Jordana Cepelewicz

Staff Writer

Art for "The Math That Tells Cells What They Are"
mathematical biology

The Math That Tells Cells What They Are

March 13, 2019

During development, cells seem to decode their fate through optimal information processing, which could hint at a more general principle of life.

Abstractions blog

Smarter Parts Make Collective Systems Too Stubborn

February 26, 2019

As researchers delve deeper into the behavior of decentralized collective systems, they’re beginning to question some of their initial assumptions.

Art for "How the Brain Creates a Timeline of the Past"
neuroscience

How the Brain Creates a Timeline of the Past

February 12, 2019

The brain can’t directly encode the passage of time, but recent work hints at a workaround for putting timestamps on memories of events.

A row of skulls ending with homo sapiens, foreground, found at The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History’s Hall of Human Origins.
Abstractions blog

Artificial Intelligence Finds Ancient ‘Ghosts’ in Modern DNA

February 7, 2019

With the help of deep learning techniques, paleoanthropologists find evidence of long-lost branches on the human family tree.

Photo of the female penis structure of the cave insect Neotrogla aurora.
Abstractions blog

Why Evolution Reversed These Insects’ Sex Organs

January 30, 2019

Among these cave insects, the females evolved to have penises — twice. The reasons challenge common assumptions about sex.

Abstractions blog

Gene Drives Work in Mice (if They’re Female)

January 23, 2019

Biologists have demonstrated for the first time that a controversial genetic engineering technology works, with caveats, in mammals.

Art for "The Brain Maps Out Ideas and Memories Like Spaces"
neuroscience

The Brain Maps Out Ideas and Memories Like Spaces

January 14, 2019

Emerging evidence suggests that the brain encodes abstract knowledge in the same way that it represents positions in space, which hints at a more universal theory of cognition.

Abstractions blog

What Defines a Stem Cell? Scientists Rethink the Answer

December 4, 2018

As it becomes clear that the body’s cells have more diverse regenerative capabilities than expected, experts have had to reconsider their approach to stem cell research.

Art for "Biology and Computer Science Explore Algorithmic Evolution"
mathematical biology

Mathematical Simplicity May Drive Evolution’s Speed

November 29, 2018

Some researchers are using a complexity framework thought to be purely theoretical to understand evolutionary dynamics in biological and computational systems.