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Golden Scholars: Taking forecasts to a new extreme and Berkeley engineers show grit in Human-Powered Vehicle Competition

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Climate models confirm Nelly's concerns and Berkeley engineering students show the Bear will neither quit nor die in the Human-Powered Vehicle Competition.


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Check out this cool interactive graphic that highlights all the collaborative interdepartment research going on at Berkeley!

Berkeley also hosted a Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon to improve the quality of articles about gender issues and fine art due to the disproportionate number of editors who are male with technical interests.

Nelly Was Right All Along

Michael Wehner and the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab have modeled potential futures for the world's climate and temperature and the results aren't pretty, unless you happen to like disgustingly hot weather. These alternate futures were designed by consulting time-traveling mutants about the future modeled by considering different types of global action, ranging from the always-classic "do nothing" to the use of magical, sci-fi devices that eliminate carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Even under this rosiest scenario average temperatures at the end of the century are projected to rise by 3 degrees Fahrenheit in much of the United States relative to the recent past (1986-2005). In the worst case considered-which Wehner notes is not the worst case possible since current emissions levels are already higher-hot temperatures that recently were 20-year events will become annual occurrences.

It would be ideal if Wehner gave us an estimate of an average change in temperature, which is critical in giving us a frame of reference for understanding what a 3-degree change really means. But, I think once-record temperatures becoming annual weather events is pretty convincing.

And if you Californians are enjoying the drought and the judgmental looks you get whenever your neighbor catches you watering your plants (MY HYDRANGEAS ARE THIRSTY, DANGIT), you'll definitely enjoy the predictions of even more droughts! Waterdoes anyone actually need it?

Scholarly Nuggets

As you may have noticed, I write the Golden Nuggets (two of three times a weekhey Berkelium97 heyyy) and the Golden Scholars. Usually, there isn't much overlap, but this week I've got a story that I think could fit in either. I decided to share it as a Scholars post so it could get a little more-detailed attention, but I still think it could be a Nugget.

Berkeley students in mechanical engineering competed in a race in student-designed human-powered vehicles. Unfortunately, the Cal vehicle unexpectedly broke down right before the competition. While the Stanfurd Rugby team would call this a great time to call it quits and wait for next year, this group of roughly one dozen Cal engineering students had another idea.

The Bears pulled an all-nighter to finish repairs to the machine, named "Reuben," just in the nick of time.

"It involved a lot of Gorilla Tape and Velcro. We were still making modifications on the starting line up to 10 seconds before the race."

Then the gun went off, and the 2 ½-hour endurance competition around a 1.2 km obstacle race course began.

They managed to hobble all the way to the finish line and headed to the awards banquet without any idea who won because teams were being lapped and points adjustments for penalties were yet to be made. They would be rewarded for their effort though...

At 1 p.m. the ceremony commenced, opening with a special award to the Berkeley team as Most Determined.

"They gave it to us because they [had been] sure we wouldn't come back on Sunday," says Shang. "Then the guy said, ‘They gave an exceptional performance, as you'll see when we present the awards for the race.' At that point, we were thinking we finished maybe second or third. But at least we were going to be somewhere on the podium."

So, how did the Bears place in the main awards for endurance?

"We didn't get third, and we said, ‘OK,' " says Zampaglione. "Then we didn't get second place, and we thought, ‘No way! What's going on? I thought we were going to be up on the podium!' Then he said, ‘First place goes to the team that wasn't going to race today.' Everybody was cheering so loudly, we didn't even hear him say ‘Berkeley.' "

I'd like to think they learned their resilience from the rigorous and unforgiving Berkeley academic environment. When asked how they celebrated their great performance, the team revealed their big plans to sleep and study. Because Berkeley.