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How the ‘Diamond of the Plant World’ Helped Land Plants Evolve
Structural studies of the robust material called sporopollenin reveal how it made plants hardy enough to reproduce on dry land.
Embryo Cells Set Patterns for Growth by Pushing and Pulling
Patterns that guide the development of feathers and other features can be set by mechanical forces in the embryo, not just by gradients of chemicals.
Life Helps Make Almost Half of Earth’s Minerals
A new origins-based system for classifying minerals reveals the huge geochemical imprint that life has left on Earth. It could help us identify other worlds with life too.
Protein Blobs Linked to Alzheimer’s Affect Aging in All Cells
Protein buildups like those seen around neurons in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other brain diseases occur in all aging cells, a new study suggests. Learning their significance may reveal new strategies for treating age-related diseases.
An Immunologist Fights Covid with Tweets and a Nasal Spray
Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist who became a lifeline for the worried and the curious during the pandemic, thinks that nasal spray vaccines could be the next needed breakthrough in our fight against the coronavirus.
What Is Life?
Without a good definition of life, how do we look for it on alien planets? Steven Strogatz speaks with Robert Hazen, a mineralogist and astrobiologist, and Sheref Mansy, a chemist, to learn more.
The Brain Has a ‘Low-Power Mode’ That Blunts Our Senses
Neuroscientists uncovered an energy-saving mode in vision-system neurons that works at the cost of being able to see fine-grained details.
Reshuffled Rivers Bolster the Amazon’s Hyper-Biodiversity
The lush biodiversity of the Amazon may be due in part to the dynamics of branching rivers, which serve as invisible fences that continuously barricade and merge bird populations.
Brain-Signal Proteins Evolved Before Animals Did
Some animal neuropeptides have been around longer than nervous systems.