Saturday, March 13, 2010

Units of Measure

And while I'm uncharacteristically blogging, I ought to mention another fine Berkeley guy: Art Rosenfeld. He started out as a particle physicist, but the energy crisis of the 70s spurred him to turn his attention to energy efficiency.

He's now retiring after a long and distinguished career, and some of his colleagues have proposed naming a unit of measure (specifically a measure of energy conservation) after him.

Regardless of whether that takes hold, Rosenfeld has had an enormous influence over our world. For example, his research on reducing the size of the ballasts used by fluorescent lights led to the development of compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), which currently save huge amounts of electricity.

Rosenfeld also gets a lot of credit for the "California miracle," also known as the "Rosenfeld effect": California's per-capita electricity consumption has remained essentially the same since 1970, where that of the rest of the country has increased by about half. Through a combination of technologies, building codes, and other public policies, California has led the way, largely propelled by Rosenfeld.

My wife, who works in energy efficiency, got to go to Rosenfeld's retirement dinner this week, and it must have been a great event. His influence will continue to be felt both in the state and throughout the world.

Remembering Mario

No, not Super Mario: Mario Savio.

I never got to meet Mario, but as a student at Berkeley, I lived in a world that he helped shape. Walking through Sproul Plaza almost daily, it was easy to see the impact of Savio and the Free Speech Movement.

Even today, the FSM is remembered at the cafe in the undergraduate library.

Anyway, the linked review from The Nation is interesting, and makes me want to read the book.