Question of the Week: All the Planets Spin West To East, Except One. Why Does It Spin In the Opposite Direction?

Question of the Month Submitted by Michael Dole, Covina, Calif., and answered by Peter Goldreich, Lee A. DuBridge Professor of Astrophysics and Planetary Physics at Caltech.

You're undoubtedly thinking of Venus as the planet that spins east to west. In other words, if you arrived on Venus in the morning, the sun would be in the west and would set in the east. The only thing is that it would set about four Earth-months later! That's because a day on Venus lasts for 243 of our Earth-days.

Question of the Week: Why Is the Night Dark and Not As Light As the Day?

Submitted by Jim Early, Orange County, and answered by Dr. Roger Blandford, Richard Chace Tolman Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics and Executive Officer for Astronomy; and David Hogg, Caltech graduate student in physics.

A similar question was asked by Shawn McCord, age 8, of Covina.

Question of the Week: Could There Possibly Be New Elements In the Universe That Haven't Been Detected?

Question of the Month Submitted by Rick Conner, Laguna Niguel, and answered by Donald Burnett, Professor of Geochemistry, Caltech.

The answer is yes.

Elements are numbered according to the number of protons they contain. For example, hydrogen, the first element on the periodic table, has one proton. Oxygen has eight, iron has 26, and gold has 79. Uranium, with 92 protons, is the heaviest element that has been detected elsewhere in the universe by astronomers.

Question of the Week: Why Can't We Manufacture Ozone To Be Released Where Needed In the Atmosphere?

Submitted by Ann Marchillo, Glendora, Calif., and answered by Matt Fraser and Patrick Chuang, graduate students in environmental engineering at Caltech.

Ozone is a molecule containing three atoms of oxygen, and is known by the chemical symbol "O3." The stuff we breathe is "O2," which contains two atoms of oxygen. The "ozone hole" is a decrease in the amount of ultraviolet-absorbing ozone in the upper part of the earth's stratosphere, about 10 miles above ground level.

Caltech Geophysicist Offers Evidence For New View of Earth's Inner Workings

SAN FRANCISCO—In two closely related presentations today at the annual American Geophysical Union conference, Caltech geophysicist Don Anderson will describe work suggesting a radical new interpretation of how Earth operates inside. The work is based on recently declassified satellite imagery as well as a revisiting of the issue of primordial helium (the 3He isotope) within Earth.

Question of the Week: Why Didn't the Ice Found at the South Pole of the Moon Sublimate Away, Like Ice Cubes Do in a Refridgerator?

Submitted by Dean Bessette, Huntington Beach, Calif., and answered by Dave Stevenson, George Van Osdol Professor of Planetary Science, California Institute of Technology

As everyone with a refrigerator knows, ice cubes tend to shrink over time. And if you have an old-style refrigerator, you may have observed that the ice molecules go directly from the ice cubes to the walls of the freezer compartment without ever becoming liquid water. This is the process of sublimation, and your question about its relevance to the water found on the moon is a good one.

Neuroscientists Single Out Brain Enzyme Essential To Memory and Learning

PASADENA— Researchers have singled out a brain enzyme that seems to be essential in memory retention and learning.

Question of the Week: How Do We Know That a Rock Found In The Ice In Antarctica Came From Mars?

Question of the Week: How Do We Know That a Rock Found In The Ice In Antarctica Came From Mars? December 1996 96

Question of the Month: We Hear of Humans Going to Distant Planets in the Future. But if Some Planets Are Light-years Away, How Could An Astronaut Live Long Enough To Get There?

Question of the Month: We Hear of Humans Going to Distant Planets in the Future. But if Some Planets Are Light-years Away, How Could An Astronaut Live Long Enough To Get There? November 1996 96

Neural Research Shows That the Nose Needs Time To Smell

PASADENA— New research from the California Institute of Technology shows that it literally takes some time to smell the roses.

In the current issue of Nature, Caltech neuroscientists Michael Wehr and Gilles Laurent present work demonstrating that information about odors is contained in the temporal activity patterns of groups of neurons over an interval of time.

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