Divisions & Units - Mathematical & Physical Sciences

Berkeley Astronomers use long-term, hi-res tracking of eruptions on Jupiter’s moon Io

October 26, 2016

Jupiter’s moon Io continues to be the most volcanically active body in the solar system, as documented by the longest series of frequent, high-resolution observations of the moon’s thermal emission ever obtained.

Using near-infrared adaptive optics on two of the world’s largest telescopes — the 10-meter Keck II and the 8-meter Gemini North, both located near the summit of the dormant volcano Maunakea in Hawaii — UC Berkeley astronomers tracked 48 volcanic hot spots on the surface over a period of 29 months from August 2013 through the end of 2015.

Berkeley Astronomers to search for intelligent life around weird star

October 26, 2016

Tabby’s star has provoked so much excitement over the past year, with speculation that it hosts a highly advanced civilization capable of building orbiting megastructures to capture the star’s energy, that UC Berkeley’s Breakthrough Listen project is devoting hours of time on the Green Bank radio telescope to see if it can detect any signals from intelligent extraterrestrials.

Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley research also provides new clues about the roles of subsurface microbes in globally important cycles

October 26, 2016

One of the most detailed genomic studies of any ecosystem to date has revealed an underground world of stunning microbial diversity, and added dozens of new branches to the tree of life.

Physicist Marvin Cohen to receive 2017 Franklin Medal

October 19, 2016

Physicist Marvin Cohen, a University Professor and a faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is the newly announced recipient of the 2017 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics.

Poking the Sleeping Giant: Quake Swarm Could Unleash San Andreas

October 2, 2016
The swarm of small temblors just off Bombay Beach in the Salton Sea on September 26 isn’t a sign that Palm Springs is about to become beachfront property, but it does point to the inevitability of the “Big One” hitting the South State, say seismologists. “The southern portion of the San Andreas Fault hasn’t ruptured in more than 300 years, and it’s significantly overdue for a major event,” says Roland Bürgmann, a professor in the earth and planetary science department at UC Berkeley and a participating faculty member at the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory.

Berkeley Study links Texas earthquakes to wastewater injection

October 3, 2016

A new study co-authored by UC Berkeley professor Michael Manga confirms that earthquakes in America’s oil country — including a 4.8 magnitude quake that rocked Texas in 2012 — are being triggered by significant injections of wastewater below the surface of the Earth.

Construction of next-gen dark matter detector moves forward

October 3, 2016

A new dark matter detector, which will be at least 100 times more sensitive than its predecessor, has cleared another approval milestone and is on schedule to begin its deep-underground hunt for theoretical particles known as WIMPs, or weakly interacting massive particles, in 2020. WIMPs are among the top prospects for explaining dark matter, the unseen stuff that scientists have observed only through gravitational effects.

Nobel Prize winner to join UC Berkeley faculty in Physics and Biology

September 28, 2016

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Eric Betzig and world-class biophysicist Na Ji will join the UC Berkeley faculty in the summer of 2017. Concurrent with their hire at UC Berkeley, Betzig and Ji will have joint appointments and research programs at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) as faculty scientists in the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging Division of the Biosciences Area.

Physicist Richard Muller publishes a new book that links the flow of time with the Big Bang

September 20, 2016

Why does the arrow of time flow inexorably toward the future, constantly creating new “nows”?

That quest resulted in a book published today, NOW: The Physics of Time (W. W. Norton), which delves into the history of philosophers’ and scientists’ concepts of time, uncovers a tendency physicists have to be vague about time’s passage, demolishes the popular explanation for the arrow of time and proposes a totally new theory.

Berkeley scientists examine what happened after the lights came on in the universe

September 14, 2016

An experiment to explore the aftermath of cosmic dawn, when stars and galaxies first lit up the universe, has received nearly $10 million in funding from the National Science Foundation to expand its detector array in South Africa. Led by UC Berkeley, HERA will explore the billion-year period after hydrogen gas collapsed into the first stars, perhaps 100 million years after the Big Bang, through the ignition of stars and galaxies throughout the universe. T