Berkeley in the News Archive

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Thursday, 14 August 2014

1. Stardust team reveals first specks of interstellar dust
New Scientist

A team of scientists, including physics lecturer Andrew Westphal of Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory, has released a report on the first-ever capture of seven grains of interstellar space dust. The dust was brought to earth by NASA's Stardust spacecraft in 2006, and finding the specks involved combing through millions of close-up images of the spacecraft's dust collectors. The search was aided by more than 30,000 citizen scientists through the Stardust@home project. Westphal says it's too early to say how the dust grains might affect existing theories on the formation of the solar system or other galactic matters. He likens that objective to analyzing a few bits of ancient bones in Africa to try to say something meaningful about human evolution. "The interstellar medium is interesting because fundamentally, it's what we're made of," he adds. "Like the Apollo mission, these samples are undoubtedly going to be studied for years to come." Other stories on this topic appeared in the Daily Mail (UK), Space.com, and EarthSky. Full Story

2. Op-Ed: California can lead the way on brain research
Sacramento Bee

Chemistry and nanoscience professor Paul Alivisatos, director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, co-writes this commentary about the leadership role California is set to take on brain research. Noting that the U.S. BRAIN Initiative and California's Cal-BRAIN projects will have short-term and far-ranging future impact, they say: "A fuller understanding of the brainís functions will immediately help diagnose and treat psychiatric disease, neurodegenerative disease, traumatic brain injury, depression and stroke, as well as develop more effective neural prosthetic devices. The ability to detect and report on biological processes in living subjects and in real time will also be broadly applicable to many other systems of the body and for such diseases as cancer or diabetes. For technology itself, the concepts and tools emanating from this project will have a broad range of engineering and environmental applications where sensitive, miniature and intelligent systems are critical." Full Story

3. Forum with Michael Krasny: Improving Diversity at Tech Companies
KQED Radio

Eric Abrams, director of diversity initiatives at Berkeley's Haas School of Business, joins a discussion of workplace diversity in the Bay Area, especially at tech companies. The discussion follows Apple's Tuesday release of its diversity numbers, indicating that the overwhelming majority of its employees are white and male. Numerous other tech giants, including Google and Twitter, have recently released similar reports. Link to audio. Full Story

4. Code Switch Blog: Private Prisons House More Latinos Than Do Public Ones, Study Finds
NPR Online

Recent studies have separately found that private prisons are disproportionately filled with inmates of color. One of the studies, by Berkeley doctoral student Christopher Petrella, noted some factors that explain the imbalance in nine states, including the fact that younger and healthier inmates who've come into the penal system through the war on drugs are disproportionately people of color, while older inmates, who enter the system with more health problems, are more likely to be white. Full Story

5. Saving the Middle East's Past With Twitter and Other Online Tools
Chronicle of Higher Education (*requires registration)

A number of archaeologists have been using Facebook and YouTube to raise awareness of the destruction of heritage sites in the Middle East due to civil strife. Associate Egyptian archaeology professor Carol Redmount says it's frustrating not being able to do more to help save antiquities, but that scholars outside the region can "keep shining the light of publicity on the problem, then can provide expertise ... and support grassroots efforts as much as possible." She says that among archaeologists, "there is a collective depression at the moment regarding the whole situation in the Middle East, not only regarding antiquities -- itís an area where many of us have lived and worked for years, and itís terrible to see the suffering thatís going on." She hopes to return to Egypt next year to continue working on the ancient buried city of El Hibeh, which she describes as a "poster child for looting." Her team will "switch to a different kind of archaeology," she says, "dealing with whatís left, mitigating the damage." Full Story

6. Obituary: Earl Cheit, Prescient Educator, Dies at 87
New York Times (*requires registration)

Business Professor Emeritus Earl Cheit, twice-dean of his department and former director of the university's Institute of Industrial Relations, as well as a former executive vice chancellor at Berkeley, has died at the age of 87. Beyond his academic and administrative appointments, he also wrote influential reports on the future of higher education and on issues such as compensation for occupational injuries and the need to increase women's presence in the work force. Full Story

7. West Nile virus puts return to UC Berkeley on hold for Modesto teen
Modesto Bee

Sophomore Abbey Murphy will have to delay her return to campus because she is suffering from West Nile viral meningitis. At least 10 other Stanislaus County residents have been sickened by the mosquito-transmitted virus this year, and two died. Doctors expect it will take one to three months for Abbey to fully recover. Her symptoms started three weeks ago with a severe headache progressing to nausea, neck pain and a rash on her arms. West Nile virus was first found in California in 2003, and since then 379 symptomatic cases have been reported, with 15 fatalities. There is no vaccine and antibiotics don't cure it, so every year public health agencies advise people to wear insect repellant, eliminate standing water in their yards and mosquito-proof their homes. Full Story

8. Berkeleyís first parklet opens in the Gourmet Ghetto
Berkeleyside

Berkeley's first permanent parklet has been installed outside the Cheese Board Collective at 1520 Shattuck Avenue in the Gourmet Ghetto neighborhood. The parklet takes the place of two parking spaces, and the tables and benches were built with reclaimed wood from Cal's Memorial Stadium. Full Story

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