LEGO CUUSO, a website where you can vote on user submitted LEGO ideas, recently featured UC San Diego alum Stephen Pakbaz’s Mars Curiosity Rover model. Pakbaz actually worked at NASA as a mechanical engineer on the actual rover project.
UC Davis brewing science professor Charles Bamforth is known as the “pope of foam.” His lab delves into the science behind creating the perfect beer foam, which is essential to a great tasting brew. That’s because most of the flavor of beer is detected by smell, which is why Bamforth says you must drink beer from a glass and not straight from a bottle or can. He explains beer-making and reveals how to pick the freshest pint when you’re at a pub.
“The United States is the world’s largest table olive and olive oil market. Traditionally olives have been harvested by pickers wearing gloves and they stripped down the branch into a twenty-pound bucket they wear around their waist. Unfortunately the cost is becoming prohibitive and labor availability is decreasing sharply. What we’re really hoping is the mechanical harvesting will be cheaper, be more reliable than trying to find an uneven labor force and it will allow us to sustain an industry that has a nice long history in California.” – Louise Ferguson, UC Davis Extension Specialist
“I can understand why it’s an issue if you’ve got an extremely romanticized view of what art is,” he says. “But Bach peed, and he shat, and he had a lot of kids. We’re all just people.”
– David Cope, UC Santa Cruz, emeritus professor
“To some extent, this match is a defense of the whole human race. Computers play such a huge role in society. They are everywhere. But there is a frontier they must not cross. They must not cross into the area of human creativity. It would threaten the existence of human control in such areas as arts, literature, and music.”
So said Gary Kasparov, chess grandmaster, one year before he lost to Deep Blue, IBM’s chess-playing supercomputer. Meanwhile, a relatively anonymous professor of music in California had created a computer program capable of composing pieces of music in the style of great composers that most people could not differentiate from authentic compositions. The professor, David Cope, named this program Experiments in Musical Intelligence, or “Emmy”. Since then, Cope and his successive programs have been the objects of both celebration and scorn, challenging the world’s perception of what musical creativity entails.
Cope’s argument, and the basis for his software, is that creativity is essentially recombinant: consciously or not, all composers plagiarize their progenitors and contemporaries. What makes his (or Emmy’s) work superior to the stilted and awkward compositions of earlier programs are two fundamental insights into the syntax of music. Rather than rely on the traditional divisions of musical notation, Cope developed an analytic musical syntax that goes into what Douglas Hofstadter (of Gödel, Escher, Bach) terms the “tension-resolution status” of a piece, the two forces that underlie all music. Secondly, though the program composes according to formal rules, it also uses heuristics that allow it to sometimes ‘break’ its own rules in innovative ways.
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On sweltering days you can fry an egg on them. But, now, Lawrence Berkeley Lab and UC Davis researchers are testing surfaces designed to make them cooler and safer.
“Cool pavements are paved surfaces that are more effective at reflecting sunlight. So, by reflecting more sunlight than traditional paved surfaces, they’re able to absorb less heat from the sun and keep cities and communities cooler. We’ve teamed with industry partners and we’re hopeful that this can get the ball rolling on some local government action for cool pavement.”
– Ben Mandel, Heat Island Group, LBNL