Berkeley in the News Archive

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Thursday, 17 July 2014

1. In breakthrough, lasers re-create conditions in planets' cores
San Francisco Chronicle

Earth and planetary science professor Raymond Jeanloz is a member of a team reporting on breakthrough experiments conducted at Livermore's National Ignition Facility. The experiments re-created, for the first time, conditions that exist in the cores of giant planets by firing powerful pulses of laser beams at targets of synthetic diamonds. The result was a type of artificial gravity that vaporized the diamonds -- in less than 10 billionth's of a second -- at pressures more than 50 million times greater than Earth's atmosphere. Professor Jeanloz says that these initial experiments are vital for understanding "the interiors of all the dirty carbon-rich planets and how they were formed as well as the many other exoplanets." Full Story

2. BAMPFA: Halfway point for Berkeley art, film center
San Francisco Chronicle

A public topping-out ceremony and block party will be held Thursday evening at the construction site of the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. The ceremony celebrates today's placement of the final steel beams on the new structure. Museum director Lawrence Rinder says the new building will be "in harmony with the older building, but looks to the future rather than the past." He will be among the speakers at tonight's celebration. Full Story

3. Go Gong-Wild: Enter Berkeley's "Hack the Bells" Competition
KNTV-TV Online

Leading up to the 100th birthday of Berkeley's Sather Tower, also known as the Campanile, a competition will be held for all kinds of artists to participate in "the world's first remix competition for carillon." Called "Hack the Bells," the competition makes available audio samples from the bells that can be mixed, remixed, and arranged. Literary participants are encouraged to interpret the meaning of the sounds in words, and visual artists are asked to represent the bells their way. A $700 grand prize will be awarded along with the opportunity to have the work permanently acquired by the campus and the Anton Brees Carillon Library for public display and use. Full Story

4. The Moral Hazards and Legal Conundrums of Our Robot-Filled Future

Berkeley's law school hosted a panel discussion on social, moral and legal issues related to robotics last week, attracting experts from around the country. “We’re poised at the cusp of really being surrounded by robots in daily life,” said law professor Jennifer Urban, the panel's moderator. Experts from around the country attended, and the discussion anticipated a wide range of issues, from military and police use of drones to the possibility of robots committing crimes or serving as prostitutes. A key question was whether robots themselves or the robototicists who make them should be the target of laws and regulations. Full Story

5. Dead Air: End to Tax Credit Takes Big Bite Out of Wind Power
U.S. News & World Report

Energy professor Dan Kammen explains the consequences of the Congressional discontinuation of the federal tax credits for new wind power installations. The drop-off in installations was from 12,000 megawatts in 2012 to fewer than 2,000 a year later. “What you’re seeing," he says, "is the uncertainty over this production tax credit. It’s night and day, an on-off switch. ... In terms of the projects getting the go-ahead, it totally changes the financing needs, the revenue of the project.” He says it's not a symptom of an industry that's reliant on federal tax cuts, but rather a result of uncertainty about the wind market. “When you build a wind turbine, all of the cost is upfront. ... So when the banks look at the price tag for a turbine, if that production tax credit isn’t available, it looks like a much bigger cost, even if there’s no cost down the road after construction.” Full Story

6. California Death Penalty System Is Unconstitutional, Federal Judge Rules
New York Times (*requires registration)

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that California's death penalty system is so arbitrary and beset by delays that it "violates the Eigth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment." Law professor Elisabeth Semel, director of Berkeley's Death Penalty Clinic, called the decision “a stunningly important and unprecedented ruling,” adding that the “factually dense” and “well reasoned” opinion is likely to be cited in other cases. Law professor Frank Zimring also discussed this case on KPCC (Southern California Public Radio) – link to audio. Full Story

7. Open thread for night owls: Heirs of inherited wealth more common among younger Americans.
Daily Kos

A blog by public policy professor Robert Reich is excerpted for its discussion of the "largest inter-generational wealth transfer in history." Disputing the conservative idea that poor people get governmental benefits for doing nothing, he says: "The real non-workers are the wealthy who inherit their fortunes. And their ranks are growing. ... The wealth is coming from those who over the last three decades earned huge amounts on Wall Street, in corporate boardrooms, or as high-tech entrepreneurs. ... It’s going to their children, who did nothing except be born into the right family." Full Story

8. People in leadership positions may sacrifice privacy for security
Science Blog

A new study supported by Berkeley's Experimental Social Science Laboratory has found that people in higher status jobs appear more willing to compromise privacy for security reasons, and may also be more determined to carry out those decisions. Another finding was that higher status workers were more patient, showing a willingness to wait for a reward if the size of the prize would increase with time. Full Story

9. Check Out the International Students Office Before Choosing a U.S. College
U.S. News & World Report

Karl O'Sharkey, a junior from the U.K., writes about what international students should research as they investigate U.S. colleges. He says that one of the reasons he chose Berkeley was "the availability of sources of information about all necessary documentation, and resources made convenient for all students, but especially those from abroad." Among the school's offerings is a YouTube channel with videos of interviews with current and former international students and different kinds of instructions, such as how to apply for a visa or find accommodations. The campus also hosts events and webinars for prospective students. These let prospective students ask international student advisers questions. Full Story

10. UC confirms Avi Oved as student regent designate
San Jose Mercury News (*requires registration)

UCLA student Avi Oved, a Jewish student with financial ties to a pro-Israel group, has been confirmed by the UC Board of Regents as the next student regent designate. He will join Berkeley student Sadia Saifuddin, a Muslim student who participated in a campaign to divest from companies that do business with the Israeli military, on the board. Both students confronted significant opposition when nominated. Stories on this topic appeared in dozens of sources, including the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and JWeekly. Full Story

11. Cal interim athletic director Williams is on the job
San Jose Mercury News (*requires registration)

Michael Williams gave a media interview Wednesday, his first since taking over as Cal's interim athletic director. "There are elements of this that are just a dream job," he said. "When you think about it as a fan, I get to talk to all the coaches whenever I want. And I get to interact with the student-athletes. ... What is more specifically appealing is we are at such a time of change in higher education. It's going to be interesting to be a part of that change. ... I also firmly believe the whole world is going to look at what places like Cal do." Full Story

12. Capitol Journal: Six-state proposal should be taken seriously, but it's just so hard to
Los Angeles Times

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Timothy Draper, the sponsor of a ballot initiative to separate California into six different states, says that details of the plan, such as who must pay out-of-state tuition at UC Berkeley or UCLA, could be negotiated in interstate compacts. Full Story

13. Berkeley community briefs
San Jose Mercury News (*requires registration)

Art Professor Emerita Squeak Carnwath, a painter, will discuss her new book "Horizon on Fire: Works on Paper 1979-2013" with a discussion and signing at University Press Books in Berkeley on July 25. The book is connected to an exhibition of her work that opens Sept. 22 at the College of Marin Fine Arts Gallery and later travels to the University of Kansas, University of Oregon, and American University. Full Story

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