It’s been eight years since Chancellor Berdahl relinquished his reign over the university. Now, Chancellor Birgeneau is stepping Looks Can Kill (1)down at the end of the semester – check that, at the end of the school year… the old man just can’t seem to make up his mind. Now, we could focus on how he’s inherently likable as a Canadian, originally from one of the schools that tied us in world rankings, or one of the most cited physicists across the globe, but that’s all validating and boring.

Instead, let’s focus on his just-announced replacement. In choosing Nicholas B. Dirks as the 10th Chancellor, the university’s advisory committee has proven that first impressions are important, and of course, that looks can kill.

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Frats are, whether you like it or not, a part of any college’s history. Just ask Berkeley anthropologist Laurie Wilkie, who wrote an entire book about the Zeta Psis, a Berkeley fraternity since 1870.

Wilkie wrote the book largely focusing on questions of masculinity in the early 20th century (specifically the 1920′s). And before your imagination runs wild, we’ll say that these frat boys aren’t exactly the ones you see yelling boisterously on street corners. These are men who “occasionally cross-dressed, drank beer from steins and pilsner glasses, and, ultimately, went on to prestigious, high-powered careers.”

OK, that sounds pretty similar, actually. But let’s move on to the business side of things, because these Zetes were read more »


Oh, the oil crisis. Perhaps it’s best summed up by Stephen Colbert’s joke that the hottest Christmas gift this December will be a “clean-it-yourself egret.” And even forgetting the poor pelicans for a moment, this spill has led people to scrutinize oil giant BP for its questionable safety regulations. So let’s all take a deep breath while we remember that BP funds UCB’s very own Energy Biosciences Institute.

Naturally, this fact raises some eyebrows. BP pledged $500 million to the institute, read more »

so advanced!

Expect to see the the partially-constructed face of a flat-footed hominid named Ardi glaring back at you from today’s cover of Science. UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology Tim White (known for a little thing called Lucy) and fellow scientists of the Middle Awash Project will present their Ardipithecus ramidus findings in an 11-page spread.

This free PDF download is projected to reveal the extraordinary implications this 4.4-million-year-old fossil carries about why we make friends, why we usually don’t live in trees (bummer), why we walk instead of crawl, why we shop at Berkeley Bowl instead of tearing our prey limb from limb chimp style and most importantly, why we mate fo’ lyfe.

Another reason Ardi rules? She’s got Lucy beat by 1.2 million years, making her one of the most complete and oldest hominid skeleton discovered yet. We hear she’s in the market for a Homo sapien Harold to her Maude, so look alive boys!

You can check out a cast of Ardi’s skull in the Valley Life Sciences Building, where she is currently busy making new skull friends and skull enemies in the Human Evolution display case.

Image Source: Mike Licht, under Creative Commons
Ethiopian desert yields oldest hominid skeleton [NewsCenter]