Berkeley in the News Archive

The links to the stories summarized on this page are time sensitive, so stories might no longer be online at that URL. We also include links to the original source publication itself.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

1. Voter Shortsightedness May Skew Elections
Science Now

A study co-authored by associate political science professor Gabriel Lenz looked at voters' responses to the standard electoral question of whether or not they are better off today than they were four years earlier. The researchers found that respondents only tended to consider the past six months when they answered. Looking at possible cures for the shortsightedness, the researchers determined that a possible solution would be to change the data units reported. For example, when economic trends were expressed as yearly income rather than rates of change, voters made more accurate judgments. Full Story

2. Minimum wage a defining campaign issue for Democrats
Sacramento Bee

Ken Jacobs, chair of Berkeley's Labor Center, is cited in a story about Democrats seizing on the political priority of raising the minimum wage. Jacobs co-authored a study of the impact of minimum wage increases and found that private employment grew 5.6 percent in San Francisco and 3 percent in Santa Clara County, while neighboring counties experienced declines. Employment among food-service workers rose nearly 18 percent in San Francisco, a higher clip than in neighboring counties. Full Story

3. Tricks of the trade: Study suggests how freelancers can land more jobs

A new study led by assistant business professor Ming D. Geung suggests that freelance workers who follow an incremental career path by moving between similar but not identical types of jobs are more likely to be hired than those who work on too few or too many types of jobs. Professor Leung says that today's freelancers are performing highly skilled tasks and that those who understand the market's dynamics will be more prepared to demonstrate their credibility and competence to employers. Full Story

4. Burning the U.K.’s Plutonium Stockpile Could Fast-Track New Reactors
MIT Technology Review

Per Peterson, chair of nuclear engineering at Berkeley, comments on the use of a decades-old reactor technology called PRISM, which breaks down waste from spent nuclear fuel. The U.K.’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is investigating using the design to solve its plutonium problem as well as that of transuranic byproducts that make spent nuclear fuel a 300,000-year problem. According to Professor Peterson, it could simultaneously generate low-carbon electricity, at prices competitive with other nuclear reactors. Full Story

5. Annals of Science: A Valuable Reputation
New Yorker Magazine

Integrative biology professor Tyrone Hayes is profiled for his study of the widely-used herbicide atrazine, manufactured by Syngenta. He has repeatedly found evidence that the chemical has profoundly deleterious effects on wildlife, particularly frogs, but Syngenta has challenged his findings and waged a campaign to discredit him. Europe banned atrazine in 2003, and the E.P.A. is conducting a new review of the herbicide this year. Full Story

6. China Real Time Report Blog: Anxiety Trumps Law in Party’s Crackdown on Activists
Wall Street Journal (*requires registration)

Law lecturer Stanley Lubman writes about legal reforms in China, concluding: "The Party’s rhetorical support of the rule of law — often extolled in Party statements— is consistently and glaringly violated in practice." Full Story

7. Car-Sharing, Social Trends Portend Challenge for Auto Sales
Wall Street Journal (*requires registration)

Recent studies have shown that car-sharing services are diminishing demand for new and used cars. According to Susan Shaheen, director of innovative mobility research at Berkeley's Transportation Sustainability Research Center, roughly a million people are now members of car-sharing services such as Zipcar, a threefold rise since 2008. Full Story

8. Indian Ocean's Oldest Shipwreck Set for Excavation

Berkeley scientists will soon be collaborating on a study of one of the oldest known shipwrecks in the Indian Ocean. It is hoped that the research will yield clues about trade between Rome and Asia in the second century A.D. The ship, discovered ten years ago, has been resting on the seafloor off the southern coast of Sri Lanka, near the fishing village of Godavaya, and it is believed the area was an important port on the maritime Silk Road when the ship went down. Full Story

9. A dig in a Berkeley parking lot seeks shellmound answers

An archaeological dig is being conducted in a parking lot in front of Spenger's Restaurant on Fourth Street in Berkeley to determine the precise dimensions of an ancient shellmound that was once one of the largest in the region. The mound is a designated city of Berkeley landmark and state-registered archeological site of prehistoric significance. A Berkeley investigation at the site in the mid-1950s identified 3,500 artifacts and 95 skeletons. Full Story

10. In the End, It All Adds Up to – 1/12
International New York Times (*requires registration)

Mathematics professor Edward Frenkel, author of Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality, (Basic Books, 2013), is quoted extensively in a story about a calculation that he calls "one of the best-kept secrets in math.” The mind-boggling calculation, which figures prominently in modern physics and quantum theory, involves adding natural numbers -- 1 plus 2 plus 3 and so on to infinity -- and ultimately concluding with a sum of minus 1/12. Professor Frenkel was in New York recently promoting his book and advocating for better math education. Full Story

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