Innovation

Well in Control: Berkeley Startup Helps People Find Out What They’re Drinking

Two factors that contributed to the poisoning of tens of thousands of Washington, D.C., residents through their drinking water in the early 2000s—lead pipes and a disinfectant called chloramine—continue to coexist in countless water systems nationwide, including in the Bay Area. But not to worry, says UC Berkeley water expert and engineering professor David Sedlak; they’re safe when properly managed, which happens in the vast majority of public water systems. Read more about Well in Control: Berkeley Startup Helps People Find Out What They’re Drinking »

From the Fall 2016 The Greatest Show On Earth issue of California.

Breathing Easier: A New Device Could Help Detect Asthma Attacks Before They Start

To a very real degree, Charvi Shetty’s future was molded by her college roommate. Or rather, her roommate’s health.

“She had asthma,” says Shetty, who graduated from UC Berkeley with a bioengineering degree in 2012 and took a master’s in biomedical imaging from UCSF in 2013. “She had to use an inhaler six times a day. She told me that her childhood memories were of going to the ER, not Disneyland or the beach, and she was never allowed to play outside because of her allergies. Asthma controlled her life.” Read more about Breathing Easier: A New Device Could Help Detect Asthma Attacks Before They Start »

From the Fall 2016 The Greatest Show On Earth issue of California.

Eyes on the Octopus: In Trio of Studies, Berkeley Scientists Strive to Make Sense of the Cephalopods

It is a curious thing to consider that UC Berkeley, a school notably lacking a marine biology program, has produced not one, not two, but three published studies on the venerable octopus within the last year. But then octopuses, too, are curious to consider. They have three hearts; blue, copper-based blood; regenerating tentacles; and a level of sentience unique among invertebrates. Read more about Eyes on the Octopus: In Trio of Studies, Berkeley Scientists Strive to Make Sense of the Cephalopods »

From the Fall 2016 The Greatest Show On Earth issue of California.

Notes from Understory: A Berkeley Biologist Gauges the Health of the Redwoods from the Ferns on the Forest Floor.

Emily Burns was driving north from the Bay Area one day, idly woolgathering, when it hit her.

“Western sword ferns,” she recalls thinking. “They’re twice as big in the northern end of their range as in the southern end. And it struck me that it had to be due to water availability. The fact that it’s wetter in Redwood National Park in Humboldt County than, say, Lime Kiln Creek on the Big Sur coast translates as larger ferns in the north. It all seems obvious now, but there was nothing in the literature on it.” Read more about Notes from Understory: A Berkeley Biologist Gauges the Health of the Redwoods from the Ferns on the Forest Floor. »

Picture of Suffering: Charles Briggs Documents Rabies and Disease in Venezuela

Venezuela, whose citizenry and economy have both been unhealthy, is enduring yet another economic collapse, which has triggered yet another outbreak of disease. This time, it’s malaria. During the first six months of this year, 125,000 cases have been reported—a health crisis the government has tried to minimize, if not repudiate, and not for the first time. Read more about Picture of Suffering: Charles Briggs Documents Rabies and Disease in Venezuela »

Go Fly a Kite! Or, Zen and the Art of Kite Maintenance

Drone use has taken off in recent years for landscape and environmental photography, and it has photo-enthusiasts aflutter with the question: Will drones knock kite aerial photography (KAP) off the map? For Charles Benton, a UC Berkeley architecture professor known for making KAP into a well-respected (if niche) art form, the answer is: nah. Read more about Go Fly a Kite! Or, Zen and the Art of Kite Maintenance »

New, Silicon-Free, Atom-Thin Transistors Could Usher in Tomorrowland

Moore’s Law—as first put forth in 1965 by Berkeley alum and Intel and Fairchild Semiconductor co-founder Gordon E. Moore—postulates that the number of circuits on an integrated circuit will double every two years. Amazingly, the prediction (initially just an observation) has held up in the decades since, leading to computers that are ever smaller and ever more powerful.

But Moore’s Law is now running up against hard limits, due to the physical properties of silicon, the semiconducting material used in computer chips. Read more about New, Silicon-Free, Atom-Thin Transistors Could Usher in Tomorrowland »

In the Water Works: Bringing Clean Water to Kenya’s Largest Slum

Nairobi is a tough town, and there’s no place in Nairobi that’s tougher than Kibera, Africa’s largest slum. Maybe a half-million people live there, maybe a million. No one’s really counting. But virtually everyone is desperately poor, with per capita earnings averaging about a dollar a day. Rape, assault, and murder are simple facts of daily life. The streets are paved with rotting garbage, sewage flows in the gutters, disease is rampant, and city services are largely nonexistent. Read more about In the Water Works: Bringing Clean Water to Kenya's Largest Slum »

From the Summer 2016 Welcome to There issue of California.

Whooshing into the Future: Aiming to Make Speed-of-Sound Commutes a Reality

Remember pneumatic tubes, those compressed-air pipelines that whisked plastic canisters from basement mailrooms to penthouse boardrooms? Imagine being in one, traveling at more than 700 mph. You could make the round-trip from San Francisco to LA in a little over an hour. That may sound like science fiction, but it could one day be a reality thanks to the efforts of engineering students at UC Berkeley and elsewhere. Read more about Whooshing into the Future: Aiming to Make Speed-of-Sound Commutes a Reality »

From the Summer 2016 Welcome to There issue of California.

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