bashfulIf you’ve ever fallen on Sproul, found out you had your skirt tucked into your undergarments or pulled any other equally smooth maneuver, we have good news!

Researchers at UC Berkeley recently conducted studies where they found that people who experienced more mild embarrassment tended to be more pleasant people. We say ‘mild embarrassment’ because a panic attack does not fall under this beneficial category of pleasant personalities.

Studies show that people who get more embarrassed happen to be more trustworthy, generous and more likely to be monogamous. read more »

TrophyThis world we live in is a beautiful place, full of extraordinary wonders and secrets. You just have to appreciate how things just work. Like, for example … Did you know that your ability to make decisions is greatly affected when you’re under pressure to void your bladder? Or that male Australian jewel beetles find a certain type of beer bottle so unbearably desirable that they try to mate with them until, literally, “death do [them] part”? Or the best part: Harold Camping (you know, the umpteenth guy who most recently predicted the world’s demise and still hasn’t given up hope) was recognized for his failure in a spectacular, honorary way?

Wait, but there’s more: Most of the people involved in such studies are legitimate scientists.

Yes, Clog readers. There are scientists out there that intently watched and made acute, perhaps even revolutionary, observations on beetles passionately humpin’ and bumpin’ with read more »

major attraction

Lefties, are you tired of the inescapable ink smudge that stains the side of your hand as you diligently write down notes in a spiral-bound notebook that was clearly designed for right-handed users?

Righties, do you want to know what it’s like to be a disgruntled left-handed person?

Good thing you’re at Berkeley, then, because our researchers claim that they’ve found a way to control your mind (‘s fondness for your dominant hand).

You know what’s cooler?

They do it with magnets! Yup, somehow the magnetic force overpowers your brain’s preference for one hand over the other, and presto, you’re ambidextrous.

Okay, so it might not be that simple, and it might sound more legit when you use the actual terms (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation), but we’ve got the gist of things.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what the point of all this magnet business is, just think back to that time in fifth grade when you broke your arm and writing was, like, impossible. Those magnets don’t seem so silly anymore, do they?

Image source: Peter Jepsen under Creative Commons
Could a Magnet Force You to Be Left-Handed? [TIME]

Whether it be from just generally being awesome or for research into the early history of the universe, it’s a hot time for Berkeley professors to get their 15 minutes.

Two Berkeley physics professors, George Smoot and Paul Richards, recently won awards for their contributions to physics teaching and research, respectively. read more »

… Except it has nothing to do with Batman or sonar. OK, so the title is wildly misleading, but a partnership between UC Berkeley and Nokia has managed to develop a technology that uses cell phones to monitor and surveil real-time traffic flow.

As drivers go tankin’ around town, GPS data will periodically (rather, whenever the cell phone crosses certain arbitrary lines) and anonymously be sent to a faceless and soulless set of servers. The data, which might include read more »

A couple who felt a UC Berkeley site on the relationship between evolutionary theory and religion violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment had their case thrown out by a federal appeals court. Oh snap! Score one for science.

It seems the controversial statements were read more »

A Berkeley researcher, working with a University of Michigan psychologist, has discovered the secret to feeling better when you’re down. His suggestion? Think of thermometers: “When negative emotions become overwhelming, simply dial the emotional temperature down a bit in order to think about the problem rationally and clearly.”

For those who didn’t understand the scientastic technobabbular doowackness, analyzing one’s emotions from a “distant,” detached perspective has shown to be effective in studies. Apparently some eastern philosophical schools have known this for, like, ever, so props if you’re a practicing meditator.

If you’re interested, the study itself involved participants recalling an emotionally devastating experience with varying degrees of detachedness, from reliving the experience to having their thought process interrupted by unrelated facts like “Sherlock Holmes doesn’t exist, but he wears a hat.” It’s science!

Image Source: Camera Capers under Creative Commons
Step back to move forward emotionally, study suggests [Science Centric]
Earlier: How To: Prevent Pesky Food Thieves

Berkeley teachers, that is. PZ Meyers and the Daily Planet tell us an elementary school teacher at the Berkeley Unified School District, to the shock and awe of many students, told her class that neither Harry Potter, Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny are real. But God is. read more »

We are, of course, referring to the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey, a probe whose principal investigator is a Berkeley scientist working with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

As we understand it, the survey measures the “distribution” of galaxies throughout the universe in a way that hasn’t been done before, doubling the number of “luminous red galaxies” that can be effectively seen at one time.

Crudely, the distribution of galaxies over time is related to dark energy (believed by some to be a cause of the universe’s accelerated expansion), and studying the distribution might answer questions about if Einstein’s theory of general relativity is missing something or whether dark energy exists at all. Neato!

A unique way to measure dark energy with galaxies and quasars [Science Centric]

A Berkeley postdoc student recently published a theory on why the star—affectionately known by some as the Dread Lord Eta Carinae, Star-King of the Universe—was able to survive an explosion that cost it an amount of mass equal to ten times that of the sun.

At the heart of the theory is the idea that a star can undergo small explosions before finally dying, much like how read more »

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