Using quantum atomistic computer simulations to solve industrial problems

PASADENA—In the world of engineering and applied science, ideas that look good on the drawing board often turn out to have annoying real-world problems, even though the finished products still look pretty good. An example is the aluminum car engine, which has the advantage of being lightweight, but tends to wear out more quickly than its heavier steel counterpart.

Caltech grad student's team first to detect radio emission from a brown dwarf

A graduate student in astronomy from the California Institute of Technology recently led a team of researchers in finding the first radio emission ever detected from a brown dwarf, an enigmatic object that is neither star nor planet, but something in between.

The discovery, reported in the March 15 issue of the journal Nature by lead author Edo Berger and his colleagues, demonstrates that brown dwarfs can flare 10,000 times more intensely than theory predicted.

East and West Antarctica once began separating but then stopped, new research shows

PASADENA—Earth was well on its way to having two Antarcticas long ago, but a tectonic separation between the eastern and western portions of the continent suddenly stopped after 17 million years of spreading, researchers say.

Physicists create atom-cavity microscope, track single atoms bound in orbit with single photons

In a promising development with applications to science at the single-atom level, physicists have constructed an "atom-cavity microscope" that tracks the motion of individual atoms.

Astrobiologists should look for both water and energy sources when searching for life on other worlds, researcher says

PASADENA—When planetary scientists first saw evidence of a water ocean beneath the frozen surface of Europa, everyone immediately began pondering the likelihood that the Jovian moon could harbor advanced life forms—perhaps even fishlike creatures.

But last summer a group of planetary scientists from the California Institute of Technology and Jet Propulsion Laboratory threw water on the theory—so to speak—when they took a novel approach and concluded that advanced life forms were not likely.

Snowball Earth episode 2.4 billion years ago was hard on life, but good for modern industrial economy, research shows

For the primitive organisms unlucky enough to be around 2.4 billion years ago, the first global freeze was a real wipeout, likely the worst in the history of life on Earth. Few of the organisms escaped extinction, and those that did were forced into an evolutionary bottleneck that altered the diversity of life for eons.

Thunderstorms found to be an energy source for Jupiter's Great Red Spot

PASADENA-Using data from the Galileo spacecraft currently in orbit around Jupiter, scientists have discovered that thunderstorms beneath the upper cloud cover are supplying energy to the planet's colorful large-scale weather patterns-including the 300-year-old Great Red Spot.

Caltech Professor Yaser Abu-Mostafa Awarded Kuwait State Award

PASADENA-The California Institute of Technology's Yaser Abu-Mostafa, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, received the Kuwait State Award in Applied Science on November 29.

The $50,000 award includes a gold medal, and recognizes original and fundamental research in a designated area of applied science. This year's area was information science and technology. Abu-Mostafa's work on neural networks, learning from hints, and computational finance was cited as the pioneering contribution that merited the award.

New physics research shows how twisted plasmas can suddenly generate unstable magnetic waves

PASADENA-Plasma physicists have long wondered why the geometric shape, or topology, of magnetic fields immersed in plasma sometimes changes very suddenly, when according to the laws of magnetohydrodynamics the magnetic topology should change only very slowly or not at all.

Caltech scientists develop new cell sorter

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have developed a device for sorting individual living cells. This device will provide huge cost benefits for scientists and technologists in clinical medicine as well as in biological and materials research.

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