UC Berkeley students are fighting to get a building named after Assata Shakur

Tired of feeling overlooked and disrespected by the campus community, University of California, Berkeley’s Black Student Union recently issued a list of 10 demands to administrators meant to improve the university’s racial acceptance and diversity. These included hiring more black administrators and creating an African-American resource center. But the most controversial request was that the campus building that “houses Ethnic Studies, Women’s Studies and African-American Studies” be renamed in honor of black rights activist Assata Shakur,

Naturally, some conservatives aren’t thrilled


We Are Built To Be Kind

Greed is good. War is inevitable. Cooperation is for suckers. 

Whether in political theory or popular culture, human nature is often portrayed as selfish and power hungry. UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner challenges this notion of human nature and seeks to better understand why we evolved pro-social emotions like empathy, compassion and gratitude.

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How your genes may be giving you the giggles

Next time you find yourself with an uncontrollable urge to laugh, you can thank your parents.  

Researchers at UC Berkeley and Northwestern University have found that a gene involved in the regulation of serotonin makes some of us more prone to spontaneous smiles and bursts of laughter.

And this “giggle gene” is the same one that is also associated with marital bliss or blues.

Specifically, researchers looked at two versions of the gene variant, or “allele” known as 5-HTTLPR, and found that people with the short version were more likely to smile and laugh while looking at cartoons and funny clips from the movie Strangers in Paradise.

They found that people with the short allele displayed a more genuine smile and laugh than people with the long allele.

While previous research have found that people with the short variant were more vulnerable to depression and anxiety, this study also shows that they are more responsive to the emotional highs of life as well.

“Having the short allele is not bad or risky,” said Dr. Claudia Haase of Northwestern University, coauthor of the study. “Instead, the short allele amplifies emotional reactions to both good and bad environments.“

Learn more about the giggling gene

X2-VelociRoACH Smashes Speed Record for Tiny Legged Robots 

“In this work we explore increasing the maximum attainable speed of a legged robotic platform by pushing its stride frequency to an extreme value.” Need we say more? Okay, how about this: you’re about to see one of the fastest legged robots ever built.  4.9 meters per second (17.6 km/h, or 11 mph).

Don’t blink, because if you blink, you’ll miss UC Berkeley’s X2-VelociRoACH zipping past. I’m not exaggerating even a little bit, just watch:


“In other words, if it weren’t for the robot starting to explode, there’s no reason to think that increasing the stride frequency even more wouldn’t lead to corresponding increases in speed.”

UC Berkeley Biomimetics

IEEE Spectrum

RIP to Eloi Vasquez 

The UC Berkeley soccer player who was missing after attending a party in Los Angeles has been found dead after being struck by a car. Please keep his family and teammates in your prayers. 


UC Berkeley unveils first-of-its-kind, 3-D-printed cement structure

The freestanding pavilion, “Bloom,” is 9 ft high and has a footprint that measures about 12 ft x 12 ft. It is composed of 840 customized blocks that were 3-D-printed using a new type of iron oxide-free Portland cement polymer formulation developed by Ronald Rael.

The debut of this groundbreaking project is a demonstration of the architectural potential of 3-D printing.

UC Berkeley Gothic

-The chime of the Campanile wakes you up and you can not count the ringing of the bells. It plays a song and you think you must know it but you can’t remember. The ringing follows you.

-The squirrels all stop and look as you walk by. They are watching you. You walk faster.

-Again the weather report was wrong. There is no rain, no storms, there is only this blinding sunlight and gusting wind. 

-You lie on Memorial Glade and do not think about the ghosts. You do not step on the seals, do not anger those whose memorial you relax on.

-Inside the library, under the ground, you can not see the sun, can not hear the bell. What time is it? These questions have stopped having meaning. You find another book. Another appears. You can not stop studying.

-The protest sign in your hand has words you can’t read. What is it you are chanting? What are you raising? You can not remember. All you know is that you are angry.

-There is always another building you have never heard of, another place on campus you haven’t been. You know there are places you must not go, and as you walk past them you see the others huddled there.

-Up on the hill is the chancellor’s house. You do not stay long to watch it. The cameras turn to you and you run as the curtains in the windows shift and the lights shut off all at once.

-Your mascot is an animal killed by those who made this place. There are no more golden bears. None. There are no bears here except for us. There was no mauling last week on frat row. 



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Adventures in the Nature of Matter

Dr. Darleane Hoffman is among the researchers who confirmed the existence of Seaborgium — aka element 106. She also made a key discovery about nuclear fission.

In the 1950s, women were often faced with stark choices: “At that time, women teachers in the U.S. at all levels were expected to resign if they married, so I proclaimed boldly that I would never teach,” she said. “I vowed to follow Marie Curie’s model, to marry if I wanted and have children if I chose.”

In the 1950s when she sought a research position in the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the radiochemistry goup, she was told, “We don’t hire women in that division.” Undeterred, Dr. Hoffman got the position and became a division leader of the isotope and nuclear chemistry division, the first woman to head a scientific division there. 

For Hoffman, nuclear chemistry is a uniquely fundamental form of research, one that probes the deepest nature of what we call matter. But she adds, “There is also an array of practical issues that require the expertise of nuclear chemists—new and safer nuclear reactor designs, better medical diagnostics and radio-pharmaceuticals, more sensitive techniques for detecting proliferation, safer nuclear waste storage and environmental remediation, to name but a few. The field is wide open—there are many great discoveries yet to be made.”