University of California

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.” Read more about What Would Buddha Do? Berkeley Econ Class Covers Supply, Demand and Enlightenment »

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. Read more about Final Fight: Berkeley Marine's Battle to Get his Afghan Interpreter and Family to Safety »

Goodbye to the Godfather of Psychedelics: Shulgin Now “Tripping in the Cosmos”

Update: The federal government has just given special permission to a team of Marin County therapists to study whether the party drug Molly or Ecstasy—both street names for the illegal psychoactive drug MDMA—is able to reduce anxiety in people with life-threatening illnesses. (Experts caution that much of the contraban sold as Ecstasy now is mixed with other dangerous substances.) The new willingness to investigative MDMA’s therapeutic potential would have been welcome news to the man credited with synthesizing it for psychiatric use in the 1970s: Alexander Shulgin, who held a Ph.D. Read more about Goodbye to the Godfather of Psychedelics: Shulgin Now "Tripping in the Cosmos" »

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. Read more about Floral Flush: Ace Poker Player Antes up for Startup to Keep Struggling Florists in Business »

Bones to Pick: UC Berkeley Paleontologist Entices Diverse Students to Dig Her Field

Lisa White scrunches her nose and holds a magnifying glass up to one eye to inspect a peanut-sized vial seemingly full of large tan and ivory sand grains. But a closer look reveals rods, stars and corkscrews—the 50-million-year-old fossilized shells of forams, creatures that still populate the oceans today. Read more about Bones to Pick: UC Berkeley Paleontologist Entices Diverse Students to Dig Her Field »

The Break-Up Heard Round the World: Is There A Legal Recourse Against Comcast?

It went so immediately and intensely viral that it probably gave the Internet a case of breakbone fever. We’re speaking, of course, of the recording of a Comcast “retention” representative pleading with, browbeating and haranguing customer Ryan Block to stay with the cable service giant. Read more about The Break-Up Heard Round the World: Is There A Legal Recourse Against Comcast? »

Sniffing Out Better Bomb Detection: Berkeley Researchers’ Tiny Lasers Could Replace Dogs

Long before Lassie fished Timmy out of a well, dogs have been heroically bailing us humans out of sticky situations. In the post 9/11 era that’s never been truer, with bomb-sniffing dogs scouring our airports and cities for deadly explosives. 

So it’s a shame to say that man’s best friend may be out of a job. Read more about Sniffing Out Better Bomb Detection: Berkeley Researchers' Tiny Lasers Could Replace Dogs »

Math Rock Fans, Rejoice: A Minor Forest Has Reunited, Will Play in Berkeley

Math rock fans of the 1990s will remember A Minor Forest, the trio of Bay Area musicians renowned for their aggressive, rhythmically technical style of playing and intense live shows. (Not to mention imaginatively crass song titles like “No One Likes an Old Baby” and “Jacking Off George Lucas.”) Read more about Math Rock Fans, Rejoice: A Minor Forest Has Reunited, Will Play in Berkeley »

The Immortality Connundrum: Our Mortality May Be What Saves Us From Cancer

Want to live forever? Be a tumor. We may eventually download analogs of our brains into computers and thus achieve a certain kind of immortality, but dramatically extending the functionality of the human body is looking problematic. Cancer cells, on the other hand, can propagate endlessly.

Which once again shows that life is inherently unfair, even in death. Why should insensate and destructive carcinomas enjoy the boon of immortality while we sentient human beings are preordained to decline and ultimate oblivion? Read more about The Immortality Connundrum: Our Mortality May Be What Saves Us From Cancer »

Doing the Right Thing, or Not: What Makes People Less Likely to Be Selfish Jerks?

Some scientific studies come as revelations—biological investigations unlocking keys hidden within the human genome, statistical analyses that identify shocking trends between disparate data sets, and explorations of the cosmos that reveal truths about the very fabric of existence.

And then there are scientific studies that tell us what most of us probably knew all along. Read more about Doing the Right Thing, or Not: What Makes People Less Likely to Be Selfish Jerks? »

Food, Glorious Food: Why Do So Many Cal Alums Take a Career Detour Into the Kitchen?

Paul Oprescu majored in modern American history at UC Berkeley and planned to become an academic. But he had a dream—not the kind you hold in your heart, the kind you have in your sleep. He dreamt he was making fresh pasta and selling it to students.

That, he says, was the impetus that prompted a career change: Now he owns and operates an Italian restaurant on Shattuck Avenue. Read more about Food, Glorious Food: Why Do So Many Cal Alums Take a Career Detour Into the Kitchen? »

Justice Alito Rides Hobby Lobby into Summer Break

It’s always nice to go out with a barnburner.

Wrapping up a session already thick with contentious and consequential rulings from campaign finance to affirmative action, the Supreme Court ended its 2013–14 term with a bang yesterday, dropping a decision that simultaneously touches upon the issues of reproductive rights, Obamacare, freedom of religion, and the limits of corporate personhood. Predictably then, the response to Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision has been explosive. Read more about Justice Alito Rides Hobby Lobby into Summer Break »

Reality Injection: Why California’s Whooping Cough Epidemic is Only Getting Worse

Pertussis continues to spread in California, with 3,458 cases reported between January 1 and June 10: In less than half a year, the toll of the sickened already has exceeded all reported cases for 2013. State health officials have now declared a pertussis epidemic—deeply worrisome, considering the bacterium* poses a particularly dire threat to infants.  Read more about Reality Injection: Why California's Whooping Cough Epidemic is Only Getting Worse »

Happiness Isn’t Just a Warm Puppy—UC Berkeley is First to Make it an Online Course

Happiness: So fervently sought, so elusive. But just what the hell is it? Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz expressed his take in 1962 with his book Happiness is a Warm Puppy. That declaration gained a lot of pop (and pup) cultural traction, but it hardly told the whole story. Turns out the nitty-gritty of happiness isn’t quite so simple. Read more about Happiness Isn't Just a Warm Puppy—UC Berkeley is First to Make it an Online Course »

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