Divisions & Units - Mathematical & Physical Sciences

Milky Way’s central black hole puts Einstein’s theories to the test

July 25, 2019

University of California astronomers have tested Albert Einstein’s theories of relativity in the crucible of the monstrous black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy and found it rock solid. The team, led by UCLA astronomer Andrea Ghez, and with key analyses by UC Berkeley’s Jessica Lu, an assistant professor of astronomy, followed a star orbiting so close to the black hole that the light it gives off is affected by the black hole’s intense gravity. The effect, a gravitational redshift, matched exactly what Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity predict.

Berkeley stands out in newest university world reputation rankings

July 17, 2019

For the fifth year in a row, UC Berkeley ranks sixth in the world when it comes to its reputation among academic researchers, according to new rankings from Times Higher Education.  The U.K.

Astronomers see “warm” glow of Uranus’s rings

June 20, 2019

The rings of Uranus are invisible to all but the largest telescopes — they weren’t even discovered until 1977 — but they’re surprisingly bright in new heat images of the planet taken by two large telescopes in the high deserts of Chile. UC Berkeley astronomer Imke de Pater says the new images will allow scientists to determine how the planet's rings differ from other examples in the solar system.

Jupiter-like exoplanets found in sweet spot in most planetary systems

June 12, 2019

An unprecedented analysis of 300 stars captured by the Gemini Planet Imager, or GPI, has discovered a "sweet spot" where Jupiter-like planets tend form in new galaxies. The analysis “is a milestone,” said Eugene Chiang, a UC Berkeley professor of astronomy and member of the collaboration’s theory group. “We now have excellent statistics for how frequently planets occur, their mass distribution and how far they are from their stars. It is the most comprehensive analysis I have seen in this field.”

Berkeley mathematics pries Gotti away from dancing and skydiving … and Cuba

May 31, 2019

Two decades ago, UC Berkeley mathematician Paulo Ney De Souza co-authored a book, Berkeley Problems in Mathematics. That sparked a lifelong fascination with math for the Cuban-born Felix Gotti, who this month finished his dissertation and earned his Ph.D. in mathematics.

Meet Berkeley’s stand-out instructors

May 3, 2019

Four faculty members, including history professor Ethan Shagan and physics professor Robert Littlejohn were selected for one of UC Berkeley’s highest honors, the Distinguished Teaching Award. It recognizes faculty members who stand out for teaching that “incites intellectual curiosity in students, engages them thoroughly in the enterprise of learning and has a lifelong impact.”

Tiny microbes and huge viruses blur line between life and non-life

April 29, 2019

Jill Banfield, a professor of earth and planetary science and of environmental science, policy and management will deliver the 2019 Faculty Research Lecture on Tuesday, April 30. A mineral physicist by training and a gem lover, Banfield is a pioneer of metagenomics, a relatively recent field of study that involves sequencing the DNA in a natural environment and using it to reconstruct the genomes of all the organisms living there.

Elwyn Berlekamp, game theorist and coding pioneer, dies at 78

April 18, 2019

Elwyn Berlekamp, a UC Berkeley mathematician and game theorist whose error-correcting codes allowed spacecraft from Voyager to the Hubble Space Telescope to send accurate, detailed and beautiful images back to Earth, died April 9 from complications of pulmonary fibrosis. He was 78.

London’s Royal Society elects four from Berkeley

April 18, 2019

The Royal Society of London, the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence, announced their newest fellows this week, among them three L&S faculty - developmental biologist Richard Harland, climate scientist Inez Fung plant biologist Brian Staskawicz.

Nine faculty elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

April 17, 2019

Nine UC Berkeley faculty have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among them are Judith Butler, the Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory; Eugene Chiang, a professor of astronomy and of earth and planetary science; Kam-Biu Luk, a professor of physics; Emi Nakamura, the Chancellor’s Professor of Economics; Kristin Scott, a professor of molecular and cell biology; and Chris Shannon, the Richard and Lisa Steiny Professor of Economics.