What's up in

Biology

Illustration: Dividing Droplets
biophysics

Dividing Droplets Could Explain Life’s Origin

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

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.

Riley LeBlanc examines her brain.
neuroscience

Infant Brains Reveal How the Mind Gets Built

Is the brain a blank slate, or is it wired from birth to understand the world?

Marcus Feldman in his office at Stanford University, CA
Q&A

Finding the Actions That Alter Evolution

The biologist Marcus Feldman creates mathematical models that reveal how cultural traditions can affect the evolution of a species.

Illustration: sliced tooth showing tree rings
chronobiology

Teeth May Reveal a Multi-Day Biological Clock

Tiny lines laid down by tooth enamel appear to reveal a previously unknown biological rhythm. If confirmed, the finding could help researchers understand why big animals grow slower — and live longer — than small ones.

Illustration: Viruses Find a New Way to Hijack Cells
viruses

Viruses Find a New Way to Hijack Cells

A virus that causes crippling birth defects has been shown to do something else: It changes thousands of messages coming from DNA that control normal cellular activities.

The helmet jellyfish (Periphylla periphylla) uses bioluminescence for defense.
bioluminescence

In the Deep, Clues to How Life Makes Light

Bioluminescent organisms have evolved dozens of times over the course of life’s history. Recent studies are narrowing in on the complicated biochemistry needed to illuminate the dark.

evolution

Scientists Seek to Update Evolution

Recent discoveries have led some researchers to argue that the modern evolutionary synthesis needs to be amended.

Q&A

A Conductor of Evolution’s Subtle Symphony

At first, the biologist Richard Lenski thought his long-term experiment on evolution might last for 2,000 generations. Nearly three decades and over 65,000 generations later, he’s still amazed by evolution’s “awesome inventiveness.”