Posts byDennis Zhao

Toolbox – The Fourier Transform

Things that repeat themselves abound in nature. The back-and-forth motion of a branch in the breeze, the repeating hexagons of a honeycomb, and the popularity of the 80s, are just a few examples. Despite living in a world of oscillations, for most of history people have lacked the tools to simply describe repetitive things. As
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Ron Amundson

Not many professors can claim to be as adept with a pitchfork as they are with PowerPoint. But not many professors are Ron Amundson. The new chair and resident soil expert of the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management (ESPM, in the College of Natural Resources), Amundson tilled the plains of South Dakota as
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    Kids First

    You have a million dollars to apportion for the public good, and want to leverage this capital to create the greatest possible benefit. Do you invest in health care or business? Social welfare or crime reduction? Given the broad range of worthy causes, how do you decide where to spend the money? Answering this question—as
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    Staff Listing

    Editor in Chief Greg Alushin Editors Allison Berke Hania Köver Mary Grace Lin Sebastien Lounis Frankie Myers Shirali Pandya Art Director Marek Jakubowski Layout Staff Nicole Bennett Azeen Ghorayshi Asako Miyakawa Amy Orsborn Copy Editor Lindsay Chiono Managing Editor Mary Grace Lin Business Manager Rachel Bernstein Web Editor Anna Goldstein Web Designer Laura Fredriksen Printer
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    From the Editor

    Dear readers, Welcome to the 21st issue of the Berkeley Science Review. As we saw when this year’s Nobel prizes were awarded last month, UC Berkeley research is perpetually interesting and relevant. (UC Berkeley graduate students are also interesting to Nobel laureates, as Greg Alushin describes in his travelogue from the Lindau Conference.) What we’d
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    Staff Listing

    Editor in Chief Greg Alushin Editors Allison Berke Rachel Bernstein Crystal Chaw Mary Grace Lin Sebastien Lounis Shirali Pandya Josh Shiode Art Director Marek Jakubowski Layout Staff Kathryn Baldwin Nicole Bennett Katie Berry Amy Orsborn Sheba Plamthottam Copy Editor Hania Köver Managing Editor Mary Grace Lin Web Editor Anna Goldstein Web Designers Laura Fredriksen Chris
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    Staff Listing

    Editor in Chief Allison Berke Editors Crystal Chaw Mary Grace Lin Chris Holdgraf Sebastien Lounis Anna Schneider Josh Shiode Art Director Amy Orsborn Layout Staff Leah Anderson Marek Jakubowski Asako Miyakawa Helene Moorman Valerie O’Shea Gregory Thomas Copy Editor Greg Alushin Managing Editor Mary Grace Lin Web Editor Brian Lambson Web Director Chris Holdgraf Printer
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    Staff Listing

    Editor in Chief Sebastien Lounis Editors Amanda Alvarez Allison Berke Alexis Fedorchak Chris Holdgraf Valerie O’Shea Anna Schneider Christopher Smallwood Anna Vlasits Art Director Asako Miyakawa Layout Staff Leah Anderson Kelly Clancy Nikki R. Kong Helene Moorman Amy Orsborn Jen Sloan Copy Editor Denia Djokic Managing Editor Anna Schnieder Web Editor Adam Hill Web Designers
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    Staff Listing

    Editor in Chief Sebastien Lounis Editors Keith Cheveralls Alexis Fedorchak Chris Holdgraf Ben Kallman Valerie O’Shea Anna Schneider Christopher Smallwood Anna Vlasits Art Director Asako Miyakawa Layout Staff Leah Anderson Liberty Hamilton Helene Moorman Amy Orsborn Copy Editors Amanda Alvarez Ally Berke Allison Kidder Managing Editor Anna Schneider Web Editor Adam Hill Web Designers Anna
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    Toolbox – Global Climate Models

    It is an unequivocal fact that global temperatures have risen steadily in the past 100 years. These changes have probably led to higher sea levels, ocean acidification, reduced crop yields, and other effects that strain societies and ecosystems. Many scientists and politicians agree that warming temperatures have been influenced by modern society, and should be
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    Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

    Last weekend I taught a friend how to make ricotta gnocchi. We did everything from scratch: making the dough, cutting it into bite-sized pieces, and rolling them off a fork to make the sauce-clinging grooves. The process took around 45 minutes, plus a few more to boil the gnocchi. We feasted that night, tomato sauce
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    Movin’ On Up

    Imagine lugging a shell around on your back all day on the hot sand of a tropical beach. Now, imagine that how large you could grow—and how much you could reproduce—depended upon the size of this shell. Such is the life of hermit crabs like Coenobita compressus, which live on the tropical Pacific coast. Because
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    Lego My Microscope

    Last October, Michael Sachs worked through the night to build a microscope, only to see it dismantled in a matter of minutes by a hoard of eager schoolchildren.  “The kids tore it apart,” he says, “which was good because they weren’t intimidated.” If this seems like an unusually positive reaction it’s because Sachs had built
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    Aloha, Evolution!

    Retracing evolution’s footsteps often requires digging through the annals of time, excavating fossil records and ancient geological remnants to piece together a snapshot of life as it was millions of years ago. However, in some unique cases it is possible to view evolution as it happens. The Hawaiian Island chain offers just such an ecological environment,
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    A Foggy Future

    We usually think of plants sucking water up through their roots, but UC Berkeley professor Todd Dawson can attest that this isn’t the only way that plants can collect water. Trees immersed in clouds or fog can absorb moisture through their foliage. This little-studied phenomenon, known as foliar water uptake, is an important part of
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    Toolbox – Information Theory

    We are living in a world of information. In a matter of seconds, I can access and transmit vast quantities of information ranging from the important (a 911 call) to the not-quite-vital (“every1 should see da @justinbieber movie” — Shaquille O’Neal via Twitter). But what is information? A satisfying answer eluded most thinkers until a
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    From the Editor

    Dear readers, Welcome to the 19th issue of the Berkeley Science Review. In this era of Facebook and Twitter, I feel a bit anachronistic introducing you to an honest-to-goodness paper and ink magazine that only appears twice per year. Indeed, information technology is dramatically influencing the research appearing in our pages, much of which focuses
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    Gecko-nation

    A patch of forest next to a shopping mall is just one example of forest fragmentation, or the division of forest habitat by human residential communities, farmland, or other developed areas. As forests become more and more fragmented, biodiversity is lost and studying the biodiversity that remains grows more urgent. Matt Fujita and Adam Leache,
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      Diffract This

      Although microbes such as bacteria are tiny, their cells have elaborate three-dimensional structures that vary wildly across species. Using electron microscopy, scientists have previously imaged many different types of bacteria in 3D at molecular resolution, which has led to a far better understanding of how these organisms function. Eukaryotic cells, of which animals like humans
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        Vision Squared

        In a little more than half a day your brain will have processed enough visual information to take up all of the available hard drive space on two computers. How does the brain do it? Imagine a digital image of a landscape. A computer stores this picture as a set of pixels; a human observer,
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        Color My World

        Which color do you like more — blue or red? The majority of people choose blue. However, recent research from the psychology department suggests that if you are in the same camp as most of the other people reading this article, you probably like blue even better than you did a few years ago because
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        Winey Pests

        When you think of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys, you probably imagine rolling hills adorned with row upon row of succulent grapes vine-ripening in the sun. However, beneath this idyllic exterior the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa is wreaking havoc on California’s wine grapes. By cutting off water transport through the plants, Xylella causes leaves to wither and fall
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        Wireless Water

        In many developing countries like India, running water is scarce and only intermittently available. To tackle this challenge, UC Berkeley graduate students Thejo Kote, Emily Kumpel, and Ari Olmos, launched a social enterprise called NextDrop in the fall of 2009, with advice from Assistant Professor Tapan Parikh of the School of Information. NextDrop aims to address the problem of unreliable piped
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        The Sight of Sound

        Although scientists often want to look at very tiny things, it is theoretically impossible to see something smaller than the wavelength of the radiation used to image it. In order to observe even smaller objects, one could either use a shorter wavelength, for instance a beam of X-rays instead of light, or play a number of tricks to get
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          Touchy Feely

          Every day we use our sense of touch to guide our way through life without giving it a second thought. Engineers have long sought to replicate the complex sense of touch in electronic components to give robots and, eventually, prosthetic limbs the same ability to interact with the surrounding world. A group of electrical engineers at UC Berkeley have made
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          Think Globally, Treat Locally

          Approximately 1.25 million Americans are chronically infected with Hepatitis B, a blood-borne, sexually transmitted virus that causes severe liver diseases like cancer and cirrhosis. Within this group, over 50% are Asian and Pacific Islanders (API), many of who live in California. However, such high numbers aren’t due to a lack of medical technology. “What is
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          Hyena Gender Roles

          Spotted hyenas are a curious species. They are one of the very few mammals that maintain a female-dominated society, and one of the only non-primate species that can recognize relationships between animals to which they are unrelated. And, to the surprise of many, there is a clan of 26 hyenas living in the Berkeley hills.
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          The Frightened Brain

          Do you tend to ‘sweat the small stuff’? Chronic anxiety and similar neurological disorders affect over 25 million Americans. Researchers at UC Berkeley have identified two distinct pathways in the brain that can predict an individual’s susceptibility to anxiety. In this collaborative study between the Bishop lab at UC Berkeley and Cambridge University, fMRI images
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