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Biology

Abstractions blog

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

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

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

Jellyfish Genome Hints That Complexity Isn’t Genetically Complex

Jellyfish didn’t need novel genes to take an evolutionary leap in complexity.

Abstractions blog

Ancient Turing Pattern Builds Feathers, Hair — and Now, Shark Skin

A primordial developmental toolkit shared by all vertebrates, and described by a theory of the mathematician Alan Turing, sets the growth pattern for all types of skin structures.

Biology - abstract illustration
2018 in Review

The Year in Biology

Biologists gained new insights into life’s genomically tumultuous past, viruses as crucial components of life, the hidden talents of complex cells and basic aspects of cognition and memory.

In Theory

How Complex Wholes Emerge From Simple Parts

Throughout nature, throngs of relatively simple elements can self-organize into behaviors that seem unexpectedly complex. Scientists are beginning to understand why and how these phenomena emerge without a central organizing entity.

Art for "A ‘Self-Aware’ Fish Raises Doubts About a Cognitive Test"
neuroscience

A ‘Self-Aware’ Fish Raises Doubts About a Cognitive Test

A report that a fish can pass the “mirror test” for self-awareness reignites debates about how to define and measure that elusive quality.

Abstractions blog

What a Newfound Kingdom Means for the Tree of Life

Neither animal, plant, fungus nor familiar protozoan, a strange microbe that sits in its own “supra-kingdom” of life foretells incredible biodiversity yet to be discovered by new sequencing technologies.

Abstractions blog

What Defines a Stem Cell? Scientists Rethink the Answer

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.