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Caltech Researcher Granted Precious Observation Time at NASA's Hubble Space Telescope
08/18/2011

Caltech Researcher Granted Precious Observation Time at NASA's Hubble Space Telescope

Katie Neith

For many astronomers, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is considered the crème de la crème of research tools—one of the best observatories available for their studies. This being the case, competition for time with the telescope can be fierce. But Heather A. Knutson, a recent addition to the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at Caltech, will soon get the chance to spend some quality time with the telescope.

 

A Hint of Higgs: An Update from the LHC
08/15/2011

A Hint of Higgs: An Update from the LHC

Marcus Woo

The physics world was abuzz with some tantalizing news a couple of weeks ago. At a meeting of the European Physical Society in Grenoble, France, physicists—including some from Caltech—announced that the latest data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) might hint at the existence of the ever-elusive Higgs boson.

Caltech Researchers Find That Disorder Is Key to Nanotube Mystery
08/12/2011

Caltech Researchers Find That Disorder Is Key to Nanotube Mystery

Kimm Fesenmaier

In the last couple of years, researchers have observed that water spontaneously flows into extremely small tubes of graphite or graphene, called carbon nanotubes. However, no one has managed to explain why. Now, using a novel method to calculate the dynamics of water molecules, Caltech researchers believe they have solved the mystery. It turns out that entropy, a measurement of disorder, has been the missing key.

A Stellar Admirer
08/09/2011

A Stellar Admirer

Marcus Woo

Like so many things in life, it all started with a girl. In fifth grade, the girl who sat next to Keith Hawkins every day in class would check out encyclopedias and look up subjects in astronomy, admiring pictures of swirling galaxies and colorful nebulae. Hawkins would join her, and the two of them would sit together and gaze at the heavens, one page at a time.

Caltech-Led Engineers Solve Longstanding Problem in Photonic Chip Technology
08/04/2011

Caltech-Led Engineers Solve Longstanding Problem in Photonic Chip Technology

Marcus Woo

Stretching for thousands of miles beneath oceans, optical fibers now connect every continent except for Antarctica. But although optical fibers are increasingly replacing copper wires, carrying information via photons instead of electrons, today's computer technology still relies on electronic chips. Now, researchers led by engineers at the Caltech are paving the way for the next generation of computer-chip technology: photonic chips.

Caltech Astronomer Nominated to National Science Board
08/03/2011

Caltech Astronomer Nominated to National Science Board

Marcus Woo

President Barack Obama has nominated Anneila Sargent, vice president for student affairs and the Rosen Professor of Astronomy, to the National Science Board, the governing body of the National Science Foundation.

Caltech Engineers Develop One-way Transmission System for Sound Waves
07/26/2011

Caltech Engineers Develop One-way Transmission System for Sound Waves

Katie Neith

While many hotel rooms, recording studios, and even some homes are built with materials to help absorb or reflect sound, mechanisms to truly control the direction of sound waves are still in their infancy. However, researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have now created the first tunable acoustic diode-a device that allows acoustic information to travel only in one direction, at controllable frequencies.

Caltech-Led Astronomers Discover the Largest and Most Distant Reservoir of Water Yet
07/22/2011

Caltech-Led Astronomers Discover the Largest and Most Distant Reservoir of Water Yet

Marcus Woo

Water really is everywhere. Two teams of astronomers, each led by scientists at Caltech, have discovered the largest and farthest reservoir of water ever detected in the universe. Looking from a distance of 30 billion trillion miles away into a quasar—one of the brightest and most violent objects in the cosmos—the researchers have found a mass of water vapor that's at least 140 trillion times that of all the water in the world's oceans combined, and 100,000 times more massive than the sun.

Bring In the (Nano) Noise
05/27/2011

Bring In the (Nano) Noise

Marcus Woo

At the forefront of nanotechnology, researchers design miniature machines to do big jobs, from treating diseases to harnessing sunlight for energy. But as they push the limits of this technology, devices are becoming so small and sensitive that the behavior of individual atoms starts to get in the way. Now Caltech researchers have, for the first time, measured and characterized these atomic fluctuations—which cause statistical noise—in a nanoscale device. 

Experiments Settle Long-Standing Debate about Mysterious Array Formations in Nanofilms
05/17/2011

Experiments Settle Long-Standing Debate about Mysterious Array Formations in Nanofilms

Kathy Svitil

Caltech scientists have conducted experiments confirming which of three possible mechanisms is responsible for the spontaneous formation of 3-D pillar arrays in nanofilms. These protrusions appear suddenly when the surface of a molten nanofilm is exposed to an extreme temperature gradient and self-organize into hexagonal, lamellar, square, or spiral patterns.