60 years later, the Berkeley Bandit returns as an EV

Six decades after it came and went without much fuss, the Berkeley Bandit is ready to make its triumphant return. And in order to actually stick around this time, the sporty speedster will come with two very modern features: an electric powertrain and sustainable parts.

Late last week, the recently resurrected British automaker, best known for its compact sports cars, announced that it would relaunch with a new and improved Bandit. And a zero-emission powertrain isn’t the only way the new car with differ from its predecessor; it will also be available as a roadster or a coupe.

The original Bandit was supposed to be the car that would push Berkeley into the mainstream, but before that got a chance to happen, the automaker declared bankruptcy in 1960, pulling the plug on operations before the car could make it to production. Despite this, the roadster is still looked upon fondly by British sports car lovers, some of whom view the two-seater as having been “ahead of its time.”

As did the original prototypes, 60 years ago, Berkeley designers proved that simple, smooth, ain’t a bad way to design an automobile. I liked their work back then. Like it even more, now.

Frothy mathematics – describe popping bubbles in a foam

Bubble baths and soapy dishwater, the refreshing head on a beer and the luscious froth on a cappuccino. All are foams, beautiful yet ephemeral as the bubbles pop one by one.

Two University of California, Berkeley, researchers have now described mathematically the successive stages in the complex evolution and disappearance of foamy bubbles, a feat that could help in modeling industrial processes in which liquids mix or in the formation of solid foams such as those used to cushion bicycle helmets.

“This work has application in the mixing of foams, in industrial processes for making metal and plastic foams, and in modeling growing cell clusters,” said James Sethian, a UC Berkeley professor of mathematics. “These techniques, which rely on solving a set of linked partial differential equations, can be used to track the motion of a large number of interfaces connected together, where the physics and chemistry determine the surface dynamics…”

The mathematicians next plan to look at manufacturing processes for small-scale new materials.

“Foams were a good test that all the equations coupled together,” said Robert Saye, graduating from UC Berkeley this May with a PhD in applied mathematics. “While different problems are going to require different physics, chemistry and models, this sort of approach has applications to a wide range of problems.”

Yup. I love this stuff.

Nearby supernova attracts scientists and amateurs alike

California astronomers have found the closest, brightest supernova of its kind in 25 years, catching the glimmer of a tiny self-destructing star a mere 21 million light years from Earth and soon visible to amateur skywatchers.

The discovery, announced on Wednesday, was made in what was believed to be the first hours of the rare cosmic explosion using a special telescope at the Palomar Observatory near San Diego and powerful supercomputers at a government laboratory in Berkeley.

The detection so early of a supernova so near has created a worldwide stir among astronomers, who are clamoring to observe it with every telescope at their disposal, including the giant Hubble Space Telescope.

Scientists behind the discovery at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley say the extraordinary phenomenon — labeled by the rather obscure designation PTF 11kly — will likely become the most-studied supernova in history.

“It is an instant cosmic classic,” said Peter Nugent, the senior scientist at UC Berkeley who first spotted it…

It is expected to reach its peak sometime between September 9 and 12, when it will become visible to stargazers using a good pair of binoculars or small telescope.

It will appear, blueish-white, just above and to the left of the last two stars in the Big Dipper handle.

“There are billions of stars in a galaxy. This supernova will outshine them all this weekend,” Nugent told Reuters.

RTFA for details. I’ll be outside tonight trying to catch a peek.