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.
Friday, 17 February 2017
1. The Campus will be closed Monday, February 20, in observance of the Presidents Day holiday. Publication of Berkeley in the News will resume on Tuesday, February 21.
2. NASA wants you -- to find a missing planet
With a new website called "Backyard Worlds: Planet 9," NASA and several collaborators, including UC Berkeley, are seeking help from amateur astronomers to find as-yet undiscovered planets and brown dwarfs in the outer reaches of our solar system. The Holy Grail would be so-called Planet 9, which astronomers believe exists because of the strange orbits of other distant objects that spin beyond Neptune. It would be the most distant planet in our solar system, and people would be better than computers at combing through all of NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission footage to search for it. That's because human eyes are able to pick out important moving objects while ignoring background stars and other objects that distract computer programs. Postdoctoral physicist Aaron Meisner specializes in analyzing WISE images, and he says this project "has the potential to unlock once-in-a-century discoveries, and it's exciting to think they could be spotted first by a citizen scientist." For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News. Stories on this topic appeared in dozens of sources around the world, including the Sydney Morning Herald, South China Morning Post, Universe Today, Space.com, TechTimes, and Mashable.
3. Meet the Scientist Bringing Gene Editing To Life: An Interview with Jennifer Doudna
"It's been a fascinating journey over the past five years," says molecular and cell biology professor Jennifer Doudna about all she's learned since co-inventing a revolutionary new gene-editing tool called CRISPR-Cas9. In a wide-ranging interview, she discusses the promise of CRISPR technology for the treatment of heritable diseases, the challenges of licensing and patent negotiations, the implications of this week's CRISPR patent decision, and the joys of scientific discovery and collaboration. Other new stories about CRISPR appeared in Science Magazine, the San Jose Mercury News, PLOS Blogs, and another in Science Magazine.
4. Oroville Dam: What made the spillway collapse?
Mercury News (*requires registration)
Weighing in on what caused the cratering of the Oroville Dam's main spillway, civil and environmental engineering professor Nicholas Sitar says: "Soils shrink and swell. ... They have a way of changing volume with seasons. Anyone who has an old house where the doors open and close differently through the year has seen it." He says that dam officials "have to look at their procedures and modify them. ... Clearly the spillway is going to have to be rebuilt," and that's a job that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars. It will also be challenging to investigate what happened, he says. "All evidence of what caused this thing ... has been washed away."
5. Trump says he will issue a new order after a 'very bad decision' blocked his initial travel ban
Los Angeles Times (*requires registration)
A week after a federal court blocked enforcement of his travel ban, Donald Trump has said he will drop that strategy and issue a new order instead. Wondering what that might look like, law professor John Yoo, a former Justice official in George W. Bush's administration, says that a new order could avoid religious bias charges by focusing on individuals identified by law enforcement agencies as potentially threatening rather than targeting predominantly Muslim nations. He also says an order that excluded green card holders and people with visas who already have been to the United States would also be difficult to challenge legally. "Then the only people harmed by the order would be outside the U.S., and the Supreme Court has said people outside the country don't have constitutional rights. ... The class of people who would be harmed are not the people who have legal rights to sue."
6. Forum with Michael Krasny: Reflecting on the Presidential Order that Sent Japanese Americans to Incarceration Camps
Sunday will be the 75th anniversary of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066, which called for the internment of people of Japanese ancestry in the U.S. On this program, Theresa Salazar, the Bancroft Library's curator of Western Americana, joins a discussion of the order's legacy. Link to audio.
7. Trump's repetitive rhetoric is a trick used in advertising
"This is something taught in every marketing class," says linguistics and cognitive science professor George Lakoff about Donald Trump's rhythmic and repetitive manner of speaking, with certain words given particular emphasis. The habit was well-illustrated in his last press conference, when he punctuated his discussion of disparate topics with the phrases: "To be honest, I inherited a mess. ... It's a mess. At home and abroad, a mess. ... I inherited a mess." Professor Lakoff says that the repetition is a way of training people to think a certain way. The brain is made of interconnected neurons that form circuits, he explains. The circuits carry every thought we have, and when activated by words or sights, they become stronger. When repeatedly activated, they can become permanent. "He knows how to use your brain for his advantage," he says. "Trump is always selling. He's selling himself."
8. A river runs through Berkeley with the return of the Nile Project
The Nile Project's musical collective -- a touring ensemble of musicians from Sudan, Ethiopia, Egypt, Burundi and Kenya -- returns to Berkeley this weekend for a concert at Zellerbach Hall on Saturday. "UC Berkeley has become our home campus after our collaboration in 2015," says Nile Project CEO and producer Mina Girgis, who will give a pre-performance talk. "The way the project started in San Francisco, it's like bringing back the Nile to the Bay Area. We're coming back and sharing what we've been doing on the road." For more on this, visit Cal Performances.