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. 

 

NASA Lends Ultraviolet Space Telescope to Caltech

Caltech has taken over operation from NASA of the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX), a space telescope that for the last nine years has been surveying the cosmos in ultraviolet light. In this first agreement of its kind, NASA is lending the telescope to Caltech, which has led the mission and will continue operating and managing it through the support of private funders.

Overactive Black Holes Shut Down Star Formation

A team of astronomers has found that the most active galactic nuclei—enormous black holes that are violently devouring gas and dust at the centers of galaxies—may prevent new stars from forming. The team, which includes several researchers from Caltech, reported its findings in the May 10 issue of the journal Nature.

Technology Developed at the Institute Measures Martian Sand Movement

Last year, images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured sand dunes and ripples moving across the surface of Mars—observations that challenged previously held beliefs that there was not a lot of movement on the red planet's surface. Now, technology developed by a team at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has allowed scientists to measure these activities for the very first time. 

Why Do People Choke When the Stakes Are High?

In sports, on a game show, or just on the job, what causes people to choke when the stakes are high? A new study by researchers at Caltech suggests that when there are high financial incentives to succeed, people can become so afraid of losing their potentially lucrative reward that their performance suffers.

Caltech Researchers Use Stalagmites to Study Past Climate Change

By analyzing stalagmites, a team of Caltech researchers has determined that the climate signature in the tropics through four glacial cycles looks different in some ways and similar in others when compared to the climate signature at high latitudes. The results suggest that Earth's climate system might have two modes of responding to significant changes. 

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