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evolution

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.

Marcus Feldman in his office at Stanford University, CA
Q&A

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.

The helmet jellyfish (Periphylla periphylla) uses bioluminescence for defense.
bioluminescence

In the Deep, Clues to How Life Makes Light

Bioluminescent organisms have evolved dozens of times over the course of life’s history. Recent studies are narrowing in on the complicated biochemistry needed to illuminate the dark.

evolution

Scientists Seek to Update Evolution

Recent discoveries have led some researchers to argue that the modern evolutionary synthesis needs to be amended.

Q&A

A Conductor of Evolution’s Subtle Symphony

At first, the biologist Richard Lenski thought his long-term experiment on evolution might last for 2,000 generations. Nearly three decades and over 65,000 generations later, he’s still amazed by evolution’s “awesome inventiveness.”

Abstractions blog

The Cell’s Backup Genetic Instructions

The cell is equipped with multiple redundancies in case something goes wrong. Researchers have begun to map these systems.

Q&A

Watching Evolution Happen in Two Lifetimes

The biologists Rosemary and Peter Grant have spent four decades on a tiny island in the Galápagos. Their discoveries reveal how new animal species can emerge in just a few generations.