Astronomers Announce Discovery of Extremely Distant Quasars

PASADENA—Astronomers have discovered 16 new extremely distant quasars, the result of a search made nearly 40 times more efficient than previously possible by applying artificial intelligence to the new Palomar digital sky survey. This novel technique allows researchers to study more easily the formation of quasars and large-scale structures in the early universe.

"This is one of the first successful major applications of artificial intelligence techniques in astronomy and space science," said Usama Fayyad, a scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

Astronomers Announce Discovery of an Old Brown Dwarf

PASADENA—Astronomers at the California Institute of Technology and the Johns Hopkins University today announce the discovery of what they believe is a brown dwarf, and release the first image and spectrum ever taken of this elusive type of object.

The brown dwarf, called GL 229B, lies in the southern-hemisphere constellation Lepus, near Orion, where it orbits a small, dim star called GL 229. This is the first detection of such a cool object outside the solar system.

Question of the month: How do we remember?

What happens to your brain when you remember something?

Caltech Science Question of the Month: When Do Plants Flower?

Question: How does a plant "know" when it is time to bloom? Answer: Many factors work together to "tell" a plant when it is time to flower, including the amount of food and water available, light, temperature, and a plant's age. But just how a plant senses many of these things remains a puzzle.

Biologists Find Roundworm Protein Similar to Human Cancer Protein

A team of biologists has found a striking similarity between a protein found in roundworms and a common but puzzling protein in humans that is sometimes involved in the growth of cancer. This link, reported in the August 25 issue of the journal Science, will help scientists who study human cancer genes direct their research in more promising directions.

Caltech Observatory Sees Start of New Solar Sunspot Cycle

The first sunspot in the new sunspot cycle was identified on Saturday, August 12, by astronomers at the California Institute of Technology's Big Bear Solar Observatory in Big Bear City, California.

Caltech Question of the Month: Visible Stars

Question: How many stars can a person see at night with the naked eye? Answer: Under ideal conditions, about 3,000 stars should be visible at night with the unaided eye, but many factors can reduce this number.

Palomar Survey Reveals Peak in Quasar Formation

Astronomers have discovered direct evidence that most quasars came into existence during the same era, when the universe was still in its infancy. This discovery will help scientists use quasars, the most luminous objects in the sky, as tools for studying the universe back to a time when it was less than a billion years old.

Caltech Science Question of the Month: Is there Earthquake Weather or an Earthquake Hour?

Answered by Lucy Jones, Seismologist with the United States Geological Survey, and Visiting Associate in Geophysics at Caltech.

Caltech Science Question of the Month: Time Travel

Answered by: Kip Thorne, Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics

PASADENA—This is a new monthly feature produced by the Caltech Media Relations Office, in collaboration with Caltech's faculty, to answer commonly asked or particularly intriguing questions about science and the natural world.

Question: What would really happen if you tried to travel back in time, to before the date of your own birth, to change your parents' destiny?


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