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.

Friday, 30 January 2015

1. California Report: Remembering Physicist Charles Townes
KQED Radio

Physics professor and Nobel laureate Charles Townes is remembered. He died this week at the age of 99. He shared the Nobel Prize in 1964 for his work leading to the development of the laser, but won numerous other awards as well. In this brief eulogy, it is mentioned that he once said he'd never worked a day in his life -- he was having fun doing physics. Link to audio.
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2. 650-Year Drought Triggered Ancient City's Abandonment

A study co-led by associate geography professor Roger Byrne and graduate student Tripti Bhattacharya offers new insight into the drought that may have been partly responsible for the abandonment of the major Central American city Cantona between A.D. 900 and A.D. 1050. At its peak, Cantona was one of the largest cities in the New World, with 90,000 inhabitants. The researchers assessed the climate in the area before and after the city's collapse and found evidence of a 650-year period of frequent droughts around that time. "In a sense the area became important because of the increased frequency of drought," Professor Byrne says. "But when the droughts continued on such a scale, the subsistence base for the whole area changed and people just had to leave. The city was abandoned."
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3. Cities sizzle with more heat waves, hotter nights
Los Angeles Times

A new UCLA study has found that global warming is particularly acute in urban areas. This article addresses debates over previous research with similar findings, concluding: "Scientists refer to the sizzling city phenomenon as the urban heat island effect, and for a while, the location of temperature gauges in such areas was suspected to be adding some confusion to long-term measurements of Earth's warming. But most studies remove such anomalies or find ways of statistically handling their effects. ... A group of scientists based at UC Berkeley who were skeptical about the quality of land-based temperature stations used by most scientists found no evidence of urban heat island effects biasing the data from 1950-2010."
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4. On Overseas Coal, Will the World Bank and U.S. Government Pass Their Own Tests? Huffington Post
Huffington Post

A story about the World Bank and US government's decisions to end support of new coal plants overseas, except in "rare circumstances," cites a comprehensive 2012 study led by energy professor Dan Kammen for the coal-rich country Kosovo. His team found that a coal-fired plan would not be able to cope with changes in peak energy demand, and proposed a sustainable energy path for the country that would create 60 percent more jobs.
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5. Blog: Fear, Ridicule, Danger: Is It Safe to Be a Climate Scientist? (Op-Ed) LiveScience
Live Science

Minda Berbeco, a visiting scholar at Berkeley's Museum of Paleontology and programs and policy director at the National Center for Science Education, writes about harassment of climate scientists. The problem is so serious that a new nonprofit group, the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, was developed for the exclusive purpose of providing legal counsel to climate scientists. She concludes: "What if it wasn't the young scientists or teachers who didn't need to worry, but the politicians who attempted to institute these fallacies? What if we could turn to all young scientists and teachers, and tell them, 'We have your back'? It's a shame that we would have to, but given what has happened thus far, isn't it about time we tried?"
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6. This study obliterates the myth that Muslims are more violent

A commentary about the myth that Muslims are more violent than others cites political science professor M. Steven Fish for his research on Islam and violence. In his book, Are Muslims Distinctive?, he wrote that he'd found murder rates substantially lower in Muslim-majority countries.
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7. Air Talk: Study says political correctness, not irreverence, breeds creativity KPCC Radio
KPCC Radio

Business and management professor Jennifer Chatman discusses a study she co-led, called “Creativity from Constraint? How Political Correctness Influences Creativity in Mixed-Sex Work Groups.” Link to audio.
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8. China Real Time Report Blog: Why Scrapping Quotas in China’s Criminal Justice System Won’t Be Easy
Wall Street Journal Online (*requires registration)

Law lecturer Stanley Lubman writes about new developments in China, where the Communist Party's Central Political and Legal Committee is calling for changes in the country's legal institutions. He concludes: "It remains to be seen whether the work of judicial reform can increase the relative independence of the courts by reducing the influence of local government and party organizations over them without being regarded as a threat to party dominance."
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9. Nest We Grow / College of Environmental Design UC Berkeley + Kengo Kuma & Associates
Arch Daily

A team of architects from Berkeley's College of Environmental Design, including Professors Dana Buntrock and Mark Anderson, and Kengo Kuma & Associates won the 4th annual LIXIL International design-build competition in 2014 to build "Nest We Grow," a public structure meant to bring people together to store, prepare and enjoy local foods in Hokkaido, Japan. Their design and work in progress is presented here.
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10. Volcano Watch: New Scientist
Big Island Now

Alum Ingrid Johanson is profiled as a new scientist at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. After earning her doctorate at Berkeley, she did postdoctoral research with the Bay Area Regional Deformation (BARD) network at Berkeley's Seismological Laboratory.
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11. 50 Top Colleges Creating VC-Backed Entrepreneurs
Tech Cocktail

A ranking of the 50 top colleges creating VC-backed entrepreneurs placed UC Berkeley 2nd in the world.
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12. Recommended Books, Feb. 1
San Francisco Chronicle (*requires registration)

A round-up of recommended books includes Lentil Underground: Renegade Farmers and the Future of Food in America (Gotham), by Liz Carlisle, a fellow at Berkeley’s Center for Diversified Farming Systems. According to the brief, the book "elevates the oft-ignored legume to heroic game-changer."
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