UC Berkeley

Debugging the Novel

When Vikram Chandra started writing his best-selling novel, Sacred Games (2006), he knew it was going to be a big book. And he was right: All told, the novel is 947 pages, includes over 100 characters, and spans a 60-year timeline. To make the writing process smoother, Chandra set out to find a software program he could use to store, organize, and keep track of the details of his novel. But no off-the-shelf program met his needs. Read more about Debugging the Novel »

From the Fall 2017 Bugged issue of California.

Whack-a-Milo: Inside That Expensive “Photo Op”

Former Breitbart commentator Milo Yiannopoulos spoke on the UC Berkeley campus yesterday, but I didn’t get to see it—and neither did most of the hundreds who showed up to see his speech.

In the end, it seems the provocative and flamboyant Yiannopoulos spoke for less than a half hour, without a microphone, sang the national anthem, took a few photos with his fans, then bailed. Read more about Whack-a-Milo: Inside That Expensive "Photo Op" »

Knotty Circumstance: How That Shoelace Study Went Viral

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 »

From the Fall 2017 Bugged issue of California.

Bugged About Privacy

Our lives have been so augmented—or subsumed—by interconnected cybernetic devices that it’s sometimes difficult to appreciate what we’ve gained.

And lost.

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 »

From the Fall 2017 Bugged issue of California.

In Flew Enza: Remembering the Plague Year in Berkeley

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 »

From the Fall 2017 Bugged issue of California.

Zen and the Art of Bug Repair

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 »

From the Fall 2017 Bugged issue of California.

Berkeley Faculty Members Sound Off On Proposed Boycott

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 »

Physics Monopole-y: A Key to a Unified Theory of Everything?

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? »

From the Fall 2017 Bugged issue of California.

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