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Biology

synthetic biology

In Newly Created Life-Form, a Major Mystery

March 24, 2016

Scientists have created a synthetic organism that possesses only the genes it needs to survive. But they have no idea what roughly a third of those genes do.

neuroscience

The Beasts That Keep the Beat

March 22, 2016

New insights from neuroscience — aided by a small zoo’s worth of dancing animals — are revealing the biological origins of rhythm.

Q&A

In Warm, Greasy Puddles, the Spark of Life?

March 17, 2016

The biologist David Deamer proposes that life evolved from a collection of interacting molecules, probably in a pool in the shadow of a volcano.

ecology

A Timely Fix for a Grand Theory of Nature

March 11, 2016

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

February 25, 2016

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

February 16, 2016

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

astrobiology

Scientists Debate Signatures of Alien Life

February 2, 2016

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

January 26, 2016

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

January 5, 2016

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