Berkeley in the News

A daily selection of stories about UC Berkeley and higher education that have appeared in the local and national media.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

1. Op-Ed: Use water bond to fund quake alert system
San Francisco Chronicle

Earth and planetary science professor Richard Allen, director of Berkeley's Seismological Laboratory, writes about the early earthquake warning system he co-developed and the need for funding so that it can be made available to the public. Called ShakeAlert, the system is in prototype mode, with just a few users, but it works well -- as it did Sunday morning in the South Napa Earthquake -- and it could save countless lives in bigger earthquakes that Californians know will come. He concludes: "Some lawmakers in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., are pushing for a system, but not all of them. Now it's looking as if all Californians will have an opportunity in November to vote for a water bond, Proposition 1, that will include funding for this warning system. Mexico's system was built after 10,000 people were killed in an earthquake, Japan's after 6,000 people perished, China's after 80,000 people died. Let's not repeat this mistake; let's build our warning system before the next quake."
Full Story

2. Editorial: California needs a seismic warning system
San Francisco Chronicle

The editors of the San Francisco Chronicle call for funding of ShakeAlert, an early earthquake warning system co-developed by Berkeley researchers. In prototype mode, it has worked well in past earthquakes, including on Sunday. "Sacramento needs to find the money to turn this system into a mainstay public safety feature," they say. "A warning system -- even one that provides mere seconds -- has the potential to save lives, prevent injuries and limit damage. ... A full detection system -- one that would have thousands of detection devices and additional control centers -- can halt elevators, warn surgeons in the middle of a delicate operation, tell firefighters to roll trucks outside station houses and warn drivers to pull over. Broader warnings could go out over smartphones, radios and TV to the public. An educational effort can let the public know what to do with the alerts. ... The Napa quake is widely described as a wake-up call for seismic dangers in the Bay Area. It's also a moment to consider wider warnings that can save lives and limit damage." Other stories on this topic appeared in the Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle (Associated Press), and NPR Online.
Full Story

3. Quake early warning offers headstart but lacks funding
CNET

ShakeAlert, the early earthquake warning system that detected Sunday's South Napa Earthquake ten seconds before it struck, is profiled. In prototype, the system is administered by Berkeley's Seismological laboratory. This article describes the system's technology and funding requirements, quoting lab personnel Peggy Hellweg and Jennifer Strauss. Other stories quoting Hellweg on this topic appeared in Mother Jones and on CBC Canada--link to video.
Full Story

4. Bridges, overpasses earn approval after Northern California quake
San Francisco Chronicle

Matt Schoettler, a research engineer with Berkeley's Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center, visited an overpass on Highway 37 near the epicenter of Sunday's South Napa Earthquake with Caltrans engineers Monday. He said it had gone through a "very robust" retrofitting in 1986 in which concrete columns were wrapped with steel jackets, and they saw "no evidence it had been in an earthquake at all." He notes that it's hard to evaluate the success of a retrofitting job, however, without knowing the amount of shaking a specific bridge or overpass withstood. "The magnitude was 6.0, but it also has to do with the amount of shaking. ... Maybe we just got lucky."
Full Story

5. Napa earthquake: Tech upgrades helped PG&E respond quickly
San Francisco Chronicle

After utility company PG&E restored electricity within 24 hours to most of the roughly 70,000 businesses and homes that lost power following the South Napa Earthquake on Sunday, civil engineering professor Bob Bea said, "That's remarkable – that's a good time. ... For once, PG&E is due an accolade." As for the possibility of ruptures in natural gas lines, he says he hopes the utility continues to hunt for them, even if it hasn't found any significant ones yet. "We've got service re-established -- is that service as safe as it should be? ... I would hope PG&E remains vigilant that there could be undetected leaks."
Full Story

6. City Visions: How do we want our waterfront to change?
KALW Radio

Ethan Elkind, associate director of Berkeley's Climate Change and Business Program with a joint appointment at UC Berkeley and UCLA's law schools, joins a discussion of San Francisco's new waterfront use plan and how it accounts for rising sea levels and other climate impact. Link to audio.
Full Story

7. Business Matters
Business Matters

Public policy professor David Kirp discusses education policy and a New York Times op-ed he wrote about why technology and marketplace solutions cannot help improve education. Link to the audio by scrolling down to the "Business Matters" link for August 25, clicking on "Play" and then skipping to the 34-minute mark.
Full Story

8. How Jerry Brown ‘free ranges’ for advice
Sacramento Bee

An article about Governor Jerry Brown's governing style highlights an example from his recent trip to Mexico. Asked to state an opinion on the North American Free Trade Agreement, he declined to answer. His said he had consulted education, geography and labor professor Harley Shaiken, director of Berkeley's Center for Latin American Studies, on the topic but they hadn't finished their discussion, so he couldn't give an assessment. The columnist remarks: "In the most eclectic administration in California’s modern era, the decision-making apparatus is less a Cabinet than a cerebral orbit around Brown." Professor Shaiken says he has known Brown since the 1990s and he was primarily with the governor in Mexico to discuss immigration. He describes Brown as “someone that has, I think, a natural curiosity.”
Full Story

9. Forum with Michael Krasny: How Less Sleep Increases Your Risk of Disease
KQED Radio

Psychology and neuroscience professor Matthew Walker, director of Berkeley's Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory, joins a discussion of sleep deprivation. Centers for Disease Control data shows that a growing number of people sleep less than six hours a night, but studies have found that people who get less sleep are at greater risk for heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Link to audio.
Full Story

10. Here's Another Psychological Reason Buying Experiences Can Make You Happy
San Francisco Chronicle

A recent study co-authored by post-doctoral psychology scholar Matthew Killingsworth, of Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center, has found that in terms of buying happiness, experiences outrank things even before you spend money on either. Anticipating an experience, the researchers found, brought more happiness than anticipating buying a material item.
Full Story

11. Robotics Researchers Are Turning The Internet Into A Giant Robot Brain
San Francisco Chronicle

A team of researchers from Berkeley, Stanford, Cornell and Brown are building a cloud-based "Robo Brain," converting "about one billion images, 120,000 YouTube videos and 100 million how-to documents and appliance manuals" into robot-friendly data. The system aims to help solve one of the biggest challenges in developing useful robots -- teaching them about the world. Data for machine learning technologies has never been gathered on this scale before.
Full Story

12. Cal Bears Blog: Haas Pavilion to receive $10-million renovation
San Francisco Chronicle Online

A $10-million renovation of Haas Pavilion, Berkeley's basketball venue, is set to begin this coming May, with completion planned in time for the fall 2015 season, campus officials have announced. Improvements will include a center-hung scoreboard, better sound and lighting, and modernized video production facilities. In a statement, Cuonzo Martin, Cal's head men's basketball coach, thanked the Evelyn and Walter Hass Jr., Fund, whose gift makes the renovations possible. He said: “Lindsay [Gottlieb, head women's basketball coach] and I, as well as the entire Cal community, are very appreciative of the Haas family for its generosity to Cal Athletics and the University. ... Cal student-athletes are attracted to our campus for the unparalleled academic, cultural and athletic experience they receive. Basketball games provide the Berkeley community with a gathering place for celebration and connection, and these improvements to Haas Pavilion will add to that environment.”
Full Story

13. Bookmarks Blog: Robert Hass wins $100,000 Wallace Stevens Award
San Francisco Chronicle Online

English professor Robert Hass, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and former U.S. poet laureate, has won the Wallace Stevens Award, given annually by the Academy of American Poets in recognition of “outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry.” The award carries a $100,000 stipend. His recent books have included What Light Can Do: Essays on Art, Imagination, and the Natural World (2012) and The Apple Trees at Olema: New and Selected Poems (2010). Other awards he has won include a National Book Award, two National Book Critics Circle Awards, and a MacArthur Fellowship.
Full Story

14. Remembering UC Berkeley economist Gregory Grossman
Berkeleyside

Economics professor and alumnus Gregory Grossman, an influential expert on the Soviet economy, has died at the age of 93. Born in Kiev, Ukraine, his family fled the post-Russian Revolution chaos and famine. He understood the political, ideological, social and cultural aspects of the Soviet economy, and was also known as a "consummate gentleman," sought out by peers for advice on their scholarship. According to political science professor George Breslauer, “I never saw him present his ideas aggressively. He let the evidence and logic speak for themselves. In the end, the passage of time proved him right on almost all scores.”
Full Story

UC Berkeley in the News Archives