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Biology

Cryo-electron microscopy
Abstractions blog

Supercool Protein Imaging Gets the Nobel Prize

This year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry goes to researchers who made it possible to see proteins and other biomolecules at an atomic level of detail.

Clock
Abstractions blog

Nobel Prize Awarded for Biological Clock Discoveries

Three U.S. biologists share the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their research into the molecular mechanism that drives circadian rhythm.

Neuron drawings by Santiago Ramón y Cajal
Quantized Columns

Why the First Drawings of Neurons Were Defaced

Every exquisite drawing by Santiago Ramón y Cajal, the founder of modern neuroscience, is marred by a curious mark. Here is the little-known story behind it.

Birds and mitonuclear conflict
evolution

Genetic Struggles Within Cells May Create New Species

Mitonuclear conflict — a struggle between the genes in a cell’s nucleus and its mitochondria — might sometimes split species in two.

Modern humans (at left) and Neanderthals (right)
evolution

Genetics Spills Secrets From Neanderthals’ Lost History

How many Neanderthals were there? Archaeology and genetics have given very different answers. A new study reconciles them and reveals the lost history of these ancient people — including an early brush with extinction.

A boy and his dog and its viruses
evolution

Viruses Would Rather Jump to New Hosts Than Evolve With Them

The discovery that viruses move between species unexpectedly often is rewriting ideas about their evolutionary history — and may have troubling implications for the threat from emerging diseases.

biophysics

Bacteria Use Brainlike Bursts of Electricity to Communicate

With electrical signals, simple cells organize themselves into complex societies and negotiate with other colonies.

Nigel Goldenfeld
Q&A

Seeing Emergent Physics Behind Evolution

Nigel Goldenfeld applies the physics of condensed matter to understand how evolution sprinted for the earliest life — and then slowed down.

Neurons and astrocytes
Abstractions blog

The Oldest Mini-Brains Have Lifelike Young Cells

“Organoid” brain tissue models grown in a lab for two years can help scientists study a critical period of development just before and after birth.