All Articles

Uca vocans - fiddler crab
developmental biology

How Life Turns Asymmetric

January 31, 2017

Scientists are uncovering how our bodies — and everything within them — tell right from left.

Illustration: bucket half-full of amoebas.
insights puzzle

Solution: ‘How Many Half-Lives?’

January 27, 2017

When do negative results from a half-life experiment mean a theory is dead?

Illustration: life as a computation efficiently storing & using predictive info
information theory

How Life (and Death) Spring From Disorder

January 26, 2017

Life was long thought to obey its own set of rules. But as simple systems show signs of lifelike behavior, scientists are arguing about whether this apparent complexity is all a consequence of thermodynamics.

Abstractions blog

How Viruses May Have Led to Complex Life

January 24, 2017

Without viruses, we might never have evolved.

Photo of raindrops on a window by Philip Kraaijenbrink
Abstractions blog

Droplets That ‘Come to Life’

January 20, 2017

Life might have originated in droplets that behave surprisingly like living cells.

Illustration: Dividing Droplets
biophysics

Dividing Droplets Could Explain Life’s Origin

January 19, 2017

Researchers have discovered that simple “chemically active” droplets grow to the size of cells and spontaneously divide, suggesting they might have evolved into the first living cells.

Shapeshifting Protein: Still
molecular biology

The Shape-Shifting Army Inside Your Cells

January 18, 2017

Proteins work like rigid keys to activate cellular functions — or so everyone thought. Scientists are discovering a huge number of proteins that shape-shift to do their work, upending a century-old maxim of biology.

Illustration: boxing gloves
Abstractions blog

Graph Isomorphism Vanquished — Again

January 14, 2017

Just five days after posting a retraction, László Babai announced that he had fixed the error in his landmark graph isomorphism algorithm.

Illustration: bucket half-full of amoebas.
insights puzzle

How Many Half-Lives Do You Have?

January 12, 2017

Gaining an intuition about half-life requires some unintuitive thinking.