What's up in

mathematical biology

ecology

A Physicist’s Approach to Biology Brings Ecological Insights

October 13, 2020

The physicist Jeff Gore tests theories about microbe communities experimentally and finds new rules governing ecological stability.

Photograph of a bat in flight.
Abstractions blog

Can Vaccines for Wildlife Prevent Human Pandemics?

August 24, 2020

Studies suggest that self-disseminating vaccines could prevent the “spillover” of animal viruses into humans as pandemic diseases.

Photo of emperor penguins huddling together for warmth, with two sticking their heads out
Abstractions blog

Math of the Penguins

August 17, 2020

Emperor penguins display rigorously geometric spacing and mathematical efficiency when they huddle together for warmth, which may reveal secrets to their overall health.

Photo of green leafy plants in close-up.
Abstractions blog

Why Are Plants Green? To Reduce the Noise in Photosynthesis.

July 30, 2020

Plants ignore the most energy-rich part of sunlight because stability matters more than efficiency, according to a new model of photosynthesis.

Illustration of a flying albatross, a swimming basking shark and the Lévy walk paths they take.
behavior

Random Search Wired Into Animals May Help Them Hunt

June 11, 2020

The nervous systems of foraging and predatory animals may prompt them to move along a special kind of random path called a Lévy walk to find food efficiently when no clues are available.

A rock, a piece of paper and a pair of scissors, each formed from a mass of microbes, are arranged in a cycle.
ecology

Biodiversity May Thrive Through Games of Rock-Paper-Scissors

March 5, 2020

Recent findings add weight to the evidence that the intransitive competitions between species enrich the diversity of nature.

An illustration of eyeballs connected to many hands painting the Mona Lisa.
mathematical biology

A Mathematical Model Unlocks the Secrets of Vision

August 21, 2019

Mathematicians and neuroscientists have created the first anatomically accurate model that explains how vision is possible.

Art for "The Math That Tells Cells What They Are"
mathematical biology

The Math That Tells Cells What They Are

March 13, 2019

During development, cells seem to decode their fate through optimal information processing, which could hint at a more general principle of life.

Abstractions blog

Ancient Turing Pattern Builds Feathers, Hair — and Now, Shark Skin

January 2, 2019

A primordial developmental toolkit shared by all vertebrates, and described by a theory of the mathematician Alan Turing, sets the growth pattern for all types of skin structures.