That’s genius: ‘E.T., e-mail home’ and other adventures in deep-space Internet with JPL’s Scott Burleigh

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Scott Burleigh of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory is one among a consortium of scientists and computer programmers working to turn interplanetary Internet from science fiction to reality.

The deep-space Internet, which had to be specially designed to withstand the tumult of extraterrestrial existence, has already been tested by NASA and may be up and running for practical use on real missions in the blink of a Space Eye.

The new networking protocols that make up this Internet are delay-tolerant, so as to protect and pass on data even amid the regular transmission glitches that happen, for example, when a spacecraft moves behind a celestial body or a solar storm flares up.

The interplanetary Internet even has potential terrestrial applications that could benefit life here on Earth. Read more about them — and Burleigh — in Rose Magazine, below.

At top, an artist’s concept of interplanetary internet, courtesy of NASA/JPL. Portrait by Walt Mancini/Staff.

That’s genius: By day, Kjerstin Williams is a robotics engineer; By night, she croons a smooth tune in Pasadena-area joints

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Kjerstin Williams is the second of three geniuses featured in Rose Magazine’s cover story. If you’re not green with envy over her day job — working with robots at Applied Minds — then her night job ought to do the trick: she’s a jazz singer, and a good one, at that.

With her pixie-blond hair and bubbly personality (we dubbed her a RoboVixen) Williams resides somewhere on the bridge between science and art — a spectrum that’s often at play on the Caltech campus, where science reigns supreme, but a musical subculture has thrived.

Williams has even performed at Carnegie Hall with the Caltech-Occidental Concert Band.

She harmonizes regularly around town with The Conspirators, a quartet of Caltech musicians. At top and below is a photo series by Jonathan Prentice of a recent session at the Pasadena Jazz Institute.

Swing along and read the full story on Williams in Rose Magazine.

Also check out Williams’ Web site for a performance calendar and to listen to some of her tunes. She’s already rolled out the red carpet for you.

For a firsthand glimpse into the playful duality of Williams’ life, follow her on Twitter.

Portrait by Walt Mancini. Performance photos by Jonathan Prentice: Kjerstin Williams and The Conspirators perform at the Pasadena Jazz Institute in July. Laurence Yeung on guitar, Jim Van Deventer on tenor sax, Jimi Hawes on upright bass, Michael Ferrara on drums and special guest Bill Watrous on the trombone.


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That’s genius: Caltech’s John Dabiri tells us why you should care about a brainless, boneless creature

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Rose Magazine cover subject John Dabiri is only 29, and he’s already racking up serious accolades, like this one from the White House, for his research on jellyfish. Dabiri isn’t a biologist — he’s an associate professor of aeronautics at Caltech, where he and his team study the movement of jellies for inspiration that has some surprising potential to change the way we live.

If you think the 650-million-year-old creatures only matter when they’ve got their stinging tentacles wrapped around your leg, Dabiri’s research would solidly suggest otherwise.

His analysis on the way creatures swim, pump and propel themselves underwater includes human-oriented applications in:

  • Underwater vehicles, particularly military uses
  • Wind energy and how it is harnessed
  • Mass mixing and movement of the oceans, connected to climate change
  • Human heart diagnostics, with potential for treating heart disease

Visit the Caltech Biological Propulsion Laboratory Web site to see some of the research tools that allow Dabiri and team to study jellyfish, both in the lab and out in the ocean, including a 40-meter tilting water channel (that generates waves) and some really fancy underwater camera and laser systems.

The animation below, courtesy of Dabiri, shows the movement and forces of water created by a moon jellyfish as it interacts with the ocean around it. (Photo above by Walt Mancini / Staff)

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