Following the initial glow that emerged from the hot Big Bang, the Universe entered a period astronomers call the `Dark Ages', when clouds of hydrogen assembled under gravity and eventually collapsed to ignite as the first stellar systems. Can powerful telescopes look back and witness such a remarkable event? Deep imaging with the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes, coupled with ambitious surveys undertaken with the Keck telescopes is providing our first exciting glimpse of this early period of cosmic history.
Miniaturization of devices has fueled the rapid evolution of microelectronic systems over the past decades. More recently, silicon has also emerged as an opto-electronic and electro-mechanical material.
The result of technological advances made over the last decades, NASA's newest astrophysics mission, NuSTAR, is peering far deeper into the high-energy X-ray sky than ever before possible. NuSTAR is exploring the densest, hottest regions in the Universe, helping us to understand how black holes grow, to study the bizarre physics that happens near the strongest known cosmic magnets, and to observe the radioactive glow of debris left over from exploded stars.
How do we study corruption? Follow the money. Penetrate the networks. Model the system. In this talk we examine a large World Bank project right down to the village level. We learn how an African cartel is born, nurtured, and propagated. Through this case study we can see the process by which individuals, institutions, and ultimately entire states, get tipped into the vortex of systemic corruption. What role does aid money play in this process, and what does forensic economics have to offer in both the diagnosis and the cure?
Most of the modern day's technological marvels have come from putting apparently unrelated things together and creating something more than the sum of the parts. Silicon chips have come a long way from the days of first transistors. Today we can place billions of transistors operating at extremely high frequencies on a single chip. This has created a plethora of new opportunities in many areas that silicon chips could not address. In this talk, we will discuss a holistic approach to integrated circuits leading to yet further proliferation of such technologies into our daily lives.
Ever wondered where metallic materials get their unique properties from? Why are some materials strong and others fail quickly? Why can we deform some easily while others are hard to change? Why do some damp vibrations and others seem to swing forever? To understand why materials behave the way they do, we need to zoom deep into the lower length scales, deep into what is invisible to the naked eye. Our journey into the micro- and nano-scales of materials reveals billions of tiny defects which in turn are made up of billions of atoms.
From mountain valleys to river deltas, flowing water and grains of sand conspire to create Earth's dramatic landscapes. Earth is not alone; megafloods have cut vast canyons into the surface of Mars, and rivers of liquid methane actively carve the icy surface of Titan. This talk will explore new insights into the mechanics of landscape evolution with implications for debris-flow hazards in the San Gabriel Mountains, land-use sustainability on the Mississippi Delta, and water on Mars.
Presented by: Caltech Committee on Institute Programs
Microbes dominate as the most abundant life form on Earth, occupying almost every terrestrial, aquatic and biological ecosystem on our planet. Humans are no exception. Throughout our lives, we provide residence to symbiotic bacteria, known as the microbiome, on virtually all environmentally exposed surfaces. The vast majority of these microbes are harbored in the gastrointestinal tract where bacteria can outnumber human cells by 10-fold (thus, we are all 90% bacteria on a cellular level!).
The origins of many modern drugs are small, organic molecules (known as "natural products"), compounds that are isolated from bacteria, fungi, plants and other natural sources. Although some natural products are isolated and used without modification – think penicillin! – others require careful reengineering in order to be suitable medicines. Key to this endeavor is organic chemistry, and understanding how to build molecules atom by atom with precise positional and spatial control.