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Adaptation

  • bank swallow

    How Birds Spot a Fraud and Choose the Right Gender for a Mate

    Humans have marvelous powers of recognition. No one’s surprised when parents identify their child in a crowd by a glimpse of her face or echo of her voice. But we aren’t unique in this regard. Other creatures have evolved impressive powers of discrimination. Take birds. “Their recognition system is really quite remarkable,” says Mark Hauber, […]

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    Are You More Likely to Be a Baker If You’re Named “Baker”?

    You may like to imagine that your major life choices—where you live, who you marry, what you do for a living—are based on rational weighing of options. In your relationships, for example, you might seek someone that jives with your personality and shares your life interests, beliefs, and Netflix preferences. So the fact that you […]

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    Your Roommate Is Changing Your Immune System

    Our veins are swimming with immune cells of many different kinds. Some bear the memory of previous infections, in case we should encounter them again; some are actively fighting invaders; others are merely on the look-out. Counting all of the varieties of cells and what molecules they are producing gives researchers a profile of someone’s […]

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    Does Stress Speed Up Evolution?

    Getting control of the molecular mechanisms that drive rapid mutations.

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    Spark of Science: Sean B. Carroll

    One biologist’s love for science got kickstarted by snakes.

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    Can a Living Creature Be as Big as a Galaxy?

    Why life is constrained to be about the sizes we see on Earth.

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    Junk Food Is Bad For Plants, Too

    How a steady diet of fertilizers has turned crops into couch potatoes.

  • rocking chair dude

    Your Happiness Is Like a Rocking Chair

    Imagine that, for once just for kicks, you decided to play the lottery and, not long after, you saw that the winning numbers were yours. You’re now millions of dollars richer. Do you think you’d be happier? Most of us think so. Now imagine that, instead of winning the lottery, you got into an accident […]

  • gowanus

    In the “Black Mayonnaise” of Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal, Alien Life Is Being Born

    On a late fall morning, Joseph Alexiou fastened his life jacket and stepped into an eight-foot fiberglass boat floating on the Gowanus Canal. A licensed New York City tour guide, and an amateur historian, Alexiou was preparing to take a passenger on an unsanctioned tour of the waterway he’d spent three years researching for his […]

  • face transplant

    How to Adapt to Your Face Transplant

    Just last month, Carmen Blandin had a remarkable dream. In it she saw, for the first time, not her old face in the mirror—the one she had for the first 38 years of her life—but the new face she received in a transplant three years ago. “I actually saw me with my new face,” she […]