What's up in
How Genes Can Leap From Snakes to Frogs in Madagascar
The discovery of a hot spot for horizontal gene transfer draws attention to the possible roles of parasites and ecology in such changes.
Geneticist Awarded Nobel Prize for Studies of Extinct Human Ancestors
Svante Pääbo has been awarded the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for studying our extinct ancestors’ DNA.
Epigenetic ‘Clocks’ Predict Animals’ True Biological Age
A statistical analysis of chemical tags on DNA may help unify disparate theories of aging.
What Is Life?
Without a good definition of life, how do we look for it on alien planets? Steven Strogatz speaks with Robert Hazen, a mineralogist and astrobiologist, and Sheref Mansy, a chemist, to learn more.
How Could Life Evolve From Cyanide?
How did life arise on Earth? Steven Strogatz speaks with the Nobel Prize-winning biologist Jack Szostak and Betül Kaçar, a paleogeneticist and astrobiologist, to explore our best understanding of how we all got here.
Why ‘De-Extinction’ Is Impossible (But Could Work Anyway)
Several projects are aiming to bring back mammoths and other species that have vanished from the planet. Whether that’s technically possible is beside the point.
In Test Tubes, RNA Molecules Evolve Into a Tiny Ecosystem
When researchers gave a genetic molecule the ability to replicate, it evolved over time into a complex network of “hosts” and “parasites” that both competed and cooperated to survive.
Why Is Inflammation a Dangerous Necessity?
The immune system protects us from a full spectrum of pathogens, but without balance, it can end up hurting us over time, too. The immunologist Shruti Naik explains how our defenses can turn on us.
Life With Longer Genetic Codes Seems Possible — but Less Likely
Life could use a more expansive genetic code in theory, but new work shows that improving on three-letter codons would be a challenge.