Innovation

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.

Welcome to the Age of Billionaires in Space

ON A HOT, BRIGHT DAY IN JUNE, a smattering of reporters stood on an industrial lot in Fontana, California. Orbital Assembly, which calls itself “the first large-scale space construction company,” was unveiling DSTAR, its Demonstrator Station Truss Assembly Robot, which would, in theory, build large structures in space. One structure in particular had garnered most of the media attention and was quickly making a name for the company: Orbital Assembly plans to build a luxury space hotel.

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.

Dr. Mireille Kamariza is Leading the Fight Against Tuberculosis

GROWING UP IN THE BURUNDI AND CAMEROON, Dr. Mireille Kamariza, dreamed of becoming an astronaut.

“I had a general curiosity towards nature,” says Kamariza. “I was particularly intrigued by the sky and the stars and the vastness of space. As a result, I had a fondness for science classes.”

Kamariza’s innovation uses a novel molecule she developed that essentially lights up TB bacteria, making the pathogen
fluorescent.

From the Fall 2021 issue of California.

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