What's up in

biology

Micrograph of a section of brain organoid tissue.
neuroscience

An Ethical Future for Brain Organoids Takes Shape

January 23, 2020

Collaborations in progress between ethicists and biologists seek to head off challenges raised by lab-grown “organoids” as they become increasingly similar to human brain tissue.

Photo of Scarlett Howard, a researcher at the University of Toulouse, working with honeybees
Q&A

Secrets of Math From the Bee Whisperer

January 22, 2020

As Scarlett Howard taught honeybees to do arithmetic, they showed her how fundamental numbers might be to all brains.

Steven Strogatz listens to a podcast guest speak about many scientific and mathematical subjects.
Quantized Columns

Why I’m Hosting The Joy of x Podcast

January 15, 2020

The noted mathematician and author Steven Strogatz explains why he wanted to share intimate conversations with leading researchers from diverse fields in his new podcast.

Micrograph of a cortical neuron, showing its many dendrites.
neuroscience

Hidden Computational Power Found in the Arms of Neurons

January 14, 2020

The dendritic arms of some human neurons can perform logic operations that once seemed to require whole neural networks.

Abstractions blog

Biodiversity Alters Strategies of Bacterial Evolution

January 6, 2020

In evolution, context is everything: Bacteria with neighbors evolve to rebuff viruses in a different way.

A nearly homogeneous field of yellow cytoplasm spontaneously compartmentalizes itself into clumps around the dots of nuclei.
Abstractions blog

Unscrambled Eggs: Self-Organization Restores Cells’ Order

January 2, 2020

To scientists’ surprise, blended mixtures of cytoplasm can reorganize themselves into cell-like compartments with working structural components.

Art for "Quanta’s Year in Biology (2019)"
2019 in Review

The Year in Biology

December 23, 2019

Researchers explored the zone between life and death, charted the mind’s system for arranging ideas and memories and learned how life’s complexity emerged.

Illustration of brain formed by bubbles.
Abstractions blog

Sleeping Brain Waves Draw a Healthy Bath for Neurons

December 16, 2019

An organized tide of brain waves, blood and spinal fluid pulsing through a sleeping brain may flush away neural toxins that cause Alzheimer’s and other diseases.

Animated representation of locusts tracked by a computer move across a screen.
behavior

To Decode the Brain, Scientists Automate the Study of Behavior

December 10, 2019

Machine learning and deep neural networks can capture and analyze the “language” of animal behavior in ways that go beyond what’s humanly possible.