Innovation

Artificial Intelligence But Real Style at the Turing Conference

The Turing Award is basically “the Nobel prize of computing,” named after the founding father of the field and given to those who kick the most butt in computer science.  So if you had to guess which university has won the most awards over the last half-century, you’d probably say Massachusetts Institute of Technology, maybe Carnegie Mellon. Read more about Artificial Intelligence But Real Style at the Turing Conference »

Can We Learn to Grow Color? Butterfly Wings May Hold the Answer

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, humans have been buttering up the natural world for a long time. It’s often called biomimicry. Think Olympic swimmers in sharkskin-inspired suits, bullet trains shaped like kingfisher beaks, or the ubiquitous Velcro, which was famously modeled after plant burrs.  

Yet all of these examples depend on man-made materials and processes. What if we took biomimicry one step further and learned how to grow structures the way they grow in nature? Read more about Can We Learn to Grow Color? Butterfly Wings May Hold the Answer »

From the Summer 2017 Adaptation issue of California.

The Starship or the Canoe: Where Will Our Future Adaptations Be?

IN 2015, an observatory high in the Atacama Desert of Chile detected three planets orbiting an M star, an ultra-cool dwarf, in the constellation Aquarius about 40 light years, or 232 trillion miles, from Earth. Until then, the dim star was designated 2MASS J23062928-0502285. Not such a charming name. The discoverers of its satellites, a team of astronomers who operate the Chilean observatory remotely from Liege in Belgium, took the opportunity to warm up that appellation. Read more about The Starship or the Canoe: Where Will Our Future Adaptations Be? »

From the Summer 2017 Adaptation issue of California.

How Do Journalists Cover a President Who Calls Them the Enemy?

In January 2016, David Fahrenthold, a political reporter at The Washington Post, took note as Donald Trump promised to donate $6 million to help veterans, including $1 million of his own, during a televised fundraiser. As he followed the presidential candidate to rallies across the country, Fahrenthold saw him hand over about $1 million in oversized checks from his foundation. What happened to the rest of the money? he wondered. Fahrenthold expected it would take him a couple of days to find out. Read more about How Do Journalists Cover a President Who Calls Them the Enemy? »

Tesla Is Breaking Records Galore. But Is the Eco Hype Overblown?

One of the best ways to flaunt your Earth-hugging bona fides these days is to buy an electric car. It shows you’re willing to put your money—a lot of your money—where your mouth is, assuming your mouth spends a fair amount of time declaiming on global warming, atmospheric carbon emissions, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides, and the sinister intentions of the global hydrocarbon extraction cabal. Buying a Tesla demonstrates you’re doing your part to keep our planet cool and green. Read more about Tesla Is Breaking Records Galore. But Is the Eco Hype Overblown? »

Reading Roundup: Planet Nine, UC and Trump, the Woolly Mammoth

The Sad Last Days of the Woolly Mammoth

Hoping to shed light on the woolly mammoth’s decline, UC Berkeley bioinformatics researcher Montgomery Slatkin and a colleague compared the genomes of two of the hairy giants and found that they were mutational hot messes in their last days, with trouble finding where to pee and translucent satin coats that may have looked cool at parties but were hardly enough to protect them from the elements. Read more about Reading Roundup: Planet Nine, UC and Trump, the Woolly Mammoth »

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.

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