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Caltech Ranked First in Physical Sciences

Marcus Woo

Caltech's physical-sciences program is number one among world universities in this year's Times Higher Education rankings, sharing the top spot with Princeton.


An Incredible Shrinking Material

Marcus Woo

They shrink when you heat 'em. Most materials expand when heated, but a few contract. Now engineers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have figured out how one of these curious materials, scandium trifluoride (ScF3), does the trick—a finding, they say, that will lead to a deeper understanding of all kinds of materials. 



Particles and Pants

Marcus Woo

Two new faculty members have joined the Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy. Ryan Patterson, assistant professor of physics, studies the elusive neutrino, a mysterious particle that could hold the clues to some of the universe's biggest questions. Vladimir Markovic, professor of mathematics, is trying to understand the shapes and structures of mathematical spaces called manifolds. In particular, he's worked with a mathematical object that resembles a pair of pants.


Oceans of Water in a Planet-Forming Disk

Marcus Woo

Astronomers have detected massive quantities of water in a planet-forming gas disk around a young star. The water—which is frozen in the icy outer regions of the disk—could fill Earth's oceans several thousand times over. The discovery could help explain how Earth got its oceans and suggests that our planet may not be the only watery world in the cosmos.


Thorne Selected to Receive Graduate Education Award

Kimm Fesenmaier

Kip Thorne, Caltech's Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, Emeritus, has been selected to receive the 2012 John David Jackson Excellence in Graduate Physics Education Award from the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT).


Caltech Awarded $12.6 Million for New Institute for Quantum Information and Matter

Kimm Fesenmaier

Caltech has been awarded $12.6 million in funding over the next five years by the National Science Foundation to create a new Physics Frontiers Center. Dubbed the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter (IQIM), the center will bring physicists and computer scientists together to push theoretical and experimental boundaries in the study of exotic quantum states.


Caltech Named World's Top University in New Times Higher Education Global Ranking

Kathy Svitil

Caltech has been rated the world's number one university in the 2011–2012 Times Higher Education global ranking of the top 200 universities, displacing Harvard University from the top spot for the first time in the survey's eight-year history. 


Caltech Team Uses Laser Light to Cool Object to Quantum Ground State

Kimm Fesenmaier

For the first time, researchers at Caltech, in collaboration with a team from the University of Vienna, have managed to cool a miniature mechanical object to its lowest possible energy state using laser light. The achievement paves the way for the development of exquisitely sensitive detectors as well as for quantum experiments that scientists have long dreamed of conducting.


Students Kick Off KISS Caltech Space Challenge

Katie Neith

Deadline can be a dirty word for students and faculty alike at Caltech, since innovative research rarely adheres to time constraints. But this week, an international group of 32 students are taking on a particularly ambitious project that will push the limits of both time and space. As participants in the Caltech Space Challenge, they are tasked with designing a human mission to an asteroid by Friday, giving them just five days to complete a project that typically takes years. 



Astronomers Discover a Black Hole Ripping a Star Apart

Marcus Woo

Astronomers—including several from Caltech—have discovered a black hole millions of times more massive than the sun that's tearing a star to shreds.