All of us experience the fearless, foraging squirrels on a nearly daily basis, but these squirrels are a lot smarter than we might think. Maybe the atmosphere of academia is rubbing off on them? … Or maybe the squirrels are rubbing off on Berkeley?

Researchers have been observing how the squirrels here actually save food for the future. They either eat the nuts they find or look for places to bury them, sometimes travelling as far as 100 meters. This behavior is called “cacheing.” Who knew these fox squirrels were so forward-thinking? Every nut is precious, especially in this economy.

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beer 2facebookSocial networks. Sigh. Oh, Facebook. Oh, Twitter. Oh, whatever other inventions that exist to connect the small world we currently live in. Oh, you all.

You were so much fun in the beginning. The good times, the bad times — together, we trekked through them all. Remember those hilarious photos of when Derrick got totally wasted and pranced around in his little sister’s ballet leotard? Or, wait for it, when Blair passed out after her seventh shot in a span of twenty minutes and everyone drew on her face with a Sharpie? Also, how can we forget when there were tons of updates about how drunk our buddies were and that someone had almost blacked out while driving down local street at over 95 mph?

Fun stuff.

Then after the novelty wore off, you all came off as backstabbers. read more »

chuckle chuckleHe who laughs, lasts. Or is it, he who laughs last, lasts? Either way, it’s pretty clear that laughing is a positive thing — it’s good for you.

Laughing at a joke means that something’s funny, and laughing at a person means that someone is funny, but people who can laugh at themselves are just better in general. Science says so.

Research done by UC Berkeley’s Ursula Beermann and the University of Zurich’s Willibald Ruch asserts that the ability to laugh at oneself is “not only a distinct trait, but is also linked with having an upbeat personality and good mood and may be the foundation for a good sense of humor.” But didn’t we know that already?

The “link between humor and humility” isn’t particularly surprising news, but we’re glad to hear it, all the same. Now, who’s got a good, self-deprecating joke they wanna tell?

Image Source: eleanor ryan under Creative Commons
Why Laughing at Yourself May Be Good for You: First-Ever Study [TIME]


A typical male researcher when exposed to IT.

A new study authored in part by Haas School of Business’ Waverly Ding seems to suggest that “access to information technology benefits female research scientists more than their male counterparts.”

Apparently, female researchers with access to IT saw an 18 percent boost in publications in certain institutions. “I’m not saying IT isn’t helping men; it’s positive for both,” says Ding. “However, women gain more from IT advancement in universities than men do.”

The study surveyed more than 4,000 researchers from the past 25 years. To account for the years prior to the mid-1990s, when the Internet not yet in wide use, Ding studied access to a prototypical informational technology called “BITNET.” The technology lacked email and search engines, but it did allow for researchers to connect and share information among one another. Historically, after a university installed a BITNET system, “women’s publications increased 19 percent.” There was no significant gain for men.

It begs the question: what could those male researchers possibly have been using IT for, if not strictly for research purposes? Hmm…

Closing the Gender Gap in Scientific Publishing [Haas Newsroom]
Image Source: praziquantel under Creative Commons


We are all familiar with the purgatory of airline travel, made constantly more draining by endless requests to take off your scarf, shoes, remove your laptop from your bag, put all liquids in this stupid ziplock bag, etc.

Most who are accustomed with this have also experienced ubiquitous airline delays, forced to subsist on overpriced airport food while awaiting long-delayed flights.

Turns out those delays are also costing — a lot. According to a study led by UC Berkeley researchers, domestic flight delays amount to a $32.9 billion annually in additional costs. And it seems consumers are bearing more than half of that cost  in the form of lost wages, costs for additional accommodation and food, etc., etc.

So now you’ve got something else to stew about while you’re waiting for your next flight.

Image Source: frankartculinary under Creative Commons
Flight delays cost $32.9 billion, passengers foot half the bill [Newscenter]

lizzard love

Lizards. We don’t report on our reptilian friends that often (mainly because there’s not too much to report), but today we’d like to remind our readers that lizards aren’t all that different from us.

So we don’t have long, creepy tails or bulging eyes, but we’re social creatures who live in families, and apparently, the Xantusia vigilis, aka desert night lizard, does too. Most reptiles are more into the egg-laying, loner lifestyle, but Berkeley researcher Alison Davis has recently discovered that the Xantusia vigilis gives birth to live young and those young stay with their families for around three years. We know that doesn’t sound like a long time, but when your lifespan is 10 years, tops, those first three make up a pretty sizable block.

Essentially, these lizards are a lot like that quintessential kid who bums around Mom and Dad’s house, living in the room above the garage, for thirty years — did that hit too close to home, humanities majors?

If you want to find out what other human-like tendencies these lizards might possess, we recommend you catch a few and sit back and observe. Or you could just ask Ms. Davis.

Image Source: Jayanth Sharma under Creative Commons
Lizards that Live in Families Discovered [MSNBC]


Because Berkeley is built right on top of a fault line, and is long overdue for an earthquake it is no big surprise that we hear a lot of talk about seismic activity safety measures and research.

A professor of Earth and Planetary science at UC Berkeley, Douglas Dreger, has been doing lots of research on just that topic (earthquakes, in case you forgot already), identifying how much damage is actually caused by the earthquake itself as opposed to earthquake-like events. Occurrences such as the shudders of a glacier, or the explosion of a nuclear bomb can move mountains though cannot technically be classified as earthquakes.

Dreger uses read more »

It’s been a tough year for the UC libraries. The librarians had a bit of a tiff with the university which was only just resolved. And the UC Berkeley libraries just narrowly avoided having to give up 24-hour study halls during finals.

Well now, they have encountered a new and formidable foe, this time from across the pond.

The Nature Publishing Group, based in London, has been negotiating a new contract with the libraries for access to its many journals, including Nature, one of the leading scientific journals.

The group, which publishes 67 journals in total, plans to raise the UC’s subscription costs by more than $1 million, a 400 percent increase, effective next year. read more »


All these accolades are starting to get tiring. Third best university in the world, oodles of NLs, and now this: two Fulbright scholars from (you guessed it) our very own university.

Who are the two lucky ducks? read more »


The “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” advice is so trite that we’re tempted to scream whenever we hear it mentioned. However, we will admit (yes, even snarky, jaded bloggers like ourselves) that empathy is a valuable character trait (and not just if you’re minoring in global poverty).

So you wanna know something weird? Some people may actually be more empathetic based on their genes. Researchers at Berkeley recently discovered that certain people with “a particular variation of the oxytocin receptor gene” nicknamed read more »

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