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2013 Winter Information Issue

Clark Kerr’s Classic: The Uses of the University Turns 50

Fifty years ago, Clark Kerr, president of the University of California, delivered a speech at Harvard about the university’s role; his talk would roil academe. Some would praise him for delivering an incisive and unflinching description of the modern university, while others would savage him for advocating a “factory” that served industry and government at […]

University Champion

CAA 2014 Alumnus of the Year William Powers Jr. You would not have picked 17-year-old William Powers Jr. for a firebrand when he drove his ’55 Chevy to campus in 1963. He was a gangly blue-eyed kid, nervous, certain that everybody was smarter than he was. He was a chemistry major but always avoided raising his […]

Science Wants to Be Free

In the age of the Internet, why is so much research inaccessible? On January 6, 2011, 24-year-old hacker and activist Aaron Swartz was arrested by police near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for downloading several million articles from an online archive of research journals called JSTOR. After Swartz committed suicide in January 2013, questions were […]

Sculpting Geometry

A Berkeley professor explores the art of math (and vice versa). Carlo Séquin lives in a world of impossible objects and mind-bending shapes. Visiting the computer science professor emeritus’s office is like taking a trip down the rabbit hole. Paradoxical forms are found in every corner, piled on shelves, poised on pedestals, hanging from the […]

Metal Machine Music

Berkeley researchers write programs that jam. From autoworkers to telephone operators, many employees have lost their jobs to robots. Could session musicians be next? It’s more likely than you might think. A trio of Berkeley researchers is developing computer programs that can hold their own with the best jazz artists. The study is part of […]

Tracking Transit

How much is public transit worth? The question at the center of Daniel Chatman’s latest paper seems like it already should have been answered: Just how much is public transportation worth to a city? Although city planning papers had examined public transit’s financial effects before, Chatman, an assistant professor of city and regional planning, found […]

Lizard Legwork

New species lurk in unexpected places. Some of California’s most inhospitable-seeming areas—the Mojave Desert, the runway of LAX, and an empty lot in Bakersfield—are host to four new species of legless lizards, much to the researcher’s own surprise. “Based on this study, there is more biodiversity than we understand now,” said Berkeley herpetologist Theodore Papenfuss. […]

Wrangling Big Data

A Berkeley lab is hard at work making sense of the information age. Imagine a website that could offer you personalized medical advice. You could log on and input your symptoms and medical history. The program would then compare your situation to that of other people with a similar condition, perhaps analyze your genotype, consult […]