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A Map of Human History, Hidden in DNA

The computational biologist John Novembre uses our genetic code to rewrite the history of humanity.

Still illustration: changing genes
insights puzzle

Solution: ‘A Ticking Evolutionary Clock’

How to calculate when a gene’s rate of evolution will slow to a crawl.

GIF illustration: changing genes
insights puzzle

A Ticking Evolutionary Clock

How quickly will a gene’s rate of evolution slow to a crawl?

Larger timescales give a clearer picture of evolution.

Evolution Runs Faster on Short Timescales

Examine evolution over the course of years or centuries, and you’ll find that it progresses much more quickly than it does over geologic time.


Why Did Life Move to Land? For the View

The ancient creatures who first crawled onto land may have been lured by the informational benefit that comes from seeing through air.

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

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.

Marcus Feldman in his office at Stanford University, CA

Finding the Actions That Alter Evolution

The biologist Marcus Feldman creates mathematical models that reveal how cultural traditions can affect the evolution of a species.