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2014 Winter Gender Assumptions

Image source: Detail of Photo by Coby McDonald

How to Train Your Robot: Now They Can Follow Human Demonstrations to Tie Knots

BRETT the robot is a knot-tying whiz; it can tie an overhand knot, square knot, figure 8, and hitch. Sure, there are robots out there that drive cars, detonate roadside bombs, and even collect rock samples from the surface of Mars, but what makes BRETT special is not what it can do, but how it […]

Fear Factor: In Business and Life, It May Separate Smart Luck from Dumb Luck

Taking big risks might actually keep you from succeeding.  John Morgan is haunted by the prospect of failure. However, he tells his classroom of aspiring entrepreneurs, this fear might not be as unhealthy as your “clinical psychologist will tell you.” We may like to peg successful entrepreneurs as overconfident thrill seekers, but such thrill seekers […]

The Giving-Out Trees: Drought-Stressed Sequoias and Blue Oaks May Start to Vanish

Todd Dawson’s research has taken him to forests, savannas, and deserts all over the world. But his recent investigations close to the UC Berkeley campus have taken him to the edges where ecosystem types transition. The professor of Integrative Biology has found that the blue oaks (Quercus douglasii) at Berkeley’s Blue Oak Ranch Reserve near […]

Image source: Photo by Liza Corr

Love, Life and Baseball: A Filmmaker Follows Little Leaguers from Oakland to Havana

There are men of vision, and there are men of vision about men of vision. This is a story about both kinds of men, and about a movie, and about kids, and baseball. If Hollywood were to make a movie about the movie, the opening scene would be in a blue-collar bar in Berkeley, two […]

Image source: Detail of Illustration by Rebecca Bradley

Radicalizing Life Events: If I Was Truly Feminist, What Was I Doing About It?

From the moment I got engaged last year, everything I touched became fraught with meaning about my role in the world as a woman, wife, and future mother. Just a few of the questions that came up in the months surrounding the wedding: Would I circle around Dave seven times under the chuppah to signify […]

My Scarf, Myself, and You: Hijab Is About More, and Less, than Religious Expression

The tiny, default, unisex photo thumbnail haunted me for days. I had built what I believed was the perfect online resume on LinkedIn, thoroughly listing my education, job experience, and skills, while trying to delicately tread that line between confidence and arrogance. But then I came to the question I always agonized over: whether or […]

Image source: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis

What Stalled the Gender Revolution? Child Care That Costs More Than College Tuition

I am probably a familiar type to you. I went to college, got a master’s degree, started a career, married, and had my first child late, at 35. I was working as editor-in-chief of a fiction magazine called Zoetrope: All-Story when I became pregnant. The magazine, founded and published by Francis Ford Coppola, had long […]

Image source: Illustration by Johanna Goodman

Engendering Sons: Is It Doable—or Even Desirable—to Raise Gender-Neutral Children?

I grew up in Los Angeles in the 1960s and ’70s as the middle of three sisters—no brothers—and I took the “boy role.” I was athletic, did more of the outside chores (although we all had to weed the lawn), and wore pants in elementary school as soon as school rules changed allowing us to […]

Image source: Photographs by Marcus Hanschen

The Book of Proverb: In a New Autobiography, the ‘Last of the Biblical Tackles’ Tells All

To say Proverb Jacobs has written his memoirs is a little like saying that Herman Melville wrote a story about a whale. That’s not to exaggerate the literary accomplishment, only to say that when it comes to sheer bulk, Jacobs’s humbly titled, self-published Autobiography of an Unknown Football Player makes even Moby-Dick look like small-fry. […]

Image source: Photograph by Marcus Hanschen

Cracking the Code: Jennifer Doudna and Her Amazing Molecular Scissors

This Lilliputian virus-killing machine is transforming molecular biology research throughout the world. 

Image source: Detail of Illustration by Jon Krause

The Politics of Consent: At UC Campuses, Why ‘No Means No’ Was No Longer Enough

In September, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the Yes Means Yes rule, the first law in the nation to require California colleges to adopt an affirmative consent standard in sexual assault cases. The legislation is controversial, but advocates see it as an acknowledgment that a “rape culture” is prevalent on university campuses, and politicians […]