Built to look for gravitational waves, the ripples in the fabric of space itself that were predicted by Einstein in 1915, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) is the most ambitious project ever funded by the National Science Foundation. We talk to two Caltech researchers to learn about how LIGO came to be.
As the Advanced LIGO Project geared up last summer, 27 undergraduates from around the world became full partners in one of the biggest, most complex physics experiment ever. Their contributions ranged from creating hardware and software for current use to helping design next-generation detectors.
The GROWTH network aims to keep astronomers and telescopes unbeaten by sunrise as they study exotic events, such as supernovae. The effort, led by new-faculty member Mansi M. Kasliwal, just received funding under the NSF's Partnerships for International Research and Education program.
Caltech geochemist Clair Patterson (1922–1995) helped galvanize the environmental movement 50 years ago when he announced that highly toxic lead could be found essentially everywhere on Earth, including in our own bodies—and that very little of it was due to natural causes.
Ken Farley, the project scientist for NASA's next Mars rover, a mission called Mars 2020, and the W.M. Keck Foundation Professor of Geochemistry at Caltech, talks about how the Mars 2020 landing site selection process is shaping up.