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Biology

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

How Life (and Death) Spring From Disorder

January 26, 2017

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

January 24, 2017

Without viruses, we might never have evolved.

Photo of raindrops on a window by Philip Kraaijenbrink
Abstractions blog

Droplets That ‘Come to Life’

January 20, 2017

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

Illustration: Dividing Droplets
biophysics

Dividing Droplets Could Explain Life’s Origin

January 19, 2017

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

January 18, 2017

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

January 10, 2017

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

January 5, 2017

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

December 13, 2016

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.

Illustration: Viruses Find a New Way to Hijack Cells
viruses

Viruses Find a New Way to Hijack Cells

December 6, 2016

A virus that causes crippling birth defects has been shown to do something else: It changes thousands of messages coming from DNA that control normal cellular activities.