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Art for "The Math That Tells Cells What They Are"
mathematical biology

The Math That Tells Cells What They Are

During development, cells seem to decode their fate through optimal information processing, which could hint at a more general principle of life.

Art for "‘Lava-Lamp’ Proteins Inside Cells May Protect and Regulate"
cell biology

‘Lava-Lamp’ Proteins May Help Cells Cheat Death

With proteins that reversibly self-assemble into droplets, cells may control their metabolism — and harden themselves against harsh conditions.

Abstractions blog

‘Traffic Jams’ of Cells Help to Sculpt Embryos

By measuring mechanical forces inside an embryo for the first time, researchers have shown how a physical “jamming” mechanism assists development.

Art for "A Math Theory for Why People Hallucinate"

A Math Theory for Why People Hallucinate

Psychedelic drugs can trigger characteristic hallucinations, which have long been thought to hold clues about the brain’s circuitry. After nearly a century of study, a possible explanation is crystallizing.

Photo of Escherichia coli under a microscope
Abstractions blog

Swarming Bacteria Create an ‘Impossible’ Superfluid

Researchers explore a loophole that extracts useful energy from a fluid’s seemingly random motion. The secret? Sugar and asymmetry.

Illustration for "Brains May Teeter Near Their Tipping Point"

Brains May Teeter Near Their Tipping Point

In a renewed attempt at a grand unified theory of brain function, physicists now argue that brains optimize performance by staying near — though not exactly at — the critical point between two phases.

Photo of a grasshopper poised to jump.

Too Small for Big Muscles, Tiny Animals Use Springs

Elastic springs help tiny animals stay fast and strong. New work is finding what size critters must be to benefit from the springs.

520px illustration for bioelectric signaling
developmental biology

Brainless Embryos Suggest Bioelectricity Guides Growth

Researchers are building a case that long before the nervous system works, the brain sends crucial bioelectric signals to guide the growth of embryonic tissues.


Bacteria Use Brainlike Bursts of Electricity to Communicate

With electrical signals, simple cells organize themselves into complex societies and negotiate with other colonies.