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Biology

Uca vocans - fiddler crab
developmental biology

How Life Turns Asymmetric

Scientists are uncovering how our bodies — and everything within them — tell right from left.

Illustration: life as a computation efficiently storing & using predictive info
information theory

How Life (and Death) Spring From Disorder

Life was long thought to obey its own set of rules. But as simple systems show signs of lifelike behavior, scientists are arguing about whether this apparent complexity is all a consequence of thermodynamics.

Abstractions blog

How Viruses May Have Led to Complex Life

Without viruses, we might never have evolved.

Photo of raindrops on a window by Philip Kraaijenbrink
Abstractions blog

Droplets That ‘Come to Life’

Life might have originated in droplets that behave surprisingly like living cells.

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.