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biophysics

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.

biophysics

Bacteria Use Brainlike Bursts of Electricity to Communicate

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

origins of life

First Support for a Physics Theory of Life

Take chemistry, add energy, get life. The first tests of Jeremy England’s provocative origin-of-life hypothesis are in, and they appear to show how order can arise from nothing.

School of Fish
biophysics

Swirling Bacteria Linked to the Physics of Phase Transitions

The new experiments suggest that simple models can explain the behavior of thousands of interacting organisms.

Illustration: life as a computation efficiently storing & using predictive info
information theory

How Life (and Death) Spring From Disorder

Life was long thought to obey its own set of rules. But as simple systems show signs of lifelike behavior, scientists are arguing about whether this apparent complexity is all a consequence of thermodynamics.

Photo of raindrops on a window by Philip Kraaijenbrink
Abstractions blog

Droplets That ‘Come to Life’

Life might have originated in droplets that behave surprisingly like living cells.

Illustration: Dividing Droplets
biophysics

Dividing Droplets Could Explain Life’s Origin

Researchers have discovered that simple “chemically active” droplets grow to the size of cells and spontaneously divide, suggesting they might have evolved into the first living cells.

genomics

Genetic Architects Untwist DNA’s Turns

Researchers have used the gene-editing tool CRISPR to manipulate the way that DNA coils up inside the cell — another step in the quest to understand how the genome’s 3-D structure impacts its function.

biophysics

Jammed Cells Expose the Physics of Cancer

The subtle mechanics of densely packed cells may help explain why some cancerous tumors stay put while others break off and spread through the body.