Emily Singer

Former Senior Writer

Q&A

In Warm, Greasy Puddles, the Spark of Life?

March 17, 2016

The biologist David Deamer proposes that life evolved from a collection of interacting molecules, probably in a pool in the shadow of a volcano.

origins of life

How to Build Life in a Pre-Darwinian World

February 16, 2016

Perhaps chemistry played a more instrumental role in the origin of life than scientists thought.

neuroscience

New Clues to How the Brain Maps Time

January 26, 2016

The same brain cells that track location in space appear to also count beats in time. The research suggests that our thoughts may take place on a mental space-time canvas.

Biology

How Strange Twists in DNA Orchestrate Life

January 5, 2016

Coils and twirls in DNA’s double-helix change how the molecule behaves, opening a new role for topology in the study of life.

Biology

The Incredible Shrinking Sex Chromosome

December 1, 2015

Nature offers species a panoply of ways to determine an organism’s sex. That flexibility suggests we need not be concerned about losing sex chromosomes, but it raises the question of why such a fundamental property is so variable.

Life’s Big Leaps: Critical Moments in Evolution

Life’s Secrets Sought in a Snowflake

November 3, 2015

A single genetic change and some clever geometry show how single-celled organisms can band together to form cooperative multicellular entities.

Life’s Big Leaps: Critical Moments in Evolution

Mongrel Microbe Tests Story of Complex Life

October 29, 2015

A newly discovered class of microbe could help to resolve one of the biggest and most controversial mysteries in evolution — how simple microbes transformed into the complex cells that produced animals, plants and fungi.

Q&A

An Explorer of Life’s Deepest Partnerships

September 17, 2015

The biologist Nancy Moran has spent a career investigating the surprising nature of symbiosis, a phenomenon in which two species can appear to merge into one.

Biology

A Surprise Source of Life’s Code

August 18, 2015

Emerging data suggests the seemingly impossible — that mysterious new genes arise from “junk” DNA.