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.

Beauty and the Brain: Electrical Stimulation of the Brain Makes You Perceive Faces as More Attractive

Researchers, led by scientists at Caltech, have used a well-known, noninvasive technique to electrically stimulate a specific region deep inside the brain, causing volunteers to judge faces as more attractive than before their brains were stimulated.

Keeping Stem Cells Strong

A team of researchers led by biologists at Caltech has found that, in mouse models, the molecule microRNA-146a (miR-146a) acts as a critical regulator and protector of blood-forming stem cells during chronic inflammation, suggesting that a deficiency of miR-146a may be one important cause of blood cancers and bone marrow failure.

Birth of a Black Hole

According to a new analysis by astrophysicist Tony Piro at Caltech, just before a black hole forms, the dying star may generate a distinct burst of light that will allow astronomers to witness the birth of a new black hole for the first time.

Astronomers Discover Massive Star Factory in Early Universe

A team of astronomers, which includes several from Caltech, has discovered a dust-filled, massive galaxy churning out stars when the cosmos was a mere 880 million years old—making it the earliest starburst galaxy ever observed.

Picking Apart Photosynthesis

Chemists at Caltech and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory believe they can now explain one of the remaining mysteries of photosynthesis, the chemical process by which plants convert sunlight into usable energy and generate the oxygen that we breathe.

Counting White Blood Cells at Home

Engineers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), working with a collaborator from the Jerusalem-based company LeukoDx, have developed a portable device to count white blood cells that needs less than a pinprick's worth of blood and takes just minutes to run.

Developing Our Sense of Smell

When our noses pick up a scent, whether the aroma of a sweet rose or the sweat of a stranger at the gym, two types of sensory neurons are at work in sensing that odor or pheromone. These sensory neurons are particularly interesting because they are the only neurons in our bodies that regenerate throughout adult life—as some of our olfactory neurons die, they are soon replaced by newborns. Just where those neurons come from in the first place has long perplexed developmental biologists. Previous hypotheses about the origin of these olfactory nerve cells have given credit to embryonic cells that develop into skin or into the central nervous system, where ear and eye sensory neurons, respectively, are known to originate. But biologists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have now found that neural-crest stem cells—multipotent, migratory cells unique to vertebrates that give rise to many structures in the body such as facial bones and smooth muscle—also play a key role in building olfactory sensory neurons in the nose.

Two Decades of Discoveries

Although Keith Matthews was about to make history, he went about his tasks like any others. It was the night of March 16, 1993, nearly 14,000 feet above sea level on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, and he had just installed the first instrument on the brand-new 10-meter telescope at W. M. Keck Observatory. Matthews, who built the instrument—a near-infrared camera, abbreviated NIRC—was set to make the first scientific observations using the newly crowned Biggest Telescope in the World.

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