Today at Berkeley Lab

X-Rays Reveal ‘Handedness’ in Swirling Electric Vortices

Scientists used spiraling X-rays at Berkeley Lab to observe, for the first time, a property that gives left- or right-handedness to swirling electric patterns —dubbed polar vortices — in a layered material called a superlattice. Researchers said the behavior could be explored for coupling to magnetic or optical (light-based) devices. More>

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Largest Recorded Underwater Volcanic Eruption Sheds Light on Deep-Sea Events

The 2012 eruption of the underwater Havre volcano near New Zealand was so big, satellite images showed a 150-square-mile floating raft of pumice that had bobbed up to the surface afterward. “Underwater eruptions are fundamentally different than those on land. There is no on-land equivalent,” said the Lab’s Michael Manga, who co-authored a paper about the aftermath of the eruption. More>

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A New Way to Find the Tree of Life’s Missing Branches

Tanja Woyke of the Joint Genome Institute is mentioned in an article in The Atlantic on finding missing branches in the tree of life. Only a tiny fraction of the tree of life has been filled in. In fact, whole branches are likely still yet to be discovered, which, using current methods, could take thousands of years. Scientists, including Woyke, are working on ways to speed things up.

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UC Retirement Center Hosts Pre-Retirement Planning Course in February

The course takes place on Wednesdays from Feb. 7 to 28, from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Go here for more information and to register. Additional workshops on retirement transition, finances, housing, estate and legal planning, and long-term care are also offered. Go here for more information and to register.

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Astro Teller to Speak at Lawrence Hall of Science Benefit Event

The Lawrence Hall of Science is hosting its annual benefit event — “Innovations and Inspirations” — on March 18, from 5 to 9 p.m. The featured speaker is Astro Teller, CEO of X, the moonshot factory run by Alphabet. Among the topics he will discuss is the rapid pace of technology and the challenges this speed presents for STEM education.

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