Bruce Churchill Murray, Caltech Professor of Planetary Science, Emeritus, and former head of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), succumbed to complications of Alzheimer's disease on August 29, 2013. He was 81.
The industrial technique used to make nitrogen fertilizers mirrors the natural process of nitrogen fixation but requires high heat and pressure. Researchers at Caltech have synthesized a catalyst that allows for nitrogen fixation under much milder conditions.
Caltech engineers have mimicked lightweight yet strong biological materials by creating nanostructured, hollow ceramic scaffolds, and have found that their small building blocks, or unit cells, display remarkable strength and resistance to failure despite being more than 85 percent air.
The human body is full of tiny microorganisms—hundreds to thousands of species of bacteria collectively called the microbiome, which are believed to contribute to a healthy existence. The gastrointestinal (GI) tract—and the colon in particular—is home to the largest concentration and highest diversity of bacterial species. But how do these organisms persist and thrive in a system that is constantly in flux due to foods and fluids moving through it? A team led by California Institute of Technology (Caltech) biologist Sarkis Mazmanian believes it has found the answer, at least in one common group of bacteria: a set of genes that promotes stable microbial colonization of the gut.