It’s a time of major changes, folks — and we’re not talking about a certain bit of breaking news that’s taken over our Facebook feeds. Nope, the Clog’s a lot more excited about the farthest reaches of the universe. Which, thanks to good old science, have now been cast in a whole new light.

The Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS. Yussss) — headed by researchers with the third Sloan Digital Sky Survey, including Lawrence Berkeley Lab’s David Schlegel — has put together “the biggest 3-D map of the universe ever made.” read more »

These are your dad's <strike>transistors</strike> vacuum tubes.

These are your dad's transistors vacuum tubes.

Last week, while all of us normal folk were preparing to indulge in obscene amounts of Thanksgiving feast, “ultra-thin” was probably the last word on our minds. But that was not the case for researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who were paving the way for the future of electronics by “(integrating) ultra-thin layers of the semiconductor indium arsenide onto a silicon substrate to create a nanoscale transistor.” Said transistor — a product of a process at once baffling and incomprehensible to laymen — exhibits “excellent electronic properties,” offering levels of performance much higher than those of existing silicon-based technologies.

The LBL research team, lead by faculty scientist Ali Javey, were searching for alternative semiconductors to overcome the limitations of silicon. Indium aresenide proved to be an ideal candidate, and the devices read more »


Just when people were getting over the original mountain lion, we have this news: a mountain lioness and her two cubs (along with deer and goat carcasses) have been spotted near the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.

Before you get weepy, scientists have ascertained that said cubs are not the offspring of the dearly departed Gourmet Ghetto mountain lion. He was only two or three and not old enough to have kids (sniff). And mother and cubs are not infiltrating human society, but just going after their normal prey  (Bambi). So there’s no need to interfere with them yet.

If you see them, though, a spokeswoman from the lab suggests waving your arms and then picking up anything near you and throwing it at them to make them go away. But you’re in no immediate danger until the mountain lioness gets the urge to take the kids on a little field trip to the inside of Lawrence Berkeley Lab. We’re told it’s very educational.

Image source: ahisgett under Creative Commons
Mountain lion and two cubs spotted in Berkeley hills [Berkeleyside]
Visitors warned of mountain lion mother and cubs in Berkeley Hills [Contra Costa Times via San Jose Mercury News]

So Smug

OK, now we’re getting a little tired of this. First we got nine Berkeley professors in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, then we got five Guggenheim fellows, and now we’ve got three professors named to the National Academy of Sciences. Yawn. Any more accolades to hand out?

Still, this is badass.  The three profs are as follows: read more »

To make up for our recent dearth of Chu, we bring you even more Chu news! Watch this video to learn stuff and fix the American auto industry:

The Secretary of Energy posted it to his Facebook earlier today, so, y’know. We couldn’t not watch it. (Oh, and for the record his celebrity doppelganger is Steven Chu! God, he is so clever and ironic.)

Secretary Chu Speaks at the 2010 Washginton Auto Show [YouTube]
Earlier: Chusing Panelists to Decide America’s Nuclear Fuchure

The “let’s turn science-y stuff into a form of entertainment that people will actually want to watch in their free time” approach has been successful in the past with shows like Bill Nye the Science Guy, the Magic School Bus and Carl Sagan’s series “The Cosmos.”

So it’s no surprise that the latest video from the campus musical group the Sounds of Science has become an instant YouTube hit. Since their last video, “The Nano Song,” they’ve really stepped it up on special effects, lyrics and editing. Lawrence Lab even blows up in the video.

Only one problem: “The Safety Song” isn’t actually that safe: a radioactive fluid is cleaned up with a paper towel (no puppet evacuation, tisk tisk) and safety glasses are worn instead of safety goggles. So LBL’s asking for a few revisions before they use it as part of their safety demo.

The Safety Song [YouTube]
Students Turn Sounds of Science Into YouTube Hit [Daily Cal]

It seems like the Lawrence Berkeley Lab is always getting in the news for something or other. Now, it’s for getting a pretty sweet cut out of the Recovery and Reinvestment Act pot—$7 million, to be vaguely precise. And this time the funding is for geothermal energy research.

“Now wait a minute, Clog,” you suspiciously ask. read more »

114 probably doesn't look anything like this.

Last Thursday, the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab announced it confirmed the artificial creation of element 114, which was first synthesized nearly a decade ago by Russian scientists.

But if Berkeley scientists weren’t the first to make it, why is it so exciting? Because of the read more »

platopainting.jpgYou know how everyone’s always thought that Thomas Edison–famous inventor the lightbulb, the phonograph, the immortal soul, etc.–was the first person to record sound? Well, it turns out that’s just a pack of dirty lies perpetuated by the victors of history–maybe.

While it’s true that Edison did, in fact, invent the phonograph, the first machine to both record sound and reproduce it as sound, it was a rightfully spiteful Parisian typesetter by the name of Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville who was the first guy to record sound at all, if only as a visual representation in lines and squiggles. Finally, after searching for years for the original gift of sound and vision, an American audio historian, David Giovannoni, recently got a hold of a “pristine” one of these phonautograms, apparently the audio equivalent of the “holy grail.” read more »

First there was the BP deal. Now the U.S. government is throwing money at UC Berkeley for its biofuels research.

The Department of Energy announced Tuesday that the Lawrence Berkeley Lab will host a new energy consortium in the Bay Area. Two other research centers will include the Oak Ridge Lab in Tennessee and a lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

How much is DoE pledging to give Cal? How about $125 million over the next five years? Add to that the $500 million the university got from BP, and you know that the university can afford some bling now.

Joining the university in these efforts will be UC Davis, the Livermore Lab, Stanfurd and Sandia National Laboratories.

And no matter how much people hate the BP deal, or may hate this new deal, you’ve got to admit–$625 million just for bioscience research is huge. If the university can find some sensible alternative to fossil fuels, then maybe we’ll see student fees drop. Right. That’s as likely as Stanfurd giving Cal more tickets for the Big Game, meaning not very likely.

Biofuels Group Secures U.S. Grant [Daily Cal]
New project puts UC Berkeley at forefront of biofuels research [SF Gate]