the 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.

The College Years - Freshman Year (Chapter 1) - Stiles Stilinski

Author: @were-cheetah-stiles

Title: “The Park Attack” 

Characters: Stiles Stilinski, Scott McCall, & Reader

Author’s Note: This series is my baby. It will be broken up by years, and currently I’m writing well into their Sophomore year. I hope you all enjoy it. 

Summary: AU where Stiles’ “vision” happened and everyone ended up going to school near each other. Stiles and Scott live together and go to school at University of California at Berkeley. They think that they have escaped the supernatural drama that engulfs Beacon Hills on a daily basis, at least during the school year, until one night in the middle of January, they happen upon a girl fighting two grown men in a park.

Chapter One - Chapter Two

Originally posted by exist-in-mind


“I don’t know.” Scott said defeatedly, as he walked from campus to his apartment with his best friend since childhood. “I knew that it was a long shot, but I really thought that going back home for Christmas would, I don’t know, rekindle it or something. Now, I just don’t think it’s gonna happen, Stiles.”

“I know, buddy it’s rough, girls suck, Scott. I swear to god, I am done with them.” Scott chuckled at Stiles’ proclamation. “Don’t laugh at me, asshole. I’m serious, Lydia and I imploded, and while I do think that we are better off as friends, I don’t even want to look at another girl anytime soon.”

“I feel you… All this stuff with Kira, all of this back and forth, on and off.. Honestly?…It makes me really miss Allison…” Scott stared at the pavement under his feet, as he admitted the feeling that had been plaguing him for months.

“Scott, I think we should just go to parties and meet new girls and be regular college freshman, who aren’t moping over girls that we can never have.” Stiles replied, as he gripped Scott’s shoulder, grabbing his attention from his shoes.

“I thought you were swearing off all girls?” Scott smirked.

Stiles stopped in place and stared Scott straight in the eyes, deadpan, he said, “I meant for right now. I’m not trying to go back to being a virgin, Scott. Don’t be stupid.”

Scott laughed and they continued walking. “I don’t know what I was thinking…”

In the distance they heard a scream that stopped them in their tracks.

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