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Can We Program Our Cells?
By genetically instructing cells to perform tasks that they wouldn’t in nature, synthetic biologists can learn deep secrets about how life works. Steven Strogatz discusses the potential of this young field with researcher Michael Elowitz.
How Do Fireflies Flash in Sync? Studies Suggest a New Answer.
Field research suggests a new explanation for the synchronized flashing in fireflies and confirms that a novel form of “chimeric” synchrony occurs naturally.
Hidden Chaos Found to Lurk in Ecosystems
New research finds that chaos plays a bigger role in population dynamics than decades of ecological data seemed to suggest.
At the Dawn of Life, Heat May Have Driven Cell Division
A mathematical model shows how a thermodynamic mechanism could have made protocells split in two.
Turing Patterns Turn Up in a Tiny Crystal
The mechanism behind leopard spots and zebra stripes also appears to explain the patterned growth of a bismuth crystal, extending Alan Turing’s 1952 idea to the atomic scale.
The Year in Biology
While the study of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was the most urgent priority, biologists also learned more about how brains process information, how to define individuality and why sleep deprivation kills.
A Physicist’s Approach to Biology Brings Ecological Insights
The physicist Jeff Gore tests theories about microbe communities experimentally and finds new rules governing ecological stability.
Can Vaccines for Wildlife Prevent Human Pandemics?
Studies suggest that self-disseminating vaccines could prevent the “spillover” of animal viruses into humans as pandemic diseases.
Math of the Penguins
Emperor penguins display rigorously geometric spacing and mathematical efficiency when they huddle together for warmth, which may reveal secrets to their overall health.