News & Events


Michael Dickinson, Gaby Maimon, and Andrew Straw Reveal Secrets of Common Fruit Fly Decision Making


Using a flight simulator, Michael Dickinson, the Zarem Professor of Bioengineering, and postdoctoral students Gaby Maimon and Andrew Straw, have come closer to understanding what guides the decision making of the common fruit fly as it zips through space. Their experiments were conducted on both free-flying flies and on flies tethered within a virtual-reality flight simulator. In the flight simulator, flies could steer toward or away from images displayed on an electronic panorama. "We can present the fly with different scenes and the fly reacts to them, like a 12-year-old boy playing a video game," says Dickinson. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights Michael Dickinson

Alumni Lift Off on the Endeavor Space Shuttle


On March 11, two Caltech mechanical-engineering alumni, Garrett Reisman (MS '92, PhD '97) and Robert Behnken (MS '93, PhD '97) lifted off on the Endeavor Space Shuttle as part of a seven-man team enroute to the International Space Station. The mission was directed from Houston by a third alumnus, Philip Engelauf (BS '78).

Tags: research highlights alumni

Recent Cover Story in Science News Highlights the Work John Dabiri


550 million years of jet-setting (and jet paddling): modes of jellyfish propulsion are finally being understood and used for engineering inspiration. Read the recent cover story in Science News that highlights
the work of Professor John Dabiri.

Tags: research highlights GALCIT John Dabiri

Christof Koch and Colleagues Find Pupil Dilation Marks Decision Making


Christof Koch, the Troendle Professor of Cognitive and Behavioral Biology and Professor of Computation and Neural Systems, and his colleagues, have found that changes in pupil diameter correspond to the moment when a simple decision is made. The pupil, which is about 2 mm wide in bright light, dilated by as much as 1 mm at that moment--a change that, in theory, could be noticeable to a casual observer. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: EE research highlights health Christof Koch

Designing the 700 MHz Auction


The FCC's auction of the 700MHz spectrum, with reserve prices set at $10 billion, was designed by Caltech economics professor Jacob Goeree and economics professor Charles Holt from the University of Virginia. The system was tested and refined through a series of laboratory experiments in which more than 200 Caltech undergraduates participated over the course of two years. Currently, a few companies dominate the U.S. wireless market. This auction is the last chance for new entrants to create a national footprint. The 700 MHz frequency is particularly appealing for wireless - the signal can penetrate walls, and each tower broadcasting in this range can cover at least four times as many square miles as conventional cell-phone towers. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights

Sossina Haile Profiled in Newsweek


Professor of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering Sossina Haile, creator of the first solid-acid fuel cell, is profiled in Newsweek. Soild-acid fuel cells operation at much lower temperatures than conventional fuel cells. Early this year, the start-up company Superprotonic—founded by two of her former grad students—will ship the first commercial prototypes to energy-systems makers. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS energy research highlights Sossina Haile

Harry Atwater discusses Plasmonics with the AT&T Tech Channel


The AT&T Tech Channel discusses Plasmonics with Harry Atwater, Howard Hughes Professor and Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science. New research in Plasmonics promises breakthroughs with implications ranging from the creation of faster than light computing, possible new weapons against cancer, and maybe even achieving invisibility. [Video]

Tags: APhMS energy research highlights health Harry Atwater

Steven Low and Team Reach New Records for Sustained Data Transfer Among Storage Systems


Building on six years of record-breaking developments, an international team of physicists, computer scientists, and network engineers led by Caltech joined forces to set new records for sustained data transfer among storage systems during the SuperComputing 2007 (SC07) conference. By combining FDT with FAST TCP, developed by Professor Steven Low, together with an optimized Linux kernel known as the "UltraLight kernel," the team reached an unprecedented throughput level of 10 gigabytes/sec with a single rack of servers, limited only by the speed of the disk systems. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights CMS Steven Low

Uncovering Genetic Underpinnings of Wood Digestion


Wood is made of three tightly intertwined compounds; taking it apart is a challenge, and termites are among the few known animals that can do it. Professor Jared Leadbetter led a team of researchers from other universities, private industry, and the Department of Energy (DOE) in uncovering the genetic underpinnings and the roles of bacteria in wood digestion by "higher termites." These insects abound in tropical and subtropical ecosystems. What the team found, says Leadbetter, is "a comprehensive set of blueprints for the bacteria that help dismantle wood." This has recently become a focus of interest for those interested in developing an effective, industrial method to convert wood into ethanol. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights ESE Jared Leadbetter