Innovation

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 toyon, 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 »

Well in Control: Berkeley Startup Helps People Find Out What They’re Drinking

Two factors that contributed to the poisoning of tens of thousands of Washington, D.C., residents through their drinking water in the early 2000s—lead pipes and a disinfectant called chloramine—continue to coexist in countless water systems nationwide, including in the Bay Area. But not to worry, says UC Berkeley water expert and engineering professor David Sedlak; they’re safe when properly managed, which happens in the vast majority of public water systems. Read more about Well in Control: Berkeley Startup Helps People Find Out What They’re Drinking »

From the Fall 2016 The Greatest Show On Earth issue of California.

Breathing Easier: A New Device Could Help Detect Asthma Attacks Before They Start

To a very real degree, Charvi Shetty’s future was molded by her college roommate. Or rather, her roommate’s health.

“She had asthma,” says Shetty, who graduated from UC Berkeley with a bioengineering degree in 2012 and took a master’s in biomedical imaging from UCSF in 2013. “She had to use an inhaler six times a day. She told me that her childhood memories were of going to the ER, not Disneyland or the beach, and she was never allowed to play outside because of her allergies. Asthma controlled her life.” Read more about Breathing Easier: A New Device Could Help Detect Asthma Attacks Before They Start »

From the Fall 2016 The Greatest Show On Earth issue of California.

Eyes on the Octopus: In Trio of Studies, Berkeley Scientists Strive to Make Sense of the Cephalopods

It is a curious thing to consider that UC Berkeley, a school notably lacking a marine biology program, has produced not one, not two, but three published studies on the venerable octopus within the last year. But then octopuses, too, are curious to consider. They have three hearts; blue, copper-based blood; regenerating tentacles; and a level of sentience unique among invertebrates. Read more about Eyes on the Octopus: In Trio of Studies, Berkeley Scientists Strive to Make Sense of the Cephalopods »

From the Fall 2016 The Greatest Show On Earth issue of California.

Notes from Understory: A Berkeley Biologist Gauges the Health of the Redwoods from the Ferns on the Forest Floor.

Emily Burns was driving north from the Bay Area one day, idly woolgathering, when it hit her.

“Western sword ferns,” she recalls thinking. “They’re twice as big in the northern end of their range as in the southern end. And it struck me that it had to be due to water availability. The fact that it’s wetter in Redwood National Park in Humboldt County than, say, Lime Kiln Creek on the Big Sur coast translates as larger ferns in the north. It all seems obvious now, but there was nothing in the literature on it.” Read more about Notes from Understory: A Berkeley Biologist Gauges the Health of the Redwoods from the Ferns on the Forest Floor. »

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