I can't imagine what it's like wafting to Berkeley to study something vaguely scientific. Though I do know a couple of people who went there and they have very peculiar personalities and certain troubles with dating.
I mention this because of the extraordinary ingenuity and possible slight strangeness of freshman Derek Low. He clearly isn't being sufficiently challenged by his curriculum. So he thought he'd see how much he could automate his dorm room.
He uploaded the results of his travails to YouTube and they make for quite mesmerizing viewing.
I am grateful to TechCrunch for first spotting Low's little project, which he calls BRAD, for "Berkeley Ridiculously Automated Dorm."
Clearly there is still hope for Low, as he understands the sheer, well, ridiculousness of his initiative. Still, as you watch the video, it's hard not to marvel at the array of mobile apps and motion sensors that put the Clapper to shame.
Some will be particularly captivated by the emergency red "Party" button, which turns his room into a passable interpretation of Studio 54, before white suits became a little seedy.
And then there's "Romantic" mode. This appears to entail leaving just one sexy bedside lamp on for perfect sensual illumination. Well, he's still young.
When one searches more deeply for other examples of Low's prowess, one finds a Web site where he documents his travels. He says he grew up in Singapore and that he used to work as a web designer, educator and chemical and bomb disposal specialist.
This all presumably happened when he was 10 or 11.
You might imagine, though, that this one Web site would be enough. Gosh to the no. For he also is responsible for Laboratory@Home, which is a complete document of all the experiments in which he has been involved.
So if you thought "chemical and bomb disposal specialist" was a joke, please look at his work with flamethrowers, ballistic gel and, yes, the pneumatic air gun.
I have contacted Low to see whether he is bored, slightly eccentric or simply one of these rather clever people for whom the world is just too limited a place. I will update should I hear back from him. I haven't waited, as he might already be out creating a new weapon -- or, um, protesting.
One can only imagine what he might be and do when the moneyed world begins to recognize his particular view of life as we know it.
Update, 4:10 p.m. PT: Low, having read my homage to his genius, got back to me and revealed secrets. He told me he's studying Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. "Not very surprising, huh?" he said.
He explained that he just loves building things. "It's the process that I really benefit from, rather than the end product (which usually are pretty useless)," he said.
But an engineer's lot is often a troubled one. For he confessed something brutally sad: "Quite frankly, I've spent more time building party mode than actually partying."