Caltech's Murray Gell-Mann simplified the world of particle physics in 1964 by standing it on its head. He theorized that protons—subatomic particles as solid as billiard balls and as stable as the universe—were actually cobbled together from bizarre entities, dubbed "quarks," whose properties are unlike anything seen in our world. Unlike protons, quarks cannot be separated from their fellows and studied in isolation; despite this, our understanding of the universe is built on their amply documented existence.
Ed Stone, Caltech's David Morrisroe Professor of Physics, has won the aerospace equivalent of an Oscar. On Wednesday, July 16, the American Astronautical Society (AAS) presented him its sixth Lifetime Achievement Award for his "sustained and extraordinary contributions to America's space programs, including innovative planetary missions."
Caltech researchers stabilize microwave oscillators with optical frequencies from a silicon chip. The approach could ultimately replace more conventional methods that rely on crystal references—a technology in use since the 1920s.
Just as growth rings can offer insight into climate changes occurring during the lifespan of a tree, corals have much to tell about changes in the ocean. At Caltech, climate scientists Jess F. Adkins and Nivedita Thiagarajan use manned submersibles, like Alvin operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, to dive thousands of meters below the surface to collect these specimens—and to shed new light on the connection between variance in carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the deep ocean and historical glacial cycles.
Investment magnate Warren Buffett has famously suggested that investors should try to "be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy only when others are fearful."
That turns out to be excellent advice, according to the results of a new study by researchers at Caltech and Virginia Tech that looked at the brain activity and behavior of people trading in experimental markets where price bubbles formed. In such markets, where price far outpaces actual value, it appears that wise traders receive an early warning signal from their brains—a warning that makes them feel uncomfortable and urges them to sell, sell, sell.
Caltech's John E. and Hazel S. Smits Professor of Geophysics, Emeritus, Hiroo Kanamori, will be receiving the highest award of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the William Bowie Medal, at this year's AGU meeting on December 17, 2014, in San Francisco.
Frederick Burtis Thompson, professor of applied philosophy and computer science, emeritus, passed away on May 27, 2014. The research that Thompson began in the 1960s helped pave the way for today's "expert systems" such as IBM's supercomputer Jeopardy! champ Watson and the interactive databases used in the medical profession. His work provided quick and easy access to the information stored in such systems by teaching the computer to understand human language, rather than forcing the casual user to learn a programming language.