What's up in

biology

Illustration of red spools with strands of DNA as the thread, with a blue brain in the background.
Quantized Columns

The Epigenetic Secrets Behind Dopamine, Drug Addiction and Depression

October 27, 2020

New research links serotonin and dopamine not just to addiction and depression, but to the ability to control genes.

Harvard professor L. Mahadevan stands in a slightly cluttered office, holding an apple and a jar containing a miniature brain
Q&A

A Scientist Who Delights in the Mundane

October 26, 2020

From crumpled paper to termite mounds to three-sided coins, L. Mahadevan has turned the whole world into his laboratory.

ecology

A Physicist’s Approach to Biology Brings Ecological Insights

October 13, 2020

The physicist Jeff Gore tests theories about microbe communities experimentally and finds new rules governing ecological stability.

Illustration that depicts two types of simple molecules reacting in water on the early Earth.
origins of life

New Clues to Chemical Origins of Metabolism at Dawn of Life

October 12, 2020

The ingredients for reactions ancestral to metabolism could have formed very easily in the primordial soup, new work suggests.

Cells being injected with a microneedle.
Abstractions blog

Nobel Chemistry Prize Awarded for CRISPR ‘Genetic Scissors’

October 7, 2020

Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna have been awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their development of CRISPR/Cas9 genetic editing.

Electron micrograph of the hepatitis C virus.
Abstractions blog

Scientists Win Nobel Prize for Discovering the Hepatitis C Virus

October 5, 2020

Harvey Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles Rice were awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of the cause of a major liver disease.

Looping video of illustrated clocks stretching in different directions.
Abstractions blog

Reasons Revealed for the Brain’s Elastic Sense of Time

September 24, 2020

New research finds that the subjective experience of time is linked to learning, thwarted expectations and neural fatigue.

A false-colored scanning electron micrograph of a macrophage.
immunology

‘Trained Immunity’ Offers Hope in Fight Against Coronavirus

September 14, 2020

A novel form of immunological memory that was mostly ignored for a century extends the benefits of vaccines. It could be of help in ending the COVID-19 pandemic.

Close-up photo of a carpenter ant queen carrying eggs.
evolution

How Two Became One: Origins of a Mysterious Symbiosis Found

September 9, 2020

Carpenter ants need endosymbiotic bacteria to guide the early development of their embryos. New work has reconstructed how this deep partnership evolved.