Modeling the Genes for Development

As an animal develops from an embryo, its cells take diverse paths, eventually forming different body parts—muscles, bones, heart. In order for each cell to know what to do during development, it follows a genetic blueprint, which consists of complex webs of interacting genes called gene regulatory networks. Now, for the first time, biologists at Caltech have built a computational model of one of these networks.

Weighing Molecules One at a Time

A team led by scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has made the first-ever mechanical device that can measure the mass of individual molecules one at a time.

Learning One of Cancer's Tricks

Caltech researchers have shown for the first time that a specific sugar, known as GlcNAc ("glick-nack"), plays a key role in helping cancer cells grow rapdily and survive under harsh conditions. The finding suggests new potential targets for therapeutic intervention. 

Thinking and Choosing in the Brain

The frontal lobes are the largest part of the human brain, and damage to this area can result in profound impairments in reasoning and decision making. To find out more about what different parts of the frontal lobes do, neuroscientists at Caltech teamed up with researchers at the world's largest registry of brain-lesion patients. By mapping the brain lesions of these patients, the team was able to show that reasoning and behavioral control are dependent on different regions of the lobes than the areas called upon when making a decision.

Keeping Up with Curiosity

When Curiosity touched down safely on Mars on August 5, John Grotzinger, the mission's chief scientist and the Fletcher Jones Professor of Geology at Caltech, was given the "keys" to the car-sized rover. Since then, most of Curiosity's time has been taken up by a series of checkouts, but she has relayed hundreds of images back to Earth, giving the science team plenty to study and discuss.

Now On Mars: "A One-Ton, Automobile-Sized Piece of American Ingenuity"

The mood in von Karman Auditorium at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) late Sunday night was overwhelmingly, almost deliriously, celebratory. The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, Curiosity, touched down safely on Mars at 10:32 p.m. PDT and minutes later relayed its first black-and-white thumbnail images back to Earth, showing one of its wheels firmly planted on Martian soil.

Home Sweet Mars

The "seven minutes of terror" are over, and members of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) team have finally let out a collective sigh of relief.

 

Countdown to Mars: Some Curious Facts

Since launching in November 2011, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) has been traveling full steam ahead on a journey that will traverse over 350 million miles, ending on the Red Planet at 10:31 p.m. on Sunday, August 5. Tucked into a spacecraft for safekeeping during flight, MSL contains a rover named Curiosity. Here are some facts about Curiosity and the mission.

Mission to Mars

After journeying more than 340 million miles over the course of eight months, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL)—the most capable robotic mission ever sent to the Red Planet—is quickly approaching its destination. The spacecraft is scheduled to touch down on the evening of August 5. A feature-length story about this Mission to Mars appears in the Summer issue of E&S magazine.

 

Medusa Reimagined

When one observes a colorful jellyfish pulsating through the ocean, Greek mythology probably doesn't immediately come to mind. But the animal once was known as the medusa, after the snake-haired mythological creature its tentacles resemble. The mythological Medusa's gaze turned people into stone, and now, thanks to recent advances in bio-inspired engineering, a team led by researchers at Caltech and Harvard University have flipped that fable on its head: turning a solid element and muscle cells into a freely swimming "jellyfish."

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