Caltech researchers have been able, for the first time, to watch viruses infecting individual bacteria by transferring their DNA, and to measure the rate at which that transfer occurs. Shedding light on the early stages of infection by this type of virus—a bacteriophage—the scientists have determined that it is the cells targeted for infection, rather than the amount of genetic material within the viruses themselves, that dictate how quickly the bacteriophage's DNA is transferred.
Caltech's core curriculum is designed to prepare students for the interdisciplinary nature of contemporary research in science and technology and requires that they complete what amounts to a class each quarter in the Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS). The Los Angeles Times recently focused the spotlight on this aspect of the Caltech experience, featuring several of the division's students.
When scientists think about the replication of information in chemistry, they usually have in mind something akin to what happens in living organisms when DNA gets copied: a double-stranded molecule that contains sequence information makes two new copies of the molecule. But researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have now shown that a different mechanism can also be used to copy sequence information.
Caltech engineers and applied scientists are poking, prodding, and modeling materials on all scales to develop the understanding needed to build the next generation of armor. As part of a newly-funded Army collaboration, six Caltech researchers will investigate what happens to protective materials during intense impact.
For those who study earthquakes, one major challenge has been trying to understand all the physics of a fault—both during an earthquake and at times of "rest"—in order to know more about how a particular region may behave in the future. Now, researchers at Caltech have developed the first computer model of an earthquake-producing fault segment that reproduces, in a single physical framework, the available observations of both the fault's seismic (fast) and aseismic (slow) behavior.
What's it like to build an entire research program from scratch? It's all about becoming part of a community, according to three brand-new professors who chat about their experiences in "From the Ground Up," an article in the Spring 2012 issue of Caltech's Engineering & Science magazine.
With $6 million of funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Caltech has established the Chemistry of Cellular Signaling Center. The new center will build on the Institute's successes at the interface of chemistry and biology, and will focus on determining how complex systems of molecules interact to create the pathways that regulate the lives of cells and allow them to respond to their environments.
With the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) well on its way to Mars, the newest members of its science team have been announced. Two Caltech professors—Kenneth Farley and Bethany Ehlmann—are among 18 researchers who have been selected as funded participating scientists on the mission.
Our genetic information is under constant attack. Luckily, repair proteins are typically hard at work, locating and fixing damaged DNA. Over the past decade, Caltech chemist Jacqueline Barton has been exploring a model that describes how repair proteins might work together in this scouting mission to efficiently home in on lesions or mismatches within the DNA. Recent results from her lab support the model.