About The Source

The Source is a place for information, inspiration and for sharing stories about exciting discoveries and accomplishments at Washington University. Here, you’ll experience the research, scholarship and creativity that drive us every day. You’ll also get a glimpse of campus life and meet the people who inspire us: scientists, leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, artists and authors. If you’re looking to explore a remarkable place where people matter and serious work is done, this is The Source.

A ring to bind them

Using genomics, a chemistry lab has worked out the biosynthetic machinery that makes a new class of antibiotic compounds called the beta-lactones. Like the beta-lactams, such as penicillin, they have an unstable four-member ring. The key to their antibiotic activity, it is also difficult to synthesize.

Birds that babysit

It’s easy to make up a story to explain an evolved trait; proving that’s what happened is much harder. Here scientists test ideas about cooperative breeding in birds and find a solution that resolves earlier disagreements.

Shaking Schrödinger’s cat

Frequent measurement of a quantum system’s state can either speed or delay its collapse, effects called the quantum Zeno and quantum anti-Zeno effect. But so too can “quasimeasurements” that only poke the system and garner no information about its state.

Engineers launch experiment into space

An experiment designed by an engineering team at Washington University in St. Louis soon will be performed in space. The experiment, called Flame Design, was on board a SpaceX Dragon rocket that launched into orbit June 3.