UC Berkeley

Why Ferguson is Felt Far and Wide: Hits National Nerves about Racism and Robocops

The police shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, is the lead story on all broadcast, social media and print outlets, pushing out the Gaza conflict, ISIS in Iraq, and the war in Ukraine. It’s caused unease across the country and along the full range of the political spectrum. That’s because it’s not just about a single cop shooting a single teenager. It’s about two trends affecting the United States from coast to coast.

Stardust Captured: Scientists Likely Find First Bits from Beyond Our Solar System

Today UC Berkeley scientists are announcing that they have probably identified, in samples returned from a NASA probe, particles of interstellar matter—the first samples of “stardust” from beyond our solar system.

Obtaining the dust motes has been an achievement of staggering technical proficiency in extracting the infinitesimal from the infinite.

Engineering Sisters Design, Ship Bargain Bots to Engage Diverse Kids—Especially Girls

The two robots spin and lurch, their little electric motors whirring against each other as a bevy of kids look on, their eyes bulging and their shoulders scrunched almost up to their ears in rapt attention. A girl of about 12 with long black hair scratches her chin, smiling nervously—a smile that twists into a grimace as her robot battles too near the edge of the circular table. She talks to her robot, goads it on, giggles. When that fails, she resorts to body English, rapping her right hand against her hip three times.

Do-It-Yourself Biology? Messing Around with DNA Increasingly a Garage-Band Venture

Silicon is so passé. Those who are truly au courant in the coding world are working with carbon—specifically DNA, that most ancient and elegant of codes. Such biohacking is central to the rapidly expanding field of synthetic biology, a term that somehow seems a little threatening to many of us who are the products of the old fashioned kind of biology that’s been around since the planet first managed to gin up a few primitive prokaryotes 3.5 billion years ago.

Pedaling toward Nirvana: Bike Boosters Trying to Make the Bay Area a Cycling Paradise

On Tuesday the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition celebrated its 22nd annual “Golden Wheel Awards”—a waterfront event that gave the city’s bike boosters the opportunity to bust out their best Lycra and give themselves a collective pat on the back for another year well done. By all accounts, they had a lot of patting to do.

What Would Buddha Do? Berkeley Econ Class Covers Supply, Demand and Enlightenment

Let the bull market for college-level economics continue. Despite its daunting math, its abstract models, and its 0-for-1 track record in predicting recent worldwide financial catastrophes, economics remains one of the top 10 college majors across the country, according to the Princeton Review. That trend certainly holds at UC Berkeley where, last fall, econ was the second only to electrical engineering and computer science as most popular major. As the fall semester approaches, expect hundreds more undergrads to flock eagerly to the “dismal science.”

Final Fight: Berkeley Marine’s Battle to Get his Afghan Interpreter and Family to Safety

Why do we fight? Soldiers and Marines will have varied secondary answers: for national security, or a patriotic ideal, or even because your peers were enlisting. But there is another, overriding reason. You fight for those ahead of you or behind you on patrol, for the people in your squad or platoon, for the people who are fighting for—and protecting—you.

Floral Flush: Ace Poker Player Antes up for Startup to Keep Struggling Florists in Business

What would be the ideal place to hone one’s skills as a poker player—the type of high-stakes player capable of winning the most prestigious tournament in the world? Vegas, you might imagine, or perhaps Monte Carlo.

Odds are you didn’t think of the UC Berkeley campus.

And what would that player be likely to do with his winnings? Buy a yacht, a Ferrari, a tiny tropical island?

Again, bet you wouldn’t guess he would use those poker profits to launch a successful startup that would become the Etsy of mom-and-pop florists.

Blind No More? Berkeley Neuroscientists’ Engineered Molecule Causes Mice to See Light

In Star Trek: The Next Generation, a blind character wore a visor that helped him to see the world. With any luck, that won’t be science fiction for long.

UC Berkeley Professor Richard Kramer and his colleagues, including graduate student Ivan Tochitsky, have engineered a molecule that, when injected into the eyes of blind mice, causes them to react to light. With a little extra hardware, Kramer says, this molecule could help humans suffering from diseases like macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.

From the Summer 2014 Apocalypse issue of California.

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