California magazine

Your Brain on Carbon Dioxide: Research Finds Even Low Levels of Indoor CO2 Impair Thinking

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 »

From the Summer 2016 Welcome to There issue of California.

Wheel of Time: A Grieving Mother Sees All Her Alma Mater Offers, and What it Lacks

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 »

From the Summer 2016 Welcome to There issue of California.

In the Water Works: Bringing Clean Water to Kenya’s Largest Slum

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 »

From the Summer 2016 Welcome to There issue of California.

The Lesbianki Are Coming! The Lesbianki Are Coming! The Secret Lives of Russians

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 Summer 2016 Welcome to There issue of California.

Guilt Trip: How to Justify a Bargain Vacation in Beleaguered Greece

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 »

From the Summer 2016 Welcome to There issue of California.

Famous in Guinea-Bissau: In Africa, Berkeley Band Becomes ‘Non-Militarized Face’ of USA

 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 »

From the Summer 2016 Welcome to There issue of California.

Whooshing into the Future: Aiming to Make Speed-of-Sound Commutes a Reality

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 »

From the Summer 2016 Welcome to There issue of California.

That’s So Metal: You Won’t Believe How These Bacteria Get Around

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 »

From the Summer 2016 Welcome to There issue of California.

Suffer the Children: Long-Term Study Hopes to Unravel Complexities of Chemical Exposure

Chamacos means “little children,” and it’s also an acronym for Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas. Since 1999, when the UC Berkeley-led program enrolled 601 pregnant mothers for a long-term study investigating the impact of agricultural and other chemicals on children, the project’s prolific research output—78 published papers to date—has made news numerous times. Read more about Suffer the Children: Long-Term Study Hopes to Unravel Complexities of Chemical Exposure »

From the Spring 2016 War Stories issue of California.

American Mastadon: Did Forests Edge Out Megafauna, Or the Other Way Around?

Why does North America have so many trees and so few elephants?

One of the many mysteries in the fossil record is the late-Quaternary extinction, that wholesale shift of plant and animal life as the Ice Age ended at the close of the Pleistocene and the beginning of the Holocene, a die-off that included about half of the world’s large-bodied animals. Forests grew up, and into the tar pit went the saber-tooth tiger, giant horses, five-ton sloths, and honking big mammoths and mastodons. Read more about American Mastadon: Did Forests Edge Out Megafauna, Or the Other Way Around? »

From the Spring 2016 War Stories issue of California.

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