News Subscribe via RSS


Ralph W. Kavanagh, 86

Ralph W. Kavanagh, professor of physics, emeritus, at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) passed away August 16 in Pasadena, California. He was 86.


Two Caltech Scientists Receive 2010 NIH Director's Pioneer Awards

Lori Oliwenstein

Two scientists from Caltech have been recognized by the National Institutes of Health for their innovative and high-impact biomedical research programs. Michael Roukes, professor of physics, applied physics, and bioengineering, and co-director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute, and Pamela Bjorkman, Caltech's Max Delbrück Professor of Biology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, now join the 81 Pioneers who have been selected since the program's inception in 2004.



LISA Gravitational-Wave Mission Strongly Endorsed by National Research Council

Kathy Svitil

The National Research Council (NRC) has strongly recommended the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) as one of NASA's next two major space missions, to start in 2016 in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA). LISA will study the universe in a manner different from any other space observatory, by observing gravitational waves. The recommendation was announced August 13 in a press conference at the Keck Center of the National Academies in Washington, D.C.


NRC Recommends Three Astronomy/Astrophysics Projects with Potential Major Caltech Roles

Kathy Svitil

In an announcement August 13, the National Research Council recommended three space- and ground-based astronomy and astrophysics projects with potential major roles for researchers at Caltech: CCAT, a giant submillimeter telescope that will help unravel the origins of stars, planets, and galaxies; LISA, designed to detect gravitational waves; and the development of a Giant Segmented Mirrored Telescope—the Thirty Meter Telescope being one of two such telescopes under development.


Caltech Astronomer Finds Planets in Unusually Intimate Dance around Dying Star

Kathy Svitil

Hundreds of extrasolar planets have been found, most solitary worlds orbiting their parent star in seeming isolation. Further observation has revealed that planets come in bunches. Most systems contain planets orbiting too far from one another to feel each other's gravity. In a handful of cases, planets have been found near enough to one another to interact gravitationally. Now, however, Caltech's John A. Johnson and his colleagues have found two systems with pairs of gas giant planets locked in an intimate orbital embrace.


Astronomers Discover an Unusual Cosmic Lens

Kathy Svitil

Astronomers at Caltech and Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have discovered the first known case of a distant galaxy being magnified by a quasar acting as a gravitational lens. The discovery, based in part on observations done at the W. M. Keck Observatory on Hawaii's Mauna Kea, is being published July 16 in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.


Caltech Scientists Test Air Flow Over the 2010 World Cup Soccer Ball

Marcus Woo

The World Cup is in full swing, complete with an official new soccer ball named Jabulani, meaning "to celebrate" in Zulu. The players, however, aren't exactly celebrating. Instead, many of them are complaining that the ball's trajectory is too hard to predict. So what exactly is it about the new ball that's provoking all the controversy? To find out, Caltech engineers put an official Jabulani through its paces in the Lucas Adaptive Wall Wind Tunnel.



A Mine for Dark Matter

Marcus Woo

Deep in a mine 230 stories underground, physicists are trying to detect dark matter, the mysterious stuff that makes up nearly a quarter of the universe. Last December, tantalizing rumors of a major discovery by the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (CDMS) set the physics world abuzz. The Caltech collaborators describe their experiment. 


Schooling Fish Offer New Ideas for Wind Farming

Jon Weiner

The quest to derive energy from wind may soon be getting some help from California Institute of Technology (Caltech) fluid-dynamics expert John Dabiri-and a school of fish.


Caltech Researchers Create "Sound Bullets"

Kathy Svitil

Taking inspiration from a popular executive toy ("Newton's cradle"), researchers at Caltech have built a device—called a nonlinear acoustic lens—that produces highly focused, high-amplitude acoustic signals dubbed "sound bullets." The acoustic lens and its sound bullets (which can exist in fluids—like air and water—as well as in solids) have the potential to revolutionize applications from medical imaging and therapy to the nondestructive evaluation of materials and engineering systems.