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Caltech

— Space

NASA considers putting an asteroid into orbit around the Moon

By - January 3, 2013 1 Picture
To paraphrase an old saying, if the astronaut can’t go to the asteroid, the the asteroid must come to the astronaut. In a study released by the Keck Institute for Space Studies, researchers outlined a mission to tow an asteroid into lunar orbit by 2025 using ion propulsion and a really big bag. The idea is to bring an asteroid close to Earth for easy study and visits by astronauts without the hazards and expense of a deep space mission. Read More
— Science

Nanofocusing device shrinks light beams

By - December 19, 2012 2 Pictures
Engineers at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) and the University of California at Berkeley have developed a nanofocusing waveguide, a tiny passive plasmonic device which is capable of concentrating light onto a spot a few nanometers in size. In so doing, they have sidestepped the diffraction-limited nature of light, which normally prevents focusing light to a spot smaller than its own wavelength. This remarkable feat may lead to new optoelectronic applications in computing, communications, and imaging. Read More
— Science

Cheap, compact chip could expand T-ray scanning potential

By - December 12, 2012 3 Pictures
Terahertz technology (or T-Ray, for short), sounds like something out of a science fiction movie. It utilizes high-frequency terahertz waves – which are located between microwaves and far-infrared radiation on the electromagnetic spectrum – to see through solid matter without the harmful ionizing radiation of X-rays. Although T-Ray devices have yet to become compact and affordable, that could soon change thanks to new silicon microchips developed at the California Institute of Technology. Read More
— Electronics

Ultra-sensitive laser-enabled accelerometer could find its way into consumer products

By - October 19, 2012 1 Picture
As any smartphone aficionado knows, the accelerometer is one of the key sensors within the device – it allows the phone to know when and by how much it’s been moved. Accelerometers also have many other applications, being major components of things like navigation systems, various automotive systems, and image stabilization systems in cameras. Now, researchers from the California Institute of Technology are developing a laser-based accelerometer, that they claim should offer much better performance than is currently possible. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

Bill backs one out at Reinventing the Toilet fair

By - August 15, 2012 9 Pictures
In an effort to improve conditions for the more than 2.5 billion people worldwide with no access to safe sanitation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation last year awarded grants totaling US$3 million to eight universities to reinvent the toilet. At the two-day “Reinventing the Toilet” fair held in Seattle this week, where Bill Gates was on hand with 50 gallons (189 l) of fake feces made from soybeans and rice to put the various designs through their paces, a California Institute of Technology (Caltech) team claimed first place for their solar-powered toilet. Read More
— Science

Artificial jellyfish created from rat heart tissue and silicone

By - July 23, 2012 6 Pictures
Having roamed the seas for at least 500 million years and holding the title of the oldest multi-organ animal on the planet, jellyfish have certainly stood the test of time. So it’s probably not surprising to see various research groups looking to the gelatinous, umbrella-shaped animals for inspiration in a number of areas, including the development of ocean-going robots. Now researchers at Harvard University and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) looking to gain a better understanding of how biological pumps such as the heart work, have created an artificial jellyfish from rat heart muscle and silicon. Read More
— Science

Liquid-like compound could lead to better thermoelectric devices

By - March 26, 2012 1 Picture
Thermoelectric materials work by converting differences in temperature into electric voltage. If two parts of such a material experience significantly different temperatures, electrons within it will flow from the warmer part to the cooler, creating an electrical current in the process. Using these materials, electricity could be generated by the temperature differences on the inside and outside of jackets, within car engines, or even between the human body and the air around it ... just to list a few examples. An international team of scientists have now discovered that an existing material, which behaves like a liquid but isn't one, displays particularly impressive thermoelectric properties. Read More
— Telecommunications

Researchers claim new data transfer rate world record

By - December 15, 2011 1 Picture
An international team is claiming a data transfer record that puts any home broadband connection to shame. At last month’s SuperComputing 2011 (SC11) conference in Seattle, researchers reached transfer rates of 98 gigabits per second (Gbps) between the University of Victoria Computing Centre located in Victoria, British Columbia, and the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. Coupled with a simultaneous data rate of 88 Gbps in the opposite direction the team reached a two-way data rate of 186 Gbps to break their own previous peak-rate record of 119 Gbps set in 2009. Read More
— Science

Newly developed metallic "micro-lattice" material is world's lightest

By - November 17, 2011 1 Picture
Researchers have created a new metallic material that they claim is the world’s lightest solid material. With a density of just 0.9 mg/cm3 the material is around 100 times lighter than Styrofoam and lighter than the "multiwalled carbon nanotube (MCNT) aerogel" - also dubbed "frozen smoke" – with a density of 4 mg/cm3 that we looked at earlier this year. Despite being 99.99 percent open volume, the new material boasts impressive strength and energy absorption, making it potentially useful for a range of applications. Read More
— Science

Petri dish gets 21st Century update

By - October 3, 2011 3 Pictures
When it comes to laboratory equipment, it doesn’t get much more basic than the humble petri dish. Aside from moving from glass to plastic and the addition of rings on their lids and bases that allows them to be stacked, the petri dish has remained largely unchanged since its invention by German bacteriologist Julius Richard Petri and his assistant Robert Koch in the late 1800s. Now researchers at the California Institute of technology (Caltech) have dragged the petri dish into the 21st Century by incorporating an image sensor like those found in mobile phone cameras that does away with the need for bulky microscopes. Read More
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