KamLAND Detector Provides New Way to Study Heat from Radioactive Materials Within Earth

Much of the heat within our planet is caused by the radioactive decay of the elements uranium and thorium. Now, an international team of particle physicists using a special detector in Japan has demonstrated a novel method of measuring that radioactive heat.

Mars Has Been in the Deep Freeze for the Past Four Billion Years, Study Shows

The current mean temperature on the equator of Mars is a blustery 69 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Scientists have long thought that the Red Planet was once temperate enough for water to have existed on the surface, and for life to possibly have evolved. But a new study by Caltech and MIT scientists gives this idea the cold shoulder.

First Planet Under Three Suns Is Discovered

An extrasolar planet under three suns has been discovered in the constellation Cygnus by a planetary scientist at the California Institute of Technology using the 10-meter Keck I telescope in Hawaii. The planet is slightly larger than Jupiter and, given that it has to contend with the gravitational pull of three bodies, promises to seriously challenge our current understanding of how planets are formed.

Research on Sumatran Earthquakes Uncovers New Mysteries about Workings of Earth

The Sumatra-Andaman earthquake of December 26 was an unmitigated human disaster. But three new papers by an international group of experts show that the huge data return could help scientists better understand extremely large earthquakes and the disastrous tsunamis that can be associated with them.

The Science behind the Aceh Earthquake

Kerry Sieh, the Robert P. Sharp Professor of Geology at the California Institute of Technology and a member of Caltech's Tectonics Observatory, has conducted extensive research on both the Sumatran fault and the Sumatran subduction zone. Below, Sieh provides scientific background and context for the December 26, 2004 earthquake that struck Aceh, Indonesia.

More Stormy Weather on Titan

Titan, it turns out, may be a very stormy place. In 2001, a group of astronomers led by Henry Roe, now a postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology, discovered methane clouds near the south pole of Saturn's largest moon, resolving a debate about whether such clouds exist amid the haze of its atmosphere.

Observing the Roiling Earth

Thanks to a $13,254,000 grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Caltech has established the Tectonic Observatory, under the direction of Avouac, with the ultimate goal, he says, of "providing a new view of how and why the earth's crust is deforming over timescales ranging from a few tens of seconds, the typical duration of an earthquake, to several tens of million of years."

NSF Awards $6.75 Million to Caltech for Geodynamics Computational Facility

The National Science Foundation has awarded $6.75 million to the California Institute of Technology to house the central activities of a major new community-based, software engineering effort to revolutionize scientific computing in geophysics. The NSF initiative, which will involve at least 24 other American universities and research institutions and four foreign affiliates, is intended to allow scientists studying such fields as seismology, plate tectonics, volcanism, and geomagnetism to take full advantage of recent advances and extraordinary opportunities available in scientific computation.

Farley Named Chair of Geological and Planetary Sciences

PASADENA, Calif. — Probably the only experience the nonscientist has had with the so-called noble gases is the helium found in balloons. But Ken Farley, a geochemist at the California Institute of Technology, has roamed the earth looking for trace amounts of these gases--argon, helium, krypton, neon, xenon, and sometimes radon--that provide clues to the evolution of the earth's interior and atmosphere.

Geobiologists create novel method for studying ancient life forms

Geobiologists are announcing today their first major success in using a novel method of "growing" bacteria-infested rocks in order to study early life forms. The research could be a significant tool for use in better understanding the history of life on Earth, and perhaps could also be useful in astrobiology.

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