Short Takes

Photo/Thomas Willard

Photo/Thomas Willard

MOONS, an exhibit currently on view at ArtCenter College of Design’s Williamson Gallery, draws on both art and science to explore the lure of celestial bodies. Conceived in conjunction with Pasadena’s City of Astronomy partnership—in which Caltech plays a leading role—the exhibition (on view through December 16, 2018, and curated by Williamson Gallery director Stephen Nowlin) includes contemporary artwork as well as artifacts from Mount Wilson Observatory, The Huntington Library, and the Caltech Archives, among other institutions. Pictured here is Thumbsucker, by locally based artist Tim Hawkinson, which features a moonscape created from lips and mouths alongside a floating  thumb-astronaut.

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“I know each and every one of you are committed to science, to technology. I urge you also to study the way of peace. Study the way of love. Study the philosophy of nonviolence, the teaching of Gandhi and Thoreau. And help humanize that little planet, that little spaceship we call Earth. I say to you, as you leave this beautiful campus, go in peace. Be unafraid.”

—Representative John Lewis, Caltech Commencement 2018

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Modern Math


Since 1960, when Caltech’s math department first took up residence in Sloan Laboratory, the physical space had remained essentially unaltered. So when Ronald (MS ’62, PhD ’64) and Maxine Linde endowed The Linde Center for New Initiatives at Caltech, renewing that historic structure was a top priority.

The new Ronald and Maxine Linde Hall of Mathematics and Physics includes spaces for both teamwork and quiet contemplation and—because the building will be home to more than 125 mathematicians—an abundance of blackboards throughout. Lest an eager scholar’s chalkboard chatter become too vigorous, each board is backed with sound-absorbing  material.

“The new Linde Hall will be transformative for our mathematics program,” says Fiona Harrison, Benjamin M. Rosen Professor of Physics and Kent and Joyce Kresa Leadership Chair for the Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy. “It will help us attract the best and brightest faculty, students, and postdocs, and will provide interactive space for collaboration.”

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Introducing Bechtel


The Bechtel Residence—Caltech’s first new student residence in more than two decades—opened its doors on September 17. Located on the north side of campus along Del Mar Boulevard, Bechtel adds 211 beds to campus housing; this means that, for the first time in Institute history, all undergraduates will be able to live on campus.

A landscaped central courtyard will allow students to make the most of the sunny SoCal climate, while study rooms throughout the building, along with larger community lounges and kitchens, round out the living experience.

All student rooms in the residence are singles, but most are configured to create suites for four, six, eight, or 12 undergrads. Each suite includes a lounge, refrigerator, and bathrooms, while the individual rooms boast— along with the requisite beds, dressers, desks, and chairs—polished cement flooring and roll-up window shades, as well as a thermostat.” 


70 Years and Counting

At 70, Palomar Observatory’s 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope is still in the prime of its life. One of the most productive survey telescopes ever built (construction started in 1938 and finished a decade later), it has completed a dozen sky surveys since the 1950s. After several upgrades over the years, the telescope now has wide-field imaging capabilities that can scan large regions of the sky to search for transients—objects that change apparent brightness and/or position—such as fast-moving solar system objects, variable or pulsating stars, flares, novae, supernovae, gamma-ray bursts, and other stellar explosions. Currently, the telescope operates robotically: its newest instrument, the Zwicky Transient Facility, scans the skies nightly and returns vast amounts of astronomical  data.

See a video virtual tour of the telescope here.

Fall 2018, SoCaltechJon Nalick