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Caltech professor who killed Pluto wins $1M Astrophysics prize

Farthest Object In Solar System Discovered

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In this Caltech handout, a rendering of the farthest object in our solar system, Sedna, is seen. Sedna is a mysterious planet-like body three times farther from Earth than Pluto. NASA held a news conference March 15, 2004 to detail the findings by a team of astronomers at Caltech led by Dr. Mike Brown.

The prestigious, $1 million Kavli Prize in Astrophysics has been co-awarded to Mike Brown, the Caltech professor and astronomer known across the galaxy as the man who killed Pluto.

Brown discovered the Kuiper-belt body at the edge of the solar system more massive than Pluto, resulting in the former planet's demotion to "dwarf planet," and a "revised the definition of our solar system," notes the Pasadena Star-News

"The un-naming of Pluto got the the attention of the larger public and he's now a well-known person not only in this country but all over the world," said Caltech President Jean-Lou Chameau. "Pluto made his work very understandable beyond the scientific community," he told the newspaper.

Brown will share the prize with co-winners David Jewitt of UCLA and Jane Luu of MIT's Lincoln Laboratory. The three were recognized for advancing the understanding of our planetary system.

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Pioneering Caltech DNA researcher Roy Britten dies at 92

roy britten caltech dna pioneer

Photo of Roy Britten via Caltech.edu

Roy John Britten, a pioneering Caltech DNA researcher and Princeton Ph.D nuclear physicist who switched fields to biophysics after working on the Manhattan Project, has died at age 92, Caltech officials announced Thursday.

A Caltech Distinguished Carnegie Senior Research Associate, Emeritus, and one-time adjunct professor at UC Irvine, Roy Britten continued to publish papers into his 90s, remaining active in the scientific community until his death on Jan. 21.

Beginning his academic career as a physicist, the "committed pacifist" who worked on the Manhattan Project in World War II was "always pleased to say that his particular project was a complete failure," his son said in a statement, notes the Pasadena Sun.

Interested in the fundamental characteristics of animal DNA, the Washington D.C. native arrived at Caltech's Kerckhoff Marine Laboratory in Corona del Mar in 1971 to study genomes.

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