California magazine

Meet the “Pro-Piracy” Professor Who Studies ‘Game of Thrones’ Downloads

It wasn’t long ago that we all watched television on a bulky, cathode-ray TV connected to a pricey cable or satellite service. Now televisions are flat and the pay-TV industry is fading fast as consumers switch to online streaming on a plethora of digital devices. But the companies that pump out the content are still dependent on outdated business models and stubbornly ignore the transformational effects that fan fiction and even piracy could bring, says Abigail De Kosnik, an associate professor of new media studies at UC Berkeley.

Physicist Q&A: Trump “Makes Sense” On Energy, Not On Climate

Richard Muller is a Berkeley physics professor, senior scientist at Berkeley Lab, and founder of the group Berkeley Earth, a non-profit established to systematically address the concerns of climate change skeptics. (Muller considers himself a converted skeptic.) He is the author of numerous books including The Instant Physicist and most recently Now: The Physics of Time.

Burning Question: Can California Prevent the Next Wildfire?

Santa Rosa and Sonoma County officials are now in the post mortem phase of the North Bay fire storms, asking what could’ve been done to avoid the tragedy and what can be done in the future to prevent similar conflagrations. Discussions largely have focused on tighter zoning and fire ordinances. Those are appropriate areas to focus on, say many wildfire experts, but municipalities and counties inevitably face pressures that make effective wildfire risk reduction difficult.

WATCH: Does This Thing Have Selfhood?

What is the self? The answer to the question, often explained away by religious thinkers and philosophers as “spirit” or “soul,” has long been science’s “big blind spot,” says Terrence Deacon, neuroscientist and professor at UC Berkeley.  

Kapp Redux: Revisiting Joe Kapp v. NFL in Light of the Kaepernick Case

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s lawsuit against NFL owners for colluding to keep him out of football because he launched the “take-a-knee” protests against racial injustice evokes an earlier landmark sports case, one involving another player whose surname shares a phonetically identical initial syllable with Kaepernick’s.

The Vagabonds of Tightwad Hill Have the Best View in Sports

“This man needs an escort!” the security guard shouted, as ticketholders decked in blue and gold filed past me through the turnstiles into Memorial Stadium. I had no ticket for the sold out game against Bears’ rival USC, but I had a scheme to watch it regardless.

Didn’t Win a Nobel? The Honors and Prestige Don’t End There.

On April 13, 1888, Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, who made millions turning his invention into munitions and selling them to the armies of the world, was aghast to read a story in a Paris newspaper that mistakenly reported his death.

It was actually his older brother, Ludvig, who had died, but Alfred was horrified by the headline: “The merchant of death is dead.”

The story went on to say, “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever, died yesterday.”

I Thought I Knew What It Was Like to Be Displaced. I Was Wrong.

As the late, great Tom Petty put it, you don’t have to live like a refugee. Except, of course, when you do, as I recently found out.

Or at least, like an evacuee, which can feel distinctly refugee-esque to a citizen of a developed country who has never been forced to leave home and possessions due to conflict or natural catastrophe.

Students Sink Their Teeth Into the Search for a Meat Alternative

That Wagyu porterhouse makes any carnivore salivate, but tasty as many people find it, there’s no doubt that meat exacts a price both on human health and the environment.  A number of studies confirm links between red meat consumption and disease, including extensive research in Britain and Germany concluding that vegetarians are 40 percent less likely to develop cancer than carnivores.

The Longest-Running Friendship in Comics

Comics writers aren’t generally household names these days, but Matt Groening is close. For those who can’t quite place the name, say, “The guy who made The Simpsons,” and they’ll usually respond, “Oh, yeah!”

What’s the Deal with Gravitational Waves? An Explainer

After much speculation and bated breath, two-time UC Berkeley alumnus Barry C. Barish (BA ‘57, PhD ‘62)  has been awarded this year’s Nobel Prize for Physics.

Barish shares the prize with fellow Caltech physicist Kip Thorne and MIT physicist Rainer Weiss. The trio earned the recognition for their groundbreaking detection of gravitational waves—ripples in the fabric of space that spread through the universe.

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