Cal Culture

The Bears Are Back In Town (and Back On Reddit)

Being a student at UC Berkeley, one of the top public universities in the United States, can put a butterfly in even the most confident of stomachs. How will I become a doctor if I can’t pass OChem?! Is majoring in Scandinavian a mistake?! How can I get the best deals on all of these textbooks that I will probably never read?! Thanks to the Internet, these existential agonies, having long been forced to reside deep in the subconscious, have a place to manifest publicly, for better or worse.

Reading Roundup: Volcanic Umbrellas, Student Oscars, More

Volcanic Umbrella

When Mt. Pinatubo exploded in the northern Philippines in 1991, it spewed millions of tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. For nearly two years, that sunlight-blocking plume acted as a sort of volcanic “umbrella,” cooling the Earth by almost 1 degree Fahrenheit. As climate change increasingly alters our lifestyles and embeds itself into our collective consciousness, geoengineering—in this case, humans playing volcano to replicate this cooling event—became a fascinating idea.

Proud Legacy: New Blackwell Hall Houses Students and Stiles

After 18 months of construction, the sidewalks have been cleared, the furniture has been moved in, and, on August 14, some 750 freshmen will be welcomed into their new Berkeley digs on the corner of Durant Avenue and Dana Street. The university’s newest eight-story residence, David Blackwell Hall, opens as the campus is pushing to house a greater portion of its growing enrollment. The new dorm is also the refurbished residence of another long-time home for Berkeley students: Stiles Hall.

Once Upon a Time in The West: Tree Tussles in Old Berkeley

The towering old oak tree that stood east of Shattuck Avenue along Allston Way in Berkeley’s early days was known by many names, two of them rather ominous: The Vigilante Oak, some called it. Others referred to it as the Hanging Oak.

The macabre monikers allude to a violent moment in the community’s colorful past—sometime in the 1850s, before Berkeley got its name—when a hard-luck livestock thief was strung up from the tree in an act of frontier justice.

Reading Roundup: Facebook, Fires, Fashion, and More

Freaky Fires

While it’s not news that the golden state has taken on a crackling red hue from recent wildfires, reports of the fires’ behaviors are blazingly bizarre.

It’s been commonly observed by firefighters that fires slow down at night, according to Scott L. Stephens, UC Berkeley professor of fire science. But a number of recent fires have said “to hell with the slow burn!” and begun spreading quickly even when the sun goes down.

Five Questions for David Patterson

1. The Turing Award is often called the Nobel Prize of Computing. Counting faculty and alumni, Berkeley claims more Turing laureates than almost any other university in the world. That surprises a lot of people. Should it?

Let’s just say our competitors aren’t burdened with an overdeveloped case of humility.

From the Summer 2018 Our Town issue of California.

Reading Roundup: Bridges, College Admissions, Border Identity

UC Berkeley is consistently ranked one of the best research universities in the world, but what happens to researchers after they leave?

Earlier this month, four Cal grads—four! Can we get a Go Bears?!— were featured in the Lehigh Research Review for their remarkable work in sustainable infrastructure, college admission economics, and discourses on border identity.

Check out their research below to find out what these Berkeley grads-cum-Lehigh professors have been up to since they left the den.

A Diamond In The Rough: Ray Weschler’s Weekly Ballgame

On a cloudy Sunday in mid-May, Raymond Weschler chose Jim McGuire (Cal professor of biology) as his opposing captain, and teams were drawn up. Ray’s booming voice announced the lineup as chatting players finished stretching and headed out to the field. On the diamond at Berkeley’s magnificent Codornices Park, players are surrounded by towering oak trees, redwoods, walnuts and, lining the left-field foul line, Ponderosa pines, which are home to rowdy crows and, when struck by a foul ball, release a cloud of pollen.

Five Questions for Richard Schwartz

1. You’re a building contractor who has written several historical works, including Berkeley 1900; Eccentrics, Heroes, and Cutthroats of Old Berkeley; Earthquake Exodus, 1906; and most recently The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty: The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M. B. Curtis. Do you think of yourself as a builder who writes, or as a writer with a day job?

From the Summer 2018 Our Town issue of California.

WATCH: What’s In A Fossil?

Want more? For a behind-the-scenes tour of the ancient bones of the Campanile, check out Part 1 here.

Chancellor’s Letter: Developing People’s Park

Even though college students and faculty rarely wear the long, black medieval gowns symbolic of their status, the term “town and gown” still denotes the relationship between a college or university and its local community. The quality of that relationship can vary over time, as it has here, when interests converge and diverge. Yet, our campus and neighboring communities all benefit when we are able to collaborate for the greater good. And that is exactly what we are now doing to address the paired, pressing challenges of housing and homelessness, on our campus and in our city.

From the Summer 2018 Our Town issue of California.

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