Animals Count and Use Zero. How Far Does Their Number Sense Go?
Crows recently demonstrated an understanding of the concept of zero. It’s only the latest evidence of animals’ talents for numerical abstraction — which may still differ from our own grasp of numbers.
Plasmid, Virus or Other? DNA ‘Borgs’ Blur Boundaries.
Scientists have reported large DNA structures in some archaea that defy easy categorization.
DNA Has Four Bases. Some Viruses Swap in a Fifth.
The DNA of some viruses doesn’t use the same four nucleotide bases found in all other life. New work shows how this exception is possible and hints that it could be more common than we think.
Secret Workings of Smell Receptors Revealed for First Time
Researchers have finally seen how some smell receptors bind to odor molecules. The work yields new insights into one of the most mysterious and versatile senses.
Radioactivity May Fuel Life Deep Underground and Inside Other Worlds
New work suggests that the radiolytic splitting of water supports giant subsurface ecosystems of life on Earth — and could do it elsewhere, too.
The Brain ‘Rotates’ Memories to Save Them From New Sensations
Some populations of neurons simultaneously process sensations and memories. New work shows how the brain rotates those representations to prevent interference.
Chasing the Elusive Numbers That Define Epidemics
Most modeling efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic have sought to address urgent practical concerns. But some groups aim to bolster the theoretical underpinnings of that work instead.
The Hard Lessons of Modeling the Coronavirus Pandemic
In the fight against COVID-19, disease modelers have struggled against misunderstanding and misuse of their work. They have also come to realize how unready the state of modeling was for this pandemic.
Nobel Chemistry Prize Awarded for CRISPR ‘Genetic Scissors’
Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna have been awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their development of CRISPR/Cas9 genetic editing.