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Hunting for hidden life on worlds orbiting old, red stars

Searching vast cosmic communities like real estate agents rifling through listings, Cornell astronomers now hunt through time and space for habitable exoplanets – planets beyond our own solar system – looking at planets flourishing in old star, red giant neighborhoods.

Astronomers search for these promising worlds by looking for the “habitable zone,” the region around a star in which water on a planet’s surface is liquid and signs of life can be remotely detected by telescopes.

 Image of black holes

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Cornell astrophysicists earn share of $3M prize

Cornell astrophysicists Saul Teukolsky and Lawrence Kidder have earned a share in the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics – a $3 million award – that recognizes those who helped create the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and its ability to find gravitational waves. The discovery announced in February provided strong confirmation of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

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Mars 2020 mission: Students survey rover landing sites

Cornell students are working with students from six other universities to present their findings to NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

 Student playing piano

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Rawlings Scholars' research ranges from earworms to robots

Students with strong research interests receive special funding to further their work.  

 students in the Cornell fashion show

Article

Runway role-play becomes a luminous reality

Think “Game of Thrones” meets “Hunger Games.” For the annual Cornell Fashion Collective show on March 12, warriors, rangers and magicians – models draped in LED lights and electroluminescent tape – will role-play on the runway.

 Jonathan Lunine

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In D.C., Lunine backs seafaring trips to other worlds

In testimony before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies March 3, Jonathan Lunine, the David Duncan Professor in the Physical Sciences, discussed the rationale for scientific, seafaring journeys to Jupiter’s moon Europa, and to Saturn’s moons Enceladus and Titan – trips that may take place in the 2020s.

Article

Sifting Cornell data, astronomers find repeating bursts

After combing through Cornell-archived data, astronomers have discovered the pop-pop-pop of a mysterious, cosmic Gatling gun – 10 millisecond-long “fast radio bursts” – caught by the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico, as reported in Nature, March 2.

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Surf's up on Saturn's 'geologically active' moon Titan

In the shadow of Saturn’s hulking planetary mass, Titan’s liquid hydrocarbon seas seem a bit choppy, astronomers say.

Two and a half years ago, surfing through Cassini mission radar images of Ligeia Mare, the second-largest sea on Saturn’s moon Titan, a team of Cornell astronomers found a bright, mysterious feature – a transient feature they dubbed “Magic Island.”

 Alison Power

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Cornellians illuminate world's scientific strides

A platoon of Cornell faculty, alumni and students contributed to the mix of eminent global researchers at the 2016 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C., Feb. 11-15. They offered fresh thought on the world’s scientific strides.

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Cornell theorists affirm gravitational wave detection

Professor Saul Teukolsky and senior research scientist Lawrence Kidder in the physics and astronomy departments contributed to the historic discovery about gravitational waves that proved Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity.

 Saturn

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Saturn’s enormous B-ring: Great vista, less filling

After examining hidden density waves from Saturn’s B-ring – the largest of the planet’s awe-inspiring, cosmic bands – astronomers confirm that this circular object is as lightweight as it is opaque. Their findings are published online in the journal Icarus.

 Speaker at podium

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Panelists review Paris climate summit at Ithaca event

Six panelists, including Cornell faculty members, who attended the 21st United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris last fall recalled the historic proceedings for a spirited audience that spilled into the hallway of the Tompkins County Public Library’s BorgWarner Room Feb. 3.

 Stephanie Wisner ’16

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Cornellians share scientific studies at AAAS meeting

Stephanie Wisner ’16 presented her research at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting and exposition last week in Washington, D.C.

 Workers walking with a solar panel

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Seizing energy from the rooftops

Thanks to nearly 300 solar panels installed on both buildings in mid-December, the sun’s rays hitting the roof on Cornell’s Human Ecology Building and Klarman Hall now produce energy.

 Paul Mutolo ’94

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Mutolo unveils hydrogen future for carbon present

Paul Mutolo ’94 harnesses the hydrogen future, bringing it to bear on the carbon present: For his TEDx Chemung River talk in November, Mutolo, director of external partnerships at Cornell’s Energy Materials Center, imagined a world where cars no longer use oil. “There would be no smog in our cities. There would be no wars over oil-rich regions.

 Benedict Anderson

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Benedict Anderson, who wrote ‘Imagined Communities,' dies

Benedict Anderson, a Cornell professor emeritus in government who wrote “Imagined Communities,” the book that set the pace for the academic study of nationalism, died Dec. 13 in East Java, Indonesia. He was 79.

Anderson, the Aaron L. Binenkorb Emeritus Professor of International Studies, taught at Cornell from 1967 to 2002.

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Lunine tells Congress ways, means for new space voyages

To review current astrobiological knowledge and assess the prospects of life beyond Earth, the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology heard testimony Sept. 29 in Washington, D.C., from Cornell’s Jonathan Lunine and three other space experts on the reasons, ways and means for space exploration’s next steps.

 A single plant root floats in a container of water

Article

Scientists unravel root cause of plant twists and turns

To feed the world’s burgeoning population, producers must grow crops in more challenging terrain – where plant roots must cope with barriers. To that end, Cornell University physicists and Boyce Thompson Institute plant biologists have uncovered a valuable plant root action, in that roots – when their downward path is blocked, as often occurs in rocky soil – display a “grow and switch” behavior, now reported in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 Will Dichtel

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Chemist Dichtel earns 'Genius Award'

Chemist Will Dichtel's work may allow for ample electricity and for detecting trace amounts of explosives.

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Glee Club '66 tour alums re-create melodic diplomacy

When members from the Cornell Glee Club’s 1966 tour of Southeast Asia joined the current singers on stage Sept. 19 at Bailey Hall, passion poured through the music. The audience replied with a standing ovation, making it a Homecoming concert for the ages.

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