Pioneer of 20th-Century Mathematics John Todd Dies

PASADENA, Calif.-John Todd, one of the pioneers of numerical analysis, died Thursday, June 21, at his home in Pasadena, California. He was 96.

Todd's legacy and impact on modern-day mathematics can be seen in his contributions to analysis, linear algebra, and computation. His work was a precursor to and helped shape the foundation for today's computer science field. An emeritus professor at the California Institute of Technology, Todd developed the first undergraduate courses at Caltech in numerical analysis and numerical algebra, which play a key role in scientific computing.

Born in Ireland in 1911, Todd grew up near Belfast. After earning his BSc degree from Queen's University in 1931, he went to St. John's College at Cambridge University for graduate studies under renowned mathematicians J.E. Littlewood and G.H. Hardy.

Subsequently, Todd went to work at King's College in London, where he soon met his intellectual and romantic match, Olga Taussky, a matrix and number theorist. They wed in 1938.

In 1939, when Britain declared war on Germany, Todd found an opening with the British Admiralty, which assigned him to Portsmouth to help develop methods for degaussing-or demagnetizing-ships to keep them from being blown up by enemy torpedoes.

Referred to by some as the "Savior of Oberwolfach," one of Todd's most stellar achievements was his salvation of the Mathematical Research Institute at Oberwolfach in Germany. Near the war's end, Todd and his colleagues went to investigate rumors that mathematicians were being held as prisoners of war in Germany's Black Forest. What they found was the Mathematical Research Institute at Oberwolfach, where the University of Freiburg was protecting the mathematicians. Todd claimed the building for the Admiralty and prevented Moroccan troops from destroying the institute and its work. In his Caltech oral history, Todd recalls the incident as "probably the best thing I ever did for mathematics."

In 1945, with peace restored, Todd returned to teaching at King's, developing a specialty in numerical analysis. In 1947, he and Olga came to the United States to help establish the National Applied Mathematical Laboratories at UCLA, part of the National Bureau of Standards. They later moved to the NBS headquarters in Washington, D.C., where they helped launch the field of high-speed computer programming and analysis and also became U.S. citizens. Todd was chief of the computation laboratory and later headed the numerical analysis section, while Olga served as a consultant.

In 1956, the couple received job offers from Caltech, which was just entering computer science. The following year, they arrived at the Institute, where Todd developed and taught courses in mathematics. As a faculty research associate, Olga Taussky-Todd also broke new ground-she was the first woman to receive a formal Caltech teaching appointment, and, in 1971, a full professorship. She remained active in research until her death in 1995.

Thomas A. Tombrello, chair of the Division of Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy and William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Physics at Caltech says, "Jack and his wife Olga were among the pioneers who made us what we are in teaching and research in mathematics. Our sense of collegiality and common purpose are a tribute to them."

"It was a terrific day for the mathematics department when we succeeded in attracting Jack and Olga to come to Caltech," says Gary Lorden, professor of mathematics.

"Not only did we gain eminent scholars, but wonderful colleagues and teachers. They made a remarkably generous commitment to the future of Caltech and the mathematics department, and their legacy also includes the inspiring stories of their lives and careers-Olga, as one of the very first women to make a mark in 20th-century mathematics, and Jack as a pioneer in numerical analysis and computing.

"These two remarkable people will always be remembered with great affection and regard by mathematicians and the Caltech community."

Deborah Williams-Hedges

Ooguri Appointed Fred Kavli Professor of Theoretical Physics

PASADENA, Calif.—Like many Japanese schoolchildren, Hirosi Ooguri read about the physicist Hideki Yukawa, who became Japan's first Nobel laureate in 1949 for predicting the existence of mesons, elementary particles that hold atomic nuclei together. Ooguri says, "I was very impressed by the power of mathematics in discovering how the universe works."

Today, "Ooguri is one of the leading theoretical physicists in the world," says his fellow string theoretician John Schwarz, the Harold Brown Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology. The Institute has named Ooguri as its first Fred Kavli Professor of Theoretical Physics, a new professorship endowed by the Kavli Foundation.

String theory shows promise for unifying a theory of gravity with what physicists call the Standard Model, which successfully describes the other three of nature's four known fundamental interactions. Besides string theory, Ooguri has another long-term project: to help build an infrastructure for physicists exploring at the frontiers of high-energy physics. Specifically, he wants to develop the right mathematical language for quantum gauge theory, which describes how elementary particles interact.

Yet he now believes his two projects are converging, allowing physicists to choose suitable models from either string theory or quantum gauge theory. It could take physics half a century to develop these tools. "You need something analogous to the invention of calculus," he says. "My prejudice is that string theory is in the right direction."

Ooguri received his BA in 1984 and his MA in 1986 from Kyoto University. He earned his PhD at the University of Tokyo in 1989. He worked as an associate professor of physics at the University of Chicago from 1989 to 1990, followed by a four-year stint at Kyoto University as an associate professor of mathematical physics.

In 1994, Ooguri returned to the United States as a professor of physics at UC Berkeley. From 1996 to 2000, he was the faculty senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He arrived at Caltech in 2000 as a professor of theoretical physics.

The Kavli Foundation was established in December 2000 by its founder and benefactor, Fred Kavli, a prominent California business leader and noted philanthropist whose foundation is currently actively involved in establishing major research institutes at leading universities throughout the United States and in Europe and Asia.

John Avery
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Newly Discovered Olympian Galaxy Will Provide Fresh Insights into Galactic Formation

PASADENA, Calif.—A newly discovered dwarf galaxy in our local group has been found to have formed in a region of space far from our own and is falling into our system for the first time in its history.

The dwarf is formally known as Andromeda XII because it is the 12th dwarf galaxy associated with Andromeda, our nearest galactic neighbor. The discoverers have nicknamed it the Olympian Galaxy after the 12 Olympian gods in the Greek pantheon. The discovery was made possible with data obtained at the W. M. Keck Observatory atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

According to Andrew Blain, an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology and a member of the discovery team, the Olympian Galaxy marks the best piece of evidence that at least some small galaxies are just now arriving in our local group, which primarily includes the Milky Way, Andromeda, and various dwarf galaxies in the vicinity of both. The finding provides an important test for simulations of galaxy formation.

Dwarf galaxies and streams of stellar material mark the visible remnants of galactic merging events from which large galaxies are made. Cosmology models predict that small galaxies form along a web of filamentary structures in the universe and then gradually fall into dense groups and cluster environments. Small galaxies should still be falling into the local group, yet none have been found--until now.

"Other local group dwarf galaxies are thought to have extreme orbits, including Leo I, Andromeda XIV and Andromeda XI, but the Olympian Galaxy really stands out as a contender for a new entrant into the local group," says the lead author of the study, Scott C. Chapman of the University of Cambridge Institute of Astronomy. "The others have likely already been seriously harassed by Andromeda and the Milky Way."

The Olympian Galaxy was first discovered in October 2006 during a wide-field survey taken with the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope's MegaCam instrument. It is the faintest dwarf galaxy ever discovered near Andromeda (also known as M31), and may have the lowest mass ever measured. Dwarf galaxies are the smallest stellar systems showing evidence for a substantial amount of dark matter.

Chapman's observations confirmed that the Olympian Galaxy is distinct from all other satellite galaxies in the local group. It is a fast-moving galaxy on a highly eccentric orbit, located at a great distance-about 115 kiloparsecs (375,000 light-years)-from the center of M31. Importantly, the Olympian Galaxy lies significantly behind M31 as viewed from the Milky Way, which indicates that it is almost certainly falling in for the first time. Because the dwarf galaxy has lived its life in a very different environment from that of the local group, it gives astronomers a pristine object for studying star-formation histories, dark-matter distribution, and other parameters that would be influenced by the local-group gravity that has affected other dwarf galaxies.

"The Olympian Galaxy may be the first galaxy of the local group ever observed that has not yet been disrupted by the strong gravity of the local group," says Jorge Penarrubia of the University of Victoria, a coauthor of the study.

The Deep Extragalactic Imaging Multi-Object Spectrograph (DEIMOS) at Keck II, one of two 10-meter telescopes the W. M. Keck Observatory operates on the summit of Mauna Kea, was key in making the discovery. It was used to observe 49 stars in the region of the Olympian Galaxy, and confirmed that eight were members of the new dwarf galaxy. Follow-up observations were also conducted at the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia to measure the amount of interstellar gas in the galaxy, and the Subaru telescope in Hawaii helped determine a more precise distance.

"Without the spectra we obtained with DEIMOS, it would have been impossible to make any useful claims about the orbit of the Olympian Galaxy, its evolution, its speed, or its dark-matter content," adds Chapman.

The Olympian Galaxy is falling very quickly through the local group from behind Andromeda, and is the only one of Andromeda's satellites that exceeds the apparent escape velocity for Andromeda. It is possible that the Olympian Galaxy may be just a short-term visitor. It is such a low-mass galaxy that it may not slow down much as it passes through the local group.

"It is a pleasure to see the speed of this new, fascinating member of the local group clocked using Keck II and DEIMOS," adds W. M. Keck Observatory director Taft Armandroff. "The powerful combination of Keck and DEIMOS has added many contributions to our understanding of local-group galaxies."

The age of the universe is not old enough for the Olympian Galaxy to have started in the dense local group and be on its second trip through our system. The dwarf galaxy probably formed in a dense filament structure, toward the general direction of the M81 group. However, the distance to that group is about three times too far for the galaxy to have actually come from there. A likely scenario is that the Olympian Galaxy formed in a filamentary region of space that connects the local group to the M81 group.

"The high speed really surprised me; I wasn't expecting to see any of our newly discovered dwarfs moving so fast. We will likely have to revise our mass estimates of Andromeda upward as a result," adds Rodrigo Ibata, another author of the study.

A paper reporting the discovery, "Strangers in the Night: The Discovery of a Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxy on its First Local Group Infall," will appear in an upcoming issue of the Astrophysical Journal. Funding was provided by a fellowship from the Canadian Space Agency and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Additional support was provided by Adrian Jenkins, who made available important computer simulations.

The study was coauthored by Jorge Penarrubia, Alan McConnachie, and Aaron Ludlow of the University of Victoria; Rodrigo Ibata, Observatoire de Strasbourg; Nicolas F. Martin, Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie; Andrew Blain and Bruno Letarte, California Institute of Technology; Michael Irwin, University of Cambridge Institute of Astronomy; Geraint Lewis, University of Sydney Institute of Astronomy; Fred Lo and Karen O'Neil, NRAO Green Bank Telescope.

The W. M. Keck Observatory is operated by the California Association for Research in Astronomy (CARA), a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) corporation whose governing board includes directors from the California Institute of Technology and the University of California. In addition, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the W. M. Keck Foundation each have liaisons to the board. Construction of the twin Keck telescopes and domes was made possible with generous grants totaling more than $140 million from the W. M. Keck Foundation in Los Angeles.


Kathy Svitil

Caltech and Berkeley Astronomers Identify a New Class of Cosmic Explosions

PASADENA, Calif.--Astronomers are announcing today the discovery of a new class of stellar explosions. The finding is based on observations of a flash seen in the Virgo cluster in a galaxy known as Messier 85.

According to Shrinivas R. Kulkarni, the team leader announcing the discovery of M85OT2006-1, the event is thought to have resulted from the merger of two ordinary stars 49 million years ago.

"The discovery of this enigmatic event is merely the proverbial tip of the iceberg for an emerging class of cosmic transients," says Kulkarni, the MacArthur Professor of Astronomy and Planetary Science at the California Institute of Technology. The team, which consists of astronomers from Caltech and the University of California at Berkeley, is announcing its findings in the current issue of the journal Nature.

The puzzling explosion was discovered during the Lick Observatory Supernova Search with the Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope, carried out by Alex Filippenko and Weidong Li of UC Berkeley. "Though the primary scientific goal of the program is discovering supernovae and it's quite successful at doing that, it is gratifying to find new classes of transient objects such as M85OT2006-1," said Li, who is in charge of the daily operation of the supernova search.

Kulkarni and his Caltech colleagues had been speculating on possible new classes of cosmic explosions. They mounted a major follow-up program with the Palomar 60-inch telescope, the famous Hale 200-inch telescope, and the Keck telescopes atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Later, other telescopes in Hawaii and Chile were pressed into service.

The explosion was surprising because it was far too faint for a supernova, in which a star literally explodes, but clearly too bright for a nova or a thermonuclear explosion from the surface of a white dwarf star. Arne Rau, a postdoctoral fellow working with Kulkarni, said, "I was simply floored. In a short time we went from speculation to a real discovery. It was an exciting moment for me."

It took astronomers nearly a century to identify two major classes of cosmic explosions: novae and supernovae. Forty years ago gamma-ray bursts were added to the astronomical lexicon. M85OT2006-1 solidifies and defines a new class of cosmic explosions that the Caltech astronomers have dubbed as Luminous Red Novae. These events have very distinct (red) color and expand quite slowly when compared with novae, supernovae, and gamma-ray bursts.

The galaxy in which M85OT2006-1 exploded is composed mainly of old stars, which also indicates that the event probably arose from a population of stars with masses very similar to that of the sun. More than a decade ago, one other similar but poorly studied event was observed in the Andromeda galaxy.

Kulkarni speculates that the red luminous novae result when two stars merge and undergo what is called "common envelope evolution." Kulkarni added, "The common envelope phase has been inferred on strong theoretical grounds, but is now caught in flagrante delicto."

In a related study, Rau undertook observations of M85OT2006-1 with NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The object is detectable in the mid infrared a year after the explosion, long after it became too faint in the visual, even for the Hubble Space Telescope. The Spitzer telescope is particularly well suited for the study of cold matter in space. Rau added, "Spitzer was vital in confirming that this object is a cosmic oddball. It is hard to imagine both a bright explosion which is also so cold."

There is little doubt that the discovery of this new class of cosmic explosions will make astronomers inspect ongoing searches carefully for similar events. Future imaging surveys will likewise be energized by this discovery. Kulkarni added, "It is a nice feeling when you know you have created a new cottage industry in your field."

Besides Kulkarni and Rau, the other authors of the paper are Eran O. Ofek, Stephen B. Cenko, Alicia M. Soderberg, Avishay Gal-Yam, Peter L. Capak, and Dae-Sik Moon, all of Caltech; Derek B. Fox of the Pennsylvania State University; Li and Filippenko of UC Berkeley; Eiichi Egami of the Steward Observatory; and Jeyhan Kartaltepe and David B. Sanders of the University of Hawaii.


Robert Tindol

Astronomers Obtain Highly Detailed Image of the "Red Square" By Using Adaptive Optics of Palomar and Keck Telescopes

Note to Editors: This news release is being issued simultaneously by the University of Sydney. The image is available at

PASADENA, Calif.—Astronomers today announced the arrival of a new member in the pantheon of exotically beautiful celestial objects. Christened the "Red Square" by Peter Tuthill, leader of the team, the image was compiled with data from the 200-inch Hale Telescope at Palomar Observatory, owned and operated by the California Institute of Technology, and the Keck-2 Telescope atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

The findings will appear April 13 in the journal Science in an article titled "A symmetric bipolar nebula around MWC 922," written by Tuthill from the University of Sydney and coauthor James Lloyd of Cornell University.

"Discoveries as beautiful—and interesting—as this one don't come around very often in astronomy," said Tuthill, "and it took some of the world's most advanced telescopes, together with a good dose of luck, to find this jewel hidden among the myriad stars in the galaxy."

"The key to finding it was in the revolutionary new imaging technology of adaptive optics, which acts like a myopia cure for a telescope," agreed Lloyd. "Startlingly clear images capable of revealing objects like this are now possible without the blurring."

The pair were studying a hot star called MWC 922 in the constellation Serpens (the serpent mythologically associated with the origin of medicine). The image shown here combines data taken in near-infrared light (1.6 microns) and shows a region 30.8 arcseconds on a side around MWC 922. As the outer periphery of the nebula is very faint compared to the core, the image has been processed and sharpened to display the full panoply of detail and structure.

"The thing that really takes your breath away is the astonishing degree of symmetry within the intricate linear forms," said Tuthill. "If you fold things across the principal diagonal axis, you get an almost perfect reflection symmetry. This makes the Red Square nebula the most symmetrical object of comparable complexity ever imaged."

The overall architecture of twin opposed conical cavities (commonly known in astronomy as a "bipolar nebula") is seen to be adorned with a remarkable sequence of sharply defined linear rungs or bars. This series of rungs and conical surfaces lie nested, one within the next, down to the heart of the system, where the hyperbolic bicone surfaces are crossed by a dark lane running across the principal axis. One particularly fascinating feature visible in the images is a series of faint radial spokes, like teeth of a comb, pointing away from the center. "Structures such as this are rarely seen in nebulae, and the high degree of regularity in this case may point to the intriguing possibility that these bands are shadows cast by periodic ripples or waves on the surface of an inner disk close to the star at the heart of the system," said Lloyd. But the most compelling and important implication for astronomy comes from the three-dimensional structure implied by the Red Square images.

"If you can really get a mental grasp of the three-dimensional geometry implied by the Red Square images," said Tuthill, "then it is fascinating to take a second look at one of the most famous astronomical images of them all: SN1987A." An image of the supernova as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope is to the right, showing the beautiful and unexpected ring system revealed around SN1987A—the only naked-eye supernova since the discovery of the telescope.

"We are not saying that the star MWC 922 at the heart of the Red Square is about to explode as a supernova," said Lloyd, "but we're not ruling it out either, and if it did it would certainly put on quite a show as it kindles the outer reaches of its nebula."

Whatever the fate of the central star, the remarkable series of bars seen in the Red Square make it the best astrophysical laboratory yet discovered for studying the physics of generating the mysterious sharp polar-ring systems like that around SN1987A.

According to Tuthill, "This is just the beginning-a system as complex and fascinating as this is bound to keep us guessing for years to come."

The image was made possible by the Palomar Adaptive Optics System, built by Caltech Optical Observatories and Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and captured by its companion infrared camera, built by Cornell University.


Richard Dekany (626) 395-6798

Peter Tuthill +61 2 9566 1826

James Lloyd


Segment of Quantum Repeater Demonstrated; May Lead to Long-Distance Quantum Communications

PASADENA, Calif.—Physicists at the California Institute of Technology have succeeded for the first time in the distribution of "entanglement" in a way that could lead to long-distance quantum communications, scalable quantum networks, and even a quantum internet.

In the April 5 online publication Science Express, Caltech Valentine Professor of Physics H. Jeff Kimble and his colleagues report that they have devised a crucial building-block of a "quantum repeater." The team has demonstrated a way to create a segment of a channel that can distribute quantum entanglement over distances. The division into segments and storage of entanglement in material systems is necessary for long-distance quantum communications to take place.

"This work provides a first primitive version of a quantum repeater segment," says Julien Laurat, a postdoctoral scholar in physics and one of the authors of the paper. "It opens an avenue for further investigations into this promising and new quest of large-scale networks where the currency of the realm is no longer classical information but rather quantum information."

Entanglement, one of the most striking features of quantum mechanics, leads to strong correlations between the various components of a physical system, regardless of the distance separating them. Entanglement's distribution enables quantum protocols, such as quantum cryptography where the security is guaranteed by the law of physics or quantum teleportation where a quantum state is faithfully transferred from one place to another.

"Physicists for some time have understood that the entanglement of quantum states could be exploited for various advances that are impossible with devices that operate according to the laws of classical physics," says Chin-Wen Chou, a former doctoral student of Kimble's and the lead author of the paper.

However, entanglement as a resource is fragile, and achieving such protocols over very long-distance is a challenge for quantum physicists. To achieve in a reasonable time long-distance quantum communications, namely the distribution of entanglement over such a distance, the channel has to be divided into many segments and entanglement generated and stored into material systems before connecting all them together. The Caltech group achievement is demonstrating an initial version of one of these segments.

The experiment involves two quantum nodes separated by 3 meters, each formed by two atomic ensembles separated by 1mm. The ensembles are clouds of about 100,000 cooled cesium atoms. With real-time control of the quantum states, entanglement is generated, stored into the atoms, which play the role of a quantum memory, and finally converted to photons on demand. This entanglement is stored in a heralded way, a critical requirement for scalability. In addition, the released entanglement is a so-called "polarization entanglement," an appropriate form for quantum communication applications.

"We demonstrated the capability to distribute entanglement between two locations in a form suitable both for quantum network architectures and for entanglement-based quantum communication schemes," says Kimble.

"The import of our experiment goes well beyond quantum communication protocols," Laurat explains. "It incorporates many complex procedures, confirming the more and more efficient control we can have in our labs to address in a coherent way the quantum states of atoms and light, and their interface."

The new work reported by Chou, Laurat, Kimble, and their coworkers is a significant leap towards quantum networking. However, the researchers also emphasize that "the extension of their work to longer chains involving many segments becomes more complicated, and still out of reach of any current system. A fully functional quantum repeater is still a challenging task, and its future achievement will be rich in fruitful discoveries."

This demonstration builds upon previous advances in the Caltech Quantum Optics Group in recent years, including the first demonstration of unconditional quantum teleportation ( and the initial demonstration of entanglement between two remote atomic ensembles (, a crucial ingredient for the breakthrough reported here.

The title of the paper is "Functional Quantum Nodes for Entanglement Distribution over Scalable Quantum Networks." It will be available on the Science Express website at when the embargo lifts and will be published in the journal Science at a later date.

The other authors are Hui Deng, a postdoctoral scholar in physics; Kyung Soo Choi, a graduate student, and Hugues de Riedmatten and Daniel Felinto, both previous postdoctoral scholars at Caltech.

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Caltech Observatory Receives Science Education Award

PASADENA, Calif.- The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory in Hanford, Washington, which was created by the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and funded by the National Science Foundation, has received a science education award.

Washington State LASER (Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform) announced the recipients of the first-ever Science Education Advocate Awards.

The awards go to five individuals, organizations, and project teams who exhibited outstanding advocacy for science education in the state of Washington by promoting the importance of science education among the general public and/or the education system.

"The intent of the Science Education Advocate Awards is to recognize and raise public awareness of advocacy across the broadest possible spectrum of science education efforts," said Dennis Schatz, vice president for education and exhibits at Pacific Science Center and co-director of LASER. "Awardees are being recognized for their advocacy efforts--not necessarily their work as science educators. We want to stress how important strong community support and advocacy is to developing science literacy in our state."

Efforts at all levels of science education--including early learner, K-12, vocational, undergraduate, graduate, adult, and informal/public science education--were eligible for consideration.

The five awardees receive $5,000 each, which they can give to the not-for-profit organization or public education entity of their choice for use in science education. The award was funded by the Boeing Company.

Recipients will be recognized at local awards ceremonies to highlight their achievements among their peers and within their communities.

LIGO develops and collaborates in programs to promote science that are tailored to meet the needs of different ages, cultures, and academic circumstances. In these endeavors, the observatory partners with formal and informal education organizations and community groups whenever possible. LIGO's contributions to these programs emphasize the project's role in an international effort to make the first direct detection of gravitational waves.

For K-12 groups, LIGO offered field trips to about 900 children in 2006. In addition to learning about LIGO's search for gravitational waves, student guests interact with a dozen hands-on exhibits related to wave behavior and gravity. The exhibits are correlated to Washington State science standards. Nearly a dozen groups of science and education college students also visited in 2006.

LIGO also hosts field trips sponsored by regional chapters of educational programs aimed at encouraging low-income and minority students to explore science and math.

LIGO's $5,000 donation will be awarded to the LIGO Hanford Observatory to support transportation expenses for field trips to the observatory.

"LIGO is pleased to be part of NSF's investment in America's future, both in science and education," said Frederick J. Raab, head of the LIGO Hanford Observatory. "Through the expertise of our local institutional partners, the enthusiasm of our community members and the dedication of our staff, we have had the privilege to put some magic into the lives of thousands of residents of our region. One day, you have the idea to organize a bilingual astronomy event for our Latino families and, presto, the local astronomy club supplies telescopes and the local college contributes an interpreter for every astronomer we can muster. Whether helping us provide physics toys for kids at the Cinco de Mayo celebration, supporting visits by schools to LIGO or providing volunteers for our Perseid meteor parties, we can always count on our community partners to make it work."

In addition to LIGO Hanford, Caltech alumnus and visiting associate in biology Leroy Hood, and his colleague Valerie Logan, were also recipients of the award. Hood, who earned a bachelor's degree in biology in 1960 and a PhD in biochemistry in 1968 from Caltech, is president of the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle. Logan is community liaison and fund developer for the Center for Inquiry Science at the Institute for Systems Biology.

In 1992, Hood established the University of Washington's Department of Molecular Biotechnology. While Logan and Hood were at the university, they established several education reform programs, including the Partnership for Inquiry-based Science and the Family Science program.

In 2000, Hood left the University of Washington and started the independent, nonprofit, Institute for Systems Biology (ISB).

"Within ISB, we encourage our faculty members to engage in advocacy and programmatic activities related to K-12 science education," said Hood. "I have always believed that academics have four major responsibilities: scholarship, education, transfer of knowledge to society, and community leadership."

Their $5,000 donation will be awarded to the K-12 science education program at the Institute for Systems Biology.

### Contact: Jill Perry Caltech Media Relations (626) 395-3226

Wendy Malloy Pacific Science Center (206) 443-2879

Visit the Caltech Media Relations website at

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Astrophysicists Using Space Observatories Catch Magnetar in Gigantic Stellar Belch

PASADENA, Calif.—When it comes to eerie astrophysical effects, the neutron stars commonly known as magnetars are hard to beat. The massive remnants of exploded stars, magnetars are the size of mountains but weigh as much as the sun, and have magnetic fields hundreds of trillions of times more powerful than the earthly field that turns our compass needles north.

Now astrophysicists have managed to catch a recently discovered magnetar in a sort of giant stellar hiccup that still has them puzzled. In multiple reports in the Astrophysical Journal and Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the researchers describe the behavior of the body located in a star cluster about 15,000 light-years away in the Ara constellation in the southern hemisphere. The magnetar goes by the unwieldy official name CXOU J164710.2-455216, or more informally, the "Westerlund 1 magnetar."

"We only know of about a dozen magnetars," says Michael Muno, a scientist at the California Institute of Technology's Space Radiation Laboratory, and the original discoverer of the magnetar. "In brief, what we observed was a seismic event on the magnetar, which tells us a lot about the stresses these objects endure."

In September 2005, about a year after Muno found the magnetar, the object produced a burst that luckily came at a time when it was being heavily observed by several satellites, including NASA's Swift X-ray and gamma-ray observatory, and the European Space Agency's X-ray satellite, XMM-Newton. Just five days before the burst, Muno and collaborators had been looking at the magnetar with the XMM-Newton and seen it in the relatively calm state in which he had originally found it.

As most magnetars do, it produced a beam of X-ray light that, like the beam from a lighthouse, swept across Earth once every 10 seconds. This allowed its rotational rate to be determined very precisely. The event that produced the burst also caused the magnetar to shine 100 times more brightly, created three separate beams to sweep past Earth where previously only one had existed, and sped up its rotation rate by about a thousandth of a second.

Muno says more work is required to understand what happened with the magnetar, because it is built of matter far denser than anything on Earth, and its composition is still a mystery.

However, it is possible to make educated guesses by extending theories developed to explain other neutron stars. The magnetic fields inside the neutron star are probably wound up, like a twisted spring. In a manner somewhat similar to plate tectonics here on Earth, as the magnetic fields unwind, they put stress on the outer crust. The crust would resist these stresses for a while, but would eventually fracture, producing a seismic event. The fractures would cause the magnetar's surface to shine brightly from multiple sources.

Also, there is reason to think that part of the interior of the neutron star is liquid and may be rotating faster than the crust. The seismic event could cause this fluid to become attached to the crust, so that the outer crust would speed up slightly.

"So we think the crust cracked," Muno says, adding that the observations are important for two reasons. "First, we have now seen another way in which these exotic objects dissipate their internal fields as they age.

"Second, this event was only spotted because a team of us were concentrating hard on this newly discovered object," he adds. "The fact that we saw the event only a year after we discovered the magnetar implies that dozens more could be lurking in our galaxy."

"If we find many more of these magnetars, we will have to reevaluate our understanding of what happens when stars die," says GianLuca Israel, an Italian astronomer who is publishing a separate paper on the magnetar with his collaborators, appearing this week in the Astrophysical Journal.

Muno is lead author of a paper appearing this week in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Robert Tindol

Caltech Physicist Marc Kamionkowski Named Winner of Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Marc Kamionkowski, the Robinson Professor of Theoretical Physics and Astrophysics at Caltech, has been named one of eight winners of the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award. The announcement was made today by U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman in Washington, D.C.

The Lawrence Award honors scientists and engineers at mid-career for exceptional contributions in research and development that support the Department of Energy and its mission to advance the national, economic, and energy security of the United States. The award consists of a gold medal, a citation, and an honorarium of $50,000.

"These brilliant scientists and their varied and important research inspire us," Secretary Bodman said. "Their work reminds us of the importance of continued investment in science and the need for increased emphasis on basic research and math and science education programs."

Kamionkowski, who has been at Caltech since 1999, was cited as this year's sole winner in the physics category for describing how precise observations of the cosmic microwave background radiation can lead to deeper understanding of the origin and evolution of the universe. Kamionkowski and his collaborators have inspired a new generation of very sophisticated experiments that have begun the search for the signature of the cosmic gravitational-wave background.

He has also worked on particle dark matter, inflation, and cosmic acceleration, as well as neutrino and nuclear physics and astrophysics, large-scale-structure and galaxy formation, gravitational lensing, phase transitions in the early universe, alternative gravity theories, the first stars, the epoch of reionization, and stellar and high-energy astrophysics.

At Caltech, Kamionkowski is a member of the theoretical astrophysics group and the Moore Center for Theoretical Cosmology and Physics. He teaches classes in both physics and astronomy, including general relativity, cosmology, quantum mechanics, radiative processes, stellar structure and evolution, and the physics of stars.

A native of Cleveland, Kamionkowski earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1987 from Washington University and his doctorate in 1991 from The University of Chicago. He served a three-year postdoctorate at the Institute for Advanced Study and then joined the Columbia University faculty in 1994. He came to Caltech in 1999 as a full professor.

In addition to Kamionkowski, this year's winners are Paul Alivisatos, of the University of California at Berkeley and E.O. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Moungi Bawendi, of MIT, jointly, for the materials research category (the winners of this joint award will share the honorarium); Malcolm J. Andrews, of Los Alamos National Laboratory, for the national security category; Arup K. Chakraborty, of MIT, for the life sciences category; My Hang V. Huynh, of Los Alamos National Laboratory, for the chemistry category; John Zachara, of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, for the environmental science and technology category; and Steven Zinkle, of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, for the nuclear technology category.

The Lawrence Award was established in 1959 to honor the memory of the late Dr. Lawrence, who invented the cyclotron (a particle accelerator) and after whom two major Energy Department laboratories at Berkeley and Livermore, California, are named. The Lawrence Awards, given in seven categories, will be presented at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Additional information on the winners and their work is available on the Web at The DOE news release about the awards is at

Robert Tindol
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New Astrophysics Building Under Way

PASADENA, Calif.- In December 2008 astronomers and astrophysicists at the California Institute of Technology will have a new home for their offices, classes, and meetings. Construction on the Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics began Jan. 31 with a groundbreaking ceremony.

Caltech President Jean-Lou Chameau thanked the benefactors and the city for making the building possible. As a civil engineer, he said it was always exciting to be part of the birth of a new building, particularly one whose creation had been envisioned by Caltech faculty and administrators for so many years.

Donning hardhats for the actual groundbreaking were Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard; Chameau; building architect Thom Mayne; Dick Baptie of the general contractor Hathaway Dinwiddie; Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy Division Chair Tom Tombrello; Caltech faculty planning chair Tom Phillips; and building benefactor Charles H. Cahill.

Thanks to Cahill, and other leadership support from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation; Michael M. Scott (BS '65); Caltech trustee Fred Hameetman (BS '62) and his wife Joyce, the Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation, more than $38 million has already been raised. The estimated 100,000-square-foot facility will provide a much-needed collective and collaborative home for astronomers, instrument builders, and theorists who now work in numerous buildings on campus.

The $50 million center will be located on the south side of California Boulevard, between the Institute's athletic facilities on the south and the rest of the campus on the north.

Internationally recognized architect Thom Mayne and his firm, Morphosis, based in Santa Monica, designed the visually impressive, yet functional structure.

Plans call for the Cahill Center to be composed of three floors and a basement. The building will contain space for offices, laboratories, remote observing rooms, conference rooms, a library, an auditorium, and classrooms.

For almost 100 years, Caltech has been at the forefront of astronomy and astrophysics, pioneering research that has led to greater understanding of the earth, the solar system, and the Universe. This facility will help its world-renowned astronomers and other investigators continue their groundbreaking discoveries well into the 21st century.

Since the time of George Ellery Hale, Caltech astronomers have been housed in the elegant Robinson building, opened in 1932 and distinguished by its rooftop astronomical dome.

Generations of occupants have discovered remarkable phenomena, including the cosmological nature of quasars, the incredibly bright beacons in the sky indicating the presence of very distant galaxies, millisecond pulsars, and brown dwarfs, also known as "failed stars." This year alone, Caltech astronomers announced that they have the first look at the weblike large-scale distribution of dark matter in the universe and they discovered the first known triplet of quasars.

Over the years, the Institute's astronomy program has increased in size, overfilling the Robinson building, so that other astrophysical programs began to occupy neighboring physics laboratories.

Despite their many successes, Caltech astronomers and astrophysicists have been limited by the physical separation between research groups.

"Pulling together the division's many activities in astronomy and astrophysics to achieve optimal synergy has been our goal for some time," says Tombrello. "The Cahill Center is an essential step in this progression and, naturally, a top priority for us. We greatly appreciate the gift by the Cahills and other Caltech friends that will help us tackle some of the remaining questions in astronomy."

Caltech's observing facilities, which span almost the entire electromagnetic spectrum, are unmatched by any other institution in the world.

Its optical observatories stretch from the Palomar Observatory, which includes the famous 200-inch telescope built in the 1930s, to the twin 10-meter Keck telescopes on Mauna Kea. The Thirty Meter Telescope, which will be the largest in the world, is now being designed. To this impressive list of world-leading optical telescopes is added the nation's largest millimeter wave radio interferometer, and submillimeter wave single dish. The list goes on, including balloon-borne and land-based cosmic background detection facilities, an ultraviolet sky survey satellite, European Space Agency satellites and NASA satellites, and an airborne telescope.

"The Cahill Center will enable the inventors of all these devices to be brought together under one roof, no doubt fostering exciting new discoveries," says Tombrello. "Caltech is known worldwide for its leadership in astronomy. It's the unique quality of Caltech's education that promotes these discoveries, which will help improve our understanding of the Universe."

According to Chameau, "If not for the extraordinary generosity of several supporters, our faculty would still be waiting for this wonderful the project to begin. Now that the building phase is underway, we still need almost $13 million to reach our goal and several attractive naming opportunities remain."



Jill Perry (626) 395-3226

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