Innovation

How Bears Breed Unicorns: Inside Cal’s Vast Startup Ecosystem

How’s this for a modern take on the venerable office vending machine? You swipe your credit or debit card, open a fridge-like glass door, and choose from an array of fresh entrees and snacks. If you want a receipt, the machine will email it to you, and it keeps track of your preferences: next time there’s a sale on your favorite yogurt, Byte Food’s cloud-based servers will give you a heads up.   Read more about How Bears Breed Unicorns: Inside Cal's Vast Startup Ecosystem »

Waxing Poetic: New Tech Revives Sounds from Past Treasures

In a corner of the Digital Imaging Lab in the basement of UC Berkeley’s Moffitt Library, recent graduate Olivia Dill is checking on the latest shipment of fragile wax recordings from the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology. These hard wax tubes, invented by Thomas Edison in the 1880s, are one of the earliest sound recording media. Read more about Waxing Poetic: New Tech Revives Sounds from Past Treasures »

Greening the Planet: The Fertilizer Effect of CO2 Slows Warming

A new study led by UC Berkeley Lab researcher Trevor Keenan suggests that increased plant growth is slowing the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a finding that could help explain the mystery of why the uptick in CO2 concentrations has leveled off since 2002, even as emissions have increased. “We believed one of the planet’s main carbon sinks had unexpectedly strengthened,” Keenan explained in a Lab press release. “The question was: which one?” Read more about Greening the Planet: The Fertilizer Effect of CO2 Slows Warming »

From the Winter 2016 Reality Bites issue of California.

People Are Strange When You’re Sleep Deprived

Got a lousy night’s sleep? Feeling kinda grouchy? Turns out waking up on the wrong side of the bed won’t just make you cranky. It will make others seem that way, too. A 2015 study from the UC Berkeley Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory found that a single sleepless night can fundamentally alter the way we perceive others—making even the mellowest of fellows seem like the strangest of dangers. Read more about People Are Strange When You're Sleep Deprived »

From the Winter 2016 Reality Bites issue of California.

Alumni Gazette: Rocket Science, Woman Power, and Updating The League

Ever hear that old cliché “This ain’t rocket science?” I wouldn’t use it around Ashley Chandler Karp because what she does is rocket science. A propulsion engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, she’s helping design the next generation of rockets, which will bring samples from Mars back to Earth for more extensive testing than can be done on the Martian surface.

As if that weren’t ambitious enough, they also have to figure out a way to transport the stuff here without getting any contamination from the Red Planet on the container. Read more about Alumni Gazette: Rocket Science, Woman Power, and Updating The League »

From the Winter 2016 Reality Bites issue of California.

Mind Tricks: Bishop Berkeley and the Idea of Everything

Lately, I’ve been spending time at Founders’ Rock trying and mostly failing to get a grasp on reality.

Founders’ Rock is an outcropping at the northeast corner of the UC Berkeley campus, where Gayley Road and Hearst Avenue meet, a lonely spot shaded by coffeeberry, oak, and eucalyptus. The rock itself—lichen-encrusted and moss-fringed—is an unassuming jumble. Read more about Mind Tricks: Bishop Berkeley and the Idea of Everything »

From the Winter 2016 Reality Bites issue of California.

Paint by Numbers: Algorithms for the Artistically Challenged

As a 10-year-old growing up in Shanghai, Jun-Yan Zhu often avoided homework with furtive doodling. He’d sketch comics or movie characters in pencil, then erase the evidence before his mother saw it. Much as he loved drawing, however, he wasn’t very good at it. He dreamed of a world where everyone, even those who lacked the talent, could easily communicate in pictures. Read more about Paint by Numbers: Algorithms for the Artistically Challenged »

From the Winter 2016 Reality Bites issue of California.

Alumni Study: Africans Abroad Still Committed to the Homeland

Even those of us who don’t reflexively shriek “Go Bears” every four or five minutes know that UC Berkeley is one of the finest universities on the planet. The proof is in the sheepskin; if a Cal degree isn’t always a fast track to an executive suite or academic renown, it at least constitutes a reliable on-ramp.

But is that the case just for American students? What about the developing world? Berkeley bona fides can be of inestimable value in Silicon Valley, but is the same true for Mombasa? Read more about Alumni Study: Africans Abroad Still Committed to the Homeland »

Urban Ore: Berkeley’s Eternal Garage Sale

Enter any grocery store franchise and prepare to be worked. It’s almost Halloween so you’ll see pumpkins, candy, straw, and speckled corn garnishing produce bins overflowing with honeycombed stacks of shiny, plump fruit. You’ll smell flowers, fresh bread, and deli meats. If you came at the right time you might hear a faint thunderstorm in the produce section and see soft mist falling on dewy greens.

“Have you tried Advanced Listerine?” A voice might chirp from the ceiling. Read more about Urban Ore: Berkeley’s Eternal Garage Sale »

A Little Dotty: Berkeley Startup Has a New Way to Make Your House Smart

When giant tech companies like Intel or Samsung need to make a circuit board, they simply pop one out of their multi-billion dollar fabs or pony up a few million for a new machine. But when you’re just a tiny, underfunded startup putting together a prototype that you need to bake, you’ve got to look for something simpler and cheaper—a lot cheaper. Read more about A Little Dotty: Berkeley Startup Has a New Way to Make Your House Smart »

Message in a Bottle: Nearly Four Decades After Launch the Voyager Record Still Inspires

This Friday night the Greek Theatre will host a one-night-only performance of music and storytelling exploring the “sounds, ideas, and culture of California and the West today.” Called “The Golden State Record,” the evening’s program—a joint presentation by the folks at Pop-Up Magazine, California Sunday Magazine (not to be confused with this magazine), and festival producer NoisePop—is a nod to the NASA Voyager Golden Records, which are carried by the twin space probes, Voyagers 1 and 2. Read more about Message in a Bottle: Nearly Four Decades After Launch the Voyager Record Still Inspires »

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