What's up in

biology

Photo of Emmanuelle Charpentier, Virginijus Šikšnys, Jennifer Doudna
Abstractions blog

CRISPR Gene-Editing Pioneers Win Kavli Prize for Nanoscience

The inventors of a “Swiss army knife” for genome editing received prestigious honors, as did pioneering scientists in astrophysics and neuroscience.

Illustation for "The Slippery Math of Causation"
insights puzzle

The Slippery Math of Causation

If a forest is burning and we don’t know what’s responsible, does it have a cause?

ecology

Cores From Coral Reefs Hold Secrets of the Seas’ Past and Future

Layered deposits of coral skeletons hold vast stores of environmental data from thousands of years ago, including annual records of ocean temperatures, water pollution and storm activity.

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.