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.
Tuesday, 6 October 2015
1. U.S. News Unveils Second Annual Best Global Universities Rankings
U.S. News & World Report
U.S. News & World Report has released the 2016 edition of its Best Global Universities ranking, with Berkeley in third place. The ranking is based on data provided by Thomson Reuters, weighing factors that measure a university's global and regional reputation, academic research performance, and school-level data on faculty and Ph.D. graduates. Other stories on this topic appeared in the International Business Times and University World News.
2. Can China solve California's drought crisis?
The U.S. Department of Energy has announced a new $50 million partnership between the U.S. and China to address climate change and California's drought problems. The Clean Energy Research Center for Water Energy Technologies aims to develop new technologies to reduce the amount of water used by power plants and other energy providers. Berkeley civil and environmental engineering professor Ashok Gadgil will be the lead researcher. He says the new alliance "is particularly timely as it comes in the midst of an unprecedented drought in California."
3. Health Bites: Heart disease linked to complications in pregnancy
Adverse pregnancy conditions, such as pre-term birth, hemorrhage, gestational hypertension and high blood pressure, have been linked to a seven-fold increase in a mother's subsequent risk of death from cardiovascular disease, a Berkeley study has found. The risk is most significant for women who suffer more than one condition during pregnancy. The study looked at the pregnancies of 14,000 women between 1959 and 1967, and mothers' deaths that occurred through 2011.
4. Metro receives average rating in statewide evaluation of rail transit stations
Los Angeles Times (*requires registration)
Berkeley's Center for Law, Energy and the Environment and the nonprofit organization Next 10 have issued a report on the performance of 489 California rail transit stations. The study gave its highest ratings to San Francisco Municipal Railway (MUNI) and Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), and only an average rating to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro). "There's definitely room for improvement in Los Angeles," says lead author Ethan Elkind, of the center's Climate Change and Business Program. "Putting in the infrastructure is just part of the job. Development favorable to transit use has not happened in that many instances. They need to make sure that new growth is focused around transit systems." Other stories on this topic appeared in the San Francisco Business Times, Times of San Diego, San Gabriel Valley Tribune and KPBS Radio (link to audio). A chart accompanied this story in the Los Angeles Times.
5. Utilities' newest solar battleground: California
The California Public Utilities Commission is reviewing the way solar panel users are reimbursed for the power they generate, and the outcome could threaten California's status as one of the most solar-friendly states in the U.S. Andrew Campbell, executive director of the Energy Institute at Berkeley's Haas School of Business, says he expects the final decision to be a compromise between the most extreme proposals. "I couldn't have imagined these types of proposals getting any attention five years ago, but the solar industry has been so successful that there are real concerns about being fair to all customers," he says. Solar customers do rely on the utilities' infrastructure, so there should be a way to balance infrastructure costs for everyone, he says, but if the utilities' proposals are adopted outright, "it could have a very significant impact on residential rooftop solar."
6. Wonkblog: There is no such thing as a city that has run out of room
Washington Post (*requires registration)
When Americans say their communities are full, they tend to be expressing their feeling that their quality of life would decline if more people moved in. In fact, research shows that denser populations support a greater number and variety of amenities. "For the vast majority of U.S. cities," economist Enrico Moretti says, "we're far from the point" at which the costs of congestion overwhelm the benefits of density. He points to the Bay Area housing crisis. "It's obvious that we could have millions and millions of people in San Francisco if we built skyscrapers on every plot of land," he says. "That's not really interesting to talk about, because nobody wants that. I don't want that. I don't think that's what's at stake." What is at stake, he says, is all the housing the Bay Area could add without substantially changing its character, simply by using space better.
7. 13.7 Cosmos & Culture Blog: Stuff Happens, And The Way We Talk About It Matters
Psychology professor Tania Lombrozo examines the "linguistic maneuvers" of politicians and other famous people when they're talking about controversial topics. She starts with the example of presidential candidate Jeb Bush's remark -- following the Umpqua Community College shooting -- that "stuff happens." Looking at various examples and research on the topic, she concludes: "It's true: Stuff happens. But there's more than one way to talk about it -- and the way we talk about it matters."
8. Cyclists' Idaho stop becomes hot potato in San Francisco
San Francisco Chronicle
One of the ways that bicyclists can stay safe on busy city streets is by making "rolling stops," treating stop signs more like yield signs. It helps bicyclists quickly get out of the way of impatient or distracted drivers, but it is illegal in San Francisco. Also known as the "Idaho Stop," it has been legal in that state since 1982, and a 2010 study by Jason Meggs, then a public health researcher at Berkeley, found that cyclist injuries in the state dropped 14 percent the year the law was enacted.
9. Who Is Janet Yellen? In Two and a Half Minutes
Bloomberg Business Online
A short video profiles business professor emeritus Janet Yellen, chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve.
10. Classical Notes: Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho makes a splash in Berkeley
San Jose Mercury News (*requires registration)
Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, considered by many to be one of the world's greatest living composers, is at Berkeley for a fall residency at the school's Department of Music. According to this article, Saariaho's compositions have a "luminous quality," and she has talked in interviews about how music and light are linked. "I think it has to do with my perception of sound," she has said. "It somehow relates in my mind to light, especially white light. Different degrees of light, from weak shadow light to very strong white light, and then the reflection of different light on surfaces, relates to different kinds of sonic textures. It comes again and again to my mind when I imagine music." Four local groups will perform her music this month. On campus, the Berkeley Symphony will be at Zellerbach Hall on October 14, and the eco ensemble will perform at Hertz Hall on October 23. Another story on this topic appeared in the San Francisco Classical Voice.