Cal

Forget the Robot Apocalypse. Order Lunch.

The robot and I met at the southwest corner of Center and Shattuck. It was 3 p.m. on a Wednesday, and the streets were bustling. The robot was small and boxy, something like a cooler on wheels. I knelt down at what I presumed was the robot’s front end. It winked a pixilated eye.

Following instructions I’d received in advance, I raised a hand and flashed an “okay” sign. The robot emitted a pleasant dinging sound and a hatch on top slowly opened. I reached in and removed a grease-stained paper bag. Inside were two slices of warm pizza.

All STEAMed Up: Retirement Takes an Unexpected Turn to an Elementary School

At Eagle Elementary School, located in a  suburban district in New York’s Capital Region, 12 fourth and fifth-graders are inventing. Two students are trying to work the bugs out of a miniature electronic sliding door. Another team is setting up the tiny equivalent of a washing machine drum. Still others are building a robotic fan.

A Train Going Nowhere: How Can We Get U.S. Infrastructure On Track?

The news cycle is spinning with such ferocity that it may be hard to remember that it was only a couple of weeks ago that infrastructure was Topic A, with the Trump administration announcing a new initiative to fix America’s potholed roads, repair its spavined bridges, and spiff up its energy delivery systems. But even while the general focus has shifted, Berkeley engineers and public policy analysts are thinking about possible remedies to our infrastructure woes.

The California Timber Battles Shift to New Grounds

California’s Lost Coast isn’t that hard to find—just drive south on a narrow, twisting road from the Humboldt County town of Ferndale. The landscape is extreme in its beauty, wending across ridge top meadows that plunge eastward to forested gorges and roll to the cobalt blue Pacific to the west. The route skirts miles of deserted beach where the only sound is the lapping of gentle surf and the cries of seabirds, and finally tracks through Petrolia, a tiny settlement on the Mattole River.

Q&A: Behavioral Finance Expert Terrance Odean on the Stock Market Drop

We accept that what goes up must comes down. What we don’t always understand is why. Like countless financial shakeups throughout history, this week’s stock market plunge has sparked widespread debate as to its causes. While there are no hard-and-fast answers, there are educated insights.

Pot of Gold: A Former Silicon Valley Executive Turns to Weed Farming

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Cultivating some dynamite weed, that is. In 2015, UC Berkeley grad, former Daily Cal photographer, and superstar digital engineer Mike Lovas purchased a 70-acre farm near Brandon, Oregon, with his wife, Donna, and his stepson, Nick. Their goal: sustainable and, they hoped, profitable agriculture. The first part was relatively easy, they say.

To Fix or Replace? That Is the Question.

What to fix, and what to replace? That’s the big question for Orville Dam. It has been almost a year since water brimmed to the top of Oroville reservoir and the tallest dam in the United States suddenly showed signs of possible, even imminent failure. Emergency releases eroded both the primary and secondary spillways with horrifying rapidity, and evacuations were ordered for 200 thousand downstream residents.

Q&A: Daniel Ziblatt on Trump and How Democracies Die

Daniel Ziblatt has spent a career studying why democracies develop and how they die. Along with his co-author and fellow UC Berkeley alumnus, Steven Levitsky, he has done so from a perch at Harvard, and his focus has always been different places and times: Ziblatt is an expert on democracy in modern Europe, including the age of Hitler and Mussolini, and Levitsky specializes in Latin America.

A Feel for Art: Haptic Encounter at the Contemporary Jewish Museum

On a tour of the Contemporary Jewish Museum’s exhibit Jewish Folktales Retold: The Artist as Maggid, running through January 28, participants passed around a silicone squash representing Michael Arcega’s sculpture The Enchanted Island. The piece is inspired by a story about a shipwrecked rabbi going into a mansion and finding two objects on a table: a cornucopia and a ram’s horn to summon people to prayer. What does he choose? He’s hungry, so it’s the food.

The Tipping Point: Can American Institutions Be Saved?

Depending on how you spin it, the recent government shutdown was either an example of the Republicans cynically rolling the Democrats, or the Democrats electing to strategically fold their tents and fight for the Dreamers another day. Either way, nobody was playing chess; it was more like 52 pickup. So even though President Donald Trump contributed little to the process, other than reneging on an early compromise agreement, he somehow came out looking a trifle less inept than everyone else.

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