Letter from the Editor – Spring 2015

Dear Readers,

The Berkeley hills now fade from winter green to summer brown, and quiet descends as 27,000 students wordlessly shuffle notes in anticipation of finals. The close of the semester signals the arrival—after months of toil by UC Berkeley graduate students and postdocs—of a new issue of the Berkeley Science Review.

In Issue 28, our writers offer a glimpse of the future. Do you dream about rocketing off to Mars? Catalina Casillas explains how space travel might adversely affect your health and what researchers at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL) are doing about it. Want a better view of distant planets and stars without leaving earth? Kavitha Ratman explains how advances in adaptive optics are improving both astronomy and human sight. Keen to zip about in inexpensive electric cars and airplanes? First you’ll need a bigger battery, one that isn’t prone to bursting into flames. Alexandra del Carpio introduces us to the UC Berkeley-based start-up working to produce these batteries of the future.

Some of Issue 28 also keeps us grounded in the present. Take a breath, and experience scent in a whole new way as Dharshi Devendran takes us through the science and serendipity of modern fragrances. Along the way, meet the LBL biofuels researchers who stumbled upon a way to use E. coli to produce sought-after scents. Preeya Khana takes us to Albany, CA, where, in the wake of recent protests, a community farm has sprouted on UC Berkeley land. Novel collaborations are taking root between urban farmers and extant university researchers—even as some tensions remain. Our authors also look at the consequences of income inequality on public health, California’s drought, and the curious properties of stuff that exists in two dimensions instead of three.

Finally, this issue also takes us back in time: 200 years to the invention of the battery, thousands of years to the cooking practices of ancient cultures, and millions of years to the arrival of flies and spiders on the Hawaiian Islands.

Issue 28 is my first as Editor in Chief. This issue, we are excited to bring on three new text editors and three new design editors. I’ve been delighted to work with all our enthusiastic and talented writers, editors, and designers, whom I want to thank vociferously for their hard work and sacrificed spare time. In particular, thanks to Chris Holdgraf and Sean Doris for keeping our website running, and Daniel Freeman, editor of our popular blog. Thanks to Managing Editor Alexandra Courtis for taking care of finances and to Outreach Director Alden Conner for getting us involved in community events like the Bay Area Science Festival. Thanks to our incredible design team, led by Art Director Holly Williams.

Issue 28 is a colorful tour of exciting scientific happenings at UC Berkeley and LBL—endeavors shedding light on the distant past, the insistent present, and the promise of the future. Dear reader, I’m glad you’re along for the ride.

Sincerely,

Anna Lieb

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