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 »
Not long ago, they were the pulse of the American political campaign: Mom and Dad, sitting in front of the nightly news broadcast on TV, armed with a dog-eared copy of the daily newspaper. The ads, the daily coverage and editorials, televised debates, polls and TV ratings—over dinner-table discourse, it all mattered. Read more about The Revolution Will Be Tweeted: In Politics, TV Still Matters, but Social Media Matters More and More »
Richard Nixon had always been more of a rat-catcher than a heartthrob. All jowls and forehead, and sporting that rictus of a smile, he was a perennial runner-up. Willy Loman by way of Yorba Linda. Read more about Coded and Loaded: How Politicians Talk About Race and Gender Without Really Talking About Race and Gender »
In the Internet age, saying “I don’t know” about a political issue is considered socially unacceptable. After all, if we have all this information at our fingertips, the least we can do is a quick Google search. Like, really. It’s the least we can do. And the least is what most people do.
It’s hard to take a long look in the mirror and see blatant indecision staring back at you. So to avoid this self-reflection, there are ways to fake political knowledge. You know you don’t know anything about politics, but nobody else has to know that. Read more about Step Right Up: How to Feign Political Competence in Your 20s »
It was all going entirely too well, beginning with the weather.
In the mid-2000s, William Fisk, a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, stumbled upon two obscure Hungarian studies that challenged common assumptions about the air indoors. The studies suggested that, even at relatively low levels, carbon dioxide could impair how well people thought and worked. Read more about Your Brain on Carbon Dioxide: Research Finds Even Low Levels of Indoor CO2 Impair Thinking »
The campus was shining as only our spectacular splotch of Bay Area real estate can do. Clusters of high school kids posed for pictures at the university they hoped to attend. Cal T-shirts, sweatshirts, shorts, and athletic jackets sauntered by. Frisbees flew, and a giant dog galloped over to offer a passionate greeting that left me happily cloaked in white fur. Read more about Wheel of Time: A Grieving Mother Sees All Her Alma Mater Offers, and What it Lacks »
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 »
It was late afternoon on a glorious day in October. My friend Natasha and I were picking our way down a country lane, toward the train station in a village about an hour from Moscow’s Kievsky train station. Our close friends, a lesbian couple, owned a dacha in the village, a cozy cottage where a group of us gathered often to escape the city. Read more about The Lesbianki Are Coming! The Lesbianki Are Coming! The Secret Lives of Russians »
From the start, the whole trip seemed haphazard and conceptually incoherent. What was the rationale, our friends asked, for spending a week in the Czech Republic followed by 10 days in Greece and four in Paris?
The simple, reasonable answer: Horse-trading. It was our 20th anniversary and my husband, Dan, and I had learned that collaborative skill of long-term couples through trial and therapy. Dan would pick a place and I would pick a place, and we would start and end in Paris, the home of close friends and a hub for cheap non-stop flights. Read more about Guilt Trip: How to Justify a Bargain Vacation in Beleaguered Greece »
Drenched in sweat, I rushed to pack up my cello before the crowd stormed the stage again. It was dark, and all the dancing had filled the hot air with reddish dust. We’d just finished our set, and I couldn’t wait to get my gear locked up in the van so I could relax. But as I knelt down to pick up my rosin, the mob of kids rushed my bandmate Brendan and slammed his back against the wall. By the time I turned, a sea of hands and fingers were rippling over his entire body. Read more about Famous in Guinea-Bissau: In Africa, Berkeley Band Becomes 'Non-Militarized Face' of USA »
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 »
It may be time to change our minds about the impossibility of changing people’s minds. Again. Read more about Changing Minds about Changing Minds: How Results Once Faked Could Actually Be True »
When we say “internal compass,” we’re usually referring to something metaphorical, a person’s innate sense of right and wrong. But for UC Berkeley microbiologists Arash Komeili and David Hershey, the term is literal: The two study magnetotactic bacteria, which navigate using tiny magnetic iron crystals called magnetosomes. Read more about That’s So Metal: You Won't Believe How These Bacteria Get Around »
1. You’ve been at the forefront of family planning debates for many years and are now working to bring to market an over-the-counter birth control pill for the first time in the United States. What are the public health benefits of readily available contraception? Read more about 5 Questions For: Malcom Potts, UC Berkeley Professor of Public Health »