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biology

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.

Illustration
neuroscience

How Microbiomes Affect Fear

December 4, 2019

New studies help to explain how microbes in the gut can shape a host’s fear responses.

Illustration of pathogens, vaccines, and other necessary factors for eradicating a disease.
Quantized Columns

How to Permanently End Diseases

December 3, 2019

Smallpox was eradicated relatively quickly, but other diseases have proved harder to eliminate. The reasons are a mix of biology and psychology.

A brain full of “explosive” activity may lead to an earlier death than one with steadier “candles” of activity.
aging

Longevity Linked to Proteins That Calm Overexcited Neurons

November 26, 2019

New research makes a molecular connection between the brain and aging — and shows that overactive neurons can shorten life span.

Lungs made from a collection of “tasting” tongues.
immunology

Cells That ‘Taste’ Danger Set Off Immune Responses

November 15, 2019

Taste and smell receptors in unexpected organs monitor the state of the body’s natural microbial health and raise an alarm over invading parasites.