Berkeley in the News

Berkeley in the News is a daily selection of articles and commentaries in the news media that mention UC Berkeley. The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of the campus.

Friday, 24 May 2019

1. The Berkeley campus will be closed on Monday, May 27, in observance of the Memorial Day holiday. Berkeley in the News will resume publication on Tuesday, May 28.

2. Doctor honoris causa UB: "We are about to use tools that can tell us something about dark energy
Archy Worldys

Physics professor Saul Perlmutter won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2011 for co-discovering that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. Interviewed in Spain this week while there to accept an honoris causa, or honorary degree, from the University of Barcelona, he was asked how he would "answer the simple question of who are humans," given everything he's learned. Professor Perlmutter responded: "We are not very strong or powerful, but if we share our knowledge we can do amazing things that humanity has never considered. Science has been extremely good at bringing people from all over the world to solve problems. I would like this to be the general spirit to address all the problems of the world."
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3. The Essential Interview: Dr. Ken Goldberg, UC Berkeley
Robotics Business Review

Told in an interview that he was like a "modern-day prolific da Vinci" and asked about his favorite project as a roboticist at Berkeley, industrial engineering professor Ken Goldberg says: "Thank you, but the one thing we have in common is a pretty broad curiosity. Regarding my projects, I can't pick favorites. I have been very fortunate to work with terrific students and collaborators. One problem that I've been trying to tackle for 35 years is how to make robots less clumsy. There's been quite a lot of research, but it still remains a very challenging problem because of the inherent uncertainty in perception, control and physics." Asked about the most prideful moment of his career, he says: "My proudest moment was when I was hired at UC Berkeley in 1995. ... Berkeley is a public university and has this amazing reputation in terms of innovation and rigor, not only in the sciences and engineering, but also in the arts, humanities and social sciences. ... I really like thinking and talking with people from different disciplines and it's such a thrill to work with so many fine scholars. I had a close friendship with [philosophy professor emeritus] Hubert Dreyfus, who passed away in 2017. We had lunch every month. We co-taught two courses and had an ongoing dialogue about robotics and AI. It was amazing to me that I could have a regular ongoing conversation with someone like that. ... I'm also proud that I've been able to find and attract truly amazing students to work in the AUTOLab." When asked about his biggest mistake, he begins his answer with, "Where do I start?" and winds up saying about his recent stint as department chair: "I wouldn't call it a mistake as I was trying to do my duty and help out, but I learned that the administrative part is not my forte."
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4. Record methane levels pose new threat to Paris climate accord
Financial Times (*requires registration)

Levels of atmospheric methane have reached a record high, according to new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. While scientists aren't sure why the levels are soaring, they are sure it's not a good sign. According to Alex Turner, a postdoctoral researcher working with the Berkeley Atmospheric CO2 Observation Network, the sources of methane are "more elusive" than those of carbon dioxide, which is primarily caused by fossil fuel production. Still, he says it's "pretty clear that this long-term rise in methane is driven by anthropogenic [human-caused] emissions."
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5. How climate change can fuel wars
The Economist (*requires registration)

A story about the expectation that a warming world will also be one more rife with conflict mentions a 2014 meta-analysis co-authored by associate public policy professor Solomon Hsiang when he was at Princeton, before he came to Berkeley, and by Marshall Burke, then at Berkeley and now at Stanford. "The researchers found 'strong support' for a causal link between climate change and conflict (encompassing everything from interpersonal to large-scale violence)," according to this article. "They even tried to quantify the relationship, claiming that each rise in temperature or extreme rainfall by one standard variation increased the frequency of interpersonal violence by 4% and intergroup conflict by 14%."
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6. Faked Pelosi videos, slowed to make her appear drunk, spread across social media
Washington Post (*requires registration)

Altered video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) giving a speech Wednesday at a Center for American Progress event has gone viral online, even tweeted by President Trump, and with changes made to the tone and speed of her speech, it appears that she's drunk. "There is no question that the video has been slowed to alter Pelosi's voice," says information professor Hany Farid, a digital forensics expert and advisor to the Counter-Extremism Project. "It is striking that such a simple manipulation can be so effective and believable to some." Referring to more sophisticated computer-altered videos, he says: "While I think that deepfake technology poses a real threat ... this type of low-tech fake shows that there is a larger threat of misinformation campaigns -- too many of us are willing to believe the worst in people that we disagree with." Stories quoting Professor Farid on this topic have appeared in more than 350 sources, including NBC News, CNN, San Francisco Chronicle Online (AP), USA Today, and Axios.
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7. Book Review: When the government used bad science to restrict immigration
Washington Post (*requires registration)

Reviewing the book The Guarded Gate: Bigotry, Eugenics, and the Law That Kept Two Generations of Jews, Italians, and Other European Immigrants Out of America (Scribner, 2019), history professor emeritus David Hollinger writes: "When Congress sharply restricted immigration in 1924, it acted on the basis of ideas about race and heredity known to be false. The story of this triumph of ignorance has been told before, but never more vividly than by Daniel Okrent in a book that appears in another era when well-financed engines of deceit affect immigration policy." He concludes his review, saying: "Martin Luther King Jr. loved to quote Carlyle's hopeful dictum, 'No lie can live forever.' Perhaps. But once a lie is in place, it takes a lot to kill it." Professor Hollinger is the author of the book Postethnic America: Beyond Multiculturalism (Basic Books, 1995), now in its tenth edition.
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8. Judge Knocks Credibility of Qualcomm Executives in Trial Testimony
Wall Street Journal (*requires registration)

Qualcomm Inc. received scathing criticism from Federal District Jude Lucy Koh when she agreed with the Federal Trade Commission in her ruling on their antitrust suit against the company. Economics professor Carl Shapiro was the FTC's leading expert witness.
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9. Our Conflicted Relationship With 'Feminine' Décor
Wall Street Journal (*requires registration)

In a story about gendered decorating, the author writes: "Why is it that describing something as 'feminine design' is a negative -- or 'flowery, ditzy and silly'? ... Obviously, feminine design is none of those things. But we have irrational design biases. For instance, people confuse personality traits with gender, social psychologists say. Someone who has a lot of framed photographs in a room is probably extroverted. But most people shown the room would say a woman decorated it, said Dr. Lindsay Graham, researcher at the Center for the Built Environment at the University of California, Berkeley."
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10. 'You Have to Take a Stand.' Soccer Phenom Alex Morgan Wants the Respect -- and Money -- Female Players Deserve
Time Magazine

Alum Alex Morgan, who will be leading the U.S. women's top-ranked soccer team at the upcoming World Cup in France, is featured in Time Magazine's June 3/June 10 double-issue cover story. Besides being the "reigning U.S. women's soccer player of the year," she's also making news for being the first signatory on a federal gender-discrimination lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation. Citing gross pay inequities, the suit charges that the sport's governing body pays "only lip service to gender equality." The story includes a lengthy description of her time at Berkeley, where she earned a degree in political economy. According to the reporter: "Morgan's speed and knack for scoring earned her a soccer scholarship to the University of California, Berkeley.... Morgan excelled on the pitch for Cal and was named to the U.S. Under-20 team, which functions as a feeder for the top national team. After helping lead the U.S. to the 2008 Under-20 World Cup title with a brilliant left-footed goal in the final, Morgan was called up to the senior squad. ... Her impact was immediate. Morgan scored a key goal against Italy to help the U.S. qualify for the 2011 World Cup, and she emerged as a go-to substitute in the tournament. Undaunted by soccer's biggest stage, Morgan scored in both the semis and the finals in her first World Cup, which the U.S. lost in heartbreaking fashion to Japan. ... The performance endeared Morgan to her older teammates, who gave her the nickname Baby Horse. "She ran so fast and has a very specific gait," says former teammate Shannon Boxx. ... Baby Horse became a key cog in the team's gold-medal run at the 2012 Olympics. Her winning goal in the semifinal against Canada–a header seconds before time expired -- has become soccer lore."
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11. She used to ignore her mother's stories about Vietnam. A professor's class helped change that.
Washington Post (*requires registration)

For her valedictory speech at USC, Vietnamese American student Ivana Giang worked with English professor Viet Thanh Nguyen, a Pulitzer Prizewinning Berkeley alum, to write a speech that would make a powerful call for diversity at USC. The speech often cut close to the bone in light of the notoriety her campus acquired in the admissions scandal this year, and she and Nguyen had to work with campus communications officers, who thought some of her speech was "too pointed, politically." She said in the speech before a crowd of an estimated 80,000 people: "I've seen great progress at USC since my freshman year, and now it's certainly groundbreaking that, for the first time in the 139 years since its founding, women are leading the university. ... But breaking ground isn't enough. It isn't enough to find new people to cycle through the same old system. We have to reimagine a fundamental, cultural shift of these systems. Here at USC, we have been told to fight on all these years, but I have to ask USC: What are we fighting for?" She also paid tribute to Professor Nguyen, who was her first Vietnamese professor and had inspired her in a way she said she "would have never imagined in my wildest dreams." Talking about her speech, Professor Nguyen says he had a similar experience as an undergraduate at Berkeley, when he was taught about Southeast Asian history by a Vietnamese American professor. "There is something important to seeing yourself reflected in your professors," he says. "I think, if you come from the majority, if you're white or if you're male, you take these things for granted. But if you're not, it's an enormous issue to see that people like you are doing these kinds of things, and in particular, if they are doing something that is important to yourself."
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