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2015 Summer Confronting the Future

Theorist’s Tools: Marvin Cohen Uses Quantum Mechanics and Computers to Conjure Future

Since the early 1960s, UC Berkeley theoretical physicist Marvin Cohen has been predicting the shape of things to come. His name will be forever linked to the deep and complex physics behind semiconductors—the active ingredients of computer chips, flat-panel TVs, and solar panels. Cohen was a pioneer in the use of computers to predict the […]

Going Chameleon: What a New Material that Changes Color as it Moves Means for Humans

We’ve all probably experienced a moment when we envied a chameleon’s ability to blend into the background—say, after a gaffe at the office holiday party. As it turns out, chameleons change their skin color in response to all kinds of stimuli: physical threats, temperature changes, and the animal’s moods. What if humans could harness that […]

Line in the Sand: How Can We Protect a Shoreline from the Ravages of the Future?

When San Francisco’s Great Highway opened in 1929, some 50,000 people celebrated the coastal stretch of pavement with a parade and a 1,014-piece band. A magazine article from the time boasted of “a wonderfully constructed Esplanade of enduring concrete, which will render for all time the beach safe from the destructive effects of the ocean’s […]

No One Gets Hurt: Why the Future of Crime May Be Less Violent and More Insidious

Among the various anxieties that currently plague affluent modern society, cybercrime surely ranks near the top. It makes sense; as data comes to define our lives to a greater and greater degree, the specter of some unseen hacker pilfering our information with impunity or emptying our bank account with the click of a mouse is […]

Into the Deep Freeze: What Kind of Person Chooses to Get Cryonically Preserved?

The first man to be cryonically preserved was Berkeley psychologist James Bedford. Half a century later, he’s still on ice.

Stir-Fry Crickets and Sauteed Weeds: Why the Food of the Future Won’t Be Nutrient Powder

Remember Tang? It was the “space age” drink that in 1962 astronaut John Glenn sipped in orbit on his Mercury flight, and for a while thought to be the next generation of orange juice. It was considered convenient because it came in powder form, was less perishable than juice, and boasted lots of vitamins and […]