Lab Earthquakes Show How Grains at Fault Boundaries Lead to Major Quakes
By simulating earthquakes in a lab, Caltech engineers have provided strong experimental support for a form of earthquake propagation now thought responsible for the magnitude-9.0 earthquake that devastated the coast of Japan in 2011. "Our novel experimental approach has enabled us to look into the earthquake process up close, and to uncover key features of rupture propagation and friction evolution in rock gouge," says Vito Rubino, research scientist and lead author of the Nature paper. The Nature paper is titled "Intermittent lab earthquakes in dynamically weakening fault gouge." Rubino and his co-authors Nadia Lapusta, Lawrence A. Hanson, Jr., Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Geophysics, and Ares Rosakis, Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, show that so-called "stable" or "creeping" faults are not actually immune to major ruptures after all, as previously suspected. [Caltech story]
Artificial Skin Gives Robots Sense of Touch and Beyond
A new artificial skin can now give robots the ability to sense temperature, pressure, and even toxic chemicals through a simple touch. The multimodal robotic-sensing platform, dubbed M-Bot, was developed in the lab of Wei Gao, Assistant Professor of Medical Engineering; Investigator, Heritage Medical Research Institute; Ronald and JoAnne Willens Scholar. It aims to give humans more precise control over robots while also protecting the humans from potential hazards. "I think we have shown a proof of concept," says Gao. "But we want to improve the stability of this robotic skin to make it last longer. By optimizing new inks and new materials, we hope this can be used for different kinds of targeted detections. We want to put it on more powerful robots and make them smarter, more intelligent." [Caltech story]
Winners of the 2022 New Horizons Award Announced
The winners of the 2022 New Horizons Award were announced at the end of this academic year. Haley Bauser was recognized for sustained dedication and commitment to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus, which inspired conversations and actions from members of EAS and the broader campus community. Adam Blank was recognized for efforts to advocate for and improve the student experience at Caltech, especially for students from backgrounds that have been historically marginalized in STEM. Heather Lukas was recognized for Founding Womxn in EAS and campus efforts in support of gender equity, and for sustained service to Caltech and the broader community. Emily Palmer was recognized for the development of a new seminar series and discussion group on History, Ethics and Identity in STEM and for demonstrating that the engineering curriculum can be expanded to include social, historic and political dimensions. Elizabeth Qian was recognized for a conscientious approach to teaching and mentoring, for cultivating positive camaraderie and awareness in her research group, and for contributions to the CMS department’s examination of its culture and policies.