Ortiz Wins Inaugural Prize in Solid Mechanics

Michael Ortiz, the Hayman Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology, is the first winner of the Rodney Hill Prize in Solid Mechanics. The newly established international prize, which will be awarded every four years, is also the first of its kind in this field.

Pulselike and Cracklike Ruptures in Earthquake Experiments

Lab experiments that mimic the way the ground moves during destructive earthquakes require some sophisticated equipment, and they yield valuable insights. Caltech scientists studying how sliding motion spreads along a fault interface conducted a series of experiments involving ultrafast digital cameras and high-speed laser velocimeters to replicate a range of realistic fault conditions.

Genetic Underpinnings of Wood Digestion by Termite Gut Microbes Revealed

When termites are chewing on your home, your immediate thought probably isn't "I wonder how they digest that stuff?" But biologists have been gnawing on the question for more than a century. The key is not just the termite, but what lives in its gut. A multitude of genes from the microbes populating the hindgut of a termite have been sequenced and analyzed, and the findings reported today in the journal Nature.

Team to Compete in Project Enterprise Ideas Contest on PBS

It all started last fall, in a classroom at Caltech. A team of students in Visiting Professor of Mechanical Engineering Ken Pickar's course, Product Design for the Developing World, decided to create wheelchairs for people in developing countries that could tackle the rugged terrain. With two bicycles and three creative brains contributing, the project took off.

Alice on Trial, Redux

When Alice revs her engine at the start of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Urban Challenge qualifying rounds on October 27, multitudes of cameras will be pointing at her. But she'll only care about the eight cameras that will be facing away.

Caltech Scientists Create Breakthrough Sensor Capable of Detecting Individual Molecules

Applied physicists at the California Institute of Technology have figured out a way to detect single biological molecules with a microscopic optical device. The method has already proven effective for detecting the signaling proteins called cytokines that indicate the function of the immune system, and it could be used in numerous medical applications, such as the extremely early detection of cancer and other diseases, as well as in basic biological research.

On-Chip Optics Makes Continuous Visible Light from Low-Power Infrared

If you shine a red laser pointer through a glass window you wouldn't expect it to come out blue on the other side, but with a much brighter beam it just might. At high intensities light energy tends to combine and redistribute, so that red light really can produce blue.

Early Rocketeer Homer Stewart Dies

Homer Stewart, an early pioneer of rocket research who helped develop Explorer I, America's first satellite, died Saturday, May 26, at his home in Altadena, California. He was 91.

Twisted Flux Tubes Expel "Wrong-Way" Ions

Physicists seeking to tame plasma have figured out yet another of its wily ways. Knowing how plasma escapes the grip of magnetic fields may help researchers design better magnetic bottles to contain it. Magnetic confinement could be a crucial technology for electric power plants that harness nuclear fusion, the powerful process fueling the sun.

Mechanical Engineering at Caltech Celebrates Centennial

Typical universities have mechanical engineering faculty who teach and conduct occasional consulting projects on the side, but the California Institute of Technology is not like most universities and its ME department is anything but typical.

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