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biology

Looping video of chloroplasts moving within the walled cells of the pond plant Elodea.
Abstractions blog

Plant Cells of Different Species Can Swap Organelles

January 20, 2021

In grafted plants, shrunken chloroplasts can jump between species by slipping through unexpected gateways in cell walls.

A hollow, cylindrical skeleton formed from a lattice of glass strands shown against a black background.
Abstractions blog

The Curious Strength of a Sea Sponge’s Glass Skeleton

January 11, 2021

A glass sponge found deep in the Pacific shows a remarkable ability to withstand compression and bending, on top of the sponge’s other unusual properties.

Video artwork showing yellow blobs move, merge, split, shrink and enlarge inside a clear cube.
molecular biology

A Newfound Source of Cellular Order in the Chemistry of Life

January 7, 2021

Inside cells, droplets of biomolecules called condensates merge, divide and dissolve. Their dance may regulate vital processes.

2020 in Review

Our Favorite Comments of the Year

December 23, 2020

Online comment platforms can bring out the best — and the worst — in people. At the end of a tumultuous year, Quanta’s editors highlight some of our favorite things you had to say.

2020 in Review

The Year in Biology

December 23, 2020

While the study of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was the most urgent priority, biologists also learned more about how brains process information, how to define individuality and why sleep deprivation kills.

Abstractions blog

The Mystery of Mistletoe’s Missing Genes

December 21, 2020

Mistletoes have all but shut down the powerhouses of their cells. Scientists are still trying to understand the plants’ unorthodox survival strategy.

Portrait photo of Catherine Dulac of Harvard University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Q&A

Catherine Dulac Finds Brain Circuitry Behind Sex-Specific Behaviors

December 14, 2020

Catherine Dulac is overturning preconceptions about “male” and “female” instincts and opening new avenues to treating postpartum depression.

Illustration of a blue tiger.
Abstractions blog

How Neutral Theory Altered Ideas About Biodiversity

December 8, 2020

The simple insight that most changes are random had a profound effect on genetics, evolution and ecology.

Looping video that shows transformations between African cichlid species.
Abstractions blog

New Fish Data Reveal How Evolutionary Bursts Create Species

December 1, 2020

In three bursts of adaptive change, one species of cichlid fish in Lake Tanganyika gave rise to hundreds.