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Michael Dickinson Named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

04-30-08

Michael Dickinson, Esther M. and Abe M. Zarem Professor of Bioengineering, is among the 190 new Fellows elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences this year. Dickinson studies animal physiology and behavior and has become well known for Robofly, a mechanical fly that sprang from his work on the neurobiology and biomechanics of fly locomotion. Throughout his career, Dickinson has used a variety of tools, such as wind tunnels, virtual reality simulators, high-speed video, and giant robotic models, to determine how the poppy seed-sized brains of these tiny insects can rapidly control aerodynamic forces. More than a simple understanding of the material basis for insect flight, Dickinson's studies provide insight into complex systems operating on biological and physical principles: neuronal signaling within brains, the dynamics of unsteady fluid flow, the structural mechanics of composite materials, and the behavior of nonlinear systems are all linked when a fly takes wing. [Caltech Press Release].

Tags: honors research highlights Michael Dickinson AMACAD

Athanassios Siapas and Evgueniy Lubenov Reveal the Driving Factor in the Brain's Self-regulation

04-18-08

Using computer models of neuronal circuits and experiments on live rats, Athanassios Siapas, Assistant Professor of Computation and Neural Systems, and his postdoctoral researcher Evgueniy Lubenov are revealing the curious mechanism by which the brain spontaneously tips itself toward a state balanced between order and chaos. The driving factor in the brain's self-regulation, they say, is the timing of neural pulses. "Networks self-organize to an intermediate state, in between the two extremes," Siapas says.

Tags: EE research highlights health Athanassios Siapas

Roukes and Rothemund Display Work at MoMA

04-10-08

"If you make structures that are impeccably designed, they also often tend to work really well," says Michael Roukes, Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Bioengineering. He along with senior research associate in computation and neural systems and computer science Paul Rothemund are scientists who can now add artist to their resumes. Rothemund's DNA origami and a colorized electron micrograph of Roukes's nanoscience work were displayed in Design and the Elastic Mind at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. Roukes's micrograph was even selected for the museum's permanent collection. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS research highlights health Michael Roukes Paul Rothemund

 
A New Take on Microbrewing

04-09-08

David Boyd, Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering, graduate student James Adleman, Demitri Psaltis, Thomas G. Myers Professor of Electrical Engineering, and David Goodwin, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics, have crafted the world's tiniest still to concentrate scant amounts of micromolecules for easier detection. This device may help to overcome difficulties in tracking extremely low-abundance molecular biomarkers, which can indicate disease. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MCE David Boyd

 
Gordon Moore and Carver Mead Discuss Electronics Revolution

03-27-08

Gordon Moore (PhD '54) and Carver Mead (BS '56, MS '57, PhD '60), Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Emeritus, chat about the electronics revolution (posted on You Tube in late 2007, conversation begins about 19 minutes into the clip).

Tags: EE research highlights Carver Mead Gordon Moore

 
Space Shuttle Endeavour touches Down at NASA's Kennedy Space Center

03-27-08

After 16 days in space and 250 orbits of Earth, space shuttle Endeavour touched down at 8:39 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, March 26, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. According to NASA managers, the crew members, including Caltech alumnus Robert Behnken (MS '93, PhD '97), "are in excellent shape after a safe and successful landing". 

Tags: research highlights alumni

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

03-25-08

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

03-11-08

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

02-23-08

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

02-12-08

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