What's up in

biology

Image of feathers
Abstractions blog

How Brain Waves Surf Sound Waves to Process Speech

By paying more attention to behaviors, and not just the activity of neurons, two researchers critical of most neuroscience learned how brains make sense of spoken language.

Lede photo for "How Vaccines Can Drive Pathogens to Evolve"
immunology

Vaccines Are Pushing Pathogens to Evolve

Just as antibiotics have bred resistance in bacteria, vaccines can potentially lose their effectiveness over diseases they controlled. Researchers are working to head off the evolution of new threats.

Art for "Artificial Neural Nets Grow Brainlike Navigation Cells"
Abstractions blog

Artificial Neural Nets Grow Brainlike Navigation Cells

Faced with a navigational challenge, neural networks spontaneously evolved units resembling the grid cells that help living animals find their way.

Art for "A Thermodynamic Answer to Why Birds Migrate"
ecology

A Thermodynamic Answer to Why Birds Migrate

New modeling studies suggest that birds migrate to strike a favorable balance between their input and output of energy.

Lede art for "Viruses and Cell Vesicles: Different, but Two of a Kind"
cell biology

Cells Talk in a Language That Looks Like Viruses

Disease-causing viruses and message-carrying vesicles sit at the ends of a spectrum of membranous particles that cells release.

Illustration for "How the DNA Computer Program Makes You and Me"
insights puzzle

Solution: ‘The DNA Computer Program’

Computer code serves as a useful analogy for what our genes do, but the complexity and messiness of life go well beyond simple analogies and mathematical models.

Lede art for Embryo Development
developmental biology

Scientists Map the Genetic Steps as Eggs Become Animals

For the first time, researchers have traced the genetic programs that guide the development of each cell in early embryos. Surprisingly, even cells that start out different can end up the same.

Lede art for "Chronological Clues to Life’s Early History Hide in Gene Transfers"
Abstractions blog

Chronological Clues to Life’s Early History Lurk in Gene Transfers

To date the branches on the evolutionary tree of life, researchers are looking at horizontal gene transfers among ancient microorganisms, which once seemed only to muddle the record.

Image for "Cells Talk and Help One Another via Tiny Tube Networks"
microbiology

Cells Talk and Help One Another via Tiny Tube Networks

Long-overlooked “tunneling nanotubes” and other bridges between cells act as conduits for sharing RNA, proteins or even whole organelles.