and university of california berkeley

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Hackers just helped NASA save a treasure trove of climate data from an uncertain future

  • Roughly 200 programmers congregated Saturday in the Doe Library at the University of California, Berkeley, to take part in a hackathon focusing on NASA’s earth sciences programs and the Department of Energy.
  • Wired reported the group of coders had the common goal of saving data that could be deleted or otherwise tucked away under Trump.
  • Using web-crawler scripts and patching together data sets, the hackers were able to successfully preserve 8,404 web pages onto the Internet Archive — a digital library with a plethora of screenshots from websites — and download 25GB of data from 101 public datasets. Read more (2/14/17 3:06 PM)

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slate.com
Berkeley Protests Cancel Professional Bigot Milo Yiannopoulos Campus Appearance
A speech by right wing, all around bigot Milo Yiannopoulos at the University of California, Berkeley Wednesday was cancelled after a large protest brok ...

Elliot Hannon at Slate

A speech by right wing, all around bigot Milo Yiannopoulos at the University of California, Berkeley Wednesday was cancelled after a large protest broke out on campus. Some protesters broke windows, appeared to throw rocks at police, and lit firecrackers that resulted in a fire in Sproul Plaza near the student union.

The university cancelled the talk by the Breitbart professional provocateur who has carved out a niche among the racist, misogynist right. Yiannopoulos’ general world view and noxious behavior was enough to get him banned from Twitter, buuuuut since there’s a market for mind-bending racism in America these days, he also managed to net a $250,000 book deal from Simon & Schuster. Yiannopoulos’ college talks are usually the subject of outrage and protests. At a recent, similar talk at the Univ. of Washington a man was shot in the melee surround Yiannopoulos’ appearance.

On the Berkeley campus, police appeared to engage with some of the hundreds of protesters armed with homemade shields and ordered the protesters to disperse.


Scientists just discovered a “universal contraceptive” made from chemical compounds

  • The birth control of the future has arrived.
  • Researchers at University of California, Berkeley recently figured out how to solve some of the most common problems posed by traditional birth control methods by targeting the mechanism that powers sperm’s “drilling” capabilities.
  • That mechanism — or “power kick” — as scientists like to call it, is known as Catsper, an ion channel that activates once sperm gets close to an egg.
  • According to Wired, UC Berkeley researchers tested over 50 chemical compounds to find a way to turn off sperm’s “power kick” and discovered two potential solutions: lupeol and pristimerin. Read more (5/17/17)

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In Honor of Earth Day 2017: PBS Nature’s Ask Box is now open for the next round of Tumblr’s IssueTime on Conservation and Climate Change!

NATURE  is so excited to work with Tumblr and the wonderful scientists, biologists and filmmakers who’ve agreed to be on our panel so that you can learn more about the environmental issues we’re currently facing.  Dig deeper into the issues with full episodes of NATURE, now streaming!

The Panelists:

Arnaud  Desbiez  is a conservation biologist who has been conducting research in the Brazilian Pantanal since 2002. He has worked on topics ranging from sustainable use of  resources  to  species  ecological  research and community  development  programs. In  the  Brazilian  Pantanal,  his  work  focused  on  the interaction  between  native  and alien  species, the sustainable  use  of  forage  resources  and  the  ecology  of  several mammal species.   In 2010 he started and now coordinates the Pantanal Giant Armadillo Project. Arnaud is featured in our most recent episode, Hotel Armadillo.

Patrick Gonzalez is Principal Climate Change Scientist of the U.S. National Park Service and a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. A forest ecologist, he conducts applied research on climate change and works with national parks to adapt resource management to climate change. Patrick has conducted and published field research on climate change in Africa, Latin America, and the United States and has served as a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the organization awarded a share of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Watch our recent episode about the challenges facing Yosemite, now streaming!

Chris Morgan is an ecologist, conservationist, educator, TV host/narrator and film producer specializing in international bear research and conservation. For more than 20 years, he has worked as a wildlife researcher, wilderness guide and environmental educator on every continent where bears exist. Chris  has narrated 13 films for Nature and was host and narrator for Siberian Tiger Quest as well as being the featured character in Nature’s three-part series ‘Bears of the Last Frontier.’ In 2015, he was also host and narrator for Nature’s Three-part ‘Animal Homes’ series and was featured in ‘The Last Orangutan Eden.’ Learn more about Chris’ story with this interview we conducted with him.

Learn More about Chris

Joe Pontecorvo is an award-winning producer, writer, and cinematographer. For the past two decades, he has traveled the globe; tracking Siberian tigers in the Russian Far East, living among grizzlies in the wilds of Alaska, and following orangutans through Indonesia’s peat swamp forest. All told, he has produced 14 broadcast documentaries for multiple networks, including National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and PBS. For his most recent project before ‘Yosemite,’ PBS Nature’s ‘Snow Monkeys,’ Joe and his wife, Nim Pontecorvo, spent nearly two years filming a troop of Japanese macaques in Japan’s Shiga Highlands. Go behind-the-scenes into the making of that film here.

Learn More about Joe

Happy Earth Day! Check back Saturday for answers! 

nature.com
The quest to crystallize time
Bizarre forms of matter called time crystals were supposed to be physically impossible. Now they’re not.

Christopher Monroe spends his life poking at atoms with light. He arranges them into rings and chains and then massages them with lasers to explore their properties and make basic quantum computers. Last year, he decided to try something seemingly impossible: to create a time crystal.

The name sounds like a prop from Doctor Who, but it has roots in actual physics. Time crystals are hypothetical structures that pulse without requiring any energy — like a ticking clock that never needs winding. The pattern repeats in time in much the same way that the atoms of a crystal repeat in space. The idea was so challenging that when Nobel prizewinning physicist Frank Wilczek proposed the provocative concept1 in 2012, other researchers quickly proved there was no way to create time crystals.

But there was a loophole — and researchers in a separate branch of physics found a way to exploit the gap. Monroe, a physicist at the University of Maryland in College Park, and his team used chains of atoms they had constructed for other purposes to make a version of a time crystal2 (see ‘How to create a time crystal’). “I would say it sort of fell in our laps,” says Monroe.

And a group led by researchers at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, independently fashioned time crystals out of 'dirty’ diamonds3. Both versions, which are published this week in Nature, are considered time crystals, but not how Wilczek originally imagined. “It’s less weird than the first idea, but it’s still fricking weird,” says Norman Yao, a physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, and an author on both papers.

Continue Reading.

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Last stop on Milo Yiannopoulos’ speaking tour canceled by protesters

  • School officials canceled the final stop Milo Yiannopoulos’ speaking tour at the University of California, Berkeley, on Wednesday evening after protesters made it impossible for the event to continue.
  • Student activists and anti-fascist demonstrators shot fireworks at the building where Yiannopoulos was scheduled to appear.
  • Others threw smoke bombs and some damaged property. Some appear to have lit a fire on the campus’ Sprout Plaza.
  • UCLA also canceled his scheduled appearance for Thursday.
  • Trump sounded off on the protests Thursday morning, threatening to withdraw federal funding from the public university. Read more
How I Got Into Berkeley

(Or; Everything the Appblr Community Told You is a Lie)

Disclaimer: any good scientist knows that what follows is an anecdote. What worked for me might not work for you. 

1. I didn’t have Straight A’s 
And I didn’t need them. My freshmen year of high school, I got a B in Algebra One. 

2. I dropped all of my hard classes two weeks into my senior year. 
Okay, maybe not all of my hard classes. But I dropped from Honors Calculus to Honors Statistics and took a study hall instead of Physics.

3. I also dropped out of almost all my extra circulars
I had a fairly awful mental health crisis at the start of my senior year and was institutionalized twice. I wasn’t exactly fit to be gallivanting off to speech meets for 14 hours every weekend. I did keep some of my volunteer work, namely my position at the local public library, but nothing other than that.

4. Nobody proofread my essays
I was literally too shy to ask any of my teachers because they were so deeply personal. 

5. I wrote three of my four essays less than a week before the deadline 
Your college essays don’t have to be some Herculean task.

6. I’ve taken a grand total of six Honors/college level courses- in the entirety of my high school career
Yeah, you read that right. Six. For the curious, my six were Honors English 11 and 12, Honors Psychology, Honors Chemistry, Honors Statistics, and Honors U.S. History.

7. I didn’t attend any fancy “How to Write the Perfect College Essay in 700 Easy Steps” seminars
I’m also the first in my family to attend college. These things are built to be self-explanatory.

8. I’ve never taken Calculus 
Well, aside from those two weeks. I got a D on the only test I took. 

9. I didn’t know that “college” wasn’t spelled with an “a” until my Junior year of high school
I also have severe dyslexia and am never sure of the correct way to write 3s and 5s. I literally couldn’t read until I was 9. 

10. I took the ACT only once
And that was the only standardized test that I took.

For more than 40 years, Oliver O'Reilly’s shoelaces have been coming untied pretty much every day. And for most of those 40 years O'Reilly didn’t think too much about it.

But then, about a decade ago, his daughter Anna was learning to tie her shoes, and O'Reilly decided his shoelace problem wasn’t worth passing on to another generation.

“I didn’t want her to inherit my problems, so I went online and found some really helpful videos to teach me how to tie her shoelaces,” he says.

And, perhaps if O'Reilly had had a different job, that’s where the shoelace problem would have stopped. But Oliver O'Reilly is a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, and as he looked at videos of shoelace knots, he started wondering why they came untied in day-to-day life.

“That problem always stuck in my mind,” he says.

Now, he and two graduate students have published a paper, in Proceedings Of The Royal Society A, titled “The roles of impact and inertia in the failure of a shoelace knot.”

Untangling The Mystery Of Why Shoelaces Come Untied

Photo: Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Caption: The laces on the left are tied in a strong knot that lies horizontally. The laces on the right are tied in a knot that makes the bow lie vertically and which, according to new research, can come untied more easily.

How sleeping helps us learn

Most scientists believe that sleep plays an important role in memory. Getting a good night’s sleep after learning something new seems to help you remember it later, whether it is a new motor skill (like a series of repetitive movements) or a new cognitive skill (like memorizing a poem). The way the brain processes and stores these two types of learning (implicit or explicit) is important to understanding how our brains work with implications for learning, education, and the treatment of diseases involving memory loss.

Knowing that sleep plays a role in all of this is one thing. Understanding exactly how this happens in the brain is another. New research from Edwin Robertson at the University of Glasgow and Jocelyn Breton at the University of California, Berkeley helps clarify the role sleep plays in these two different types of learning.

Participants in the study were asked to play a game like the electronic memory game Simon. They had to push a button on a keyboard that corresponded to one of 4 possible positions of a circle on their screen. All participants received the same 12-item long repeating sequence. In the first group (the explicit learning group), the participants were told that they should try to learn the sequence and were given clues to when the sequence would begin again. In the second group (the implicit learning group) the participants were simply told to push the keys correctly as quickly as possible.

The researchers then used a technique called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) that allows them to temporarily turn off specific neural circuits in the brain to test the role of two circuits in storing the sequence in the brain. After a night of sleep, the participants were then tested to recall as much of the sequence as possible. The researchers found that two independent brain circuits mediate the improvement in explicit and implicit learning that typically occurs with sleep. When the participants learned a skill through the repetitive motion alone, the memory was learned through a circuit in the inferior parietal lobe. When they learned by consciously trying to remember the sequences, the learning was stored through a different circuit in the primary motor cortex. This suggests that awareness of learning, even the same sequence, can alter the circuit supporting learning and subsequent memory enhancement over sleep. Overall, the same memory enhancement over a night of sleep can be achieved through different circuits.

This work was published this week in Nature Human Behaviour.

Khanh-Hoa Nguyen stirs a pot of green papaya and pigs’ feet soup. The clear broth and pale green chunks of unripe melon are redolent with fish sauce, the way her own mother prepared the soup after Nguyen’s sister gave birth.

After her second year at the University of California at Berkeley, Nguyen was spending the summer at her parents’ home in Los Angeles, watching her mother prepare big pots of Vietnamese postpartum foods for her sister.

“I don’t think I would have known if I didn’t go home that summer,” says Nguyen, who is now co-editing one of the most comprehensive English language cookbooks featuring traditional Asian foods for new mothers.

For generations, new Vietnamese mothers have eaten this stew, just as Korean mothers have downed bowls of seaweed soup and Chinese women have simmered pigs’ feet with ginger and vinegar. The food traditions stretch back for centuries, part of the practice of resting for the first 30 days after giving birth that is common throughout Asia.

For Centuries, These Asian Recipes Have Helped New Moms Recover From Childbirth

Photo: Grace Hwang Lynch for NPR
Caption: Dr. Marilyn Wong serves green papaya and pigs’ feet soup, a Vietnamese dish believed to fortify new mothers.

Thressa Stadtman (1920-2016) was a biochemist who made many important discoveries throughout her career, particularly that of the amino acid selenocysteine. She also conducted significant research in the biochemistry of microbes and amino acid metabolism.

She graduated with a PhD in Microbial Biochemisty from the University of California, Berkeley in 1949. She went on to work for the National Heart Institute, and conducted her own biochemistry lab, where she researched selenproteins and bioenergetics. She was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1981.

beaureqard  asked:

you characterized human walking as controlled falling--does animal walking take more effort because they have 4 legs, they have to push off each one? what about the relative stresses of human vs animal running? is there an example of a well-muscled animal that doesnt have such trouble with fragility, or a social animal that can care for wounded members of its group? we've sort of gotten away from anthropology huh lmao Sorry! I guess... what pressures selected for the above in humans?

Actually, a lot of this is still anthropology! Bipedalism- one of the defining characteristics of hominins- and its origins are extremely important to physical anthropologists and primatologists.

Human walking is divided into two parts: stance phase and swing phase. As an experiment, stand up, take a slow walking step, and really think about what you’re doing. Then sit down again because things tend to get weird when you actually think about what you’re doing when you walk- it’s kind of like remembering to breathe or being aware that you can feel your tongue in your mouth. By and large as a species*, our brains are so used to the motions of walking that thinking about it can throw us off our stride. This is why learning to walk again after an injury can be so challenging- actively thinking about locomotion is not something the human brain likes to do. To walk, we pick up a leg, swing it forward, land on it, roll off the toe of the other leg, pick it up, swing forward, land on it… it goes on forever. Here’s an illustration of what that looks like!

This doesn’t actually require a lot of energy, from a caloric standpoint. It’s just falling with style. Running is quite similar; it’s just more energy put into it. It’s still the same motion; the leg just gets lifted a little higher. There’s a phase where both legs are off the ground (which you can’t see in this gif, unfortunately)- same as when a horse moves from walking to galloping. 

 Let’s compare that to a horse- the first gif is a horse walking, the second is a horse galloping.

Much of the stress in four-legged running comes from body weight; a horse is going to be a lot heavier than a human, so that’s a lot of force put on the knees. Running is always going to be more stressful than walking, but for humans, our relatively small body size is going to make it comparatively less stressful and more efficient.

Now, this isn’t to say that other animals aren’t efficient for what they are/can do; it’s just to say that we’re more efficient. There’s only two animals that can really keep up with us: domesticated dogs and domesticated horses. We’re going to keep looking at horses because horses and the energetics of their movement are really well-studied; horses have had a long working relationship with humans. Unlike most other animals, it’s unlikely we domesticated them just to eat- equines are real dynamos and are able to do a tremendous amount of work. Now, this is where things kind of get into physics, but bear with me for a moment. Consider for just a second: animals (us included) as machines. There’s an input: oxygen and calories. There’s an output that we call “work,” which is using a force to move an object a distance when both the force and the motion of the object are in the same direction. That’s what we mean when we’re talking about “work,” the ability to move an object (at bare minimum, the animal’s body) a distance. Horses have been selectively bred over millennia for stamina and speed, and as a result the domesticated horse’s maximum work output is about 3.5 times higher than what it should be**. So back to that question of two feet versus four feet: It’s not just about quadrupedalism versus bipedalism, but also about aerobic potential, lung capacity, metabolism… there’s a lot to it

Efficiency versus the capacity for speed is one of those evolutionary tradeoffs. There’s quite a lot of them in locomotion, including the fragility of various species. Horses and other leggy ungulates are typically more fragile than most other quadrupeds. If we look at predators- let’s use coyotes as an example- they might not be as fast initially as an ungulate, but they’ve also got some padding around their ankles. They’re less likely to shatter a bone. Bigger carnivores, like lions? Even more padding, with hunting strategies to match. Lions like to chase their prey into ambushes rather than just chase it down. To escape these ambushes, prey species need speed; like all things evolutionary, those fragile legs are a tradeoff. 

As far as social animals caring for wounded members of their group, you’ll sometimes see this in other primates- they’ll lick each others’ wounds, pick off debris, that sort of thing. There’s some evidence that they’ll chew plants with medicinal properties, but interpreting these actions is really difficult because there’s so much we don’t know about great apes’ cognition. There’s an excellent book, The Evolution of Sickness and Healing, that has loads of information. While it’s a little older- it was published in 1997- it’s a great jumping off point. The whole thing’s available for free online here. Chapter 2 in particular has a lot of good information on what chimpanzees have been observed doing, including one of my favorite Jane Goodall anecdotes about a 23-year-old male chimpanzee (so, an adult) who got hurt in a fight with another chimp and started screaming; his elderly mother came running from about half a kilometer away and started grooming him, which got him to calm down. Even for chimps, mom’s attention can make it all better. 


As always, footnotes and references/further reading under the jump!

Keep reading

We are Sikh

Fifth largest religion in the world, and people are ignorant enough to call us Hindus or Muslims. Educate yourself.

  • We are Sikh. Our faith matters to us. So much so that we will gladly give our life fighting for what we believe in as many saint soldiers have done in the past, including our own Gurus.
  • Sikh mothers had their newly borns chopped, limb by limb and then placed around their necks like garlands. This was the price they payed for not converting to another religion, those brave Sikh women remained in high spirits and sang the praises of Guru Nanak & Vaheguru.
  • We made up less than 2% of the Indian population yet 67% of the Indian army were Sikhs.
  • The first battle for freedom from British was won by Sikhs, when after loss of many lives in 1929 they were able to take over the charge of their shrines from British.
  • Our ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji offered to sacrifice his life to protect another religion. He laid down his life in defense of religious tolerance, freedom of worship, and freedom of religion. He gave his life for the Hindus’ right to wear the sacred thread despite the fact that Sikhs themselves do not believe in these rituals. This was martyrdom for the defense of basic human values.
  • In 1709, Guru Gobind Singh Ji left this world with a lifetime of heroic events which changed the History of India. (which I cannot even compress enough to make it into this text post &  still do it justice)
  • Bhagat Singh while studying in Berkeley University in California went back to Punjab to fight against the British army and was hanged in 1913 while fighting for freedom.
  • Punjab lost its most fertile part to Pakistan during the partition. However, today due to hard labor of Sikh farmers, the Punjab in India produces much higher quantities of food grain than the fertile Punjab in Pakistan. Punjab contributes 40% of rice and 51% of wheat into the central pool of food grains in India.
  • On April 13, 1919, the British conducted Jallianwala Bagh massacre, which consisted of killing 1300 unarmed Indians, 62% of those who were Sikhs in a single day.
  • 1984; we don’t even KNOW how many Sikhs were brutally murdered in the most inhumane ways possible because the Indian government burnt all the bodies without keeping track.

And that’s not even half of the history covered; 
Seeing news like the picture above absolutely shatters my heart, our Gurus and martyrs didn’t give up their life to be called someone we’re not. We have  been given a unique identity so that the world may recognise a single Sikh in a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people.

  • We wear a turban in which we have a small wooden comb to keep and protect our sacred gift from God, our uncut hair, our Kes.
  • We wear a Kara (iron bracelet) to resemble handcuffs, which reminds a Sikh to be a servant of the Guru & think twice about doing evil deeds.
  • We wear a Kirpan (a sword) which symbolises dignity, self-reliance, capacity and readiness to always defend the weak and the oppressed.
  • We wear a Kachera (undershorts) which reminds the Sikh of the need for self-restrain over passions, lust and desires.

A Sikh is a devotee first and to protect his devotion, a Sikh is a warrior as well. A real Sikh will never let weapons take the precedence over his spiritual values and devotion. A real Sikh will always help the one in need and fight for him/her regardless of the person’s caste, color or religion. When all other means of self-protection fail, the Sikh can use his sword to protect himself and others. A Sikh is never to use his sword to attack anyone.

So please, don’t call us something we’re not. We are Sikh. But before that, we are human.