A Video Game That Teaches You How To Code

“I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think,” Steve Jobs said in a lost interview from 1995.

But for a beginner, learning to code from scratch can be intimidating.

Enter CodeSpells. UC San Diego computer scientists developed this video game to teach people how to code. The story line is simple: you’re a wizard that uses spells (i.e. code) to navigate through the world, fight off foes, and solve problems.

While experienced coders can delve deep into the programming to create some truly devastating spells, newbies can easily experiment with the simple drag-and-drop coding interface.

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Is this movie Del Playa implying the WOMEN’s rejection created his rampage?

MISOGYNISTIC BULLSHIT.  Patriarchy created him!  

23,000 people have signed a petition to stop a movie that “glorifies” the UCSB shooting

In May 2014, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger killed six people and wounded 14 others in a misogyny-fueled rampage in the town of Isla Vista, California, before committing suicide.

Shortly after the shooting, a film production company began making Del Playa, a horror/thriller film that appears to have been based on the incident. Producers are saying there’s no connection, but the petition disagrees.


This seemed like a good day to post some rainbow laser modes!

Light in a circular cavity makes a variety of standing wave patterns, some of which look like flowers, wagon wheels, or even tie-fighter spaceships. These images are from my simulations of the light in the cavities of nanolasers - each pattern is called a mode, and the smaller the laser, the simpler the mode tends to be.

In our lasers, the modes that tend to do the best are the whispering gallery modes - for example, the mode at the upper center.  Whispering gallery modes get their name from the whispering gallery phenomenon first noticed with sound waves in cathedral domes. People noticed that if they stood along the perimeter of some cathedral domes, the sound waves from a whisper would bounce along the walls of the dome, and could be clearly heard at certain other places along the dome’s perimeter.  In the case of our lasers, it’s light that bounces around the laser cavity - wavelengths that make an integer number of oscillations in one round trip end up forming a sort of circular standing wave.  Whispering gallery modes appear not just for light and sound, but for other kinds of waves as well, like matter waves and gravitational waves.

As you know, the Che Cafe Collective has been involved in the longest UCSD sit-in in its entire history, 96 days today on 6/28 and 100 on July 2nd and we’re still going strong. We have an alternative vision of society, based in freedom and community, that is in sharp contrast to that of the UCSD administration’s vision, which is based in authority and capitalism, wanting community to be controlled by the administration and associated interests, not wanting to give autonomy to the community.

The Cafe will always fight for students and community and we highly encourage people to get involved, whether that’s joining the sit-in, if you’re in the media, contacting us for an interview, making your own events here, volunteering, donating resources + money, or calling the chancellor[ (858) 534-3135/] and demand that the administration stops not just the campaign to destroy the Che Cafe, an important site with a huge amount of history, but also the systematic campaign to destroy all student and community and social spaces on campus that are autonomous of the university.

We were just interviewed by The Final Straw and I highly recommend that y’all give it a listen. It’s really great and really informative and it’ll fire up your passion.

Long live the Che Cafe Collective!
UC San Diego Cancer Researchers Receive NCI Outstanding Investigator Award

Four University of California, San Diego School of Medicine researchers have been selected to receive the newly established National Cancer Institute (NCI) Outstanding Investigator Award. The multi-million dollar awards fund new projects that have an unusual potential in cancer research over seven years.

The recipients are Kun-Liang Guan, PhD, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Pharmacology, who will receive $5.9 million for his work with mTORC1 and Hippo pathways in cell growth and cancer; Tannishtha Reya, PhD, professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Medicine, who was awarded $6.3 million for her project on molecular strategies for early detection and targeting of cancer; and Jin Zhang, PhD, professor in the Department of Pharmacology, who will receive $6.5 million to evaluate live-cell activity architecture in cancer. The funding amount for Michael Karin, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology and Pathology, is pending. Karin is studying the role of immunosuppressive B cells in the development of cancer and its treatment.

“Cancer research is moving at an accelerated pace but there are still many unanswered questions that our team is trying to answer through innovative science,” said Scott Lippman, MD, director of Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health. “The NCI Outstanding Investigator Award provides important additional resources that will help us realize scientific discoveries best accomplished at a comprehensive cancer center.”

NCI anticipates funding approximately 60 Outstanding Investigator Awards. The grant program was developed to provide researchers with substantial time and resources to break new ground or extend previous discoveries that advance biomedical, behavioral or clinical cancer research.  

“We are exceptionally pleased that the National Cancer Institute has recognized the outstanding talent of our faculty,” said Joan Heller Brown, PhD, Department of Pharmacology chair. “The Outstanding Investigator Award will allow them to focus on developing new ideas and research directions based on their proven track records, without the major interruption incurred through writing and revising grant applications every few years. Our department has continued to grow in strength in the area of cancer biology and is dedicated to making basic discoveries that will inform the quest for new cancer therapeutics.”

Read about their research summaries here

Doctors Support Lower Cancer Drug Prices

According to the National Cancer Institute, in this year alone, an estimated 1,658,370 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States. As the population keeps aging, that number will continue to grow. Pharmaceutical and biotech companies are developing new therapies faster than ever before but the prices of these drugs keep rising.

In a paper published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings earlier this month, three University of California, San Diego School of Medicine School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center oncologists, John Adamson, MD, Thomas Kipps, MD, PhD, and Scott Lippman, MD, along with dozens of other physicians signed their names in support of lower prices for cancer drugs.

According to the authors, cancer drug prices have increased by an average of $8,500 per year over the past 15 years. Last year, the cost of all new US Food and Drug Administration approved therapies were priced at more than $120,000 per year of use. The costs are unaffordable for most people who have out-of-pocket expenses or no medical coverage at all.

The authors say that 10 to 20 percent of patients with cancer do not take their drugs as prescribed or don’t use them at all because of cost. If nearly 40 percent of the population is expected to be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetimes, it is easy to see that many people will not be able to afford life-saving therapies when the average annual household income is $52,000.

To help alleviate the problem, the authors’ suggest that the government make changes to the approval process of new treatments, allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, consider prices when designing treatment guidelines and allow importation of cancer drugs for personal use. There are a lot of organizations that need to be involved to lower cancer drug prices including a cancer patient-based grassroots movement.


Video Games in the Classroom

What can you learn from a video game?

There’s an emerging body of research that suggests there are some benefits to gaming. Gamers often show persistence, attention to detail, and problem-solving — all important qualities for learning.

Educators like UC San Diego’s Sarah Guthals want to bring video games into the classroom — not just to make school fun, but to make it effective. She developed a video game called CodeSpells to teach people (young and old) how to program. 

Learn more the video game

Learning Impacts How the Brain Processes What We See

From the smell of flowers to the taste of wine, our perception is strongly influenced by prior knowledge and expectations, a cognitive process known as top-down control.

In a University of California, San Diego School of Medicine study published July 13 in the online journal Nature Neuroscience, a research team led by Takaki Komiyama, PhD, assistant professor of neurosciences and neurobiology, reports that in mouse models, the brain significantly changed its visual cortex operation modes by implementing top-down processes during learning.

“We found that when the mouse assigns a new meaning to a previously neutral visual stimulus, top-down control becomes much more influential in activating the visual cortex,” said first author Hiroshi Makino, PhD, postdoctoral researcher in Komiyama’s lab. “Top-down inputs interact with specific neuron types in the visual cortex to modulate its operation modes.”

This cognitive process uses our thoughts and influences our senses. For example, when we see a word with missing letters, our brain is able to fill in the blank based on past experiences.

Researchers looked at activity in excitatory neurons and somatostatin-expressing inhibitory neurons in the visual cortex and top-down inputs from the retrosplenial cortex (RSC) during associative learning to see how these affected the top-down and bottom-up processing—when perception begins with the senses.

The findings indicate that intricate interactions of various circuit components effectively change the balance of top-down and bottom-up processing, with learning enhancing the contribution of top-down control. These results support the long-standing theory that the brain does not faithfully represent the environment but rather attempts to predict it based upon prior information.

“In addition to revealing circuit mechanisms underlying these learning-related changes, our findings may have implications in understanding the pathophysiology of psychiatric diseases, such as schizophrenia, that generate abnormal perception,” said Makino.

New book by Dr. Seuss coming this summer

Over 2 decades since his death, a new book by Dr. Seuss will be released this July. The book comes from a discovery in 2013 of a collection of manuscripts and sketches.

Much of Dr. Seuss’s work resides at UC San Diego in their Special Collections Library. The work is accessible to scholars and on display so that members of the general public can also enjoy his work.

Watch the video that explores the Dr. Seuss archive


The first time around, the phone zap tactic was extremely successful! With your support and solidarity the Ché Café was able to force the administration of UCSD to begin negotiations with the collective during last summer.

This time around, our intentions are not only to force the administration into serious negotiations, but also to put pressure on them to place a permanent stay on the eviction notice that has been issued against the Ché Collective.

Starting at 10 a.m., call Vice Chancellor of student affairs Juan Gonzalez and demand that:

1. UCSD place an immediate stay on eviction proceedings against the Ché Café.

2. Ché Café Collective be included included in upcoming Master Space Agreement negotiations.

VC Gonzalez phone number: (858) 534-4371

Don’t just call once! Keep calling!

Leave messages with his secretary.

Our goal is to overwhelm them - if they sound annoyed, it means that we are getting under their skin (exactly what we want to do).


How Do Our Bodies Fight Off Dangerous Chemicals?

UC San Diego’s Amro Hamdoun explains how you can think of cells like night clubs. With every substance that a cell encounters it has to decide which to eliminate and which to let in. Since humans have generated over 80,000 synthetic compounds, it’s now ever more important to understand both what these substances are doing to our bodies, but to also create a rule book for making these chemicals safer.