Tricking the Uncertainty Principle
Keith Schwab, Professor of Applied Physics and the Fletcher Jones Foundation Co-Director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute, and colleagues have found a way to make measurements that go beyond the limits imposed by quantum physics. "Our mechanical device is a tiny square of aluminum—only 40 microns long, or about the diameter of a hair. We think of quantum mechanics as a good description for the behaviors of atoms and electrons and protons and all of that, but normally you don't think of these sorts of quantum effects manifesting themselves on somewhat macroscopic objects," Schwab says. "This is a physical manifestation of the uncertainty principle, seen in single photons impacting a somewhat macroscopic thing." [Caltech Release]
Caltech and JPL Collaborate with Indian Space Program
The Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Charles Elachi, and the Chair of Caltech’s EAS Division, Ares Rosakis, recently hosted the Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Dr. Koppillil Radhakrishnan. The visit focused on plans regarding a joined Earth-orbiting mission that will be the first radar mission to systematically and globally study the solid Earth, the ice masses, and ecosystems, all of which are sparsely sampled at present. While at Caltech Dr. Koppillil Radhakrishnan visited research facilities and delivered the Klein Lecture in Aerospace. In his presentation he highlighted the long history of connections between engineers and scientist at Caltech and in India. Dr. Radhakrishnan prides himself to be the last student of Caltech alumnus Satish Dhawan (Eng '49, PhD '51) who participated in the creation of India's space program. “Caltech has been instrumental in the training of many international space leaders,” explains Chair Rosakis “these include Satish Dhawan who was pivotal in the creation of the Indian space program and Tsien Hsue-Shen who was the father of Chinese rocketry.” Last year the Indian Department of Space and ISRO established a fellowship at Caltech in the name of Satish Dhawan to further encourage the training of Indian students at Caltech and specifically at GALCIT.
Celebrating with Professor Carver Mead
Carver Mead, Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Emeritus, celebrated his 80th birthday on May 1, 2014. Professor Mead is best known for his pioneering work on VLSI (very-large-scale integration) circuit technology in the 1970s and 1980s, which made it possible to greatly increase the number of transistors placed on a single semiconductor chip. It is no exaggeration to say that the computer era we live in would not have been possible without VLSI technology. He remains as passionate today about science and engineering as he ever was. "There isn't really a time when you're too old to have new ideas," Mead says. [Caltech interview] [Share Your Memories] [ENGenious article]
GALCIT Alumnus Allen E. Puckett Passes Away
Allen E. Puckett (PhD ’49 Aeronautics), pioneering aerospace engineer and chairman emeritus of Hughes Aircraft Co., passed away on March 31, 2014. He was one of the engineers who made Hughes Aircraft into the United States’ leading defense electronics firm which dominated in the markets for air defense, radar systems, tactical missiles and satellites. He began his PhD in 1941 at Caltech at the invitation of Theodore von Kármán. While at GALCIT he helped design a new supersonic wind tunnel, the first of its kind in the country. Later, he produced the calculations that led to the development of delta wing theory, which predicts the aerodynamics of supersonic aircraft and continues to be applied in the production of modern aircraft. [LA Times Obituary]