The study that would become a media sensation started innocently enough. It was about ten years ago, when a 4-year-old naively asked her father, “Why do shoelaces come untied?” and said father, who happens to be Oliver M. O’Reilly, a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, couldn’t come up with a good explanation, even after watching myriad YouTube tutorials. “It seemed like a great mechanics problem and no one had solved it.” Read more about Knotty Circumstance: How That Shoelace Study Went Viral »
Our lives have been so augmented—or subsumed—by interconnected cybernetic devices that it’s sometimes difficult to appreciate what we’ve gained.
We can now communicate cheaply and easily, and on a variety of media, with almost anyone anywhere in the world. We can find whatever fact we want, buy any item, monitor our homes, our finances, our children, our physical fitness, all with a few swipes on a screen. We can entertain ourselves for hours, albeit at the risk of eyestrain. Read more about Bugged About Privacy »
I owned a bright orange 1973 VW Bug for 30 years. I loved and in many ways “identified” with it. I parked it on campus almost every day as close to the physics buildings as I could, and students and colleagues knew I was in when they saw the car. Read more about What's It Take to Get a Parking Spot Around Here? »
Posted on September 19, 2017 - 5:15pm
1 There may be one thing that you and Donald Trump agree on: Both of you seem to love Twitter. Since October 5, 2012, you have tweeted nearly 58,000 times and have a staggering 180,000 followers. Why do you find Twitter such a compelling medium for self-expression? Read more about Five Questions for Joyce Carol Oates »
In 1918, America was at war and students arriving at the University of California in the fall of that year found their campus transformed. From the Center Street entrance, the view of the hills was now obscured by large new barracks and the dark smoke issuing from the powerhouse gave the place the look of a factory. Everywhere young men wore the khaki uniforms of the various military outfits represented on campus—the Student Army Training Center, the School of Military Aeronautics, the Naval Unit, and the Ambulance Corps. Read more about In Flew Enza: Remembering the Plague Year in Berkeley »
How to describe artist Ian Cheng’s current exhibit at MoMA PS 1, a Brooklyn-based branch of the world-famous Museum of Modern Art in New York City? Imagine a projection on the wall, as wide as a tractor trailer, depicting chaos … with a story. Read more about Programming Art: Ian Cheng's 'Emissary' at the Museum of Modern Art »
Posted on September 18, 2017 - 1:03pm
If you ever owned an old air-cooled Volkswagen, chances are you also owned a copy of the “Idiot’s Guide,” or at least knew about it. Its real title was How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step-by-Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot “with complete spelled wrong on the cover,” one joker put it, “so you know it must be good.” In fact, the title was an allusion to The Compleat Angler by Izaak Walton. Read more about Zen and the Art of Bug Repair »
On Wednesday afternoon a letter was emailed to all UC Berkeley faculty, encouraging them to boycott all classes and campus activities from September 24th to the 27th—the dates in which Milo Yiannopoulos, Ann Coulter, and Stephen K. Bannon have been invited by a small, conservative student publication called the Berkeley Patriot to speak on campus. Read more about Berkeley Faculty Members Sound Off On Proposed Boycott »
Posted on September 14, 2017 - 9:54am
Eighty-six years ago, physicist Paul Dirac theorized the existence of magnetic monopoles; that is, magnet poles that exist independent of each other. Not north and south together. North. And south. Separately.
Nearly a century later, Felix Flicker, a Berkeley theoretical physicist and post-doctoral researcher in the lab of Norman Yao, is working to help prove Dirac’s theory. “There was this sort of philosophical point I was thinking of,” Flicker says. “You can’t have the left end of a stick without the right end, can you?” Read more about Physics Monopole-y: A Key to a Unified Theory of Everything? »
Posted on September 12, 2017 - 12:57pm
Over the centuries, bug has become an astonishingly versatile little word, with roughly six common meanings and 170 slang uses. But why? Where did the word come from and how did it manage to so infest the English language?
The question was buggin’ me, so I called up Geoffrey Nunberg, renowned linguist and professor at the Berkeley School of Information, to see what he could tell me. Read more about An Entomological Etymology »
On a late morning in July, 17 days after formally beginning work as Berkeley’s 11th chancellor, Carol Tecla Christ sat in her sunlit office in California Hall, reflecting on the meaning of her new job title. “It’s essentially a representational role,” she said. “As the chancellor, you’re the storyteller-in-chief.” Read more about Opening a New Chapter »
In my first months as chancellor, I’ve been thinking a lot about journeys. I remember vividly the first one I made to California to take up my faculty position here. I was a young, freshly minted Ph.D.; I drove across the country with a friend, and it was the first time I had been west of the Mississippi. Indeed, it was the first time I had been west of Philadelphia. Read more about What I Hope to Achieve: A Letter from Chancellor Christ »
Posted on September 7, 2017 - 4:07pm
Pete Nicks thought he knew what he was getting into when he started filming the Oakland Police Department in the fall of 2014. The department had long been under the thumb of a federal judge due to a series of lawsuits exposing poor management and pervasive abuses, but the OPD had a new chief who seemed poised to reform the troubled department. Read more about A Disruption in The Force: Peter Nicks’s New Documentary Has a Hella Big Plot Twist »
Posted on September 6, 2017 - 1:23pm