Innovation

Stir-Fry Crickets and Sauteed Weeds: Why the Food of the Future Won’t Be Nutrient Powder

Remember Tang? It was the “space age” drink that in 1962 astronaut John Glenn sipped in orbit on his Mercury flight, and for a while thought to be the next generation of orange juice. It was considered convenient because it came in powder form, was less perishable than juice, and boasted lots of vitamins and calcium. Read more about Stir-Fry Crickets and Sauteed Weeds: Why the Food of the Future Won't Be Nutrient Powder »

From the Summer 2015 Confronting the Future issue of California.

Effluent Communities: Why Drought Will Mean Learning to Drinking Treated Sewage

It’s the kind of subject that lends itself to the lowest of low humor, but we’ll try to resist that temptation. Because at bottom (sorry), it’s among the most serious of subjects, speaking as it does to basic survival. We’re talking about water (again), of course. But more specifically, we’re talking about blackwater: Sewage.  And even more particularly, recycling sewage, treating it to the potable level and–gulp–drinking it again. Read more about Effluent Communities: Why Drought Will Mean Learning to Drinking Treated Sewage »

The Good, The Bad and The Robot: Experts Are Trying to Make Machines Be “Moral”

Good vs. bad. Right vs. wrong. Human beings begin to learn the difference before we learn to speak—and thankfully so. We owe much of our success as a species to our capacity for moral reasoning. It’s the glue that holds human social groups together, the key to our fraught but effective ability to cooperate. We are (most believe) the lone moral agents on planet Earth—but this may not last. The day may come soon when we are forced to share this status with a new kind of being, one whose intelligence is of our own design. Read more about The Good, The Bad and The Robot: Experts Are Trying to Make Machines Be "Moral" »

Back in the Game: Cal Program Helps Former Student-Athletes Graduate

When Keala Keanaaina came to Cal on a football scholarship in 1998, a career in the NFL was not on his radar.

“I wasn’t one of those football guys that dreamed of going to the pros,” says Keanaaina. “I chose Berkeley because of its academic reputation. My goal was to graduate and get my degree.”  Read more about Back in the Game: Cal Program Helps Former Student-Athletes Graduate »

From the Spring 2015 Dropouts and Drop-ins issue of California.

Welcome to the Decentralized Energy Revolution: Cleanly Electrifying the World

While the boons of electricity are obvious to anyone who has watched a 49ers game on a 70-inch ultra HDTV or whipped up a frozen margarita in a blender, it also has its downsides—most of them environmental. Coal and natural gas power plants belch planet-warming CO2 into the atmosphere, while nuclear plants produce highly lethal radwaste. Read more about Welcome to the Decentralized Energy Revolution: Cleanly Electrifying the World »

Reverse Cycle: Inspired by Leaves, a New Invention Turns Sunlight and Water into Fuel

For the past ten years, Peidong Yang has been trying to make like a tree. Yang, a professor in UC Berkeley’s Department of Chemistry, researches artificial photosynthesis, a process that mimics a leaf’s ability to convert sun, water, and carbon dioxide into fuel. But in his case, the fuel isn’t glucose—it’s gasoline. Read more about Reverse Cycle: Inspired by Leaves, a New Invention Turns Sunlight and Water into Fuel »

From the Spring 2015 Dropouts and Drop-ins issue of California.

Many Enroll, Few Finish, Moocs March On: How Online Courses Are Changing Higher Ed

When Damilare Oladapo looks back at his undergraduate years at UC Berkeley, he says that when it comes to his education, he only made one mistake. “I really wanted to focus on graduating,” says the Nigerian-born English major. “I saw school as a short-distance race instead of a marathon.” Read more about Many Enroll, Few Finish, Moocs March On: How Online Courses Are Changing Higher Ed »

From the Spring 2015 Dropouts and Drop-ins issue of California.

The Ballad of John and Helen: Berkeley-Based Meyer Sound Are Global Audio Pioneers

Drop out. It’s such a leaden term. Yes, yes, Helen Brodsky dropped out of UC Berkeley in 1968, dashing the hopes and dreams of her Cal alumni-laden family. Before even declaring a major (she was leaning toward Russian Lit), she and her new boyfriend, John Meyer, an autodidact with a gift for tinkering and engineering, decided that unsettled times called for adventurous spirits, and lit out for the East, ending up in India. Read more about The Ballad of John and Helen: Berkeley-Based Meyer Sound Are Global Audio Pioneers »

From the Spring 2015 Dropouts and Drop-ins issue of California.

Natural by Design: Next-Gen Robots Run, Flap, Crawl—and Talk to Each Other

Imagine a city in the near future devastated by a powerful earthquake. Rescue workers arrive and unleash hundreds of tiny robots. Some of these robots flap into the air with “wings,” sending images of the disaster area to the ground team—a swarm of insect-like devices the size of a matchbox that scuttle over the concrete and disappear into crevices. One robot’s sensors detect a person trapped under the rubble, so it signals to a larger, stronger robot for assistance before moving on to the next building. Read more about Natural by Design: Next-Gen Robots Run, Flap, Crawl—and Talk to Each Other »

From the Spring 2015 Dropouts and Drop-ins issue of California.

Silicon Valley’s Merry Prankster Put His Degree on Hold and Reshaped the World

The recipients of the Cal Alumni Association’s Alum of the Year Award are an impressive group, to say the least. The list includes decorated military officers, Supreme Court justices, Nobel laureates, leading industrialists, and renowned authors. None, as far as we know, ever dropped out of the University. Read more about Silicon Valley’s Merry Prankster Put His Degree on Hold and Reshaped the World »

From the Spring 2015 Dropouts and Drop-ins issue of California.

An Orgasm App? UC Berkeley-Nurtured Tech Team Launches its “Smart” Vibrator

Wave energy. A portable spirometer for kids with asthma. Tools to lower the carbon footprint. A robot-building kit. 

These are just a few examples of what UC Berkeley startups are developing at the Foundry, Cal’s technology incubator. But Liz Klinger and James Wang are working on something else entirely: a smart vibrator.  Read more about An Orgasm App? UC Berkeley-Nurtured Tech Team Launches its "Smart" Vibrator »

Print This: UC Berkeley Uses 3D Printers to Construct a First-Ever Cement Pavilion

Perhaps you remember the day when printers, requiring only lowly paper and toner, simply produced documents. Now we’re well on our way into the Jetsonian age: today 3D printers, supplied with a sophisticated cement, can produce a house.

That, in fact, is precisely what’s happening at UC Berkeley today as a team headed by associate professor of architecture Ronald Rael unveils his architectural creation “Bloom”—billed as the first and largest powder-based 3D-printed cement structure to date. Read more about Print This: UC Berkeley Uses 3D Printers to Construct a First-Ever Cement Pavilion »

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