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Nearly Earth-size planets found orbiting nearby

NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, despite being hobbled by the loss of critical guidance systems, has discovered a star with three planets only slightly larger than Earth, located only 150 light years away. The outermost planet orbits in the “Goldilocks” zone, a region where surface temperatures could be moderate enough for liquid water and perhaps life to exist. A paper describing the find by astronomers at UC Berkeley, the University of Arizona, University of Hawaii, Manoa, and other institutions has been submitted to Astrophysical Journal and is freely available on the arXiv website.

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Another record year for enrollment applications

Student demand for a spot in the UC Berkeley freshman class remains as strong as ever, with another record year of applications. Figures released last week show that more than 78,800 high school students have applied for 2015-16 freshman admission, a seven percent increase over the previous year. Applications from transfer students increased as well, to about 17,200 applications, roughly a four percent increase over the previous year.

Call for Haas Public Service nominations

The Peter E. Haas Public Service Award recognizes a Berkeley alumnus who has made a significant voluntary public contribution to the betterment of society, particularly at the community level. Nominations for the 2014 award are due Thursday, February 12. Past recipients include Dr. David Smith, founder of the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic; Patricia Kinaga, civil litigator and volunteer advocate; Joseph Myers, founder of the National Indian Justice Center; and Jody Lewen, director of the Patten University extension site at San Quentin State Prison.

Berkeley Global Campus in the news

Berkeley’s ambitious plans for the Global Campus and “living laboratory” in Richmond made the news this week: Inside Higher Ed writes that “While other U.S. universities have built branch campuses abroad, the University of California at Berkeley is betting it can create a global higher education hub in its own backyard,” which The Chronicle of Higher Education calls a “hefty undertaking.”

Bill Maher to grads: “Ask what’s true” (video)

In his speech at UC Berkeley’s winter commencement, comedian Bill Maher urged students to help save the earth, to be free thinkers and to “make a difference.” Watch excerpts and the full video.

Celebrate the Campanile’s 100th birthday

It may look like the strong, silent type, but the Jane K. Sather Campanile will be the lively center of attention in 2015. The more than 300-foot-tall bell tower is 100 years old. A Campanile 100th website, carillon concerts, an essay contest, classroom projects, a University Archives/Bancroft Library exhibit, special banners flying throughout campus, and Campanile-shaped lapel pins for 2015 graduates all are part of the yearlong salute. Alumni, parents, and friends are encouraged to share their #Campanile100 story — a favorite memory, a wish, a photo — to help celebrate the tower’s centennial.

A grand gesture from a California original

With his down-to-earth habits and rugged-westerner exterior, John Gross wasn’t flashy about his wealth or his generosity. Yet his gifts to the university made him the biggest individual donor in the history of College of Natural Resources. Starting with a modest annual gift of $100 in 1995, Gross’s giving culminated in a suite of donations that, together, totaled more than $15 million. Read a profile of this builder, developer, horse breeder, avid reader, and fiercely independent thinker.

 

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