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, 30 November 2015
1. University of California Joins Climate Change Coalition
A new coalition led by Bill Gates and including the University of California was announced over the weekend at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. Called the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, it is a group of 28 investors in 10 countries who will be funding projects aimed at halting climate change. UC is the only institutional member, and it will also benefit from access to the coalition's research money. "With access to the private capital represented by investors in the Breakthrough Energy Coalition we can more effectively integrate our public research pipeline to deliver new technology and insights that will revolutionize the way the world thinks about and uses energy," UC President Janet Napolitano said in a statement.
2. The magic number: Holding warming under 2°C is the goal. It may already be too late.
The U.N. Environment Program recently released a report noting that scenarios that could manage to keep global warming to two degrees without major emissions cuts before 2020 "rely on so-called 'negative emission technologies.'" Speaking of research in that area, energy professor Dan Kammen says: "I think the pieces individually work. Carbon capture today works technically, although not economically, yet. ... The pieces are all there, and because it does look like we are going to need carbon-negative energy, there's a big upside in exploring the options."
3. New process removes defects in molecule-thick films for use in transparent LED displays
A new nanotechnology discovery could speed the development of transparent LED displays, efficient solar cells, and tiny transistors, reports a team of engineers led by electrical engineering and computer sciences professor Ali Javey. The researchers found that by using an organic superacid to chemically treat their atomically thin monolayer semiconductor, the material's photo-luminescent efficiency increased up to 100 percent. "This study presents the first demonstration of an optoelectronically perfect monolayer, which previously had been unheard of in a material this thin," Professor Javey says. Other stories on this topic appeared in the EE Times, Times of India, and LEDinside.
4. 13.7 Cosmos & Culture Blog: How Psychology Can Save The World From Climate Change
Psychology professor Tania Lombrozo writes about the challenge of making people care about -- and want to stop -- climate change. Discussing a psychological paper on the topic, she concludes: "Effective climate change mitigation will undoubtedly involve insights from the natural sciences and engineering. But changing our own attitudes and behavior requires insights from psychology, as well. It's time to recognize the critical role for the social sciences in dealing with global warming, an issue that certainly ought to be a top priority for the president and Congress."
5. Berkeley Researchers Shed New Light on Brain Function and Complex Cognitive Tasks
The human brain's ability to filter and route information in order to do its complex work is due in large part to "connector hubs," a new study led by doctoral neuroscience student Maxwell Bertolero has found. "Our findings show that connector hubs allow for distinct networks to each do their own thing, yet still interact with each other effectively," Bertolero says. Since the researchers also found that these hubs are vulnerable to brain damage and dysfunction, they hope the study will help neuroscientists understand the neural bases of disorders such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer's.
6. A Good Night's Sleep Is Tied to Interruptions, Not Just Hours
Wall Street Journal (*requires registration)
In a story about new research demonstrating the importance of uninterrupted sleep, neuroscience and psychology professor Matthew Walker discusses studies confirming that the quality of sleep is as important, healthwise, as getting enough sleep. "One of our measures of sleep quality is how powerful the brain waves are at night," he says. "With non-rapid-eye-movement sleep, the greater the power of the waves, the better the quality of that sleep, which transmits better benefits. ... We can start to see this decline even in your 30s and it deteriorates dramatically with age."
7. Foodie culture is spurring degree programs at U.S. colleges
Los Angeles Times
Charlie James, a business major minoring in food systems, is following a rapidly growing trend of food studies at American colleges and universities. "It's ingrained in me that there is a lot of food out there that is harmful to people and the environment. I want to address that in my studies here and try to fix some of the injustices. ... A lot of people can't afford organic food. I want to make it more accessible," he says. According to Ann Thrupp, executive director of the Berkeley Food Institute, about 45 preexisting courses in a number of different departments were included in the new food systems minor at Berkeley.
8. Gene Editing Conference to Kick Off
Molecular and cell biology professor Jennifer Doudna will be one of the speakers at the National Academy of Sciences' international summit on gene editing in Washington, DC, this week. Professor Doudna is a co-inventor of a revolutionary new gene-editing tool, whose use, she says, should be regulated. "I think [the meeting is] this generation's version of Asilomar," she says, referring to the 1975 meeting on recombinant DNA. "It's a very exciting time, but as with any powerful technology, there is always the risk that something will be done either intentionally or unintentionally that somehow has ill effects." Another story on this topic appeared in the New York Times.
9. 3D Printed Assistive Technology Gets Boost from UC Berkeley Designathon
A 3D Printing Designathon for assistive technology that could help people with mental or physical challenges was held at Berkeley November 14-15. Hosted by several engineering and design organizations and held at Sutardja Dai Hall, the event commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
10. UC expansion plan is timely as college application deadline nears
Los Angeles Times
UC's plan to expand enrollment of California undergraduates by 5,000 in the fall and another 5,000 by 2018 should give hope to high school seniors facing today's deadline to file their UC applications. UCLA and UC Berkeley, the system's most selective campuses, will not be exempt from the enrollment boost, but since the number of applicants may also grow, officials aren't sure if the new policy will improve acceptance odds. Last year, Berkeley's acceptance rate for in-state freshman applicants was just 19.1 percent.
11. Room for Debate: Polls Rarely Ask About Concerns Vital to Minority Voters
New York Times (*requires registration)
"On representativeness, the typical poll today successfully interviews fewer than 1 in 10 targeted respondents, with racial minorities, noncitizens and persons without college degrees among the underrepresented," political science and law professor Taeku Lee writes in a commentary answering the debate question, "Does Polling Undermine Democracy?" He concludes: "For a range of reasons -- survey time is precious, parties and their candidates are incented to stay mum on race, and so on -- concerns vital to minority voters rarely make the cut. ... But for a more deliberate and concerted effort to address these deficits of relevance and representativeness, polls will continue to churn out red meat that feeds the public's frenzy for the blood sport of electoral politics. In so doing, however, polls will more closely approximate a carnival fun house mirror than the looking glass on society that Gallup envisioned."
12. For frazzled parents, information on ADHD
Washington Post (*requires registration)
ADHD: What Everyone Needs to Know, a new book published by the Oxford University Press, leans heavily on the expertise of psychology professor Stephen Hinshaw, an ADHD expert. The book is written in Q&A format, and according to this reporter: "The tone is authoritative but not dogmatic -- and possibly calming to frazzled parents of distracted and restless children."
13. 8 Organic Habits Happy Couples Live By
A couple of Berkeley studies are cited in a roundup of habits common to happy couples. The first is a study that parsed conversations between 154 married couples, finding that those who used the words "we," "our," and "us" more than "I," "me," and "you" reported being more satisfied and showed fewer signs of stress. The second study found that inadequate sleep had a detrimental effect on relationships, with more disagreements and discord, ineffective conflict resolution, and decreased ability of partners to read each other's emotions.
14. Cal to open 2016 season in Australia vs Hawaii
Washington Post (*requires registration)
Playing Hawaii, the Golden Bears will open their 2016 season on Aug. 27 in Australia at the Sydney College Football Cup. The game will to be played in the 83,500-seat ANZ Stadium, originally built for the 2000 Olympics, and it will be the second time Cal has played outside the U.S. Coach Sonny Dykes calls it a "once in a lifetime experience."