Better Wine on the Radar
UC Berkeley scientists Yoram Rubin and Susan Hubbard have developed a radar system that caters specifically to winemakers. The ground-penetrating radar can accurately map soil moisture over multiple acres.
The current method used to monitor soils can provide winemakers with faulty results. Winemakers extract soil samples from several portions of their vineyard, but because the samples are from a selective area, it is impossible to determine the moisture content of the entire vineyard.
“It’s really some art and some science, and we’re trying to bring more science into it,” said Daniel Bosch, vineyard technical manager for Robert Mondavi Winery.
Winemakers try to keep their vineyards as dry as possible to grow very small grapes, which produce the most flavorful wine.
Last Wednesday Rubin and Hubbard gave a demonstration of the radar at the Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa Valley. During the demonstration, soil samples were collected from every five centimeters of ground.
The system could also help thwart the seepage of pesticides into the ground or to monitor the levels of moisture under roads.
Rubin said the technology could have applications beyond winemaking, including making road maintenance more efficient by measuring the moisture levels below paved roads and highways.
Irvine Students Want to See Teacher Evaluations
The Legislative Council of the Associated Students at UC Irvine announced it supported having student evaluation of UCI faculty made public.
ASUCI At-large Representative Gabriel Ayass said the policy would help students while selecting classes.
“After the fact, after the students have already taken the class, it doesn’t matter,” Ayass said. “If they don’t want to take [certain professors] again, they just won’t take them. Those students know, but nobody else knows.”
Ayass said the availability of teacher evaluations might improve teachers’ performance.
“This is important because it basically would push professors and TAs to watch what they say and maybe to revise their curriculum a little better,” he said.
The evaluations are already available at the school’s Student Affairs Office but could soon be posted on a password-protected student-only website.
Student-Run Mobile Clinic Helps L.A. Homeless
Thursday marked the third anniversary of the UCLA Mobile Clinic Project, a student-run endeavor that provides medical relief to homeless residents of West Hollywood.
The project operates out of a white van that every Wednesday sets up a clinic complete with exam rooms set up with tarps and army cots.
The MCP provides flu vaccines, antibiotics for infections and cough and cold treatments. It also cleans and wraps wounds, checks for athlete’s foot and blisters, and performs blood pressure and blood glucose checks for people with diabetes.
The more than 20 MCP volunteers include undergraduate students, medical students, attending physicians and UCLA public health professors. The MCP receives its funding through grants and fund-raising events.
“There is supposed to be a medical safety net for people who don’t make a lot of money, but sometimes there are people who are shunned from society that fall through the cracks in that safety net,” MCP undergraduate coordinator Chris Moriates said. “We like to think of ourselves as the safety net to the safety net.”