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TMT Permit Approved
03/02/2011

TMT Permit Approved

Kathy Svitil

The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) got one step closer to realization this week, with the granting of a conservation district use permit by Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources. The permit gives the University of Hawai'i permission to build and operate TMT on the northern plateau of Mauna Kea; TMT will sublet the land from the University.

Daraio Awarded Sloan Fellowship
02/16/2011

Daraio Awarded Sloan Fellowship

Kathy Svitil

Caltech's Chiara Daraio is among this year's crop of Sloan Research Fellows. Daraio is one of 118 faculty from across the country to receive the two-year, $50,000 fellowship, given to early-career scientists and scholars in recognition of achievement and the potential to contribute substantially to their fields.

Asteroids Ahoy! Jupiter Scar Likely from Rocky Body
01/31/2011

Asteroids Ahoy! Jupiter Scar Likely from Rocky Body

Allison Benter

A hurtling asteroid about the size of the Titanic caused the scar that appeared in Jupiter's atmosphere in July 2009. Data from three infrared telescopes enabled scientists to observe the warm atmospheric temperatures and unique chemical conditions associated with the impact debris. An international team of scientists was able to deduce that the object was more likely a rocky asteroid than an icy comet.

Plasmonic Metamaterials: From Microscopes to Invisibility Cloaks
01/20/2011

Plasmonic Metamaterials: From Microscopes to Invisibility Cloaks

Lori Oliwenstein

A new class of artificial materials called metamaterials may one day be used to create ultrapowerful microscopes, advanced sensors, improved solar cells, computers that use light instead of electronic signals to process information, and even an invisibility cloak. In a Perspectives piece in this week's issue of the journal Science, Caltech's Harry Atwater and Purdue University colleague Alexandra Boltasseva describe advances in a particular subtype of these materials—plasmonic metamaterials. 

Ellis Awarded Gold Medal
01/14/2011

Ellis Awarded Gold Medal

Marcus Woo

Richard Ellis, the Steele Family Professor of Astronomy, has received the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. Awarded annually since 1824, the Gold Medal is the society's highest honor and one of the premier prizes in astronomy.

Richard Ellis
Astronomers Discover Close-knit Pairs of Massive Black Holes
01/12/2011

Astronomers Discover Close-knit Pairs of Massive Black Holes

Marcus Woo

Astronomers at Caltech, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), and University of Hawaii (UH) have discovered 16 close-knit pairs of supermassive black holes in merging galaxies. These black-hole pairs are about a hundred to a thousand times closer together than most that have been observed before, providing a glimpse into how they and their host galaxies merge—crucial for understanding the evolution of the universe. The discovery is being presented today in Seattle at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

The Frontiers of Physics
01/06/2011

The Frontiers of Physics

Marcus Woo

If your New Year's resolution is to be more organized and orderly, maybe you should take a cue from the universe. With planets, stars, and galaxies, the cosmos is surprisingly orderly—or in physics parlance, in a state of low entropy. At the time of the Big Bang, the universe had even less entropy. Sean Carroll, a theoretical physicist at Caltech, will examine this mystery at next week's TEDxCaltech. In separate talks, Caltech physicists Kip Thorne and John Preskill will also discuss Richard Feynman's legacy.

 

Caltech Establishes Four Research Programs
12/31/2010

Caltech Establishes Four Research Programs

Marcus Woo

Caltech is embarking on four research programs that intend to produce clean energy, probe the bizarre phenomena of quantum physics, understand the genetic and neural wiring behind complex behaviors, and save lives during earthquakes. To support these projects, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation recently allocated a total of $17.5 million, part of the Foundation’s $300 million commitment made to Caltech in 2001.

Make Your Own Flake
12/20/2010

Make Your Own Flake

Lori Oliwenstein

With little more than a plastic soda bottle, some fishing line, a sponge, and dry ice, anyone can make it snow, make it snow, make it snow...one flake at a time. So says Caltech physicist-turned-snowflake-guru Ken Libbrecht, who recently walked listeners of NPR's Science Friday through a do-it-yourself snowflake-making tutorial.

 

Recent News on the Debate over Pluto's Planethood
11/29/2010

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.