Berkeley Alumni

Westering: Seamus Heaney’s Berkeley Year

The poem was originally titled Easy Rider. Westering, as it is now known, is probably the first poem Nobel Laureate in Literature Seamus Heaney wrote in Berkeley, after arriving here from Belfast in 1970 for a stint as a visiting professor in English. The poem’s original title evokes the 1969 film of the same namestarring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Jack Nicholson. In it, the trio motorcycle east from L.A. through the nineteen-sixties America of new styles, hair lengths, music, political activity, and sexual behavior.

A Deep Dive Into California’s Recurring Drought Problem

Feel it yet? That dire sense of déjà vu? It probably depends on your livelihood or interests. If you’re a Bay Area boulevardier or the type once described in singles ads as a lover of long walks on the beach, you’re no doubt delighted by the unceasing blue skies and unseasonably pleasant temperatures. But it’s another matter if you’re a farmer, salmon fisherman, water agency manager, skier or whitewater kayaker. Your income—or at least, your sense of well-being— is directly determined by what falls from the sky.

Editor’s Note: The Power of UC Berkeley

When you check out the table of contents for this iteration of CALIFORNIA you might be surprised by the many entries listed in the feature well. Generally speaking, the well is where we offer up several long-form stories off the theme of the magazine. The number of stories and bylines this time around doesn’t mean we’ve exceeded our usual page count, or eliminated all the other departments. It just means we are offering one very long story and some very short ones.

From the Winter 2017 Power issue of California.

Berkeley Scientists Are Building a Quantum Computer

To the average technology consumer, a quantum computer sounds like something out of science fiction. But these machines are real, and scientists at Berkeley are working on one right now.

So what is a quantum computer?

Well, a “classic” digital computer, like the one at your desk, stores information in bits, a basic unit of information. Binary bits, found in the computers we use daily, can only be zero or one, or on or off.

From the Winter 2017 Power issue of California.

Roots Music: The Beginnings of Rolling Stone

The 50th anniversary of iconic rock magazine Rolling Stone arrived in November, and the party was long and loud. Origin stories have festooned the magazine and its website; a coffee table book appeared in May; Joe Hagan’s biography of cofounder Jann Wenner, Sticky Fingers, was published in October; and an HBO documentary is scheduled for November. To keep things interesting, Wenner announced that he plans to sell his company’s stake in the magazine, prompting a round of retrospective articles in The New York Times and elsewhere.

From the Winter 2017 Power issue of California.

Mar-a-Lago on the Line

I miss the days when I had Donald Trump on speed dial. Not that I enjoyed our conversations—if converse is the right term. Even then, years before he hit the campaign trail, the Donald was a monologist.

From the Winter 2017 Power issue of California.

Super Curious Mario: Teaching AI to Keep Asking Questions

In the ongoing quest to build artificial intelligence (AI) that more closely mimics the human brain, some computer scientists at Berkeley are focusing on one crucial piece of the puzzle: curiosity.

For the last three years Deepak Pathak and Pulkit Agrawal, Ph.D. students in the Berkeley computer science department, have worked to create software that can learn on its own. Now the team is looking at creating systems that can not only learn, but keep asking questions.

From the Winter 2017 Power issue of California.

Support CALIFORNIA Magazine During the Season of Giving

CALIFORNIA Magazine is proud to cover the issues that matter to Cal’s alumni and, by extension, all Californians. Thanks to your support, we keep our readers informed and connected to the ideas, innovations, and breakthroughs that make UC Berkeley the number one public university in the world and help shape California’s global influence. During this season of giving, please consider making a tax-deductible gift in support of our editorial efforts.

All Over But the Yellen: A Look Back at the Outgoing Fed Chair’s Tenure

The tenure of Federal Reserve Board chairwoman Janet Yellen is drawing to a close. In February, she’ll leave her post—arguably the second-most powerful position in Washington after the presidency—and will be replaced by Trump appointee Jerome Powell, a member of the Fed Board of Governors. 

No Rest for the Wikied

You’ve probably been told, “Wikipedia is not a source. Don’t cite it. Don’t use it.”

Many high school and university instructors warn students against using Wikipedia, but new research illuminating the online encyclopedia’s impact on academia might prompt teachers to reconsider.

From the Winter 2017 Power issue of California.

Reading Roundup: Bugs and the Power Ranger, the Horse He Rode in On, More

Bugs and the Power Ranger

In life, as in fishing, there are always a few that get away. And so it is with most issues of the magazine. Take our Bugged issue, for example. We had all kinds of bugs in there: insects, cyberbugs, surveillance devices, viruses, even VW bugs. The one thing we wanted to include but didn’t find a solid enough Berkeley connection to was Bugs Bunny. We looked and looked.

But we didn’t look hard enough.

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