College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

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March 14, 2007

Mine Runoff Continues To Provide Clues To Microbial Diversification

Pink slime at the surface of water trickling through an old mine in California is proving to be a treasure for researchers in their quest to learn more about how bacterial communities exist in nature.

Microorganisms thriving in toxic conditions were recovered from a natural biofilm growing at the Richmond Mine in Iron Mountain, California.

A letter published in Nature shows that it is possible to follow what microorganisms are doing in their natural environment by identifying the range of proteins that they produce. The technique, utilized in a microbial community thriving in battery acid-like streams underground at Richmond Mine near Redding, Calif., combines recently developed ways to sequence microbial genes with methods to identify the range of proteins from specific microbial members.

Continue reading "Mine Runoff Continues To Provide Clues To Microbial Diversification" »

Does Early Daylight Savings Really Save Energy?

Thanks to Congress, the U.S. "sprang forward" three weeks early this year, and daylight savings time will last one week longer in the fall. The idea behind the switch is energy conservation.

But as reported here in January, two ARE researchers, doctoral students Ryan Kellogg and Hendrik Wolff, found that a similar switch in Australia didn't meet the mark. Now that the the bleary-eyed mornings and brighter evenings are upon us, their work is getting a lot more attention:

Daylight Savings Might Not Save Energy (Video - ABC News)

Does daylight-saving time really save energy? (ScienceBlogs)

Daylight Savings Time: Energy Dud? (Discovery Channel News)

Economists find no difference in electricity usage when Australia moved time change back (Contra Costa Times)

March 7, 2007

A world without bees is a world without chocolate

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From The San Francisco Chronicle [original URL]
By Alison Rood

When Professor Gordon Frankie wants to impress schoolchildren with the importance of bees, he lays out an array of foods such as berries, grapes, pears and chocolate alongside a couple of dried-out tortillas and rice cakes and asks them which foods they prefer.

"Invariably the kids go for the fruits and chocolate," he said. "Then I tell them: In a world without bees, the only choice they'd have would be the dried-out tortillas or rice cakes, since wheat and rice are self-pollinated. Even chocolate, from the cacao plant, depends on the pollination of bees. That gets their attention."

Frankie, an entomologist at UC Berkeley and a specialist in the behavior of native bees, has been the leader of a decadelong urban bee research project. By documenting bee diversity and populations in urban gardens throughout California, he's discovering which flowering plants attract native bees and determining whether urban gardens can support bees. He said the declining native bee population is comparable to global warming in terms of a potential ecological catastrophe.

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The promise and perils of tech transfer

From The San Francisco Chronicle [original URL]
by Tom Abate

About 25 years ago, Congress encouraged universities to commercialize federally funded research by allowing both schools and scientists to profit when they patented discoveries and licensed them to private firms.

This week, hundreds of top university officials will gather in San Francisco as the Association of University Technology Managers meets to mull the promise and perils of this process known as technology transfer.

To Bay Area residents, tech transfer is as familiar as the myth of Silicon Valley: Take knowledge, add capital and create startups....

....The meeting, which starts tonight and runs through Saturday, comes as the controversy around university-industry partnerships is flaring up again, thanks to the proposed $500 million research partnership between the University of California and British Petroleum to develop fuels....

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Mine Runoff Continues To Provide Clues To Microbial Diversification
Does Early Daylight Savings Really Save Energy?
A world without bees is a world without chocolate
The promise and perils of tech transfer

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