Planets Galore
Astronomers at Berkeley have discovered two new Jupiter-sized planets and confirmed two more about 35 light years from Earth, both at temperatures that mean they could harbor water in liquid form.

Geoffrey Marcy, professor of physics and astronomy at San Francisco State University and a visiting scholar at Berkeley, and Paul Butler, a postdoctoral researcher with a joint appointment at Berkeley and SF State, last year confirmed the first discovery of a planet outside our solar system: 51 Pegasi.

"After the discovery of 51 Peg, everyone wondered if it was a freak, a one-in-a-million observation," Marcy said. "The answer is no. Planets aren't rare after all."

Marcy and Butler found the two new planets around the stars 70 Virginis, in the constellation Virgo, and 47 Ursae Majoris, in the Big Dipper or Ursa Major. Both stars are visible to the naked eye but the planets are too small and dim to be seen against the glare of their parent stars. The planets were discovered because they create a tell-tale wobble in the stars' motion which the astronomers were able to detect using the telescope at UC's Lick Observatory.

"These discoveries are important because they spawn a new subfield of astrophysics--the study of planetary systems," Marcy said. "We can now probe the characteristics of these planets, such as their orbits and masses."

Media reaction to the discoveries has been immense and international, including the Feb. 5, 1996 Time magazine cover story.

Marcy and Butler expect to announce the discovery of more planets in the coming years, now that they have perfected a unique system for detecting the tiny wobbles in distant stars that indicate the presence of a planet. ─

Ancient Greek games revived
Picture Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien and Rafer Johnson, 1960 Olympic gold-medalist, racing against each other, barefoot, in short white tunics, in the 100 M dash.

That was one of the races run June 1 when15,000 people from around the world gathered at a recently excavated Greek stadium to revive the ancient Panhellenic Games, ancestor of today's Olympics.

The one-day event in the village of Ancient Nemea included more than 600 contestants aged 9 to 91 from 28 countries, a herald and trumpeters (courtesy of Cal's Straw Hat Band), black-robed judges with switches to flog unruly participants, and winners' crowns of wild celery.

Top prize goes to Stephen Miller, the Berkeley classics professor who found the track buried beneath 30 feet of earth and uncovered it as part of a remarkable excavation begun in 1973.

With few exceptions, participants in the Nemean Games were not trained runners. And in an obvious departure from history, neither were they nude. ─

Antibody found to attack tumors
Berkeley scientists have found a way to overcome the body's reluctance to attack cancer cells, in essence freeing the immune system to launch a coordinated attack against a tumor and destroy it.

James Allison, professor of immunology and director of the UC Cancer Research Laboratory, and colleagues have developed an antibody that reacts with a molecule on the surface of T-cells that inhibits their disease-fighting action. The Allison group has found that when these antibodies are injected into mice with tumors, the mice fight off and reject their tumors.

Allison predicts the technique will be most useful in treating metastases--the secondary tumors that break off from the major tumor and spread throughout the body that are nearly impossible to eliminate surgically or with radiation. The technique also could be used in combination with current therapies to boost the immune system. ─

U.S. Wealth gap grows
Over the past 20 years, the U.S. has "dismantled" many of its historic structures for spreading wealth among the people, which goes far toward explaining the growing gap between rich Americans and everyone else in the country, according to six Berkeley sociology professors.

Their analysis traces far-reaching changes in the balance of power among workers, corporations, and communities that once allowed most Americans to share in expanding affluence. It also provides a new perspective on why working people have lost so much ground since the 1970s, even while productivity has continued to rise, and it offers some solutions.

The findings by the team of Claude S. Fischer, Michael Hout, Mart╠n SĚnchez Jankowski, Samuel R. Lucas, Ann Swidler, and Kim Voss will be published in September by Princeton University Press in the book Inequality by Design: Cracking the Bell Curve Myth.

In it, the authors begin by disproving the claims made in the best seller The Bell Curve that inequality is a "natural" outcome of differences in intelligence.

"The United States is now more unequal than at any point in the last 75 years," the sociologists write. They also show that class inequality is greater in this country than in any other industrialized nation. ─

A New Steel
A rust-resistant steel developed by Berkeley scientists was named by Popular Science Magazine among the "Best of What's New" for 1995.

The steel, trademarked Fermar, was developed by Gareth Thomas, emeritus professor of materials science, with assistance from Paulo Monteiro, professor of civil engineering, and graduate student David Trejo.

The steel, which can be made without any major new expense by steel companies, was designed specifically to resist corrosion in rebar--the reinforcing bars embedded in concrete structures.

Possible savings are enormous, considering the billions of dollars spent repairing or replacing concrete bridges and buildings rendered unsafe when the internal rebar skeleton corrodes. ─