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Biology

520px 3D illustration of tissue curling
Abstractions blog

Tissue Engineers Hack Life’s Code for 3-D Folded Shapes

Mechanical tension between tethered cells cues developing tissues to fold. Researchers can now program synthetic tissue to make coils, cubes and rippling plates.

520px photo of a dingo
evolution

A Domesticated Dingo? No, but Some Are Getting Less Wild

Near an Australian desert mining camp, wild dingoes are losing their fear of humans. Their genetic and behavioral changes may echo those from the domestication of dogs.

520px illustration of microbial networks
microbiology

Simpler Math Tames the Complexity of Microbe Networks

The dizzying network of interactions within microbe communities can defy analysis. But a new approach simplifies the math and makes progress possible.

520px image of Ed Boyden
Q&A

A Neurobiologist Thinks Big — and Small

By developing new tools for visualizing subcellular structure and activity in molecular detail, Ed Boyden advances on his goal of understanding how the brain works.

Aribidopsis thaliana inflorescence
Abstractions blog

With ‘Downsized’ DNA, Flowering Plants Took Over the World

Compact genomes and tiny cells gave flowering plants an edge over competing flora. This discovery hints at a broader evolutionary principle.

Illustration: altered DNA in bears
synthetic biology

Is a Bigger Genetic Code Better? Get Ready to Find Out

Evolution settled on a genetic code that uses four letters to name 20 amino acids. Synthetic biologists adding new bases to DNA will be free to improve on nature — if they can.

Photo of Corina Tarnita 520px
Q&A

A Mathematician Who Decodes the Patterns Stamped Out by Life

Corina Tarnita deciphers bizarre patterns in the soil created by competing life-forms.

RNA Peptide 520
origins of life

The End of the RNA World Is Near, Biochemists Argue

For decades, an origin-of-life story starring RNA has prevailed. New research may be shaking that theory’s hold on our understanding of life’s beginnings.

Short term VS Long term memory illustration
neuroscience

Light-Triggered Genes Reveal the Hidden Workings of Memory

Nobel laureate Susumu Tonegawa’s lab is overturning old assumptions about how memories form, how recall works and whether lost memories might be restored from “silent engrams.”