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Evolving Bacteria Can Evade Barriers to ‘Peak’ Fitness
Paradoxically, natural selection can sometimes seem to block organisms from evolving useful adaptations. But a new study of “fitness landscapes” and antibiotic resistance in bacteria shows that life still finds a way.
Researchers Refute a Widespread Belief About Online Algorithms
Three computer scientists have disproved a long-standing conjecture about a fundamental problem involving imperfect information.
During Pregnancy, a Fake ‘Infection’ Protects the Fetus
Cells in the placenta have an unusual trick for activating gentle immune defenses and keeping them turned on when no infection is present. It involves crafting and deploying a fake virus.
Bats Use the Same Brain Cells to Map Physical and Social Worlds
New research in social bats raises the intriguing possibility that evolution can reprogram the brain’s “place cells,” which are typically associated with location, to encode all kinds of environmental information.
Biophysicists Uncover Powerful Symmetries in Living Tissue
After identifying interlocking symmetries in mammalian cells, scientists can describe some tissues as liquid crystals — an observation that lays the groundwork for a fluid-dynamic theory of how tissues move.
These Cells Spark Electricity in the Brain. They’re Not Neurons.
For decades, researchers have debated whether brain cells called astrocytes can signal like neurons. Researchers recently published the best evidence yet that some astrocytes are part of the electrical conversation.