University of California

Don’t Mind If I Do: Mind-Controlling Fungus Infects, Hijacks Fly

As the sun set on Berkeley one evening in 2015, a fruit fly, whom we’ll call Bill, crawled his way up the tender green skin of a watermelon. Moving slowly, as if hypnotized, he reached the top of the melon, extended his proboscis and released a gluey gunk that gently adhered his tiny limbs to the fruit. His body tensed as his wings pulled up and back behind him; he was still as a statue—poised, elegant.

Reading Roundup: Probing the Sun, Draining the Swamp, and More

Hot Hot Heat

This Saturday, NASA plans to launch the Parker Solar Probe, a spacecraft designed to touch the edge of the solar corona, the aura of plasma that surrounds the sun. It will be the first-ever spacecraft to enter into the orbits of Venus and Mercury, a feat scientists have dreamt of for decades.

Proud Legacy: New Blackwell Hall Houses Students and Stiles

After 18 months of construction, the sidewalks have been cleared, the furniture has been moved in, and, on August 14, some 750 freshmen will be welcomed into their new Berkeley digs on the corner of Durant Avenue and Dana Street. The university’s newest eight-story residence, David Blackwell Hall, opens as the campus is pushing to house a greater portion of its growing enrollment. The new dorm is also the refurbished residence of another long-time home for Berkeley students: Stiles Hall.

Going Green: Artist Chroma-Keys in on White Political Narratives

What can historical garments tell us about today’s political climate? Berkeley Art Practice professor Stephanie Syjuco has some ideas.

This November, Syjuco will present a selection of her projects at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C. Her works have typically dealt with global issues, but lately she has turned her attention to the political and social drama unfolding across the U.S. stage.

For the Love of Process: On Curating Cecilia Vicuña’s New Show

Art critic and professor Julia Bryan-Wilson likes process. So when she and Andrea Andersson co-curated About to Happen , a solo show by artist and poet Cecilia Vicuña, she photographed Vicuña gathering materials along the Louisiana coast for a site-specific sculpture at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans. Bryan-Wilson thought those photos would enhance the exhibition.

Gird Your Genes: What DNA Matching Might Mean for Your Privacy

The recent capture of a suspect for the notorious Golden State Killer crimes was a vindication of both diligent detective work and modern technology. More than four decades after the first incident attributed to the GSK, which ultimately tallied at least 12 murders, 45 rapes, and more than 100 home burglaries, 72-year-old Joseph DeAngelo was arrested in his California home.

Reading Roundup: Facebook, Fires, Fashion, and More

Freaky Fires

While it’s not news that the golden state has taken on a crackling red hue from recent wildfires, reports of the fires’ behaviors are blazingly bizarre.

It’s been commonly observed by firefighters that fires slow down at night, according to Scott L. Stephens, UC Berkeley professor of fire science. But a number of recent fires have said “to hell with the slow burn!” and begun spreading quickly even when the sun goes down.

In Hoboken, Humility Proves Stronger Than Hate

Hoboken, New Jersey: birthplace of Frank Sinatra, modern zippers, the edible ice cream cup and, if some historians are to be believed, baseball (although the good people of Cooperstown, New York might beg to differ).

And on November 7, 2017, Hoboken’s voters scored another first, electing Ravinder “Ravi” Singh Bhalla ‘95—who proudly calls himself “everything Donald Trump hates”—as the city’s 39 th mayor and the first Sikh mayor in the city’s history.

The Secret of the Sea Nomads

The Bajau people, commonly known as “sea nomads,” live in coastal regions of the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia. They spend some 60 percent of their working hours in the sea, foraging for food at depths of up to 230 feet below the surface. Bajau divers are known to hold their breath for several minutes at a time.

How do they do it? Researchers think they have found the key: larger spleens.

Findings like these are a reminder that humans, like all animals, are products of evolution.

From the Summer 2018 Our Town issue of California.

Five Questions for David Patterson

1. The Turing Award is often called the Nobel Prize of Computing. Counting faculty and alumni, Berkeley claims more Turing laureates than almost any other university in the world. That surprises a lot of people. Should it?

Let’s just say our competitors aren’t burdened with an overdeveloped case of humility.

From the Summer 2018 Our Town issue of California.

Should Our Pets Be Vegans, Too?

It’s a cruel world, but a new Berkeley start-up aims to make it just bit kinder and gentler. Wild Earth, a company spearheaded by biohacking wunderkind Ryan Bethencourt, is working up a line of fungus-based pet foods. It’s the kind of venture that, at first whiff, lends itself to some Anthony Bourdain like lampooning: It’s not enough that you don’t want to eat anything with a face. You don’t want your dog to do any face-eating either.

The Mannequin In the Room

Years ago, I worked for a San Francisco woman who had a mannequin named Lady Lillian. I found that odd, but I was there to cook, not judge.

I took the job because it meant I could cook in a quiet space and would have access to health care.

West Edge Opera: No Suit, No Tie, No Problem

Music director Jonathan Khuner ’70, M.A. ’73, has been a shaping force for West Edge Opera company since the mid-1980s, when he began conducting for this vibrant troupe. In his choice of repertoire, his own tastes and uncompromising outlook helped define the company’s aesthetic, first in its original incarnation as Berkeley Opera and now as West Edge.

From the Summer 2018 Our Town issue of California.

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