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, 20 January 2017
1. Scientists have worked out why everything doesn't go dark and blurry when we blink
We all know that blinking lubricates and protects our eyes more than a dozen times a minute, but an international team of scientists has now discovered that the brain takes an active role in making sure our view of the world doesn't black out or twitch for a split second every time our lids shutter. During a blink, our eyeballs roll back in their sockets, and they don't always return to the exact same spot when our eyes reopen. The brain counteracts that temporary misalignment by activating the eye muscles to reposition our sightlines. "We perceive coherence and not transient blindness because the brain connects the dots for us," says psychology professor and co-author David Whitney. "For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News.
2. Facebook is looking at ways to mitigate the impact of fake news
Adam Mosseri, Facebook's VP of News Feed, joined a panel discussion on fake news at Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism Thursday night. Called "Separating fact from fantasy: Is fake news undermining the truth?," the panel addressed a civic issue of growing concern in recent years, especially since the most recent presidential election. Journalism Dean Edward Wasserman said the term is being used to describe anything from journalistic errors to deliberate falsehoods. Facebook doesn't make money from fake news, but purveyors of it profit when people attracted by it land on their ad-laden pages, so "disrupting the economic model" is of key importance in combatting the phenomenon, Mosseri said. While discussing the complicated issues behind the company's efforts at reducing its appearance on the platform, he also let people know how they can be savvy about it. For example, if you look at a landing page and it's 90-percent ads, that's a sign it's not a legitimate news site. For more on this event, see our story at Berkeley News.
3. Crowdfunding leads venture capitalists to invest outside Silicon Valley, study says
Crowdfunding sites, like Kickstarter, have helped extend venture funding beyond Silicon Valley and other big tech hubs around the country, a new study has found. Led by professor Lee Fleming, faculty director of the Coleman Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership, the researchers learned that not only can crowdfunding projects raise significant amounts of money independently, but successful campaigns also attract the attention of venture capitalists to further boost fundraising. "All regions and all people have ideas, and crowdfunding is enabling those people to get some funding for those ideas," Professor Fleming says. "After they develop successful ones, they become candidates for VC investment." For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News.
4. Op-Ed: State climate policies are boosting San Joaquin Valley's economy
"California's major climate programs are boosting the San Joaquin Valley's economy," writes a group of researchers from the nonprofit Next 10 and UC Berkeley about their newly published case study of the impact of California's climate policies in one of the most economically depressed parts of the state. They conclude: "Presented with challenges at the state and federal level, California will need to decide how to respond. Our report shows that our state's climate policies are not just helping the environment – they're also building the economy and creating jobs in some of our state's most vulnerable communities. ... As policymakers and stakeholders evaluate the future of climate action, we hope this information will help them make the best choices for California, the nation and the world." The Berkeley researchers are Ethan Elkind, director of the climate program at Berkeley's Center for Law, Energy and the Environment, and Betony Jones, associate chair of the Donald Vial Center on Employment in the Green Economy at Berkeley's Center for Labor Research and Education.
5. Obamacare repeal could leave 5 million Californians without health care
Sacramento Bee (*requires registration)
Nearly 5 million California residents could lose their health benefits if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, estimate researchers from the Berkeley's Center for Labor Research and Education and UCLA's Center for Health Policy Research. Aiming to avoid that prospect, Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-Azusa, is trying to rally support among Californians to pressure Republicans to end plans to abandon Obamacare without an adequate replacement plan. "We want to hear from people about what is was like before the Affordable Care Act and what it's like to have insurance now and what it would potentially be like without it," he says. Another story on this topic appeared in the Los Angeles Times.
6. A Cast of Outsiders
Wall Street Journal (*requires registration)
A retrospective of films by Nicholas Ray, including 'Rebel Without a Cause,' 'On Dangerous Ground,' 'The Lusty Men' and 'Bigger than Life,' will be a highlight of Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive programming this spring. According to this critic: "Ray's ability to embrace ostensibly unlovable protagonists set him apart from most other Hollywood directors. It's what endeared him to the French New Wave's central figures, who early on paid homage to his approach. Seeing Ray's best work in concentrated fashion sets that trait in sharp relief. His films demonstrate that the Dream Factory didn't produce only light entertainment. Sometimes, the musings were much darker." The 11-film series runs from Jan. 19 through Feb. 25. For more on this, visit: BAMPFA.
7. 10 Places to See Public Art in 2017
New York Times Style Magazine (*requires registration)
"Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia," a Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive program scheduled for this spring, is highlighted in a roundup of art events planned around the country this year. According to the write-up, the program will let you "you relive the wild public art of the 1960s and 1970s," as it celebrates counterculture art movements, including the Emeryville mud flats sculptures and the radical actions of the Dutch group the Provos. A Bay Area exploration app was created to accompany the program. It "creatively brings together cutting-edge technology, a utopian vision of society and playful expressions of love," says BAMPFA director, Larry Rinder. For more on this, visit BAMPFA.
8. A Rediscovered Mark Twain Fairy Tale Is Coming Soon
New York Times (*requires registration)
An incomplete children's fairy tale by Mark Twain, featuring a poor boy who gains the ability to talk to animals after eating a magic flower, was discovered in Berkeley's Mark Twain Papers archive of more than 500 manuscripts and is now coming to life in a new book by Doubleday Books for Young Readers. Discovered by scholar John Bird, completed by Philip Stead, and illustrated by Erin Stead, Twain's 140-year-old "Oleomargarine" will be sold as "The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine." According to this review: "Like an artifact from a lost civilization, 'Oleomargarine' gives a tantalizing glimpse of the wild, ephemeral tales that Twain spontaneously created for his daughters each night, in the period when he was working on 'Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.' Scholars haven't found any written remnants of those stories, apart from 'Oleomargarine,' which suggests Twain thought it might hold lasting appeal for a wider audience." As archive curator Robert Hirst says: "He had at least some inkling that it might be publishable."