Published Jan 1, 2007 8:00 AM

25 Brilliant California Ideas

California is the nation's incubator. Ideas born here today affect how everyone lives, thinks and raises their kids tomorrow. Inventions and explorations made here reshape society and save lives.

But California not only attracts creative minds; it also has devised a remarkable public university system to nurture them. Who better, then, to select 25 of the brilliant ideas of the last quarter-century than the faculties of the two largest campuses, UCLA and UC Berkeley? Inevitably, since the two faculties are themselves first-order engines of discovery, the results reflect many of their achievements. But many do not. Their selections include the lifesaving (stem cells, the nicotine patch), the enabling (venture capital, search engines), the promising (sensor technology) and pop culture (iPod, The Simpsons).

Like this project, most inventions today are invigorated by collaboration. We trust you will find the results a source of both fascination and reflection, and, in another California tradition, we expect you will quarrel with them. Let us know what you think. Send us your own list at www.magazine.ucla.edu or www.californiamag.org.

  1. D'oh Dynasty: The Simpsons
  2. Movable Feasts: iPod
  3. Search Party: Google and Yahoo!
  4. Get a Clue: DNA fingerprinting
  5. Healthy Lead: Tough, trendsetting environmental standards
  6. Cancer Killer: Herceptin
  7. A Whole New Track: The first company to produce commercial bicycles for riding up and down mountains
  8. Ground Zero: AIDS Research
  9. Elevated Eating: California Cuisine
  10. Higher Return: Compassionate capitalism
  11. Seeds of Success: The Goldman Environmental Prize
  12. Native Tongues: Saving and reviving tribal languages
  13. State of Inquiry: Stem Cells
  14. High Five: California's First Five campaign to improve the health and well-being of children up to age 5, funded by a 50-cents-per-pack tax on cigarettes and passed by voters as Proposition 10 in 1998
  15. Uncommon Sense: Wireless sensing
  16. Under Your Skin: The Nicotine Patch
  17. Inside Jobs: Venture capital
  18. Show and Sell: the ideapolis
  19. A Wrinkle in Time/Space: The COBE satellite, which corroborated the Big Bang theory of the universe's origins
  20. Unreal Life: Computer-generated imagery (CGI)
  21. Hooked Up: Metcalfe's Law (social networking)
  22. Mind Games: Exercising your brain to stave off memory loss
  23. Play It Again, Tomorrow: Digital video recorders
  24. Surge Protector: Energy-saving appliances
  25. Close to Home: Transit-oriented development


» How the top 25 were chosen

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