From the Ground Up

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.

Two Galaxies in One

Observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope show that the Sombrero galaxy is actually two galaxies in one.Observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope show that the Sombrero galaxy is actually two galaxies in one. With a halo of stars surrounded by the thin edge of a stellar disk, the galaxy resembles a big hat.

Decoding Worm Lingo

All animals seem to have ways of exchanging information—monkeys vocalize complex messages, ants create scent trails to food, and fireflies light up their bellies to attract mates. Yet, despite the fact that nematodes, or roundworms, are among the most abundant animals on the planet, little is known about the way they network. Now, research led by California Institute of Technology (Caltech) biologists has shown that a wide range of nematodes communicate using a recently discovered class of chemical cues. 

Determining a Stem Cell's Fate

What happens to a stem cell at the molecular level that causes it to become one type of cell rather than another? In studies that mark a major step forward in our understanding of stem cells' fates, a team of Caltech researchers has traced the stepwise developmental process that ensures certain stem cells will become T cells—cells of the immune system that help destroy invading pathogens. 

What Triggers a Mass Extinction?

The second-largest mass extinction in Earth's history coincided with a short but intense ice age. Although it has long been agreed that the so-called Late Ordovician mass extinction was related to climate change, exactly how the change produced the extinction has not been known. Now, a team led by Caltech scientists has determined that the majority of extinctions were caused by habitat loss due to falling sea levels and cooling of the tropical oceans.

Fermi Space Telescope Helps Scientists Narrow Search for Dark Matter

Scientists have further narrowed the search for a hypothetical particle that could be dark matter, the mysterious stuff that makes up 80 percent of all the mass in the universe. Caltech postdoc Jennifer Siegal-Gaskins presented the researchers' results, compiled from two years' worth of data from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, at a meeting of the American Physical Society in Atlanta earlier this week.

Inside the Brains of Jurors

When jurors consider shortening the prison sentences of convicted criminals, they use parts of the brain associated with sympathy and making moral judgments, according to new work by Caltech neuroeconomist Colin Camerer and colleagues. They found that the most lenient jurors show heightened levels of activity in a brain region associated with discomfort, pain, and imagining the pain that others feel.

Liquid-like Materials May Pave Way for New Thermoelectric Devices

In the continual quest for better thermoelectric materials—which convert heat into electricity and vice versa—researchers have identified a liquid-like compound whose properties give it the potential to be even more efficient than traditional thermoelectrics.

Astronomers Find Light-Bending Quasars

Astronomers have found celestial objects called quasars that bend and distort the light coming from galaxies behind them. The discovery may finally allow astronomers to determine the masses of galaxies that host quasars.

Experiment Observes Elusive Neutrino Transformation

An international team of physicists—including several from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech)—has detected and measured, for the first time, a transformation of one particular type of neutrino into another type. The finding, physicists say, may help solve some of the biggest mysteries about the universe, such as why the universe contains more matter than antimatter—a phenomenon that explains why stars, planets, and people exist at all.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - research_news