Week in Review: 8/23/15 – 8/29/15

August 28, 2015

Seeing Quantum Motion
Consider the pendulum of a grandfather clock. If you forget to wind it, you will eventually find the pendulum at rest, unmoving. However, this simple observation is only valid at the level of classical physics—the laws and principles that appear to explain the physics of relatively large objects at human scale. However, quantum mechanics, the underlying physical rules that govern the fundamental behavior of matter and light at the atomic scale, state that nothing can quite be completely at rest. For the first time, a team of Caltech researchers and collaborators has found a way to observe—and control—this quantum motion of an object that is large enough to see. Their results are published in the August 27 online issue of the journal Science.

August 24, 2015

Slip sliding away
Research sheds light on friction, lubrication and wear in cartilage
“For nearly a century, articular cartilage has been known for its exceptional tribological properties,” says David Burris, associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Delaware. “For nearly as long, there have been research efforts to elucidate the mechanisms responsible for these properties, which include friction, lubrication and wear.”

Over the past several years, Burris has conducted research aimed at understanding those mechanisms and providing basic insights into the design of materials that mimic cartilage function. His contributions were recently recognized when he received the Burt L. Newkirk Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).