The Physics of Going Viral

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.

Seeing Inside Tissue

Imagine if doctors could perform surgery without ever having to cut through your skin. Or if they could diagnose cancer by seeing tumors inside the body with a procedure that is as simple as an ultrasound. Thanks to a technique developed by engineers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), all of that may be possible in the not-so-distant future.

Caltech Scientists Find New Primitive Mineral in Meteorite

In 1969, an exploding fireball tore through the sky over Mexico, scattering thousands of pieces of meteorite across the state of Chihuahua. More than 40 years later, the Allende meteorite is still serving the scientific community as a rich source of information about the early stages of our solar system's evolution. Recently, scientists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) discovered a new mineral embedded in the space rock—one they believe to be among the oldest minerals formed in the solar system.

Caltech Chemical Engineers Devise New Way to Split Water

Providing a possible new route to hydrogen-gas production, researchers at Caltech have devised a series of chemical reactions that allows them, for the first time, to split water in a nontoxic, noncorrosive way, at relatively low temperatures.

 

Hands-On Research

A nuzzle of the neck, a stroke of the wrist, a brush of the knee—these caresses often signal a loving touch, but can also feel highly aversive, depending on who is delivering the touch, and to whom. Interested in how the brain makes connections between touch and emotion, neuroscientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have discovered that the association begins in the brain's primary somatosensory cortex, a region that, until now, was thought only to respond to basic touch, not to its emotional quality.

Physicists Close in on a Rare Particle-Decay Process

In the biggest result of its kind in more than ten years, physicists have made the most sensitive measurements yet in a decades-long hunt for a hypothetical and rare process involving the radioactive decay of atomic nuclei. If discovered, the researchers say, this process could have profound implications for how scientists understand the fundamental laws of physics and help solve some of the universe's biggest mysteries.

 

Caltech Research Shows Medicare Auction Will Face Severe Difficulties

Medicare's new method for buying medical supplies and equipment—everything from wheelchairs and hospital beds to insulin shots and oxygen tanks—is doomed to face severe difficulties, according to a new study by Caltech researchers.

Sarkis Mazmanian Discusses Benevolent Bacteria in Scientific American

There are trillions of bacteria living in our bodies, making up complex communities of microbes regulating processes like digestion and immunity. For Caltech biologist Sarkis Mazmanian, they also make up the focus of his research: understanding how the "good" bacteria promote human health. Featured in the cover story for the June issue of Scientific American, he makes a case for devoting more attention to the helpful bugs after years of scientific dedication to pathogens. 

Researchers Demonstrate Possible Primitive Mechanism of Chemical Info Self-Replication

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. 

Better, Stronger, Lighter Armor

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. 

 

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