Science Journalism

Articles published with the Berkeley Scientific Journal between 2018 and 2020

Toward a Synthetically Regenerative World

Everyone is familiar with the experi-ence of dropping their phone—the all-too-relatable moment of fear that one will pick it up to find a spiderweb of cracks across the screen. We fear seeing our own possessions broken, whether that be through careless accidents or deterioration over time. This process of deterioration is intrinsic to many other man-made objects, ranging from the parts holding together a car or the internal metal beams bolstering bridges and skyscrapers. At some point, these structures will inevitably require replacement and maintenance. Although traditional engineering has worked to lengthen the life of such materials, biology offers new ideas for further improving their properties, one of which is the biological process of self-healing.

Thinking Smaller: The Future of Two-Dimensional Materials

Los Angeles, Chicago, New York. Huge metropolitan cities with skylines defined by towering skyscrapers and blinking lights that stretch high above the heads of those walking the streets. People crane their necks to see the literal heights of human accomplishment, because building higher in three-dimensional space—overcoming the limits of gravity—has long been an incredible feat of engineering and technology. But what if the path to advancement exists in two dimensions rather than three?

Dark Matter: Discovering a Glitch in the Universe

Seeing is believing. The concept seems simple enough to be considered indisputable. After all, many beliefs stem from that which is visible, and a number of scientific theories have originated from visible observations. By this logic, it would appear as though conclusions drawn through visible observations should override those made using numerical calculations; where the two disagree, a mistake in the math seems to be the most likely problem. However, this is far from true in the study of astronomy, as unseen objects can still exist, detectable only by their effects on the space around them. Dark matter is a popular example of this, pulling the strings of the universe without anyone truly understanding how it works. By exerting gravitational effects, it forces astronomical calculations to depend on factors outside the visible world—a strange glitch in scientists’ assumption of seeing as understanding.

Powering the Future with Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Back in 2010, the infamous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico sent news stations scrambling for photos of the catastrophe. Images of the ocean, stained with a swirling mix of slick blacks and sickly browns like some sinister Impressionist painting, flooded the news. Before long, discussions circled around to questions of clean energy and the future of energy production. In recent years, one promising source of clean energy—the hydrogen fuel cell—has begun to show the potential to make significant changes to the face of industry, emerging as a major possible fuel source in the near future.

The Crisis and Convenience of Synthetic Plastics

“I just want to say one word to you. Just one word... plastics. There’s a great future in plastics.” Back in 1967, a movie titled The Graduate expressed this rather insightful sentiment. This quote very nearly predicted the future; indeed, in the modern world, plastics are practically ubiquitous. Most marketplaces bag groceries in plastic bags. Families store leftover food in plastic food wraps and containers. Transparent plastics have even replaced the glass of some windows and most bottles. In many ways, overstating the importance of plastics is difficult. However, this material, which seemed so revolutionary fifty years ago, has caused many problems that the quote from The Graduate could not have foreseen.

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