A balcony collapsed near the University of California’s Berkeley campus killing 5 Irish students and injuring nine others have been injured.
Police found debris on the street below after an emergency call at 01:00 local time on June 16.
Officers arriving at the scene found that the balcony on the fourth floor of an apartment building on Kittredge Street, near the University of California, Berkeley, had collapsed.
The students are believed to have been holding a birthday party at the time, Irish officials said, but the cause of collapse is unknown.
They were believed to be in the US on temporary worker visas.
Photos taken at the scene appear to show a balcony on the fourth floor of the building fallen to the balcony on the floor below.
Berkeley Police Department spokeswoman Jennifer Coats said that many of those hurt have life-threatening injuries.
Officer Jennifer Coats said that the police were still investigating and that she did not have any information on what the people were doing on the balcony at the time.
Four of the victims died at the scene and another died in hospital, said Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan.
“It is with great sadness that I confirm that a number of young Irish citizens have lost their lives,” Charlie Flanagan said, “while a number of others have been seriously injured following the collapse of a balcony in Berkeley.”
He said another eight or nine people who were injured in the incident were Irish students as well.
The identities of the victims are not yet being released, pending family notification.
Irish President Michael Higgins said that he had “heard with the greatest sadness of the terrible loss of life of young Irish people and the critical injury of others in Berkeley, California today”.
He said his heart goes out to the families and their loved ones.
The Irish consul general in San Francisco is helping those affected and there is an Irish helpline (+353 1 418 0200).
The building has apartments in the upper floors and shops on the ground floor.
A new report in Science journal gives details on how carbon-based material graphene can help scientists study liquids more clearly with high-power microscopes.
Graphene can form a clear “window” to see liquids at higher resolution than was previously possible using transmission electron microscopes.
Liquids had been difficult to view at the same resolution as solids because these microscopes require the liquids to be encapsulated by some material.
Traditionally, silicon nitride or silicon oxide capsules, or liquid cells, have been used. But these are generally too thick to see through clearly.
Now, Jong Min Yuk at the University of California, Berkeley, and colleagues have shown that pockets created by sheets of graphene can be used to study liquids at clear, atomic, resolution using transmission electron microscopes (TEMs).
Graphene can form a clear window to see liquids at higher resolution than was previously possible using transmission electron microscopes
The researchers used their new graphene-based liquid cell to study the formation of platinum nanocrystals in solution.
With this technique, the team of scientists was able to observe new and unexpected stages of nanocrystal growth as it happened.
They noted how the crystals selectively coalesced and modified their shape.
Graphene consists of a flat layer of carbon atoms tightly packed into a two-dimensional honeycomb arrangement.
Because it is so thin, it is also practically transparent. The unusual electronic, mechanical and chemical properties of graphene at the molecular scale promise numerous applications.
Its discoverers, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov from Manchester University, were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010.
The technique described by Jong Min Yuk and colleagues might enable scientists to study other physical, chemical, and biological phenomena that take place in liquids on the nanometre scale.
“Their approach opens new domains of research in the physics and chemistry in the fluid phase in general,” said Christian Colliex, from the Universite Paris Sud in France, who was not involved with the research.
In another paper published in this week’s Science magazine, researchers from the US and Spain report that the stress of pressing the tip of an atomic force microscope into a thin film of material can switch the direction of the film’s electric charge.
This phenomenon, called “flexoelectricity”, could be harnessed to improve memory in electronic devices.
It could achieve this by allowing digital bits of information to be written mechanically but read electrically – which would use less power.
The process has been likened to a nanoscale typewriter – mechanically “writing” changes in the direction of electric charge.
Scientists at University of California Berkeley have demonstrated a striking method to reconstruct words, based on the brain waves of patients thinking of those words.
The method, reported in PLoS Biology, relies on gathering electrical signals directly from patients’ brains.
Based on signals from listening patients, a computer model was used to reconstruct the sounds of words that patients were thinking of.
The technique may in future help comatose and locked-in patients communicate.
Several approaches have in recent years suggested that scientists are closing in on methods to tap into our very thoughts.
In a 2011 study, participants with electrodes in direct brain contact were able to move a cursor on a screen by simply thinking of vowel sounds.
A technique called functional magnetic resonance imaging to track blood flow in the brain has shown promise for identifying which words or ideas someone may be thinking about.
By studying patterns of blood flow related to particular images, Jack Gallant’s group at the University of California Berkeley showed in September that patterns can be used to guess images being thought of – recreating “movies in the mind”.
Now, Brian Pasley of the University of California Berkeley and a team of colleagues have taken that “stimulus reconstruction” work one step further.
“This is inspired by a lot of Jack’s work,” Dr. Brian Pasley said. “One question was… how far can we get in the auditory system by taking a very similar modelling approach?”
The team focused on an area of the brain called the superior temporal gyrus, or STG.
This broad region is not just part of the hearing apparatus but one of the “higher-order” brain regions that help us make linguistic sense of the sounds we hear.
The team monitored the STG brain waves of 15 patients who were undergoing surgery for epilepsy or tumours, while playing audio of a number of different speakers reciting words and sentences.
The trick is disentangling the chaos of electrical signals that the audio brought about in the patients’ STG regions.
To do that, the team employed a computer model that helped map out which parts of the brain were firing at what rate, when different frequencies of sound were played.
With the help of that model, when patients were presented with words to think about, the team was able to guess which word the participants had chosen.
The scientists at UC Berkeley were even able to reconstruct some of the words, turning the brain waves they saw back into sound on the basis of what the computer model suggested those waves meant
The scientists were even able to reconstruct some of the words, turning the brain waves they saw back into sound on the basis of what the computer model suggested those waves meant.
“There’s a two-pronged nature of this work – one is the basic science of how the brain does things,” said Robert Knight of UC Berkeley, senior author of the study.
“From a prosthetic view, people who have speech disorders… could possibly have a prosthetic device when they can’t speak but they can imagine what they want to say,” Prof. Robert Knight explained.
“The patients are giving us this data, so it’d be nice if we gave something back to them eventually.”
The authors caution that the thought-translation idea is still to be vastly improved before such prosthetics become a reality.
But the benefits of such devices could be transformative, said Mindy McCumber, a speech therapist at Florida Hospital in Orlando.
“As a therapist, I can see potential implications for the restoration of communication for a wide range of disorders,” she said.
“The development of direct neuro-control over virtual or physical devices would revolutionise ‘augmentative and alternative communication’, and improve quality of life immensely for those who suffer from impaired communication skills or means.”
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