News RSS Icon Subscribe via RSS

Geobiologists Solve "Catch-22 Problem" Concerning the Rise of Atmospheric Oxygen
11/28/2006

Geobiologists Solve "Catch-22 Problem" Concerning the Rise of Atmospheric Oxygen

Robert Tindol
Two and a half billion years ago, when our evolutionary ancestors were little more than a twinkle in a bacterium's plasma membrane, the process known as photosynthesis suddenly gained the ability to release molecular oxygen into Earth's atmosphere, causing one of the largest environmental changes in the history of our planet. The organisms assumed responsible were the cyanobacteria, which are known to have evolved the ability to turn water, carbon dioxide, and sunlight into oxygen and sugar, and are still around today as the blue-green algae and the chloroplasts in all green plants.
placeholder
Watson Lecture: Natural Disasters
10/16/2006

Watson Lecture: Natural Disasters

John Avery
The recent devastations caused by earthquakes in south and southwest Asia, by the Indian Ocean tsunami, and by hurricane Katrina offer dramatic proof that communities all over the world are both unaware of, and unprepared for, natural hazards. Unfortunately, while scientists understand much about these natural hazards, that knowledge commonly is not used to reduce the risks.
placeholder
Caltech Researchers Reveal Three Distinct Modes of Dynamic Friction Rupture with Implications for Earthquake Behavior
09/22/2006

Caltech Researchers Reveal Three Distinct Modes of Dynamic Friction Rupture with Implications for Earthquake Behavior

Deborah Williams-Hedges
A new study by researchers at the California Institute of Technology has revealed important findings about the nature of ruptures and sliding behavior, which could impact how we respond to earthquakes and other disasters.
placeholder
The Dwarf Planet Formerly Known as Xena Has Officially Been Named Eris, IAU Announces
09/14/2006

The Dwarf Planet Formerly Known as Xena Has Officially Been Named Eris, IAU Announces

Robert Tindol
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) today announced that the dwarf planet known as Xena since its 2005 discovery has been named Eris, after the Greek goddess of discord.
image of the Caltech icon on a gray background
Jupiter-Sized Transiting Planet Found by Astronomers Using Novel Telescope Network
09/08/2006

Jupiter-Sized Transiting Planet Found by Astronomers Using Novel Telescope Network

Robert Tindol
Our home solar system may be down by a planet with the recent demotion of Pluto, but the number of giant planets discovered in orbit around other stars continues to grow steadily. Now, an international team of astronomers has detected a planet slightly larger than Jupiter that orbits a star 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Draco.
placeholder
Xena Awarded "Dwarf Planet" Status, IAU Rules; Solar System Now Has Eight Planets
08/24/2006

Xena Awarded "Dwarf Planet" Status, IAU Rules; Solar System Now Has Eight Planets

Robert Tindol
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) today downgraded the status of Pluto to that of a "dwarf planet," a designation that will also be applied to the spherical body discovered last year by California Institute of Technology planetary scientist Mike Brown and his colleagues. The decision means that only the rocky worlds of the inner solar system and the gas giants of the outer system will hereafter be designated as planets.
Researchers Announce New Way to Assess How Buildings Would Stand Up in Big Quakes
08/10/2006

Researchers Announce New Way to Assess How Buildings Would Stand Up in Big Quakes

How much damage will certain steel-frame, earthquake-resistant buildings located in Southern California sustain when a large temblor strikes? It's a complicated, multifaceted question, and researchers from the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the University of Pau, France, have answered it with unprecedented specificity using a new modeling protocol.
placeholder
NSF-Funded Wireless Network Leads Palomar Observatory Astronomers to Major Discoveries
08/10/2006

NSF-Funded Wireless Network Leads Palomar Observatory Astronomers to Major Discoveries

For the past three years, astronomers at the California Institute of Technology's Palomar Observatory in Southern California have been using the High Performance Wireless Research and Education Network (HPWREN) as the data transfer cyberinfrastructure to further our understanding of the universe. Recent applications include the study of some of the most cataclysmic explosions in the universe, the hunt for extrasolar planets, and the discovery of our solar system's tenth planet. The data for all this research is transferred via HPWREN from the remote mountain observatory to college campuses hundreds of miles away.

placeholder
Study of 8.7-Magnitude Earthquake Lends New Insight into Post-Shaking Processes
06/29/2006

Study of 8.7-Magnitude Earthquake Lends New Insight into Post-Shaking Processes

Robert Tindol
Although the magnitude 8.7 Nias-Simeulue earthquake of March 28, 2005, was technically an aftershock, the temblor nevertheless killed more than 2,000 people in an area that had been devastated just three months earlier by the December 2004, magnitude 9.1 earthquake. Now, data returned from instruments in the field provide constraints on the behavior of dangerous faults in subduction zones, fueling a new understanding of basic mechanics controlling slip on faults, and in turn, improved estimates of regional seismic risk.
placeholder
Media to Learn Newest Ways to Report on Earthquakes at Open House and Workshop
06/23/2006

Media to Learn Newest Ways to Report on Earthquakes at Open House and Workshop

Jill Perry
The California Institute of Technology will unveil its newly renovated Earthquake Media Center to the news media at 9:30 a.m. June 29. This Open House event will include a free "Earthquakes 101" Workshop for the media where Caltech and U.S. Geological Survey scientists will discuss a wide range of topics to help new and veteran earthquake reporters cover the next major earthquake.
placeholder