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Recent News on the Debate over Pluto's Planethood

Kathy Svitil

Earlier this month, Eris—the distant world first discovered by Caltech's Mike Brown and colleagues back in 2005, paving the way for the eventual demotion of Pluto from planet to dwarf planet—passed fortuitously in front of a faint star in the constellation Cetus. That passage, or occultation, allowed the first direct measurement of Eris's size.


Caltech Physicists Demonstrate a Four-Fold Quantum Memory

Marcus Woo

Caltech researchers, led by William L. Valentine Professor and professor of physics H. Jeff Kimble, have made an important achievement in the field of quantum information. Their proof-of-principle experiment, in which they demonstrate quantum entanglement with a four-part system, helps pave the way toward quantum networks and quantum computers, machines much faster than conventional, silicon-based ones.



p+ Shooter

The world's most expensive peashooter, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), is now chewing on meatier payloads. Last week, the giant proton accelerator successfully transitioned to lead nuclei—over two hundred times as massive as the hydrogen nuclei that made up its previous diet.


Eugene W. Cowan, 90

Kathy Svitil

Eugene W. "Bud" Cowan, professor of physics, emeritus, at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), passed away November 4 in Menlo Park, California. He was 90.


Caltech-designed Instruments Provide New View of Primordial Galaxies

Ann Motrunich

Astronomers estimate that half of the star formation in the universe is obscured by dust—making many distant galaxies in the peak of their star-forming years essentially invisible. But now the invisible has been revealed, thanks to new instruments that can observe in the millimeter, submillimeter, and far-infrared wavelengths in which these galaxies shine.


Discovering New Worlds

Marcus Woo

As a kid, Assistant Professor of Astronomy John Johnson wasn't interested in astronomy—or even science for that matter. But now, as an assistant professor of astronomy, he's discovering entirely new worlds. In an interview, he talks about the search for planets and the rapidly evolving field of exoplanet astronomy.


Caltech Applied Physicist Amnon Yariv Awarded National Medal of Science

Lori Oliwenstein

Amnon Yariv, the Martin and Eileen Summerfield Professor of Applied Physics and professor of electrical engineering—a pioneer in the field of optoelectronics—has been named one of 10 recipients of the National Medal of Science, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on scientists.


Caltech Engineer Named MacArthur Fellow

Kathy Svitil

John O. Dabiri, a fluid-dynamics expert at Caltech whose studies of schooling fish have inspired new ideas for wind farming, was named a MacArthur Fellow, and awarded a five-year, $500,000 "no strings attached" grant. Each year, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awards the unrestricted fellowships to individuals who show "exceptional creativity in their work and the prospect for still more in the future," according to the Foundation's website.


Caltech Mineral Physicists Find New Scenery at Earth's Core-Mantle Boundary

Kathy Svitil

Using a diamond-anvil cell to recreate the high pressures deep within the earth, researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have found unusual properties in an iron-rich magnesium- and iron-oxide mineral that may explain the existence of several ultra-low velocity zones (ULVZs) at the core-mantle boundary. A paper about their findings was published in a recent issue of Geophysical Research Letters (GRL).


New View of Tectonic Plates

Kathy Svitil

Computational scientists and geophysicists at the University of Texas at Austin and Caltech have developed new computer algorithms that for the first time allow for the simultaneous modeling of the earth's mantle flow, large-scale tectonic plate motions, and the behavior of individual fault zones, to produce an unprecedented view of plate tectonics and the forces that drive it.