Cal

Want to Become A Better Lie Detector? Quit Overthinking It and Trust Your First Instinct

For any district attorneys, homicide detectives, and parents of wily teenagers who may be reading this: There’s good news and there’s bad news.

First, the bad news. According to a new UC Berkeley study just published in Psychological Science, you’re not nearly as good of a lie detector as you think you are. Read more about Want to Become A Better Lie Detector? Quit Overthinking It and Trust Your First Instinct »

Philosophy’s Popularity Soars: Devotees Find It’s More Than ‘An Interesting Path to Poverty’

When students decide to major in philosophy, they are often greeted with shock, bewilderment and parental dismay. And always a few jokes.

Such as: “How do you get a group of philosophers off your doorstep? You order pizza and then throw it outside your yard.” Read more about Philosophy's Popularity Soars: Devotees Find It's More Than 'An Interesting Path to Poverty' »

Cardinal Conquest: Cal and Stanford Teams Compete in April ‘Big Game’ Birdwatching

Update: Alas, the sparrows will sing of Berkeley’s victory another day: Although Cal logged 64 species in the April birding contest, Stanford identified 75, including the white-throated sparrow, grasshopper sparrow, lark sparrow and savannah sparrow—and apparently, not a single cardinal.  

In the misty glade, a Pacific wren spots a worm in the grass and swoops down from its perch. Little does it know that it will soon be not just the pursuer, but the pursued. Read more about Cardinal Conquest: Cal and Stanford Teams Compete in April 'Big Game' Birdwatching »

Creating Art Piece a Day in 2013, Business Lecturer Discovers the Art of Everything

Clark Kellogg, a lecturer in innovation and design thinking at the Haas School of Business, had an epiphany on New Year’s Day 2013. Actually, a friend of his had the epiphany, and he co-opted it.

“With her consent, of course,” Kellogg says. “She told me she planned to post a photograph a day on Instagram. And when she said that, it came to me: I wanted to do the same thing, but with art, not photos.” Read more about Creating Art Piece a Day in 2013, Business Lecturer Discovers the Art of Everything »

Finally, A Way to Diversify Cal Universities? Or “The Most Racist Bill” in State History?

Shien Biau Woo is a self-professed liberal. As a Democrat, he was lieutenant governor of Delaware and was once the party’s nominee for the U.S.  Senate. The organization he co-founded, the 80-20 Initiative, advocates for equal rights and opportunity for Asian Americans and twice endorsed Barack Obama.

And yet, says Woo: “Some liberals—and I classify myself as a liberal—they’re crazy. They have crazy theories.” Read more about Finally, A Way to Diversify Cal Universities? Or "The Most Racist Bill" in State History? »

A Brain Busy Cataloging All Things Berkeley: True Confessions of a Cal Tour Guide

I stared out at a mass of vibrating middle school students awaiting their campus tour. Before unleashing them on me, someone thought it would be a great idea to let them get energy drinks and coffees. Before me, 7th grade girls chugged Rockstars and one boy complained that his mocha needed more sugar. I wanted to yell “No! You cannot complain about needing energy! You are 12. You don’t know what it’s like to pull an all-nighter and write 25-page papers. Also, it’s a mocha, it basically IS sugar!” Read more about A Brain Busy Cataloging All Things Berkeley: True Confessions of a Cal Tour Guide »

Crash Course: Cal and its surge of foreign freshmen struggle to adjust to one another

The first time Larry Zhou traveled outside of China, it was to start his freshman year at Berkeley in 2010. The University’s bid to admit more international students—they would enhance campus diversity and pay sticker-price tuition—brought a surge of foreign arrivals with Zhou. More than a third came from Chinese territories.

Zhou, now a senior, had studied British English in high school in Suzhou, about 65 miles west of Shanghai. He did so well on a language test that his school encouraged him to study abroad, and he garnered a high verbal SAT score as well. Read more about Crash Course: Cal and its surge of foreign freshmen struggle to adjust to one another »

The Accidental Spy: In 1979, He was Both Canada’s Man in Tehran, and Ours

It was not the most provocative speech in Berkeley’s history, but Kenneth Taylor’s 1980 Charter Day address is remembered for its reception. The former Canadian ambassador to Iran had just left that post, after helping six U.S. diplomats escape the fate of 52 other Americans being held hostage by student revolutionaries. Read more about The Accidental Spy: In 1979, He was Both Canada's Man in Tehran, and Ours »

From the Winter 2012 Culture Shock issue of California.

What a Way to Go: Woman Who Created the Darwin Awards Wants to be a Winner Someday

Wendy Northcutt has made a host of obscure people famous, and although very few lived to savor their notoriety, she anticipates one day sharing their dubious honor. It almost happened when a recent heat wave gave her the idea to “air-condition” her sweltering home: She pried up an oubliette floor grate in her hallway, intending to install a fan to suck up the basement’s cooler air. But she left to answer the phone, and hours later she strode back down the hall and obliviously stepped into the gaping hole. In the milliseconds as her body swooshed down, she thought “Oh nooooooooooo! Read more about What a Way to Go: Woman Who Created the Darwin Awards Wants to be a Winner Someday »

From the Summer 2011 The Soundtrack of Berkeley issue of California.

Get Thee to a Nonery

For those of a certain age, Sproul Plaza today seems like an analog locale on Bizarro World, the cube-shaped planet from the Superman comics where everything is backwards. In the 1960s and 1970s, of course, Sproul was a hotbed of social activism. And to an extent, that remains true: The placards are still abundant, and there are plenty of undergrads handing out flyers and advocating in earnest. Read more about Get Thee to a Nonery »

From the Spring 2011 Articles of Faith issue of California.

Killer App

Update: In the fall of 2014, the Berkeley City Council is considering an ordinance that would make it the only city in the nation to require cell phone warning stickers. We explore whether, based on the latest science, the proposal is a proper precaution, or paranoia, here. Read more about Killer App »

From the Winter 2010 Inside Out issue of California.

Strange Renderings: The Secret Geographies of UC Berkeley’s Trevor Paglen

The light is fading on a bitter-cold December afternoon in Berkeley, and Trevor Paglen is talking about spy satellites. Specifically, he’s explaining how hard it is to photograph them—not just because our government doesn’t want us to know they’re there but also because they’re a long way away. “You’re basically trying to shoot something the size of a car on the other side of the Earth, but actually it’s even farther,” he says, his words dissolving into a machine-gun laugh. Read more about Strange Renderings: The Secret Geographies of UC Berkeley's Trevor Paglen »

From the Spring 2010 Searchlight on Gray Areas issue of California.

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