Good solutions to biology’s problems are astonishingly plentiful

By Philip Ball

Originally published at Nautilus on January 8, 2015.

Is the natural world creative? Just take a look around it. Look at the brilliant plumage of tropical birds, the diverse pattern and shape of leaves, the cunning stratagems of microbes, the dazzling profusion of climbing, crawling, flying, swimming…

Every time a disease spreads, it has another chance to mutate

By Lina Moses

Originally published at Nautilus on October 27, 2016.

Ebola doesn’t select people. We haven’t figured out what Ebola virus selects as its natural host, but it’s definitely not humans. Every once in a while, Ebola stumbles upon a human host, which ends up being a fatal mistake…

The arXiv preprint service is trying to answer an age-old question

By Kate Becker

Originally published at Nautilus on October 27, 2016. The address was cryptic, with a tantalizing whiff of government secrets, or worse.

The server itself was exactly the opposite. Government, yes — it was hosted by Los Alamos National Laboratory — but openly accessible in a way…

How settling Mars could create a new human species

2 parents, 2 grandparents, a teenager, and a baby pose for a family portrait on a red martian landscape

By Scott Solomon

Originally published at Nautilus on October 27, 2016.

In the upcoming Hollywood movie, The Space Between Us, a child is born to an American astronaut on Mars. The mother dies in childbirth, but the baby survives, and is raised by a small colony of astronauts on Mars…

Purebreds don’t satisfy the biological definition of a species

Watercolor painting of overlapping dogs of different species.

By Raymond Coppinger & Lorna Coppinger

Originally published at Nautilus on October 20, 2016.

What is a dog? Many people often think of dogs as kennel club creations. The purebred dog is man’s best friend, not the street dog. Man’s best friends live ubiquitously in the United States, Europe, and…

We follow others no matter how hard we try

By Joann Greco

Originally published at Nautilus on October 20, 2016.

The notion that our choices are driven by our own personal thoughts and opinions seems so obvious that it is not even worth mentioning,” Jonah Berger writes in the opening of his 2016 book, Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces…

The private life of the African giant offers a remarkable view on evolution

By David P. Barash

Originally published at Nautilus on May 21, 2015.

The first time I saw a free-living giraffe was in Tanzania’s Arusha National Park, where I was astounded by a yellow-and-brown head gliding gracefully and, it seemed, impossibly high above the tops of tall acacia trees. That was…


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