Berkeley in the News

Berkeley in the News is a daily selection of articles and commentaries in the news media that mention UC Berkeley. The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of the campus.

Monday, 8 February 2016

1. UC Berkeley Band Performs With Beyoncé, Chris Martin, Bruno Mars at Halftime Show
NBC Bay Area

In a surprise performance, the Cal Marching Band accompanied Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars in the Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show on Sunday before a sold-out crowd and millions of TV viewers. According to the Daily Californian, the production team had contacted band director Robert Calonico in December about the performance, and 195 out of 220 band members joined the rigorous training schedule. Expressing the band's enthusiasm, mellophone player Stephen Ramaley said, "I was actually eating lunch with some other people in the band, and we were all freaking out about playing the Super Bowl. ... It's such a huge performance. It's watched by millions of people all over the world." For more on this, visit our story on Berkeley News. Another story on this topic appeared in the San Jose Mercury News.
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2. Timberline HS alum wins in Jeopardy! College Championship quarterfinals
KBOI Online

Berkeley sophomore Niki Peters prevailed in the Jeopardy! College Championship quarterfinals Friday night, and will move on to the semifinals Monday evening. Jeopardy! airs at 6 p.m. on CBS channels. For more information, visit and our story on the topic at Berkeley News.
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3. Slow Creep Along Thrust Faults May Help Researchers Forecast Megaquakes
Claims Journal

In areas where megathrust earthquakes are common, such as Japan and the Pacific Northwest, seismologists may be better able to forecast large quakes by studying the periodic increases and decreases in the rate of slow, quiet slips along the fault. Co-author Robert Nadeau, a seismologist and fellow with the Berkeley Institute for Data Science (BIDS), says the analysis found that earthquakes of magnitude 5 or more occurred more frequently when the periodic slow-slip was fastest.
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4. Climate Change Is Leaving Native Plants Behind
Climate Central

An analysis of historic, digitized botanical specimens at Berkeley's University and Jepson Herbaria has helped scientists determine that native plants are moving uphill as they struggle to keep up with climate change. Integrative biology professor Brent Mishler, director of the herbaria, says a quarter of more than 2 million specimens in the collection have been digitized so far. "Big data is a big thing on our campus," he says, noting that older records may not have as much data as they'd like, but they still tell where and when the sample was collected, which helps them track the species' movements.
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5. Natural History Museums are Teeming with Undiscovered Species
The Atlantic

Vast amounts of environmental knowledge are stored in natural history museums around the world, and scientists are increasingly unlocking their secrets. A prime example is at Berkeley's Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, where more than 100,000 specimens and 74,000 pages of field notes collected in the first half of the 20th century by Joseph Grinnell, the museum's first director, are informing current scientists' investigations into the effects of climate change. A prescient Grinnell had written: "After the lapse of many years, possibly a century ... the student of the future will have access to the original record of faunal conditions in California." Sure enough, in 2002, museum director Craig Moritz and colleagues began resurveying Grinnell's areas, and, according to this article, their ongoing studies "provide one of the clearest portraits of a shifting landscape over the last century."
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6. There's a new clue about what's killing honeybees around the world
CBS News Online

A team of scientists from Berkeley and the University of Exeter has gathered new clues to what is killing bees around the world, and they say that human trade in European honeybees is largely to blame. Those bees are the main source of Deformed Wing Virus, carried by the Varroa mite, and as the bees are traded the disease goes with them, harming not just domesticated honeybee colonies but also wild pollinators. Stories on this topic have appeared in dozens of sources around the world, including Tech Times and Fusion.
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7. High Lead Levels Were Detected in Nearly 400 Flint Homes, and There May Be More
New York Times (*requires registration)

One of the most concerning aspects of the lead poisoning of the water supply in Flint, Michigan, is the high levels of lead found in the blood of many children there. According to public health professor Brenda Eskenazi, lead should not be detectable in the body, and even small amounts can cause lasting health and developmental problems. She says the effects of lead poisoning include "poorer cognition, attention disorders and, at higher doses, seizures, coma and death."
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8. UC Berkeley Study Shows Defined Benefit Pensions Best for California Teachers
Sierra Sun Times

For most teachers, the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) defined benefit pension provides a higher, more secure retirement income compared to a 401(k)-style plan, a new study has found. Nari Rhee, manager of the Retirement Security Program at Berkeley's Center for Labor Research and Education, was a co-author of the study, and she says of the findings: "The security of a defined benefit plan encourages teachers to stay in the profession despite relatively low salary levels for a degreed career. ... Yet it has the additional effect of encouraging retirement among older teachers to allow for new ones to enter the field."
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9. An Archaeologist's 'Bead Lust' For Modern Mardi Gras And Ancient Rituals
Forbes Online

Archaeology professor Laurie Wilkie studies ancient rituals, and among her investigations was a study of the roots of New Orleans' Mardi Gras celebrations. She says: "Carnival celebrations in Europe pre-date Christianity, but like so many other pagan festivals, the Church found a way to incorporate them into the religious calendar. New Orleans likes to claim that the first Mardi Gras there was held in 1699 -- but the style of Mardi Gras celebrations we see today are a largely American celebration, modeled after the parades of the 'Cowbellions' in Mobile, Alabama in the 1850s." Professor Wilkie is the author of Strung Out on Archaeology (Left Coast Press, 2014).
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10. How to beat the Valentine's Day blues
Sacramento Bee

"Valentine's Day is so shamelessly promoting this idea of passion and romance and the perfect relationship, and that's difficult when people look at their own lives and wonder, 'What's wrong with me?'" says Emiliana Simon-Thomas, science director at Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center, in a story about how difficult Valentine's Day can be for people who are single or have recently lost their love. She recommends that people without Valentine's plans write gratitude letters. "Perhaps instead of sitting around and feeling insufficient in your own life, you could be proactive and write three gratitude letters and call three people up. ... It's a way to focus on what's there -- what they do have, rather than what they used to have or what they don't have in that present moment."
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