Made-to-Order Materials

Caltech engineers have mimicked lightweight yet strong biological materials by creating nanostructured, hollow ceramic scaffolds, and have found that their small building blocks, or unit cells, display remarkable strength and resistance to failure despite being more than 85 percent air.

A Home for the Microbiome

The human body is full of tiny microorganisms—hundreds to thousands of species of bacteria collectively called the microbiome, which are believed to contribute to a healthy existence. The gastrointestinal (GI) tract—and the colon in particular—is home to the largest concentration and highest diversity of bacterial species. But how do these organisms persist and thrive in a system that is constantly in flux due to foods and fluids moving through it? A team led by California Institute of Technology (Caltech) biologist Sarkis Mazmanian believes it has found the answer, at least in one common group of bacteria: a set of genes that promotes stable microbial colonization of the gut.

Caltech Team Produces Squeezed Light Using a Silicon Micromechanical System

One of the many counterintuitive and bizarre insights of quantum mechanics is that even in a vacuum—what many of us think of as an empty void—all is not completely still. Low levels of noise, known as quantum fluctuations, are always present. Always, that is, unless you can pull off a quantum trick. And that's just what a team led by researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has done.

Figuring Out Flow Dynamics

Since 2006, Beverley McKeon, professor of aeronautics and associate director of the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and collaborator Ati Sharma, a senior lecturer in aerodynamics and flight mechanics at the University of Southampton in the U.K., have been working together to build models of turbulent flow. Recently, they developed a new and improved way of looking at the composition of turbulence near walls, the type of flow that dominates our everyday life. Their research could lead to significant fuel savings, as a large amount of energy is consumed by ships and planes, for example, to counteract turbulence-induced drag.

Pushing Microscopy Beyond Standard Limits

Engineers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have devised a method to convert a relatively inexpensive conventional microscope into a billion-pixel imaging system that significantly outperforms the best available standard microscope. Such a system could greatly improve the efficiency of digital pathology.

Seeing Snow in Space

An international team of researchers, including Caltech's Geoffrey Blake, has used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to capture the first image of a snow line around a Sun-like star. The findings appear in the current issue of Science Express.

Evidence for a Martian Ocean

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have discovered evidence for an ancient delta on Mars where a river might once have emptied into a vast ocean. This ocean, if it existed, could have covered much of Mars's northern hemisphere—stretching over as much as a third of the planet.

New Research Sheds Light on M.O. of Unusual RNA Molecules

A team of researchers led by newly arrived Caltech biologist Mitchell Guttman and Kathrin Plath of UCLA, has figured out how some RNA molecules take advantage of their position within the 3-D structure of genomic material to home in on targets.

Psychology Influences Markets

Economists argue that the dominant players in a market almost always make well-informed and objective decisions. Psychologists, on the other hand, say that markets are not immune from human irrationality. Now, a new analysis shows that markets are indeed susceptible to psychological phenomena.

A Stepping-Stone for Oxygen on Earth

For most terrestrial life on Earth, oxygen is necessary for survival. But the planet's atmosphere did not always contain this life-sustaining substance, and one of science's greatest mysteries is how and when oxygenic photosynthesis—the process responsible for producing oxygen on Earth through the splitting of water molecules—first began. Now, a team led by geobiologists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has found evidence of a precursor photosystem involving manganese that predates cyanobacteria, the first group of organisms to release oxygen into the environment via photosynthesis.


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