Berkeley in the News

Berkeley in the News is a daily selection of articles and commentaries in the news media that mention UC Berkeley. The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of the campus.

Friday, 23 January 2015

1. Is There a Quantum Speed Limit?
Science Codex

Chemistry professor K. Birgitta Whaley, director of the Berkeley Quantum Information and Computation Center, and new doctoral alumnus Ty Volkoff have for the first time proven a fundamental relationship between energy and time that sets a "quantum speed limit" on processes ranging from quantum computing and tunneling to optical switching. The relationship is the flip side of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which sets limits on how precisely you can measure position and speed. The finding is applicable to any measurement involving time, Professor Whaley says.
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2. UC Officials Outline Plan to Address Growing Mental Health Needs
California Healthline

The UC regents outlined a plan to improve mental health care services on the system's campuses at their meeting this week. It was reported that the number of students seeking help has increased systemwide in the past five years, while ratios of counselors to students have not. As an example, Jeff Prince, director of counseling and psychological services at Berkeley's Tang Center, said that the percentage of students using individual counseling services at Berkeley rose to 16% as of last year.
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3. UC Rejects Policy Linking Coach Pay, Athletes’ Grades
San Francisco Chronicle (*requires registration)

The UC regents have set aside a policy recently approved by UC President Janet Napolitano that tied all bonuses for coaches and athletic directors to minimum standards of academic performance for their athletic teams. The grounds for rejecting the policy were that the standards are too low. The regents agreed to try to come up with a better policy later. Other stories on this topic appeared in the San Jose Mercury News, Sacramento Bee, and KCRA Online.
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4. Researchers Clamor for More Data on Investor Behavior
Wall Street Journal (*requires registration)

A story about finance researchers calling for better disclosure of investor information quotes business and finance professors Terrance Odean and Terry Hendershott. Professor Odean points out that much investor research has been based on limited 1990-era data from U.S. brokerage firms, with other studies relying on more extensive and recent data from foreign markets such as Finland and Taiwan. U.S. brokerage firms have been withholding more recent information, and Professor Odean says his inquiries have led to dead ends. "What I've been told is maybe," he says. "What I haven't been able to find is someone with enough power to make it happen." Professor Hendershott says, "We know very little about individual investors in the U.S.” He suggests that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the industry’s self-regulator, which has oversight over brokerages, would be a “natural” choice to collect data about individual U.S. investors and give researchers access.
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5. Rich Gop Leaders See Poverty as Key 2016 Issue
San Francisco Chronicle (*requires registration)

Political science professor Jack Citrin, director of Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies, weighs in on the issue of inequality as a salient topic for both political parties in 2015. “Obviously, it’s a natural for the Democrats to go for it,” he says. “But the Republicans have clearly seen that this is an issue they will have to address.” The challenge for Republicans, he notes, will be to “craft a set of proposals that focus on growth, lifting all boats, training and skills on the one hand — without going to a lot of high taxes on the other. That’s their Reaganesque game plan.” He warns that Democratic attacking wealthy candidates like Romney and Bush for being unlikely “fat cat” poverty crusaders may not hold water.
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6. Op-Ed: Supreme Court Housing Decision Could Put Our Financial Well-Being at Risk
Washington Post (*requires registration)

A commentary by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on the Supreme Courts review of a fair housing case mentions a study co-authored by Berkeley researchers, which found that a lower level of housing segregation was one of only five factors consistently associated with upward mobility.
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7. Privilege Is a Privilege, and a Responsibility
New York Times (*requires registration)

Studies by psychology professor Dacher Keltner and postdoctoral researcher Paul Piff are cited in a story about the wealth gap. One of their studies indicated that becoming wealthier often appears to entail less empathy and more self-serving behavior. Another study found that those with less wealth were more likely than wealthier people to agree with the statements "I often notice people who need help” and “It’s important to take care of people who are vulnerable." In one report, they concluded: "Upper class individuals were more likely to exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies, take valued goods from others, lie in a negotiation, cheat to increase their chance of winning a prize and endorse unethical behavior at work than were lower class individuals.”
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8. California Takes Different Path on Insuring Immigrants Living in U.S. Illegally
Kaiser Health News

A story about California's efforts to provide undocumented immigrants with health care coverage mentions a Berkeley Labor Center study, issued last May, which estimated that covering all immigrants in California illegally would increase Medi-Cal spending by 2 percent in 2015 while increasing enrollment by 7 percent. The cost of about $360 million would be significantly offset by a drop in health-care costs for the uninsured as well as an increase in sales tax revenue from managed care health plans.
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9. Furniture Firms Shun Flame Retardants but Some Toxic Couches Still For Sale
Chicago Tribune

Visiting chemist and lecturer Arlene Blum is quoted in a story about the ongoing sale of furniture containing flame retardants, in spite of new safety regulations allowing manufacturers to construct furniture without the risky chemicals. Blum has studied the chemicals and drawn attention to their health risks. "The transition has been a lot slower than people had hoped," she said.
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10. Monkey Cage Blog: Why Our Success in Managing the Banking Crisis was the Mother of Failure
Washington Post (*requires registration)

Economics and political science professor Barry Eichengreen discusses his new book, Hall of Mirrors: The Great Depression, The Great Recession, and the Uses – and Misuses – of History (Oxford University Press, January 2015), in an e-mail interview.
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11. China Blocks VPN Services That Skirt Online Censorship
San Francisco Chronicle

Adjunct information professor Xiao Qiang comments on the Chinese Communist Party's crackdown on online information, most recently by blocking VPN services that let users avoid online censorship of popular websites. He says the crackdown comes during sensitive political times, as President Xi Jinping's government prosecutes top officials accused of corruption. "We all know that China is in the middle of a very ferocious power struggle or political cleansing under the name of an anti-corruption campaign. … That to me is a very clearly related fact with the amount of political rumors and information related to China's high politics showing up in websites outside of China." While the controls hurt businesses that depend on online information and tools, he says the Chinese censors are more worried about restricting political information.
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12. 13.7 Cosmos & Culture Blog: The Ethics of the 'Singularity'
NPR Online

Philosophy professor Alva Noë writes about the possibility of a time when machines will become smarter than us – a time known by futurists as the "singularity." He says there are singularity optimists and singularity pessimists, but he's a singularity skeptic. He concludes: "The challenge raised by the singularity fantasy is this: Can the weak persuade the strong? Can we, without evil, persuade the machines that we even matter? … Perhaps it will depend on how intelligent these super-intelligences are. If they are smarter than us, maybe they will also be more reasonable than us."
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13. Art Embraces Science in New British Play 'Oppenheimer'
New York Times (*requires registration)

The Royal Shakespeare Company is presenting a new play, Oppenheimer, about former Berkeley physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer directed the Manhattan Project developing the first nuclear weapon at Los Alamos, New Mexico, during World War II. The play will run at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon until March 7.
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14. New Steve Jobs Movie Starring Michael Fassbender, Seth Rogen, Kate Winslet, Shooting in Berkeley
Berkeleyside

A new movie about Steve Jobs is being filmed in Berkeley this weekend. This film stars Michael Fassbender as Jobs and Seth Rogan as Apple co-founder [and Berkeley alumnus] Steve Wozniak. Kate Winslet and Katherine Waterston also have roles.
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15. Weekend Top 10: Mozart, Sly and the Family Stone, Amazing Acrobats
San Jose Mercury News (*requires registration)

Cal Performances' presentation of the Peking Acrobats is highlighted as a local activity this weekend. The brief says: "This amazing troupe blends eye-popping feats of tumbling, acrobatics, juggling and more with 2,000 years' worth of Chinese folklore. This is terrific family entertainment, and it's back in the Bay Area for a weekend run." Shows are at 2 and 8 p.m. Jan. 24, and at 3 on Jan. 25.
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16. On the Runway Blog: Davos 2015: The Power Set’s Ready-to-Wear Show in the Snow
New York Times Online (*requires registration)

A commentary on fashion at the World Economic Forum in Davos examines the popularity of scarves. Molecular and cell biology professor Jennifer Doudna was observed wearing a long, skinny scarf with an impressionist floral print.
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