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Altering brain chemistry makes us more sensitive to inequality

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 08:00
Altering brain chemistry makes us more sensitive to inequalityWhat if there were a pill that made you more compassionate? A new study finds that giving a drug that changes the neurochemical balance in the brain causes a greater willingness to engage in prosocial behaviors, such as ensuring that resources are divided more equally.
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Conifers' Helicoptering Seeds are the Result of a Long Evolutionary Experiment

Department of Integrative Biology - Tue, 03/17/2015 - 10:31

The whirling, winged seeds of today's conifers are an engineering wonder and, as University of California, Berkeley, scientists show, a result of about 270 million years of evolution by trees experimenting with the best way to disperse their seeds.

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Conifers’ helicoptering seeds are result of long evolutionary experiment

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 03/17/2015 - 08:20
Conifers’ helicoptering seeds are result of long evolutionary experimentMany plants today, like maples and ashes, have seeds that whirl as they fall. But the first plants that made whirling seeds were the conifers 270 million years ago. UC Berkeley paleobotanist Cindy Looy now explains the surprising fact that while early conifers had several different whirling seed designs, only one design survives today.
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Two new projects will search for dark matter axions

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 03/16/2015 - 08:50
Two new projects will search for dark matter axionsIs the mysterious dark matter that makes up 26 percent of the universe composed of a hypothetical particle called an axion, instead of the formerly popular WIMP? The Heising-Simons Foundation gave UC Berkeley physicist Dmitry Budker and nuclear engineering Karl van Bibber funds to look for axions with two different experimental techniques.
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Bakar Fellow Shawn Shadden is using computer modeling to sharpen diagnostic tools

UC Berkeley Science News - Fri, 03/13/2015 - 12:58
Bakar Fellow Shawn Shadden is using computer modeling to sharpen diagnostic toolsBakar Fellow Shawn Shadden, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley, has developed computational strategies designed to serve as diagnostic tools to better inform treatment for medical conditions including stroke, heart disease and osteoporosis.
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Saturn expert and science popularizer Carolyn Porco joins astronomy department

UC Berkeley Science News - Fri, 03/13/2015 - 08:17
Saturn expert and science popularizer Carolyn Porco joins astronomy departmentCarolyn Porco, a veteran planetary scientist and leader of the imaging team on NASA's Cassini mission at Saturn, has accepted dual invitations to be a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco and a Distinguished Scholar within UC Berkeley's Department of Astronomy. Porco is known for her work on the Voyager and Cassini missions and her award-winning efforts to engage the public in appreciation of the scientific enterprise.
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Eko Announces $2M Funding & Clinical Trial

Department of Bioengineering - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 14:28
Eko Devices, a startup company spun out of the BioE 192 Senior Capstone Design course, has announced the start of a clinical study with UCSF Cardiology and the closing of a $2 million funding round. Core by Eko is the first stethoscope to be wirelessly connected to a smart device, and is set to retail for $199 beginning Summer 2015 pending clearance by the FDA.
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Monkeys for equal pay (and every cat for itself)

UC Berkeley Science News - Wed, 03/11/2015 - 11:18
Monkeys for equal pay (and every cat for itself)In a campus appearance hosted by UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, primatologist Frans de Waal discussed his research on "the emotional side of animal behavior" — behavior, he insists, more like our own than some humans admit.
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New material captures carbon at half the energy cost

UC Berkeley Science News - Wed, 03/11/2015 - 10:00
New material captures carbon at half the energy costCapturing carbon from power plants is likely in the future to avoid the worst effects of climate change, but current technologies are very expensive. A new material, a diamine-appended metal-organic framework, captures and releases CO2 with much reduced energy costs compared to today's technologies, potentially lowering the cost of capturing this greenhouse gas.
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Healy designs heart-on-a-chip

Department of Bioengineering - Mon, 03/09/2015 - 08:59
Researchers in Professor Kevin Healy's lab have taken a major step toward fast, accurate drug-toxicity testing with a sophisticated organ-on-a-chip using live, beating heart tissue.
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Bakar Fellow targets cancer’s disposal system

UC Berkeley Science News - Fri, 03/06/2015 - 15:18
Bakar Fellow targets cancer’s disposal systemAndreas Martin, an assistant professor of molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley, has developed novel systems and strategies to screen for compounds that selectively inhibit protein turnover in the cell and may lead to new drugs against cancer. His work is supported by the Bakar Fellows Program.
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A Preview of Dodging Extinction

Department of Integrative Biology - Fri, 03/06/2015 - 08:52

Anthony D. Barnosky is a Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology, Curator in the Museum of Paleontology, and Research Paleoecologist in the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Distant supernova split four ways by gravitational lens

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 03/05/2015 - 11:00
Distant supernova split four ways by gravitational lensAstronomers now use massive galaxies and clusters of galaxies as magnifying lenses to study the early universe, but until now had never observed the brief flash of a supernova. UC Berkeley postdoc Patrick Kelly found such a supernova in images taken last year by the Hubble Space Telescope, split into a rare Einstein Cross.
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Probing bacterial immune system could help improve human gene editing

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 08:28
Probing bacterial immune system could help improve human gene editingJennifer Doudna and James Nuñez are probing the CRISPR/Cas9-based immune system that bacteria have developed to prevent viruses from killing them, and have discovered how they “steal” genetic information from these foreign invaders to remember and attack them in the future. Doudna hopes this information will help to improve targeted gene editing in human and animal cells.
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Anxious people more apt to make bad decisions amid uncertainty

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 08:00
Anxious people more apt to make bad decisions amid uncertaintyHighly anxious people have more trouble deciding how best to handle life’s uncertainties. They may even catastrophize, interpreting, say, a lover’s tiff as a doomed relationship or a workplace change as a career threat. Investigating this dynamic, scientists have found evidence of a glitch in the brain’s higher-order decision-making circuitry that could eventually be targeted in the treatment of anxiety disorders.
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First detailed look at the guts of world’s smallest lifeforms

UC Berkeley Science News - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 12:47
First detailed look at the guts of world’s smallest lifeformsUC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab scientist Jill Banfield and colleagues have for the first time snapped detailed microscopic photos of what may be the smallest forms of life on Earth: common bacteria that appear to pack their DNA very tightly. The team also sequenced the genomes of these strange bacteria.
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Bakar Fellow works to bring the invisible to light

UC Berkeley Science News - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 09:58
Bakar Fellow works to bring the invisible to lightEECS professor Laura Waller is working on computational imaging methods for quantitative phase microscopy, which can be applied in a variety of scientific and industrial settings. Her work is supported by the Bakar Fellows Program for young faculty whose work holds commercial promise.
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UC’s first Nobel Prize presented in Berkeley 75 years ago

UC Berkeley Science News - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 08:00
UC’s first Nobel Prize presented in Berkeley 75 years agoUC's first Nobel Prize was awarded in 1939 to Ernest Lawrence for the invention of the atom smasher, but the prize ceremony in Sweden was canceled because of looming war in Europe. So Sweden shipped the prize to San Francisco, and the Swedish consul general presented it to Lawrence on Feb. 29, 1940, during a special white-tie ceremony in Wheeler Hall.
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Back to the future: Berkeley and the national parks start a second century of science

UC Berkeley Science News - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 14:23
 Berkeley and the national parks start a second century of scienceA conference focusing on the science emphasis of the National Park Service’s centennial will take place March 25-27 at UC Berkeley, exactly a century after an historic conference on campus paved the way for the birth of the NPS. The conference is called "Science for Parks, Parks for Science: The Next Century."
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Study IDs key birds that host Lyme disease bacteria in California

UC Berkeley Science News - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 11:00
Study IDs key birds that host Lyme disease bacteria in CaliforniaA new UC Berkeley-led study has found that birds are more important than previously recognized as hosts for Lyme disease-causing bacteria in California. Small mammals have been identified in previous studies as wildlife hosts of the Lyme disease spirochete bacterium in California, but fewer studies have looked at the role of birds as reservoirs.
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