Category Archives: Life

Magnetism may have given life its molecular asymmetry

Yasemin Saplakoglu writes: Scientists have debated why life became homochiral [that is, having molecular asymmetry], and whether it needed to happen or if it was purely a fluke. Were chiral preferences impressed on early life by biased samples of molecules arriving from space, or did they somehow evolve out of mixtures that started out as… Read More »

Postponing death by prolonging illness

Robert S Gable writes: Everyone dies sometime. But when and how? Those questions become more salient as birthdays roll by. It has been said that wherever old people gather there is an ‘organ recital’ of malfunctioning body organs and parts. I, too, have a recital. Last year, at age 88, I woke up in a… Read More »

Reflecting on extinction

Terry Tempest Williams writes: On the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, I am thinking about extinction and what that means for a creature, a living being, to vanish from existence. Say their names: great auk, passenger pigeon, Carolina parakeet, Steller’s sea cow, Caribbean monk seal, Great Plains wolf, Puerto Rican long-nosed bat, Maryland… Read More »

Scientists observe a surge of activity correlated with consciousness in the dying brain

PsyPost reports: A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has presented preliminary findings suggesting there can be a surge of brain activity linked to consciousness during the dying process. The new study aimed to investigate the brain activity of patients during the dying process, particularly focusing on whether there… Read More »

A new idea for how to assemble life

Philip Ball writes: Assembly theory makes the seemingly uncontroversial assumption that complex objects arise from combining many simpler objects. The theory says it’s possible to objectively measure an object’s complexity by considering how it got made. That’s done by calculating the minimum number of steps needed to make the object from its ingredients, which is… Read More »

Is abortion sacred?

Jia Tolentino writes: Twenty years ago, when I was thirteen, I wrote an entry in my journal about abortion, which began, “I have this huge thing weighing on me.” That morning, in Bible class, which I’d attended every day since the first grade at an evangelical school, in Houston, my teacher had led us in… Read More »

Why we will never be able to live on another planet

Arwen E Nicholson and Raphaëlle D Haywood write: For decades, children have grown up with the daring movie adventures of intergalactic explorers and the untold habitable worlds they find. Many of the highest-grossing films are set on fictional planets, with paid advisors keeping the science ‘realistic’. At the same time, narratives of humans trying to… Read More »