Out of the lab to the top of the world; Berkeley biophysicist relishes first ascents

One September evening in 1970, working alone in my chemistry lab in Latimer Hall, I was preparing nucleic acid for my final experiments for my Ph.D. in biophysical chemistry. The lab was quiet except for the repetitive tick of the spinning centrifuge. After finishing the purification, to my horror, I knocked the vial onto the floor, where it shattered, the precious liquid lost.

Rich Newton engineered the future

Few on campus even knew Richard Newton was sick. Then, suddenly, he was gone. On the second day of 2007, only six weeks after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he died at UC San Francisco Medical Center.

A brainy night in Berkeley: If it’s Thursday, this must be the corpus callosum. Has anyone seen my homunculus?

For the inexperienced traveler, Aubrey Gilbert’s “whirlwind tour of your nervous system” blows past the hippocampus and cortex of the frontal lobes like a five-day package excursion through the great cities of Europe. Looking back, there’s no doubt it’s been a remarkable trip, but you’re unsure in which region of the brain you encountered Broca’s area, or the precise location of the olfactory bulb; your most vivid take-home memory is apt to be Gilbert’s admonition never, ever to order brains for lunch.

Almost gone, but not forgotten

Berkeley’s neighbor to the south, Oakland, has a Chinatown that’s well known to city residents and others who go there to shop, dine, and renew cultural ties. What most don’t know is that a previous Chinatown existed “uptown” in Oakland, farther north and west of the present site, until the 1870s, when most occupants were forced to vacate.

Fossil rocks dinosaur tree. Herbivorous crocodile? Maybe.

Whatever else it ate, it may have consumed a whole school of thought about where and how dinosaurs evolved, say Berkeley integrative biology Ph.D. student Randall Irmis and co-researchers of their find in Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park.

American Servicemen and Women Who Have Died in Iraq and Afghanistan (but Not including the Wounded, nor the Iraqis, nor the Afghanis): “The numbers kept coming up in the daily reports. Five here, fourteen there, one day after another. And then the growing figure mounting over a thousand. Peripherally it was ever-present, but still only an abstraction... I needed to see pictures of them, to familiarize myself just a tiny bit more with what was happening far from my warm home,” writes Emily Prince in an introduction to her project. Shown above at the 52nd Venice Biennale, the artwork has been seen by thousands of people from around the world. (Courtesy of designboom.com)

Portraits & Observations: Emily Prince documents the cost of war

In her San Francisco studio, artist Emily Prince quietly continues a work-in-progress, her vast memorial to U.S. troops whose lives were lost in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. The artwork she’s created, completely by hand, consists of thousands of individual, wallet-size portraits, finely drawn in graphite, that, when arranged on a wall, create a very large map of America.

Trading Spaces: land with a view

Wendy Cheng makes comparisons of urban space in Taipei, Tokyo. Levittown, San Diego, and the Carmel Valley, using her camera to document them, winning the Dorothea Lange Fellowship along the way.

Investing in Science Futures: the ARCS Foundation

When the Russians sent Sputnik I, the world’s first artificial satellite, into space on October 4, 1957, they unknowingly launched a women’s movement in America which would bring good fortune to higher education — Berkeley in particular — for years to come.