Room 101 in the North Seeley W. Mudd Laboratory of the Geological Sciences on campus is quiet, small, and nondescript. The only giveaway that it in fact serves as Caltech’s Mars Science Laboratory control room? The poster of a heroic Mars Curiosity rover hanging next to an oversized TV screen with a webcam.
After decades of dreaming the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) into existence, nine years of initial operations, and a five-year period spent installing equipment with upgraded sensitivity, LIGO’s Caltech-led research team resumed listening to the universe in May 2015. To their immense surprise, detection came almost immediately. At 5:51 a.m. EST on Monday, September 14, 2015, the twin LIGO detectors observed gravitational waves.
Harry Atwater specializes in transformations. As director of Caltech’s Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), he is leading a clean energy project dedicated to mimicking photosynthesis to create useful fuels. Or, as President Barack Obama described it in his 2011 State of the Union address: “At Caltech, they're developing a way to turn sunlight and water into fuel for our cars.”
In 1930, Albert Einstein wrote in his travel journal about how exciting he found Caltech upon his first visit. Today, his words—a treasure trove for science—live here. His journals—along with 88,000 other notes, research findings, scientific and general writings, professional and personal letters, photographs, and more—make up the “big data” documentary core of the Einstein Papers Project.