What's up in

Biology

Abstractions blog

How to Grow Metal-Eating Microbes

June 21, 2016

Metal-eating microbes get energy from rocks and could teach us about life on other worlds — but first scientists had to learn how to grow them in the lab.

microbiology

New Life Found That Lives Off Electricity

June 21, 2016

Scientists have figured out how microbes can suck energy from rocks. Such lifeforms might be more widespread than anyone anticipated.

Abstractions blog

Interstellar Find Adds Life to Old Debate

June 20, 2016

Figuring out how these molecules form in the deep recesses of interstellar space might illuminate the origins of one of life’s distinguishing features.

Abstractions blog

The Downside to Neanderthal DNA

June 14, 2016

How interbreeding among early hominins harmed humans but may have slowed the Neanderthals’ decline.

Native Tibetans make use of a gene derived from Denisovans to stay healthy at high altitudes.
evolution

How Neanderthal DNA Helps Humanity

May 26, 2016

Neanderthals and Denisovans may have endowed modern humans with genetic variants that helped them thrive in new environments.

Ashley Mackenzie for Quanta Magazine
neuroscience

New Evidence for the Necessity of Loneliness

May 10, 2016

A specific set of neurons deep in the brain may motivate us to seek company, holding social species together.

genetics

A Secret Flexibility Found in Life’s Blueprints

April 26, 2016

A new study reveals that individual genes can create many different versions of the molecular machinery that powers the cell.

Q&A

The Evolutionary Argument Against Reality

April 21, 2016

The cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman believes that evolution and quantum mechanics conspire to make objective reality an illusion.

neuroscience

Mapping the Brain to Build Better Machines

April 6, 2016

A project to decipher the brain’s learning rules could revolutionize machine learning.