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When you open the refrigerator for a late-night snack, are you more likely to grab a slice of chocolate cake or a bag of carrot sticks? Your ability to exercise self-control—i.e., to settle for the carrots—may depend upon just how quickly your brain factors healthfulness into a decision, according to a recent study by Caltech neuroeconomists. [Caltech Release] 12.15.14

Paul Rothemund, Senior Research Associate in Bioengineering, Computer Science, and Computation and Neural Systems, and colleagues have fabricated complicated shapes from DNA's close chemical cousin, RNA. "RNA origami is still in its infancy," says Rothemund. "Nevertheless, I believe that RNA origami, because of their potential to be manufactured by cells, and because of the extra functionality possible with RNA, will have at least as big an impact as DNA origami." [Caltech Release] 08.22.14

Erik Winfree, Professor of Computer Science, Computation and Neural Systems, and Bioengineering, explains, "I tend to think of cells as really small robots. Biology has programmed natural cells, but now engineers are starting to think about how we can program artificial cells. When I program my computer, I can think entirely in terms of deterministic processes. But when I try to engineer what is essentially a program at the molecular scale, I have to think in terms of probabilities and stochastic (random) processes. This is inherently more difficult, but I like challenges. And if we are ever to succeed in creating artificial cells, these are the sorts of problems we need to address." [Caltech Release] 02.23.14

The World University RankingsWhat keeps Caltech at the top of the Times Higher Education university rankings? In a series of highly candid and extraordinary interviews with EAS Chair Ares Rosakis, BBE Chair Steven Mayo, and their faculty colleagues, the editor of the Times reports on the Institute. He observes: "While diminutive scale may be a disadvantage for some institutions, for Caltech, it is at the heart of its being, and perhaps the single most important aspect of its extraordinary global success." [Read the full article] [pdf of article] 02.10.14

David Anderson, Seymour Benzer Professor of David AndersonBiology; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and colleagues have identified one gene and a tiny group of neurons, sometimes as few as three, present only in the brains of male fruit flies, that can control aggression. [New York Times Article] 02.06.14

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