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.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

1. Creator of photonic crystals wins Newton medal
BBC

Electrical engineering and computer sciences professor Eli Yablonovitch has won the Newton Medal, the highest honor awarded by the Institute of Physics in London. The medal recognizes his discovery of “photonic crystals,” found in nature and now used in data processing and laser surgery. The crystals can repel, trap and steer light. "I'm very, very honoured," he says.
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2. What the debacle of climate change can teach us about the dangers of artificial intelligence
Washington Post

The risks of artificial intelligence are comparable to those of climate change, computer science professor Stuart Russell suggested at an Information Technology and Innovation Foundation event Tuesday. He said that if we could go back to the late 19th century and tell people about the risks of the combination of an internal combustion engine and coal fire electrical generation, we would’ve had a chance of preventing climate change.
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3. Going Nuclear: The Fusion Race Is Heating Up. Will Anyone Cross the Finish Line? (Video)
Re/code

“It’s probably a better bet than that Nigerian prince that keeps emailing me, but I would not invest my money in it,” nuclear engineering professor Edward Morse says about notions private companies have to commercialize fusion energy within a decade. He says that fusion researchers have tried most of their alternative approaches and simply failed to produce the results needed to justify continued investment.
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4. States Snub Execution Drug Approved by Supreme Court
New York Times (*requires registration)

“I don’t think that the Supreme Court’s stamp of approval cures the deficiencies with this drug,” Jennifer Moreno, of Berkeley’s Death Penalty Clinic, says about the high court’s recent decision on a controversial drug protocol used in executions. “The drug has proven itself to not do what people thought it was going to do. Any of the department officials who are following this and have looked at the science would be very right to be nervous to include this drug.”
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5. Obama aims to expand overtime pay to more salaried workers
Los Angeles Times

New labor rules proposed by the Obama administration would complement local initiatives to raise the minimum wage, labor experts are saying. "We've seen a big push on raising wages at the bottom," notes Ken Jacobs, chairman of Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education. "What this does is it addresses these issues not just for workers at the bottom but for workers in the middle."
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6. Gov. Brown faces rough road in quest to repair state freeways
Los Angeles Times

"Jerry has to address a tougher issue politically," Ethan Rarick, director of Berkeley’s Robert T. Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service, says about Gov. Jerry Brown’s challenge in raising money to repair state freeways at a time when federal transportation funding is drying up and state gas tax revenues are declining due to more fuel-efficient cars.
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7. Mark Zuckerberg says the future of communication is telepathy. Here’s how that would actually work.
Washington Post

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg envisions a future in which people will communicate telepathically with help from technology. “You’ll just be able to think of something and your friends will immediately be able to experience it too,” he recently wrote. The idea may not be that far-fetched. A Berkeley team of neuroscientists managed to reconstruct clips of movies their subjects were watching, based solely on measurements of their brainwaves. “You could not see the close-up details, [but] you could clearly identify the kind of object you were seeing,” theoretical physicist Michio Kaku said after watching one of the reconstructed clips.
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8. Can the Bacteria in Your Gut Explain Your Mood?
New York Times Magazine (*requires registration)

Could the wee bacteria in our guts be affecting our brains, just as they affect other aspects of our physiology? That’s a question scientists are actively exploring, and this report on the research was supported by the UC Berkeley-11th Hour Food and Farming Journalism Fellowship.
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9. Op-Ed: Awake Again: Is It Insomnia or Just Segmented Sleep?
LiveScience

“Segmented sleep” is a concept familiar to many -- especially older -- people. It often occurs when you fall asleep easily, but then find yourself wide awake at three o’clock in the morning. Dr. John Swartzberg, head of the editorial board at the School of Public Health's UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, writes about this particular type of insomnia and therapies for it.
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10. East Bay city to require millions in concessions from new downtown highrises
San Francisco Business Times (*requires registration)

Berkeley’s City Council has voted to require community benefits from tall buildings developed in the city’s downtown area, but UC Berkeley’s new academic building, Berkeley West Way, will be exempt. "Community benefits packages seem targeted at for-profit development, not public institutions" says Christine Shaff, a spokeswoman for the campus's real estate division.
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