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.

Monday, 11 August 2014

1. Op-Ed: Scientists are rising to the challenges of drought
Sacramento Bee

As scientists convene in Sacramento this week for the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America, these commentators note that cutting-edge research into sustainable agriculture is offering hope in light of global warming and drought, although research funding is insufficient. One project they mention is led by Berkeley scientists, who have found that adding compost to grazed grasslands can increase soil’s water retention and production of grasses and other feed sources, while reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions. The writers conclude: "It’s time for a change. More than 250 scientists and other experts recently signed a statement calling for an increase in public investment in agroecology. Farmers would benefit from this joint effort with scientists through greater resilience against droughts, floods and other climate extremes. ... Droughts will always pose challenges, but we can make investments today that will help us all weather climate changes and protect our food supply tomorrow and for generations to come." Full Story

2. How Your Chili Addiction Could Be Helping You Live Longer

A study led by molecular and cell biology professor Andrew Dillin has found that capsaicin, the chemical found in chili peppers that offers the sometimes painful sensation of heat, could have profound anti-aging benefits. The chemical activates a pain receptor called TRPV1, and when it is constantly activated it results in the death of its host nerve cell. That effect has been shown to extend lifespan in mice by an average of 14 percent. While it's possible that the same benefit would not extend to humans, Professor Dillin points out that eating a diet rich in capsaicin might “help prevent metabolic decline with age and lead to increased longevity in humans.” Full Story

3. Watching Schrödinger's Cat Die
Huffington Post

A study led by associate physics professor Irfan Siddiqi has offered new insight into one of the most perplexing puzzles of quantum mechanics -- the paradox of Schrödinger's cat. The paradox asks if you put a cat inside an opaque box and make his life dependent on a random event, does the cat die when the random event occurs, or when you open the box? The Berkeley physicists have showed, for the first time, that it is possible to follow the metaphorical cat through the whole process, whether he lives or dies. The paradox is essential in quantum computers, where the answer must be definite. Professor Siddiqi says about the team's finding: "We can continuously probe a system very gently to get a little bit of information and continuously correct it, nudging it back into line, toward the ultimate goal." Full Story

4. How Math Got Its ‘Nobel’
New York Times (*requires registration)

This year's winner of the Fields Medal will be announced Wednesday in Seoul, and this article tells the story of how the once-obscure award became known as the "Nobel Prize" of mathematics. The story involves the 1966 winner -- Berkeley mathematician Stephen Smale -- who got caught up in a tangled web that, according to this writer, "helps illuminate the often neglected intersection of mathematics and politics." Full Story

5. Answer Sheet Blog: Why race-based affirmative action in college admissions still matters
WashingtonPost Online

A new article by senior fellow Richard Rothstein, of Berkeley Law's Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy, expands on an earlier policy paper defending race-based affirmative action for African-American students in college admissions. In the update, he discusses proxies that universities have developed to try to maintain diversity despite bans on affirmative action in admissions. The paper is reprinted here. Full Story

6. University of California steps up out-of-state recruiting
Sacramento Bee

The percentage of new non-resident freshmen at UC campuses is up this fall at UC campuses. While UC officials note that the higher tuition non-residents pay makes up for losses in public funding and helps to support classes and other programs that benefit Californians, they also insist that the growth is not significantly reducing the ranks of California freshmen. From 2010 to 2013, overall freshman enrollment of California students rose from 32,807 to 34,002. However, individual campuses varied, and Berkeley enrolled 18 percent fewer Californians in 2013 than it did in 2007. Full Story

7. War Tourism — a Growing Trend?
Yahoo! Travel

Postdoctoral anthropologist Patrick Naef comments on the growing trend of tourists seeking out war zones. He says that while the niche market for war tourism has recently become more commercial through tour groups, the concept is not new -- chasing battles can be traced back to Waterloo. "And now one can even see tourists visiting -- on their own or following guided tours -- countries in warfare like Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria." He adds that war tourists are motivated by many factors, including “education, voyeurism, adrenaline, going to places where no one goes, political motivations, catharsis, [and] mourning.” Full Story

8. NOVA: Finding Life Beyond Earth

Astronomy professor Geoff Marcy, a renowned planet hunter, participates in this program exploring the possibility of life on other planets. "Surely billions, hundreds of billions of the Earth-like planets out there have the conditions suitable for life," he says. "We will find habitable worlds for sure; if not this week or next month or next year, sooner or later." This program originally aired on October 19, 2011. Link to video. Full Story

9. Looking intently: The James Cahill legacy at BAM/PFA

“Looking Intently: The James Cahill Legacy,” an exhibit at the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive, presents a collection of 15th and 16th century Chinese art donated by the late Art History Professor Emeritus James Cahill. Curated by Julia White, the exhibit shows how Professor Cahill "looked beyond the vogue" to discover overlooked masterpieces. The exhibit includes videos of interviews with Professor Cahill, as well as lectures and blogs, and it runs through December 21. Full Story

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