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Biology

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.

Biology

The Incredible Shrinking Sex Chromosome

December 1, 2015

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

November 19, 2015

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

November 10, 2015

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

Life’s Big Leaps: Critical Moments in Evolution

The Woman Who Stared at Wasps

November 5, 2015

The biologist Joan Strassmann discusses cooperation in social insects, how amoebas can teach us about competition, and why the definition of “organism” needs an overhaul.

Life’s Big Leaps: Critical Moments in Evolution

Life’s Secrets Sought in a Snowflake

November 3, 2015

A single genetic change and some clever geometry show how single-celled organisms can band together to form cooperative multicellular entities.

Life’s Big Leaps: Critical Moments in Evolution

Mongrel Microbe Tests Story of Complex Life

October 29, 2015

A newly discovered class of microbe could help to resolve one of the biggest and most controversial mysteries in evolution — how simple microbes transformed into the complex cells that produced animals, plants and fungi.