How to Grip an Asteroid
Caltech junior Edward Fouad spent 10 weeks this summer as part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program working in the lab of Aaron Parness, a group leader at JPL, where researchers are designing, prototyping, and refining technology for a device called a microspine gripper. Looking something like a robotic circular foot with many toes extending radially outward, such a gripper has the ability to grab onto a rocky surface and cling to it even when hanging upside down.
Improving The View Through Tissues and Organs
This summer, several undergraduate students at Caltech had the opportunity to help optimize a promising technique that can make tissues and organs—even entire organisms—transparent for study. As part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program, these students worked in the lab of Viviana Gradinaru, where researchers are developing such so-called clearing techniques that make it possible to peer straight through normally opaque tissues rather than seeing them only as thinly sectioned slices that have been pieced back together.
Getting To Know Super-Earths
Results from NASA's Kepler planet-hunting mission have indicated that the most common planets in the galaxy are super-Earths—those that are bigger than Earth but smaller than Neptune. Heather Knutson and her colleagues are using space telescopes to try to find out more about these worlds.
In The Media
February 23, 2015
What Black Hole Winds Can Reveal About Galaxies
A team led by Caltech astrophysicist Fiona Harrison, using the space-based NuSTAR x-ray observatory, studied a black hole in the heart of a quasar that is 2 billion light years away. They learned that black holes, in addition to drawing in everything that comes near, including light, can also expel extremely powerful 'winds' of energized subatomic particles, having a significant influence on the formation of stars and galaxies.
February 23, 2015
14 Smart Inventions Inspired by Nature: Biomimicry
Caltech fluid dynamics expert John Dabiri studied the vortices produced by schooling fish to come up with a new wind turbine design that uses 30-foot-tall vertical blades. Properly arranged, these vertical turbines take advantage of the way wind behaves, generating more energy in considerably less space than traditional wind turbines.
February 18, 2015
10 Breakthrough Technologies 2015
The amazingly lightweight yet strong and resilient materials created by the nano-materials lab of Julia Greer are featured as one of the 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2015 by MIT Tech Review. Greer's technique exploits unique architectural designs at the nanometer scale to create materials that may one day be used to create better batteries, safer autos, and advanced spacecraft.
February 17, 2015
Mental Health May Depend on Creatures in the Gut
Caltech biologists Sarkis Mazmanian and Elaine Hsiao investigate the connection between gut bacteria and neurodevelopment disorders such as autism. They have demonstrated that by giving a certain beneficial bacteria to lab mice with autism-like symptoms, they are able to moderate behavioral problems along with gastrointestinal issues. Human trials are in the planning stages.
February 16, 2015
Caltech researchers develop highly effective antibodies to fight HIV, but more testing needed
Researchers in Prof. Pamela Bjorkman's biology lab have succeeded in engineering antibodies that are 100 times more effective than people's naturally produced antibodies at blocking the HIV virus from entering healthy cells. Bjorkman's teams has developed a way for engineered proteins to securely attach to the HIV virus, despite their being a limited number of spikes on the surface.
February 16, 2015
Why Pluto is no longer a planet
In 2005 Caltech planetary scientist Mike Brown announced the discovery of a large "trans-Neptunian object" that became known as Eris. Being roughly the same size as Pluto, Eris caused astronomers to believe there were many more objects like it in the outer reaches of the solar system, which led to the demotion of Pluto to dwarf-planet status.
February 13, 2015
Creating a risk-taking Caltech where big minds can dream: Larry Wilson
In a conversation with Los Angeles Newspaper Group public editor Larry Wilson, Caltech President Thomas F. Rosenbaum says his top goal is to help "create an environment where people can dream." To do that in today's climate, it is necessary to form partnerships and collaborate with other institutions and nations, he says.
February 12, 2015
Studying Oversize Brain Cells for Links to Exceptional Memory
Elderly people with excellent memories have been found to possess a higher than average number of brain cells called von Economo neurons. Caltech neuroscientist John M. Allman, who has been researching these cells for 20 years, said the neurons relay electrical signals throughout the brain, helping people control impulses and remain focused on goals.
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