Sky Survey Captures Key Details of Cosmic Explosions

Astronomical surveys have been cataloguing the night sky since the beginning of the 20th century. The intermediate Palomar Transient Factory (iPTF)—led by Caltech—started searching the skies for certain types of stars and related phenomena in February. Two recent papers by iPTF astronomers describe first-time detections.

Look Out Above! Experiment Explores Innate Visual Behavior in Mice

When you're a tiny mouse in the wild, spotting aerial predators—like hawks and owls—is essential to your survival. But once you see an owl, how is this visual cue processed into a behavior that helps you to avoid an attack? Using an experimental video technique, researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have now developed a simple new stimulus with which they can spur the mouse's escape plans. This new stimulus allows the researchers to narrow down cell types in the retina that could aid in the detection of aerial predators.

First Papers from Curiosity

The first papers from the Mars Science Laboratory mission are now available online.

Scientists Find a Martian Igneous Rock that is Surprisingly Earth-like

A Caltech-led team of Mars Science Laboratory scientists has found that a surprisingly Earth-like martian rock offers new insight into the history of Mars's interior and suggests parts of the red planet may be more like our own than we ever knew.

Spirals of Light May Lead to Better Electronics

A group of researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has created the optical equivalent of a tuning fork—a device that can help steady the electrical currents needed to power high-end electronics and stabilize the signals of high-quality lasers. The work marks the first time that such a device has been miniaturized to fit on a chip and may pave the way to improvements in high-speed communications, navigation, and remote sensing.

New Gut Bacterium Discovered in Termite's Digestion of Wood

When termites munch on wood, the small bits are delivered to feed a community of unique microbes living in their guts, and in a complex process involving multiple steps, these microbes turn the hard, fibrous material into a nutritious meal for the termite host. One key step uses hydrogen to convert carbon dioxide into organic carbon—a process called acetogenesis—but little is known about which gut bacteria play specific roles in the process.

What Causes Some to Participate in Bubble Markets?

During financial bubbles, such as the one that centered around the U.S. housing market and triggered the Great Recession, some investors react differently than others. New neuroeconomic research at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has found that the investors most likely to take a risk and fuel bubble markets are those with good "theory of mind" skills—those who are good at "putting themselves in others' shoes." They think the most about the motives behind prices and what other people in the market are likely to do next, but during bubble markets, that actually becomes risky behavior.

Caltech-led WormBase Project Awarded $14.8 Million by NIH

As many as 1 million nematode species are thought to live on Earth, and many are pests or parasites that ravage crops and spread diseases. They also happen to share many genes that are found in humans, and are intensively researched by labs around the world.

Team Led by Caltech Wins Second $10 Million Award for Research in Molecular Programming

During the past century, programmable technologies evolved from spinning gears and vacuum tubes to transistors and microchips. Now, a group of Caltech researchers and their colleagues at the University of Washington, Harvard University, and UC San Francisco are exploring how biologically important molecules—like DNA, RNA, and proteins—could be the next generation of programmable devices.

Caltech Researchers Synthesize Catalyst Important In Nitrogen Fixation

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.

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