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Golden Scholars: UC Berkeley ponders if it's time to ban football and tries to map the universe

UC Berkeley attempts to map out the universe and considers if it's time for a football-free campus.

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Professor Barbara White has passed away at the age of 64. Our condolences to her friends and family.

In a follow-up to last week's discussion on tuition increases, the presidents of CalTech and Furd got together to laud the public UC system and to criticize the state of California for not investing more; seems a bit hypocritical, no?

Here's another benefit to cutting down on greenhouse gases: Saving money on health-care expenditures from inhaling microscopic particulate.

Berkeley Lab has designed a new super-accurate, high-resolution model for global climate.

Astrophysicist David Schlegel discusses the science behind the new movie Interstellar. Are there spoilers? I have no idea because I haven't seen it. Hollywood, you have to add more superheroes if you want bring this boy to the yard.

You've probably heard this punchline all week, but UC Berkeley has found some unusual activity on Uranus.

Associate professor of Molecular and Cell Biology Diana Bautista has won one of the two Young Investigator Awards from the Society of Neuroscience for her work in understanding how the body detects and responds to its environment. She was a grad student at Stanfurd, so let's not forget to hssssss...

Undergrad Chloe Tsang has founded Feeding Forward, which connects donors with surplus foods to organizations that feed the hungry.

This is a bit of a tangent, but most UC Berkeley students in some scientific major (or minor?) has to take Chem 1A, which is Hell General Chemistry. There was one bright point, which is the annual Big Game Titration:

Big Bang... echoes... skeleton... Somehow these three go together

Another week, another story that proves Ruey should be in charge of this weekly series.

Apparently, the Big Bang (you know, that awesome thing that netted yet another Nobel for UC Berkeley) has "echos" or artifacts of light from that event that are being used to detect matter and structure in our vast universe. This work is being done by an international collaboration called POLARBEAR (because Go Bears), led by Berkeley professor and lead scientist Adrian Lee. (Not that Adrian Lee.)

The gravity of massive objects can bend light. The light moves around the object like water going around a rock in a stream. This bending causes a change in the CMB, and POLARBEAR scientists say they have now detected that change.


CMB light that has not been [bent by gravity] has a so-called E-mode polarization. New results from the collaboration show that the researchers can detect something called B-mode polarization, which means the CMB has encountered a massive object on the way to Earth.

POLARBEAR has only just demonstrated that it can detect this polarization, but eventually, it could create a sketch of the large-scale skeleton inside the universal body.

These scientists hope that charting out the universe's "skeleton" will aid in confirming our current models of the universe and potentially reveal any flaws in the ways we view the forces of the universe and how they behave. These mysterious forces could be from dragons or dark energy.

"Gravity wants to pull structures together but dark energy wants to pull them apart," Lee said. "If dark energy was acting more strongly early on in the universe that would suppress structure formation, because [the dark energy] would be yanking masses away from each other." Lee said future data from POLARBEAR could help identify when dark energy started pushing the universe apart.

Ban everything!

Well, given the criterion that brings most of us to CGB, I can guarantee this is going to be a popular piece.

Professor of population and family planning Malcolm Potts is calling for a football-free campus, akin to tobacco-free campuses that are all over everywhere. Why is Potts in support of this ban? Because he isn't a fan of our new unis as he's obsessed with the old-school half shirts? Because he can't stand to see Sonny Dykes's up-tempo mumbo-jumbo as it's just a sad imitation of real-man futbaw? Well, Potts draws the comparison to tobacco due to concerns of its adverse effects on health.

The morbidity and premature death associated with American football are unambiguous. I taught anatomy for several years. I dissected human brains and I spend thousands of hours looking down microscopes. The brain is a soggy jelly inside a rigid bony box. Unlike skin, the brain never heals damage.

The evidence that playing American football can cause life-long brain damage and premature death is already incontrovertible. Anne McKee, who studies chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), has found easy to recognize signs of abnormal protein in 76 of the 79 brains of NFL players she has been able to study. The youngest was 19.

I don't think the health concerns are completely unfounded, as correlations between football/concussions and neurodegenerative diseases like ALS and Alzheimer's have been found. Is it worth sacrificing the entertainment and alumni-enriching sport of football to potentially reduce these diseases? Or would you wait until definitive proof is found?

I think Potts has one truest and strongest argument:

Berkeley needs a new rallying cry - "Stop Bears!"

But I think we can all agree that suggesting baseball could or should replace football is just silly and illogical.