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2010 Summer Shelf Life

No Laughing Matter

Berkeley’s hyenas may help unravel the mystery of language Some evenings in the Berkeley Hills, an unexpected sound can be heard among the usual chirps of the wrens and the chickadees: the piercing giggles of laughing hyenas, a species native to southern Africa. A colony of these creatures live in the Berkeley Field Station for the […]

Damage Control

Chile’s disaster tells experts what California is doing right – and wrong – to prepare for the next big one. In 1985, Jack Moehle, Professor of Civil and Envirnomental Engineering at Berkeley, traveled to Chile to sort through the rubble left in the wake of the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked the coast. He was […]

Fast Learner

Cal grad student Carol Greider got started early making monumental discoveries in cell biology Several suitcases were open in Carol Greider’s Baltimore living room on a misty day in December 2009. The new recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was just back from Stockholm, where she had partied hard with her two young […]

Art Star

With the addition of the Fisher Collection, SF MOMA becomes a world destination. Gary Garrels, senior curator of painting and sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, was nursing an afternoon espresso in the museum’s rooftop atrium and looking very content. A large, delicate swarm of spiders, Louise Bourgeois’s The Nest, loomed nearby. Between […]

Central Asia’s Soviet Hangover

Stalin’s fading, but the ghost of Lenin lingers on. In Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyztan, a statue of Lenin has been moved from its prominent perch in front of Parliament around back, to a plaza built atop a bomb shelter dating from the 1950s. In Ashgabat, the surreal capital of oil-rich Turkmenistan, a statue of Lenin […]

Forgotten Sports Heroes of Cal

Archie Williams ’39 Archie Williams, an athlete, airman, and teacher who ran in the infamous 1936 Olympics in Berlin, graduated from Cal with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at a time when no one in the field was hiring African-Americans. A native of Oakland, Williams was a track star at University High School and […]

Bound to Sell

How two Berkeley bookstores fought, and still fight, for their values In the twilight hours of a February morning in 1989, Cody’s Books on Telegraph Avenue was firebombed. Pressure was on for Andy Ross, Cody’s owner, to remove from the shelves Salman Rushdie’s new novel, The Satanic Verses, which satirizes parts of Islamic culture. A few […]

License at the Margins

Jonathan Lethem talks about becoming a writer in Berkeley In 1984, novelist Jonathan Lethem dropped out of Bennington and headed west to Berkeley, where he spent a decade working in two of the city’s iconic bookshops: Pegasus and Moe’s. Today, the celebrated author is back in his native New York, but it was in Berkeley, he […]

Foggy Future

A sharp drop in marine fog may threaten California’s state tree. Just as Southern California is famous for sunny beaches, the north coast is epitomized by fog-enshrouded redwood forests. Now, new research suggests that this fog has declined drastically, threatening these iconic trees. “Fog and redwoods are linked,” says James Johnstone, M.A. ’02, Ph.D. ’08, lead […]

An Ounce of Prevention

Sometimes the public health field is a victim of its own success. In the Spring of 2001, several leading public health associations launched an ambitious effort to raise the profile of their field. Creating the Public Health Brand Identity Coalition–which I think we can all agree is not the sexiest name for an initiative to promote […]

Tale of a Mid-Sixties Swim Babe

Twenty-eight years ago I took up swimming after I finally quit smoking for the last time. I was 39 and believed I was teetering into middle age. Up until that point, I rather scorned athletics and sports as bourgeois. After Berkeley, I’d gone to New York, where the only exercise I got in was running […]