The urban heat island effect and how cool pavement can help

Picture 2013-01-28 at 1.12.19 PM

On sweltering days you can fry an egg on them. But, now, Lawrence Berkeley Lab and UC Davis researchers are testing surfaces designed to make them cooler and safer.

“Cool pavements are paved surfaces that are more effective at reflecting sunlight. So, by reflecting more sunlight than traditional paved surfaces, they’re able to absorb less heat from the sun and keep cities and communities cooler.  We’ve teamed with industry partners and we’re hopeful that this can get the ball rolling on some local government action for cool pavement.”
– Ben Mandel, Heat Island Group, LBNL

Thirdhand smoke, what lingers after the smoke clears

Thirdhand smoke is a new frontier, and UC’s Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program has assembled a group of investigators, including at LBNL and UCSF,  to study the health risks caused by the remnants of cigarette smoke.

“Third hand smoke is what you smell when you go into a hotel room where people have been smoking or what rubs off on your skin when you touch a wall or if you visit somebody’s house and they’ve been smoking.  So that means its not only in the air but its also coming out of surfaces.  Third hand smoke is the residue in tobacco smoking that is in a building after people have smoked.”  – Laura Gundel, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

 

Using cell phones to detect harmful bacteria

Picture 2013-01-18 at 4.11.52 PMUCLA scientists have developed a cell phone attachment that acts as a microscope and detects pathogens such as E.coli, which contaminates food and drinking water.

“The platform is actually a microscope installed on the cell phone, but using some spatial microfluid devices, we converted to a specific sensor of bacteria. We envisioned that such a platform running on the cellphone, easy-to-use and cost effective, could be used in field conditions, wherever your cellphones work and ideally the field worker would take some samples.” – Aydogan Ozcan, Researcher, UCLA School of Engineering

Clean burner technology produces whiter chicken meat in food

Picture 2013-01-24 at 3.55.45 PMLawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists invented “ultraclean low swirl combustion.” Their commercialized burners are cheaper than the traditional kind and they don’t cause pollution.

“Companies are able to find a market for this burner in places that does not require low emissions burner because in the absence of pollutants, for example they sell the burner to commercial baking.  So without any pollution all the chicken meat comes out whiter”  – Robert Cheng, Scientist at LBNL

Restoring oysters along the California coast

oystersIn response to global climate change, Jill Bible at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Lab shows us how her research with the Olympia Oyster is aimed at restoring this species along the west coast.

“My research will help us determine what populations of oysters are particularly vulnerable or particularly robust to future changes and will help us determine how to best restore the populations given some of the changes coming down the pipe for oceans.” – Jill Bible

 

Studying the seasons: how climate change affects natural communities

story_2012_12_phenology

UC Santa Barbara researchers have launched the California Phenology Project. Scientists, docents, staff, teachers and citizen researchers will track the life stages of selected plant species at eight UC natural reserves.

Nowadays, observing nature’s seasonal events is a serious science. Called phenology, the study of recurring biological changes and their responses to the environment can answer a host of pressing ecological questions. Chief among these: How is climate change affecting natural communities?

To keep tabs on natural schedules in California, researchers at UC Santa Barbara have launched the California Phenology Project. Led by professor of ecology and evolutionary biology Susan Mazer, graduate student Brian Haggerty, and postdoctoral fellow Elizabeth Mathews, the project is observing plants at eight UC Natural Reserves and seven national parks, totaling more than 100 monitoring sites.

Read more

 

Artists & astrophysicists collaborate to create new visualizations

opeblab_sciblogThe OpenLab Network facilitates innovative, creative and collaborative research with art, community, design, technology, and science with the University of California Santa Cruz.

“OpenLab is a collaboration between the arts and the sciences where scientists basically are looking for new and innovative ways to view and present their research in a way that is accessible to the general public.  We might know something about visualizing our data in a way that is useful to us scientifically, but we may not know the best way to do that for presenting to the general public. so the collaboration is about doing that in an effective way.”  – James Guillochon, Graduate student at UC Santa Cruz

[vimeo 57494492 w=640 h=360]

 

How nanotechnology can boost energy efficiency

windowResearchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed a nanocrystal material that could add a critical energy-saving dimension to “smart window” coatings.

“We’re really excited about our technology using a solution-based process because that has the potential to really bring the costs down to the point where it can be deployed broadly in the market.”  – Delia Milliron, researcher at LBNL

High-tech mouthwash being developed at UCLA

mouthewashFor nearly a decade Wenyuan Shi, a researcher at UCLA School of Dentistry, has been developing a revolutionary new mouthwash aimed at effectively eliminating tooth decay. The technology is a partnership with Colgate-Palmolive and from C3-Jian Inc.

“The best analogy I’ve been using is a ‘weeds vs. grass’ with this technology that we call STAMPS (specifically targeted anti-microbial peptides). What it does is it acts like a smart bomb, it only kills the weeds not the grass.” — Wenyuan Shi, UCLA School of Dentistry