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Tango Wood

If you’re looking for a unifying theme behind the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden’s Summer Concert Series, good luck. Proudly hodge-podge in its curation, the summer-long line-up of acts playing the tree-shaded Redwood Grove amphitheater runs willy-nilly from old time R&B to Afropop to Indian roots music to “Tom Waits–approved Americana.”

Sticking to the theme of enthusiastic eclecticism, this evening’s genre: Tango in two acts.

Better Solar Power for the Masses?

In solar cell technology, thin films are the Holy Grail. Standard (crystalline silicon) solar cells are heavy, rigid and bulky; they’re good for bolting to the roof of your house or using as components in vast arrays covering square miles of the Mojave, discomfiting endangered desert tortoises. But that’s about it. When it comes to using them for powering small personal devices – say smart phones or scooters – they’re pretty nigh worthless.

Fact-Checking Relativity

Newsflash: The laws of physics remain in effect! For now, anyway.

That’s according to a team of Berkeley physicists who decided to peek under the hood of the universe and double-check that everything is still chugging along as expected. Namely, the researchers wanted to see if the speed of light, posited by one Albert Einstein to be the unbreakable speed limit for all things always and everywhere, is maybe a little flexible as upper-limit after all.

Guess the Next Fed Head

The econ-blogs and mainstream papers are all agog over the two candidates considered top contenders to replace Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve chief, with many setting it up as a titanic battle of East and West—coasts, that is.

In the Left Coast corner is Janet Yellen, Fed Vice Chair and Berkeley Professor Emeritus, representing right-brained California generally and Berkeley specifically—as well as the nation’s women.

The Longhorns and the Law

President Obama is messing with Texas over the state’s eagerness to change election procedures following the Supreme Court’s dumping of key provisions in the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Or rather his proxy, Attorney General Eric Holder, is doing the messin’: Earlier this week, Holder announced he had asked a U.S. court to force Texas to get approval from the feds before they start overhauling their voting regulations.

Bears in Gilroy

For the past 35 years, the Gilroy Garlic Festival has been one of the most popular events in California for those looking to add some flavor to their summer. From gourmet garlic cuisine and garlic ice cream to the Miss Gilroy Garlic contest, the festival lives up to the city’s nickname as the “Garlic Capital of the World.” However, this year, the lineup is a little different. The festival will be holding its inaugural intercollegiate Garlic Bowl featuring Fresno State, San Jose State, and UC Berkeley.

Actuarial Atheism

A new study from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and the Brookings Institution indicates that religion—particularly hardcore fundamentalism—is losing ground with younger Americans, while secularism and more progressive spiritualism is on the rise.

Starry, Starry Night

Lick Observatory, an astronomical research facility on Mt. Hamilton for the University of California, has been in operation since 1888. This summer, the Friends of Lick Observatory—an association that provides fundraising and professional support—is introducing a new public outreach program.

How to Protest at Berkeley

For a brief period, it seemed like the UC Berkeley of popular imagination—protesters reviling a university appointment, with the incident escalating and ultimately culminating in the arrest of four students.

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