Today at Berkeley Lab

Volcanic Eruptions on Mars Allowed Ancient Oceans to Form

Oceans on Mars may have formed several hundred million years earlier than previously thought, and their birth accompanied vast volcanic activity, suggests a new study led by the Lab’s Michael Manga. “Volcanoes may be important in creating the conditions for Mars to be wet,” he says. More>

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Researchers Create a Protein ‘Mat’ That Can Soak Up Pollution

In a breakthrough that could lead to a new class of materials with functions found only in living systems, researchers — including Lab materials scientist Ting Xu —have figured out a way to keep certain proteins active outside the cell. The technology was used to create mats that can soak up and trap chemical pollution. More>

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Traffic Apps May Add to Congestion, New Study Suggests

Research by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS) suggests that traffic apps might work for an individual, but could make congestion worse overall. “This problem has been vastly overlooked,” said Alexandre Bayen of the Lab’s Energy Technologies Area in The Atlantic. “It is just the beginning of something that is going be much worse.” More>

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Campus Hosts May 11 TechCrunch Conference on Robotics

This one-day event features West Coast experts at the crossroads of startups and breakthrough robotics technologies like AI, machine learning, and bio-inspired robotics. Register by April 13 and save 10 percent on tickets when using the promo code “LBL.” More>

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April 6 ‘Earth Action’ Conference at UC Berkeley

Berkeley Lab researchers are invited to join the inaugural Earth Action Initiative Conference, a community driven and collaborative approach to addressing climate change. The gathering takes place April 6 at UC Berkeley and features workshops, an art show, and refreshments. More>

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A Way to Grow Plants With Less Water

Researchers have discovered a key protein that improves the efficiency of photosynthesis, reducing agricultural water use by 25 percent. The Lab’s Krishna Niyogi and his team found that a protein called PsbS is involved in regulating photosynthetic light harvesting. Increasing the amount of this protein in a plant made its photosynthesis more efficient. More>

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Call for SkyDeck Applications; $100,000 in Startup Funding Available

Berkeley SkyDeck is now accepting applications for its Fall 2018 cohort. Accepted startups are eligible for funding up to $100,000, provided by the Berkeley SkyDeck Fund and the University of California. To be eligible, a startup team member must have a UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco, or Berkeley Lab affiliation. The application deadline is March 30. More>

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Women’s History Month: The First Women Chemists at Berkeley

UC Berkeley’s first woman chemist, Agnes Fay Morgan, arrived in 1915, though she was assigned to the Home Economics Department. It would be another 63 years before Judith Klinman would be hired into the College of Chemistry (1978), followed in 1984 by Lab nuclear chemist Darleane Hoffman, who helped confirm the existence of Seaborgium. More>

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Lab’s Ashok Gadgil Discusses Big Payoff of Cheap, Efficient Cookstoves

Ashok Gadgil of the Energy Technologies Area designed a cookstove in 2005 for Sudanese refugee women that greatly reduces the need for collection of firewood, and the danger inherent in wood gathering. In this “Cal Future Forum” talk, Gadgil says the stove can help women around the world, producing outsize benefits from “small” technology. More>

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Using Nature’s Blueprint for Sustainable Indigo Dyeing Process

Researchers from the Biosciences Area and UC Berkeley have developed a promising sustainable indigo dyeing process that relies on genetically engineered bacteria, mimicking the natural biochemical protecting group strategy employed by the Japanese indigo plant Polygonum tinctorium. The new strategy offers a much-needed update to the historic, but unsustainable, process currently relied on to produce blue denim. More>

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