laser physics
UC Berkeley researchers have reached a new milestone in laser physics by creating the world's smallest semiconductor laser, capable of generating visible light in a space smaller than the size of a single protein molecule.
(31 August)

Space Sciences lab celebrates 50 years & 75 satellites
In 1959, only two years after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik and ignited the space race, UC Berkeley created a laboratory devoted to space science that has grown to be one of the most active academic space research labs in the country.
(28 August)

Mirror cast for Mexican 6.5-meter infrared telescope
The University of Arizona has cast a 9-ton honeycomb mirror that will become the centerpiece of the San Pedro Martir Telescope in Baja California and the locus of a highly sensitive infrared survey of the northern sky, according to project PI Joshua Bloom of UC Berkeley.
(26 August)

New images capture cell's ribosomes at work, could aid in molecular war against disease
UC Berkeley researchers have captured elusive nanoscale movements of ribosomes at work, shedding light on how these cellular factories take in genetic instructions and amino acids to churn out proteins. The achievement could eventually lead to significant advances in the fight against infectious diseases.
(20 August)

Technology Review magazine names three Berkeley scientists to elite group of young innovators
A trio of researchers at UC Berkeley are up-and-coming scientists to watch, according to a newly released 2009 list of Top Young Innovators Under 35.
(18 August)

NSF awards $3.2 million for research at the frontier of biology and engineering
With a new National Science Foundation grant, biologists and engineers at Berkeley will be stepping up their collaborative effort to learn from nature and apply their discoveries for the benefit of humanity.
(17 August)

UC presents revised plan for housing Helios research
University of California representatives are presenting to state government officials newly revised plans for housing the Helios research initiatives that will explore promising new solar-energy technologies.
(03 August)

Gene transcribing machine takes halting, backsliding trip along the DNA
Cell's have nanoscale protein machines that perform the first step in gene expression, gliding smoothly along the DNA and translating it into RNA. Or so scientists thought. A new study shows that the real process is replete with long pauses and backsliding as the machine tries to negotiate the tightly compacted DNA in the nucleus.
(30 July)

Surprise collision on Jupiter captured by Gemini Telescope
A team of astronomers using the Gemini North telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawai'i obtained a new infrared image of Jupiter on Wednesday night, July 22, showing its new scar still glowing in mid-infrared wavelengths.
(23 July)

Jupiter pummeled, leaving bruise the size of the Pacific Ocean
UC Berkeley astronomer Paul Kalas took advantage of observing time on the Keck Telescope to check out a new bruise on the planet Jupiter and found indications of a recent impact that left a scar the size of the Pacific Ocean.
(21 July)

Brain can develop motor memory for prosthetics, study finds
A new study by UC Berkeley researchers shows that the brain can develop a stable, neural map of a how to control a prosthetic device, providing hope that physically disabled people can one day master control of artificial limbs with greater ease.
(20 July)

Cell biologist Richard Strohman has died at 82
Richard Strohman, professor emeritus of molecular and cell biology and a frequent critic of the idea that genes determine destiny, died July 4 from complications of Alzheimer's disease. He was 82.
(17 July)

Drugs may prevent epilepsy & seizures after brain injury
UC Berkeley's Daniela Kaufer and Israeli colleague Alon Friedman have shown that when severe head trauma causes the blood-brain barrier to leak, albumin in blood serum triggers neuron changes that lead to seizures. A new study in rats identifies a drug that prevents these changes.
(14 July)

Early-career scientist gets White House honor
Dr. Sanjay Kumar, a UC Berkeley bioengineer, is one of 100 researchers to receive the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the White House announced.
(09 July)

Theory provides more precise estimates of large-area biodiversity
The Census Bureau is good at profiling the U.S. population by sampling small groups of people, but biologists lack a good way to estimate the richness of life in large areas based on small-area studies. Ecologist John Harte has developed a new theory that does a much better job predicting biodiversity in large biomes and could be a boon to conservation biologists.
(09 July)

Tremors on southern San Andreas Fault may mean increased quake risk
Tremors under the Parkfield segment of the San Andreas Fault have increased with increasing stress on a nearby locked segment of the fault, perhaps signaling a greater chance of an earthquake.
(09 July)

Growing young scientists in Tahiti
Graduate student Brad Balukjian spent a year teaching biodiversity to Tahitian 5th graders on the island of Moorea while pursuing study of the island's endemic insects.
(06 July)

Berkeley stakes science claim at Homestake gold mine
UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab plan to turn South Dakota's Homestake gold mine into a world-class science complex, with underground experiments in astrophysics, physics, biology and earth science. South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds, a big supporter of the effort, visited the campus and lab June 12 to cement the relationship and see what a large research complex looks like.
(17 June)

Stress puts double whammy on reproductive system
Stress is known to decrease fertility and sexual behavior, but researchers thought this was because stress hormones lower levels of a brain hormone called GnRH. UC Berkeley biologists now show that stress hormones also boost levels of another hormone that suppresses GnRH, creating a doublewhammy. The scientists hope it will be possible to block this system and restore fertility.
(15 June)

A summer's worth of science writing
The annual Summer Reading List is a Berkeley tradition. Entering freshmen (and the rest of us) stock our beach bags with books recommended by campus staff and faculty — this year, on the theme of science.
(12 June)

Graphene opens door to tunable transistors, LEDs
Graphene, which is a hexagonal sheet of carbon atoms, has been a hot subject of research since its isolation from graphite in 2004. That interest has paid off. UC Berkeley physicists have shown that two sheets of graphene slapped together can be made into a tunable electronic or photonic device, something unheard of with silicon or gallium arsenide semiconductors.
(10 June)

Red giant star Betelgeuse mysteriously shrinking
The red supergiant star Betelgeuse, which is so large it would extend to Jupiter's orbit in our solar system, has steadily shrunk over the past 15 years, according to UC Berkeley physicists. Since 1993, its radius has gone down by 15 percent, equivalent to the radius of Venus's orbit.
(09 June)

Lifting the fog on "dark" gamma-ray bursts
Gamma-ray bursts, with their ability to pierce through gas and dust to shine brightly across the universe, are revealing areas of intense star formation and stellar death where astronomers have been unable to look - the dusty corners of otherwise dust-free galaxies.
(08 June)

Bone bed tells of life along California's ancient coastline
Sharktooth Hill near Bakersfield is the home of the most extensive marine bone bed in the world, a 100-square-mile layer of shark, seal, ray, whale, turtle and fish bones. A UC Berkeley professor and five Berkeley PhDs have analyzed the 15-million-year-old fossils to decipher the history of what used to be the California coastline.
(08 June)

Stimulus funds for UC Berkeley research now total $8.6 million
UC Berkeley faculty have submitted nearly 300 proposals to the federal government for stimulus funding through NSF, NIH and other agencies. An announcement this week of three new grants from NIH should bring the total received to $8.6 million.
(05 June)

Three faculty members elected to American Philosophical Society
Three University of California, Berkeley, faculty members have been elected to the American Philosophical Society, the nation's oldest learned society comprised of nearly 1,000 eminent scholars from a broad range of disciplines.
(01 June)

Allen Telescope Array begins all-sky surveys
With commissioning of the 42 radio dishes of the Allen Telescope Array nearly complete, UC Berkeley astronomers are now embarking on several major radio astronomy projects, including daily surveys of the sky.
(27 May)

Rare radio supernova is nearest supernova in five years
Robotic telescopes now search the sky nightly for exploding stars, but not all supernovas are visible to optical, ultraviolet or X-ray telescopes. A supernova missed by other telescopes because these wavelengths were blocked by galactic gas and dust was discovered by radio telescopes in April, and turns out to be the nearest supernova in five years.
(27 May)

SETI@home project celebrates 10th anniversary, though no ETs
A May 21 symposium celebrates the 10th birthday of the SETI@home project, the largest volunteer computing project in the world. Launched May 17, 1999, its dedicated followers continue to crunch radio data in search of intelligent signals from space.
(19 May)

Summer haze has a cooling effect in southeastern United States, says new study
Global warming may include some periods of local cooling, according to a new UC Berkeley study. Results from satellite and ground-based sensor data show that sweltering summers can, paradoxically, lead to the temporary formation of a cooling haze in the southeastern United States.
(18 May)

Online games spark girls' interests in science & technology
Thanks to a National Science Foundation grant, 12 Oakland Girl Scouts are now learning how to create online games centered around astronomy. The program's goal is to create a multi-user game called "The Universe Quest Game" in which girls around the world can safely interact and learn about science and technology.
(15 May)

UC Berkeley UV detector to be installed in Hubble telescope
NASA's final mission to the 17-year-old Hubble Space Telescope, which begins May 11, will deliver a new instrument partly built by UC Berkeley physicists to map the structure of the universe.
(07 May)

Seven faculty members elected to NAS
Seven UC Berkeley faculty members are among 72 new members elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), one of the nation's most prestigious societies of scholars engaged in science and engineering research.
(28 April)

$30 million from DOE for carbon capture, sequestration
The White House announced this week a major push to spur innovative energy research, including $777 million over five years from the Department of Energy. $30 million of this money will come to UC Berkeley and LBNL to investigate carbon capture and sequestration.
(28 April)

THEMIS mission tracks electrical tornadoes in space
Tornadoes on Earth are among the most violent storms, capable of enormous destruction with wind speeds of 200 mph and more. Yet these are tiny compared to the "space tornados" that impress with plasma flow speeds of more than one million mph and beautiful auroras.
(23 April)

New labs on tap for College of Chemistry
The instructional labs in the College of Chemistry are nearly half a century old, and feeling it. An ambitious new program will modernize them — as part of an initiative that will also develop a new vision of "how to teach chemistry in the 21st century."
(23 April)

Four professors become arts and sciences academy fellows
Four UC Berkeley professors are among the latest leaders in the arts, humanities and sciences named fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences today (Monday, April 20).
(20 April)

The story of X - evolution of a sex chromosome
The sex chromosomes -- XX in women and XY in men -- date from the earliest mammals, but how did they evolve to look like they do today? While the male-determining Y chromosome has received all the attention, a UC Berkeley biologist has now focused on the X, and finds that it tells a fascinating story of adaptation to a shrinking Y.
(16 April)

In face of global warming, can wilderness remain natural?
Preserving endangered species is going to get a whole lot harder with the advent of global warming, according to paleoecologist Anthony Barnosky, author of a new book called "Heatstroke: Nature in an Age of Global Warming." Climate change will force plants and animals to seek more hospitable habitats outside preserves, or more likely, force humans to assist with their migration to preferred habitat.
(13 April)

Climate change to spur rapid shifts in fire hotspots, projects new analysis
Climate change will bring about major shifts in worldwide fire patterns, and those changes are coming fast, according to a new analysis led by UC Berkeley fire researchers.
(07 April)

Goldman School portal takes the worry out of 'experiments of concern'
How concerned should we be about breakthroughs in synthetic biology that might also be useful to bioterrorists? An online advice portal developed at Berkeley may help to minimize those risks.
(02 April)

Chemist Graham Fleming named vice chancellor for research
Graham Fleming, the Melvin Calvin Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at UC Berkeley and former deputy director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has been appointed the campus's vice chancellor for research.
(01 April)

Sea mollusks taste their memories to build shells
Mollusk's add daily to the margins of their shells to produce intricate patterns prized by beachcombers. Though this seems complex, the process can actually be explained by a simple network of nerve cells that taste yesterday's shell layer to build today's, according to two UC Berkeley biophysicists. To prove it they have created a computer model that re-creates the patterns seen in seashells.
(01 April)

Mice with disabled gene that helps turn carbs into fat stay lean despite feasting on high-carb diet
UC Berkeley researchers have identified a gene that plays a critical regulatory role in the process of converting dietary carbohydrate to fat. Mice that had this gene disabled had lower levels of body fat than their normal counterparts, despite being fed the equivalent of an all-you-can-eat pasta buffet.
(19 March)

Scientists cable seafloor seismometer into state earthquake network
A 32-mile underwater cable now links the state's only seafloor seismic station with the UC Berkeley's seismic network, merging real-time data from west of the San Andreas fault with data from 31 other land stations sprinkled around Northern and Central California.
(18 March)

Adventures in the 'Goldilocks zone'
The Kepler space mission, launched last week, will help astronomers focus their search for planets orbiting at a distance “not too close but not too far from” their stars — the better to someday find an Earth-like planet capable of sustaining life.
(12 March)

Long, sexy tails not a drag on male hummingbirds
At last two dozen hummingbirds, not to mention hundreds of other birds, sport long tails to attract females. But don't these tails get in the way? A new UC Berkeley study shows that long-tailed male hummingbirds lose little in the way of energy to draw the attention of admiring females.
(11 March)

Assembling cells into artificial 3-D tissues, like tiny glands
UC Berkeley chemists have developed a way to assemble cells into 3-D microtissues and even tiny glands, much like snapping together toy building blocks to make a simple machine. Such microtissues could serve as niches for studying how cells work together, or be assembled into larger structures as artificial, implantable organs.
(04 March)

Honors for two Berkeley physicists
Paul Richards and Nobel laureate George Smoot have been honored for their contributions to astrophysics research and teaching.
(04 March)

The pluses and (mostly) minuses of biofuels
A new generation of biofuels, made from non-food plants, will eventually reduce the impact that today's corn-and soy-based fuels are having on the global environment. But for now, says a campus expert, ethanol and its kin will remain part of the nation's multi-source energy portfolio
(04 March)

Campus turns out for opening of Sutardja Dai Hall
With 141,000 square feet of innovation-inspiring lab and classroom space, Berkeley's new CITRIS building is ready to host decades of discovery.
(04 March)

Kepler in the classroom
Just as NASA's Kepler mission and its search for habitable planets has grabbed the public's attention, Alan Gould hopes that the mission will galvanize student interest in science as well. Since 2001, Gould, coordinator of the Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) space science programs, has been gearing up for launch as Kepler's co-investigator for education and public outreach.
(03 March)

With Mar. 6 Kepler launch, work begins for Berkeley astronomers
NASA's Kepler mission, scheduled for launch on March 6, will put a telescope in orbit to scan 100,000 stars for evidence of Earth-size planets. While many hold out hope of finding dozens of planets with conditions ripe for life, it also will show us how common Earth-like planets are in the galaxy, according to Kepler team members Gibor Basri and Geoff Marcy.
(03 March)

Why California should consider Australia's "Prepare, stay and defend" wildfire policy
Even as debate rages over the safety of the Australian policy of encouraging willing and able residents to stay and defend their property from wildfires, fire researchers at UC Berkeley and in Australia say that the strategy is worth consideration in California and other regions in the United States.
(26 February)

Paul Richards, George Smoot honored for astrophysics research and teaching
Two UC Berkeley physicists – Paul Richards and Nobel Laureate George Smoot – have been honored for their contributions to astrophysics research and teaching.
(23 February)

The pluses and (mostly) minuses of biofuels
Speakers at last week’s AAAS meeting presented abundant evidence that tropical rainforest destruction has accelerated in recent years, at least in part because of the worldwide push to produce more biofuels.
(20 February)

The sun is a star when it comes to sustainable energy
At a national scientific meeting last week where biofuels – principally ethanol – were uniformly trashed as an environmental train wreck, one bright, carbon-free light gleamed in our energy future: the sun.
(20 February)

Sloan fellowships awarded to seven young faculty members
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation announced today (Tuesday, Feb. 17) 118 new fellowship awards to early-career scientists, seven of them young faculty researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.
(17 February)

Cheaper materials could be key to low-cost solar cells
Unconventional solar cell materials that are as abundant but much less costly than silicon and other semiconductors in use today could substantially reduce the cost of solar photovoltaics, according to a new UC Berkeley and LBNL study.
(17 February)

"Evolved" virus may improve gene therapy for cystic fibrosis
Chemical engineer David Schaffer has developed a technique to force viruses to evolve as better gene therapy carriers, and tests at the University of Iowa show that the virus can completely cure cystic fibrosis in tissue culture.
(17 February)

Scientists document salamander decline in Central America
Amphibian populations have dropped worldwide, but most studies have detailed the impact on frogs only. A new UC Berkeley study now shows that salamander populations are plummeting in Central America, primarily in the cloud forests.
(09 February)

Predicting diversity within hotspots to enhance conservation
Hotspots of threatened biodiversity comprise a huge chunk of the Earth and present a daunting challenge to governments and scientists who want to study them, let alone protect them from development. A new strategy developed by UC Berkeley researchers can help identify the hotspots within hotspots critical for study and conservation.
(05 February)

KQED-TV to air doc on late revolutionary biologist Allan Wilson
Local station KQED-TV will air a documentary on the late Allan Wilson, a UC Berkeley biochemist who revolutionized the study of evolution, on Sunday, Feb. 8, at noon. Wilson, who died in 1991 from leukemia, showed that comparing protein and gene sequences of species can provide unexpected new information on evolutionary relationships.
(04 February)

Improved method for comparing genomes as well as written text
When comparing the genomes of different organisms to create an evolutionary tree, scientists have been restricted to using a few dozen genes common to all of them. No longer. A UC Berkeley chemist and his colleagues have discovered a way to compare entire genomes across a range of sizes. The method also works for comparing written texts.
(28 January)

Physicist Sumner Davis has died at 84
Physicist Sumner P. Davis, a beloved teacher, classical optical spectroscopist and avid glider pilot, died Dec. 31, 2008, in El Cerrito after a brief illness. He was 84.
(23 January)

Summer peak, winter low temperatures now arrive 2 days earlier
Biologists have long noticed that global warming is causing springtime flowering and ice melting to arrive earlier, but a new study shows that the seasonal cycle has also shifted, causing summer's peak temperature and winter's lowest temperature to arrive nearly two days earlier than was true 50 years ago.
(21 January)

Mathematician John Stallings died last year at 73
John Robert Stallings Jr., a professor emeritus of mathematics at UC Berkeley who made seminal contributions to geometric group theory and topology, died Nov. 24, 2008, from prostate cancer at his home in Berkeley. He was 73.
(12 January)

'Understanding Science' Website clarifies what science is, is not
How does science work? Though scientists are often hard put to explain it, a new Web site called Understanding Science helps students, teachers and the public decide what is and is not science, and understand the messy but fun adventure of science.
(08 January)

Jan. 11 is local kickoff of 'Year of Science 2009'
UC Berkeley and more than 500 other institutions and organizations around the country have joined together to make this the "Year of Science 2009," replete with science cafes, festivals, talks and lectures, and an emphasis on what science means to us all.
(07 January)