A galaxy that was once thought to be the oldest known has regained its lost title after a record-long series of exposures by the Hubble Space Telescope revealed that it is in fact 13.3 billion years old, 100 million years older than previously thought. The study, which looked back to when the universe was just 4% of its present age, found six other similarly ancient galaxies.
Imagine that the chips in your smartphone or computer could repair and defend themselves on the...
A galaxy that was once thought to be the oldest known has regained its lost title after a record...
In order to build the next generation of nuclear reactors, materials scientists are trying to...
Smaller begets bigger. Such is often the case for galaxies, at least: The first galaxies were small, then eventually merged together to form the behemoths we see in the present universe. Now, a team of astronomers 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.
Chemists at California Institute of Technology and 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. The finding suggests a new way of approaching the design of catalysts that drive the water-splitting reactions of artificial photosynthesis.
Currently, most white blood cell counts are performed with large-scale equipment in central clinical laboratories. If a physician collects blood samples from a patient in the office, it can take days to get the results. But now engineers at the California Institute of Technology, working with 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.
When viruses like HIV/AIDS strike in underdeveloped regions of the world, they often spiral out of control in part because there is no easy way to bring diagnostic equipment to remote areas so that the diseases can be identified, treated, and stopped before they spread. Now, an inexpensive, portable, easy-to-use device, built by a team of Caltech engineers and biologists, promises to speed the diagnosis of HIV/AIDS and other diseases—and improve treatment—in even the most far-flung corners of the world.
Every great structure depends on specific mechanical properties to remain strong and reliable. Rigidity is of particular importance for maintaining the robust functionality of everything from colossal edifices to the tiniest of nanoscale structures. In biological nanostructures it has been difficult to measure this stiffness, which is essential to their properties and functions. But scientists at the California Institute of Technology have recently developed techniques for visualizing the behavior of biological nanostructures in both space and time, allowing them to directly measure stiffness and map its variation throughout the network.
Scientists have long dreamed of creating a quantum computer—a device rooted in the bizarre phenomena that transpire at the level of the very small, where quantum mechanics rules the scene. It is believed that such new computers could process currently unsolvable problems in seconds. Researchers have tried using various quantum systems, such as atoms or ions, as the basic, transistor-like units in simple quantum computation devices. Now Caltech researchers are laying the groundwork for an on-chip optical quantum network.
In December 2011, Caltech mineral-physics expert Jennifer Jackson reported that she and a team of researchers had used diamond-anvil cells to compress tiny samples of iron—the main element of the Earth's core. By squeezing the samples to reproduce the extreme pressures felt at the core, the team was able to get a closer estimate of the melting point of iron. At the time, the measurements that the researchers made were unprecedented in detail. Now, they have taken that research one step further by adding infrared laser beams to the mix.
After imaging during the holidays, NASA's Mars rover Curiosity resumed driving Jan. 3 and pulled within arm's reach of a sinuous rock feature called "Snake River." Snake River is a thin curving line of darker rock cutting through flatter rocks and jutting above sand. Curiosity's science team plans to get a closer look at it before proceeding to other nearby rocks.
A secret agent is racing against time. He knows a bomb is nearby. He rounds a corner, spots a pile of suspicious boxes in the alleyway, and pulls out his cell phone. As he scans it over the packages, their contents appear onscreen. In the nick of time, his handy smartphone application reveals an explosive device, and the agent saves the day. Sound far-fetched? In fact it is a real possibility, thanks to tiny inexpensive silicon microchips developed at the California Institute of Technology.
As technology advances, it tends to shrink. From cell phones to laptops—powered by increasingly faster and tinier processors—everything is getting thinner and sleeker. And now light beams are getting smaller, too. Engineers at the California Institute of Technology have created a device that can focus light into a point just a few nanometers across—an achievement they say may lead to next-generation applications in computing, communications, and imaging.
Chemists at the California Institute of Technology have managed, for the first time, to simulate the biological function of a channel called the Sec translocon, which allows specific proteins to pass through membranes. The feat required bridging timescales from the realm of nanoseconds all the way up to full minutes, exceeding the scope of earlier simulation efforts by more than six orders of magnitude.
Scientists and engineers are working to find a way to power the planet using solar-powered fuel cells. Such green systems would split water during daylight hours, generating hydrogen that could then be stored and used later to produce water and electricity. But robust catalysts are needed to drive the water-splitting reaction. Chemists at Caltech have determined the dominant mechanism for cobalt catalysts, a cheaper alternative to platinum catalysts.
As an animal develops from an embryo, its cells take diverse paths, eventually forming different body parts. In order for each cell to know what to do during development, it follows a genetic blueprint, which consists of complex webs of interacting genes called gene regulatory networks. Biologists at the California Institute of Technology have spent the last decade or so detailing how these gene networks control development in sea-urchin embryos and, for the first time, have built a computational model of one of these networks.
A team led by scientists at the California Institute of Technology have made the first-ever mechanical device that can measure the mass of individual molecules one at a time. This new technology, the researchers say, will eventually help doctors diagnose diseases, enable biologists to study viruses and probe the molecular machinery of cells, and even allow scientists to better measure nanoparticles and air pollution.
Sunny skies reign supreme in one California Institute of Technology laboratory, which has recreated so-called plasma loops that emanate from the sun’s surface. Considered to be possible precursors to solar flares, which release sometimes damaging radiation, these loops may be used to serve as a warning system for massive flares.
NASA has awarded the California Institute of Technology a new five-year contract to manage the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The contractor's primary mission is to support NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) in carrying out specific objectives identified in the SMD Science Plan. The contract is for $8.5 billion.
Researchers at the California Institute of Technology and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory have developed a new type of amplifier for boosting electrical signals. The device can be used for everything from studying stars, galaxies, and black holes to exploring the quantum world and developing quantum computers.
Using computer simulations, researchers from the California Institute of Technology have determined that if the interior of a dying star is spinning rapidly just before it explodes in a magnificent supernova, two different types of signals emanating from that stellar core will oscillate together at the same frequency. This could be a piece of "smoking-gun evidence" that would lead to a better understanding of supernovae.
California Institute of Technology chemists have developed a new class of catalysts that will increase the range of chemicals that can be synthesized using environmentally friendly methods. The new chemicals include the metal ruthenium and help drive a chemical reaction called olefin metathesis. The reaction has proven useful and efficient for making chemical products that involve pairs of carbon atoms connected by double bonds.
Data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft have revealed Saturn's moon Titan likely harbors a layer of liquid water under its ice shell. Researchers saw a large amount of squeezing and stretching as the moon orbited Saturn. They deduced that if Titan were composed entirely of stiff rock, the gravitational attraction of Saturn would cause bulges, or solid "tides," on the moon only 3 ft in height. Spacecraft data show Saturn creates solid tides approximately 30 ft in height, which suggests Titan is not made entirely of solid rocky material.
In 1969, an exploding fireball tore through the sky over Mexico, scattering thousands of pieces of meteorite across the state of Chihuahua. More than 40 years later, the Allende meteorite is still serving the scientific community as a rich source of information about the early stages of our solar system's evolution. Recently, scientists from the California Institute of Technology discovered a new mineral embedded in the space rock—one they believe to be among the oldest minerals formed in the solar system.
Providing a possible new route to hydrogen-gas production, researchers at the California Institute of Technology have devised a series of chemical reactions that allows them, for the first time, to split water in a nontoxic, noncorrosive way, at relatively low temperatures.
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 have now shown that a different mechanism can also be used to copy sequence information.
Calculating the total capacity of a data network is a notoriously difficult problem. However, information theorists are beginning to make some headway. In a recently published paper, a team of information theorists have shown that in a wired network, network coding and error-correcting coding can be handled separately, without reduction in the network's capacity.