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Biology

ecology

A Timely Fix for a Grand Theory of Nature

A disarmingly simple model of ecology does everything well — except predict how rapidly nature can change. Can it become more realistic while still avoiding all of biology’s messy complexities?

Quantized Columns

Deep Secrets and the Thrill of Discovery

The biologist Sean B. Carroll rediscovers the scientific thrill of an unexpected revelation.

origins of life

How to Build Life in a Pre-Darwinian World

Perhaps chemistry played a more instrumental role in the origin of life than scientists thought.

astrobiology

Scientists Debate Signatures of Alien Life

Searching for signs of life on faraway planets, astrobiologists must decide which telltale biosignature gases to target.

neuroscience

New Clues to How the Brain Maps Time

The same brain cells that track location in space appear to also count beats in time. The research suggests that our thoughts may take place on a mental space-time canvas.

Biology

How Strange Twists in DNA Orchestrate Life

Coils and twirls in DNA’s double-helix change how the molecule behaves, opening a new role for topology in the study of life.

Biology

The Incredible Shrinking Sex Chromosome

Nature offers species a panoply of ways to determine an organism’s sex. That flexibility suggests we need not be concerned about losing sex chromosomes, but it raises the question of why such a fundamental property is so variable.

Q&A

The Information Theory of Life

The polymath Christoph Adami is investigating life’s origins by reimagining life as self-perpetuating information strings.

Life’s Big Leaps: Critical Moments in Evolution

How Humans Evolved Supersize Brains

Scientists have begun to identify the symphony of biological triggers that powered the extraordinary expansion of the human brain.