Berkeley in the News Archive

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Tuesday, 22 April 2014

1. UC Berkeley working on earthquake warning system

UC Berkeley scientists are working on an earthquake warning system that would sense an imminent earthquake and provide precious seconds of advance warning so that people could duck for cover and trains could be stopped. Earth and planetary science professor Richard Allen, director of Berkeley's Seismological Laboratory, and Jennifer Strauss, a spokeswoman for the lab, discuss the warning system and its funding needs. Link to video. Strauss was also interviewed about earthquake science in Esquire Magazine. Full Story

2. Scientists explore possibilities of mind reading
USA Today

Before coming to Berkeley for graduate school, psychology student Alan Cowen co-authored a study at Yale, using a combination of computation and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to determine what the mind sees when it looks at a face. The researchers found that, after studying an individual's brain as he gazes at many faces, one can sketch a fairly accurate facsimile of an unfamiliar new face the person sees. Other "mind-reading" research is taking place at Berkeley in the lab of psychology professor Jack Gallant, of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute. He says: "Brain decoding tells us whether some specific type of information can be recovered from the brain. ... It can also be used to build a brain-computer interface if one is so inclined." Full Story

3. Brain Control in a Flash of Light
International New York Times (*requires registration)

Molecular and cell biology professor Ehud Isacoff recently wrote about the development of optogenetics, a technique that allows researchers to turn brain cells on and off with a combination of genetic manipulation and pulses of light. Many researchers are now using and developing the technology, and he says it has been applied to the study of "brain waves, sleep, memory, hunger, addiction, aggression, courtship, sensory modalities, and motor behavior.” Full Story

4. U.S. Supreme Court upholds anti-affirmative law, California's Prop. 209 stands
San Jose Mercury News (*requires registration)

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a Michigan law that bans affirmative action in public programs such as university admissions. As this article's author states, the decision "likely makes California's Proposition 209 bullet proof against legal attack." Along with five other states and the District of Columbia, California had joined civil rights groups in asking the Supreme Court to invalidate Michigan's law. The UC system also opposed the law in the case, noting that Proposition 209 has dramatically reduced the admissions rates for Latino, black and Native American students, particularly at highly selective schools such as UC-Berkeley and UCLA. Other stories mentioning Berkeley in this context appeared in USA Today and Los Angeles Times. Full Story

5. SanDisk Corp. gives $1 million to UC Berkeley's engineering school
San Francisco Business Times (*requires registration)

SanDisk Corp has given $1 million to Berkeley's electrical engineering and computer sciences department. The undergraduate student computer lab will be named for the company. SanDisk's CEO, Sanjay Mehotra, is an engineering alum and a member of the department's advisory board. Full Story

6. Bangladeshi American donates USD1 mn to Berkeley university
Business Standard (India)

Bangladeshi-American entrepreneur Subir Chowdhury has donated $1 million to UC Berkeley toward the establishment of a center that will support research aimed at improving lives in Bangladesh, fund exchange and scholarship programs, and promote the country's culture and history. "It's my dream come true," Chowdhury says. Full Story

7. Battling for a Safer Bangladesh
International New York Times

Associate environmental science, policy, and management professor Dara O’Rourke, a labor policy specialist, comments on European and U.S. groups' efforts to help improve working conditions at Bangladesh factories. He says the efforts are unprecedented, "taking on the lowest end of a low-road industry. ... They’re trying to bring up the worst garment conditions in the world. What they’re doing is really, really hard.” Full Story

8. Blog: Raising Taxes on Corporations that Pay Their CEOs Royally and Treat Their Workers Like Serfs

Public policy professor Robert Reich writes about income inequality at U.S. corporations. He says: "This growing divergence between CEO pay and that of the typical American worker isn't just wildly unfair. It's also bad for the economy. It means most workers these days lack the purchasing power to buy what the economy is capable of producing -- contributing to the slowest recovery on record. Meanwhile, CEOs and other top executives use their fortunes to fuel speculative booms followed by busts. ... There's no easy answer for reversing this trend, but this week I'll be testifying in favor of a bill introduced in the California legislature that at least creates the right incentives. Other states would do well to take a close look." Full Story

9. Washington Wire Blog: How Much Does the Pace of Growth in Health Spending Matter?
Wall Street Journal Online (*requires registration)

A chart created with data from Berkeley economics professor Alan Auerbach and Bill Gale, of the Brookings Institution, shows long-run projections of the federal debt, measured as a share of the economy or the gross domestic product, under four scenarios. Full Story

10. Op-Ed: Money won't buy you votes
Los Angeles Times

Peter Schuck, a Yale law professor currently visiting Berkeley's law and public policy schools, writes about two recent Supreme Court rulings that advocates of campaign finance reform suspect will exacerbate political inequality in the U.S. He argues: "Loose, misleading talk about 'the appearance of corruption' and 'buying' elections probably damages public confidence in our politics more than the campaign spending permitted by the Supreme Court's recent decisions. The point isn't that our campaign finance system is perfect or that reform is futile — far from it — but that limits on spending aggravate inequalities by further entrenching incumbent advantages over challengers." Full Story

11. U.S. must acknowledge Russia’s strategic interest and cooperate
Al Jazeera

Associate political science professor M. Steven Fish joins a discussion of the political situation in Ukraine. “The United States and Russia should have sat down actually years ago and hammered out an agreement that really respected Russia’s interests in its own neighborhood,” he says. “[But] what [Russian President Vladimir] Putin has done now makes it less likely to happen than before. ... In terms of foreign policy, this move buries his dream of a Eurasian Union. ... And it now guarantees the implacable hostility of what’s left of Ukraine after Putin gets done with the southern and eastern parts of it.” Full Story

12. Your Own Health and Fitness: Wireless Revolution: Research/Policy Implications
KPFA Radio

Joel Moskowitz, director of Berkeley's Center for Family and Community Health, joins a discussion of the possible health risks of exposure to electromagnetic radiation from cell phones, Wi-Fi, and smart meters. The program airs on KPFA (94.1 FM) from 1:00 - 2:00 PM (Pacific Daylight Time) on Tuesday, April 22, 2014, and later will be archived as an mp3 at Full Story

13. Linking the Los Angeles Airport
International New York Times (*requires registration)

Ethan Elkind, associate director of the Climage Change and Business Program at Berkeley's law school, remarks on renewed interest in Los Angeles in completing a rail connection to the city's airport. He says that the connection would be unlikely to transform the way Angelenos travel to the airport. “It would be more of a psychological victory, a way to reshape the image of Los Angeles.” Elkind is the author of Railtown, a chronicle of the push for a modern rail system in Los Angeles. Full Story

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