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.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

1. UC Berkeley Scientist Inducted into Nat’l Inventors Hall of Fame
India West

Civil and environmental engineering professor Ashok Gadgil, director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Environmental Energy Technologies Division, was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame on May 21 at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia. Professor Gadgil was being honored for the efficient and affordable water disinfecting system he developed. It uses ultraviolet light from a battery or solar power to kill disease-causing pathogens, and it can provide a day’s worth of drinking water to 2,000 people at a cost of about five cents a ton. Full Story

2. Op-Ed: Let's amplify California's collective intelligence
San Francisco Chronicle

California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and electrical engineering and computer science professor Ken Goldberg introduce a new tool for public engagement in state government. Co-developed by Berkeley's CITRIS Data and Democracy Initiative and the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, the California Report Card is a mobile-friendly, web-based platform that streamlines and organizes public input for the benefit of elected officials and policymakers. Participants assign letter grades to key issues and make suggestions for others. "You don't have to wait for the next election to have your voice heard by officials in Sacramento," they write. "We encourage you to contribute your own ideas to amplify California's collective intelligence. It's easy, just click 'participate' on this website:" Full Story

3. Sexual violence cases in Liberia and Ivory Coast a challenge to justice
The Guardian (UK)

Kim Thuy Seelinger, director of the Sexual Violence Program at Berkeley's Human Rights Center, is among the attendees this week at a global summit that aims to end sexual violence during conflict. She has helped develop the international protocol on the documentation and investigation of sexual violence in conflict, which will be launched this week. She says cases often go undocumented and the resulting lack of evidence prevents prosecutions. In Liberia and Ivory Coast, atrocities took place in remote areas or in situations of intense fighting and chaos, and getting credible evidence from victims desperately in need of shelter, food or psychological support is a huge challenge. She hopes the summit's pledges of support lead to concrete action. Full Story

4. Cancer Treatment: Researchers discover key to longtime drug therapy [Scroll down to relevant brief]
San Francisco Chronicle

While the widely used anticancer agent Taxol has been used for years, Berkeley scientists have only just discovered exactly how it works. They found that the drug freezes microtubules, killing cells when they try to divide. With the information, they hope they'll be able to identify microtubule differences between cancer cells and normal cells, leading to the development of therapies that target just the cancer cells. Full Story

5. Solar Energy Breakthrough Could Drop Consumer Price
San Francisco Chronicle

Electrical engineering professor Ali Javey has discovered a way of manufacturing semiconductors that would significantly reduce the cost of high-efficiency solar cells. The process improves the prospect of making solar power competitive with fossil fuels. Full Story

6. Op-Ed: Computers Are Getting Better Than Humans Are at Facial Recognition
The Atlantic

Norberto Andrade, a postdoctoral research fellow at the law school's Center for Law & Technology, writes that technology is getting better than humans at detecting emotions in facial expressions. While there may be societal benefits to the capability, he also sees risks. "By not being able to think one thing and say another, our identity will become monochromatic, losing a good part of its richness and diversity," he says. Full Story

7. Real Time Economics Blog: David Brat to Bernanke: Don’t Underestimate the Value of Protestants
Wall Street Journal (*requires registration)

David Brat, a Randolph-Macon College economics professor and the Virginia Republican who beat House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Tuesday's primary, cited Berkeley economics professor Brad DeLong in a paper taking on former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke. In the paper, he argued that Bernanke's work on economic growth neglected the role that religious institutions – especially Protestant ones – play in driving a country’s growth rates. He quoted Professor DeLong, for saying that “a nation’s dominant religious establishment” is a “striking” determinant of economic growth. Full Story

8. San Quentin plans psychiatric hospital for death row inmates
Los Angeles Times

Law professor Franklin Zimring comments on the irony of San Quentin prison's plan to open a hospital to house death row inmates suffering severe mental illness. "This is the only place on Earth where you'd be talking about building a psychiatric hospital for condemned prisoners," he says. "It is a measure of American greatness and American silliness at the same time." Since the Federal courts have ruled that it is unconstitutional to execute people who are not aware of what is happening to them, he says, "We are curing them to make them executable." Full Story

9. Blockbuster tenure ruling left a few things out
San Francisco Chronicle Online

Public policy professor Jesse Rothstein comments on a Los Angeles judge's ruling declaring California's teacher tenure and seniority laws unconstitutional. Professor Rothstein has testified in support of tenure laws, and he says, “Teaching tends to pay less than most alternative occupations that potential teachers take." There is evidence that job security makes for better teachers, he adds, and reducing it would have the opposite effect. Full Story

10. With Uber’s Cars, Maybe We Don’t Need Our Own
New York Times (*requires registration)

A story about the recent $17 billion valuation of the ride-sharing service Uber quotes Susan Shaheen, co-director of Berkeley's Transportation Sustainability Research Center. She says she has found that car-sharing services like Zipcar and bike-sharing services have already led to a significant net reduction of car ownership among users, and she is beginning to investigate whether Uber-like services have the same effect. She believes it is plausible that they would. “I’ve been studying this area for about 17 years," she says, "and what we’re seeing now is a ubiquity of mobile devices that is really altering this industry.” Full Story

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