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Abstractions blog

What Defines a Stem Cell? Scientists Rethink the Answer

As it becomes clear that the body’s cells have more diverse regenerative capabilities than expected, experts have had to reconsider their approach to stem cell research.

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.

Photo of Lisa Manning
Q&A

The Physics of Glass Opens a Window Into Biology

The physicist Lisa Manning studies the dynamics of glassy materials to understand embryonic development and disease.

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.

520px illustration of genome packaging
genomics

How Cells Pack Tangled DNA Into Neat Chromosomes

For the first time, researchers see how proteins grab loops of DNA and bundle them for cell division. The discovery also hints at how the genome folds to regulate gene expression.

520px 3D illustration of tissue curling
Abstractions blog

Tissue Engineers Hack Life’s Code for 3-D Folded Shapes

Mechanical tension between tethered cells cues developing tissues to fold. Researchers can now program synthetic tissue to make coils, cubes and rippling plates.

Aribidopsis thaliana inflorescence
Abstractions blog

With ‘Downsized’ DNA, Flowering Plants Took Over the World

Compact genomes and tiny cells gave flowering plants an edge over competing flora. This discovery hints at a broader evolutionary principle.

Short term VS Long term memory illustration
neuroscience

Light-Triggered Genes Reveal the Hidden Workings of Memory

Nobel laureate Susumu Tonegawa’s lab is overturning old assumptions about how memories form, how recall works and whether lost memories might be restored from “silent engrams.”

Red slime mold
Multimedia

Seeing the Beautiful Intelligence of Microbes

Bacterial biofilms and slime molds are more than crude patches of goo. Detailed time-lapse microscopy reveals how they sense and explore their surroundings, communicate with their neighbors and adaptively reshape themselves.