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Biology

Art for "The Math That Tells Cells What They Are"
mathematical biology

The Math That Tells Cells What They Are

March 13, 2019

During development, cells seem to decode their fate through optimal information processing, which could hint at a more general principle of life.

Art for "Neuroscience Readies for a Showdown Over Consciousness Ideas"
neuroscience

Neuroscience Readies for a Showdown Over Consciousness Ideas

March 6, 2019

To make headway on the mystery of consciousness, some researchers are trying a rigorous new way to test competing theories.

Q&A

Doudna’s Confidence in CRISPR’s Research Potential Burns Bright

February 27, 2019

Jennifer Doudna, one of CRISPR’s primary innovators, stays optimistic about how the gene-editing tool will continue to empower basic biological understanding.

Abstractions blog

Smarter Parts Make Collective Systems Too Stubborn

February 26, 2019

As researchers delve deeper into the behavior of decentralized collective systems, they’re beginning to question some of their initial assumptions.

Art for "New Squid Genome Shines Light on Symbiotic Evolution"
evolution

New Squid Genome Shines Light on Symbiotic Evolution

February 19, 2019

Researchers hope that the genes of a glowing squid can illuminate how animals evolved organs for beneficial bacteria.

Art for "How the Brain Creates a Timeline of the Past"
neuroscience

How the Brain Creates a Timeline of the Past

February 12, 2019

The brain can’t directly encode the passage of time, but recent work hints at a workaround for putting timestamps on memories of events.

A row of skulls ending with homo sapiens, foreground, found at The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History’s Hall of Human Origins.
Abstractions blog

Artificial Intelligence Finds Ancient ‘Ghosts’ in Modern DNA

February 7, 2019

With the help of deep learning techniques, paleoanthropologists find evidence of long-lost branches on the human family tree.

Art for "Fragile DNA Enables New Adaptations to Evolve Quickly"
evolution

Fragile DNA Enables New Adaptations to Evolve Quickly

February 5, 2019

If highly repetitive gene-regulating sequences in DNA are easily lost, that may explain why some adaptations evolve quickly and repeatedly.

Photo of the female penis structure of the cave insect Neotrogla aurora.
Abstractions blog

Why Evolution Reversed These Insects’ Sex Organs

January 30, 2019

Among these cave insects, the females evolved to have penises — twice. The reasons challenge common assumptions about sex.