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Biology

Looping video of illustrated clocks stretching in different directions.
Abstractions blog

Reasons Revealed for the Brain’s Elastic Sense of Time

September 24, 2020

New research finds that the subjective experience of time is linked to learning, thwarted expectations and neural fatigue.

A false-colored scanning electron micrograph of a macrophage.
immunology

‘Trained Immunity’ Offers Hope in Fight Against Coronavirus

September 14, 2020

A novel form of immunological memory that was mostly ignored for a century extends the benefits of vaccines. It could be of help in ending the COVID-19 pandemic.

Close-up photo of a carpenter ant queen carrying eggs.
evolution

How Two Became One: Origins of a Mysterious Symbiosis Found

September 9, 2020

Carpenter ants need endosymbiotic bacteria to guide the early development of their embryos. New work has reconstructed how this deep partnership evolved.

Illustration of two fantastical creatures. One lifts an urn in its arms. The other lacks arms but lifts the urn on its tail.
evolution

By Losing Genes, Life Often Evolved More Complexity

September 1, 2020

Recent major surveys show that reductions in genomic complexity — including the loss of key genes — have successfully shaped the evolution of life throughout history.

Photograph of a bat in flight.
Abstractions blog

Can Vaccines for Wildlife Prevent Human Pandemics?

August 24, 2020

Studies suggest that self-disseminating vaccines could prevent the “spillover” of animal viruses into humans as pandemic diseases.

Photo of emperor penguins huddling together for warmth, with two sticking their heads out
Abstractions blog

Math of the Penguins

August 17, 2020

Emperor penguins display rigorously geometric spacing and mathematical efficiency when they huddle together for warmth, which may reveal secrets to their overall health.

Photo of 12 petri dishes holding brightly colored fungi.
Abstractions blog

‘Zombie’ Microbes Redefine Life’s Energy Limits

August 12, 2020

A new model shows that the denizens of a vast, ancient biome beneath the seafloor use barely enough energy to stay alive — and broadens understanding of what life can look like.

Illustration of anxious woman surrounded by mitochondria.
physiology

Mitochondria May Hold Keys to Anxiety and Mental Health

August 10, 2020

Research hints that the energy-generating organelles of cells may play a surprisingly pivotal role in mediating anxiety and depression.

insights puzzle

COVID-19 Is Raging. How Safe Is Your Backyard Party?

August 6, 2020

Awash in coronavirus data, misinformation and tremendous uncertainty, we need to put our risk analysis skills to the ultimate test.