California

WTF is an NFT?

THIS MAY, THE UNIVERSITY ANNOUNCED it would auction off non-fungible tokens (NFTs) connected to two of its most recent Nobel Prize–winning discoveries: Jennifer Doudna’s gene-editing tool, CRISPR, and James Allison’s cancer immunotherapy.

From the Fall 2021 issue of California.

De-extinction Could Reverse Species Loss. But Should We Do It?

THE MOST BELOVED BIRD IN HISTORY may very well have been a 29-year-old pigeon by the name of Martha. It was the early 1900s, shortly before the United States entered the First World War, and Martha was at the height of her fame. Perched on her humble roost at the Cincinnati Zoo, she was an object of fascination to the thousands of visitors who lined up just to catch a glimpse.

From the Fall 2021 issue of California.

A Pan Am Stewardess Found Freedom in the Skies

HOLLY BOROWIAK-ROGERS STILL REMEMBERS the flyer pasted up on campus: “You want to travel? Call this number.” It was 1970, and she would soon see her four years at Cal come to an unceremonious end—literally. After National Guardsmen gunned down four students at Kent State, Berkeley administrators had canceled graduation.

From the Fall 2021 issue of California.

Eric Stover Has Spent a Career Unearthing Atrocities

ERIC STOVER HAD NO PROFESSIONAL PATH when he set out backpacking from Alaska through Central and South America in early spring 1975. At 23, he was inspired by wanderlust. “I wanted to be the next Kerouac, but it didn’t work out that way.” By the end of that 16-months-long trip, Stover was clear about his life’s mission. The journey of realization started in Chile, where Stover has family and where he witnessed dictator Augusto Pinochet’s bloody crackdown against critics. Argentina was more of the same.

From the Fall 2021 issue of California.

Paleontology Is in the Midst of a Revolution.

THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA MUSEUM OF PALEONTOLOGY (UCMP) celebrates its centennial this year, but the story of its founding begins nearly two centuries ago, when California’s newly formed legislature commissioned a survey of the state, eager to map its gold deposits.

From the Fall 2021 issue of California.

“Dr. Fill” Becomes the First Computer to Win Crossword Tournament

AT THE ANNUAL AMERICAN CROSSWORD PUZZLE TOURNAMENT in April, some 1,300 contestants raced to see who could complete the eight puzzles the fastest. The winner was Dr. Fill, an AI system developed by Matthew Ginsberg and helped to victory by Berkeley’s Natural Language Processing Group (NLP), headed by Professor Dan Klein.

The first computer to win the event, Dr. Fill completed most puzzles in well under a minute and only made three mistakes, edging out its top human competitor by 15 points.

From the Fall 2021 issue of California.

Berkeley Scientists Invent New Infinitely Recyclable Plastic Material

FROM THE MICROPLASTICS LEACHING from our laundry to the Styrofoam swirling in the Pacific garbage patch, it seems the world is awash in plastic waste. While we have struggled and failed to wean ourselves off plastics, Berkeley scientists are working hard to address the problem by making polymers that are more readily recyclable and biodegradable.

While the team enthusiastically announced the new material in 2019, major questions over the costs and logistics of introducing PDKs to the market
remained.

From the Fall 2021 issue of California.

Award-Winning Reporter Lisa Armstrong Joins Berkeley J-School Faculty

This summer, after a nationwide search and interview process involving current students, the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism announced the addition of two new faculty members: Lisa Armstrong, an award-winning reporter and associate journalism professor at City University of New York (CUNY), and Shereen Marisol Meraji, co-host and senior producer of NPR’s Code Switch. The two will teach courses on race and journalism as well as reporting.

From the Fall 2021 issue of California.

She Never Gave Up on Her Dream of Working at Pixar

GREEN AND YELLOW FLAMES engulfed Maleficent as she transformed into a gigantic dragon.

“Fire is supposed to be red!” I thought, staring at my TV. Then, when Prince Phillip threw his sword through the heart of the fire-breathing monster, I was done.

My coach mentioned that Pixar was down the street. I immediately dropped my fork. I had no idea Pixar was near campus!

From the Fall 2021 issue of California.

Snapp Chats: a Television Columnist, Etiquette Guru, and Cooking Club Instructor

BECKY WHEELER ’49 DIED ON APRIL 9 in the home where she grew up in Walnut Grove on the Sacramento Delta, one month shy of her 94th birthday. One of her final wishes was to see Cal one last time, so her daughter and son-in-law, Caroline Perkins ’84 and Tadd Perkins ’83, arranged for her to have a virtual tour of the campus.

From the Fall 2021 issue of California.

Safe at Home! Remembering Cal’s Season on the Brink

UNDER DARKENED SKIES laden with humidity and sparked by lightning, Cal’s Devon Rodriquez slowly strode to the plate. It was June 6, 2011, the title game of the NCAA Baseball Regionals in Houston, the Golden Bears’ most crucial at-bat in their most dramatic of seasons—one in which the very existence of the team hung in the balance.

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