It's still very hard to define life, but science has made great strides toward revealing many of its characteristics and processes. Here are some basics about the most complex phenomenon we know: life's origin, characteristics, structure, and states of animacy.

Advanced Research on the Origin of Life

Two young scientists at the famous Jack Szostak Lab explain research issues

Antarctic Fishes: Models for Climate Change and Human Disease

How the unique "antifreeze" blood and skeletal mutations of the Antarctic Icefishes provide insights into both climate change adaptations and human disease

Conservation Lessons from Ice-Age Extinctions

Was there a human factor in the Ice Age extinctions of large mammals?

Earth Life and Weird Life

The compelling search for entirely new forms of life elsewhere in our solar system and the universe

Enigmas of Life: Getting It Started and Becoming Complex

An investigation of the two major questions about the origin of life, and their relevance in search for life elsewhere in the universe

Evolution and Environmental Toxins

A toxicologist explains why some organisms thrive in an environment that endangers most species

Exploring the Dark Matter of the Microbial World

All life depends on a microbial foundation. So does development of new antibiotics. But 99 percent of microbes are unknown.

How DNA is Folded in Cells and Why it Matters

How DNA is folded in the cell may shed light on cancer and other diseases

How the Brain Produces Language --and What Can Go Wrong

The science of neural networks reveals the awesome complexity of normal speech production and also brings help for language disorders.

Infant Fossil Teeth: Clues to Ancient Human Development

Ancient infant teeth reveal the importance of weaning patterns in human evolution

Leaving It Up to Chance: How Cells Make Decisions

Cells make decisions that turn out to be random. Professor Kondev explains the implications of that surprising discovery.

Microbe Evolution

How microbes and their communities evolve and what the process means for us

Mushrooms and Other Fungi: Their Role in Nature

A tour of the fascinating world of mushrooms. This is way beyond the supermarket.

Our Robots, Ourselves

The author of "Our Robots, Ourselves" discusses the limits of robot autonomy

Reconstructing Evolution: A Molecular Time Machine

Tracing ancient genetic changes through extinctions and speciation events to reconstruct our DNA history

Scale-Free Complex Networks: Albert-László Barabási, Ph.D.

a visit to the Barabási Lab at Northeastern University to learn how scale-free complex networks affect scientific perspectives

Searching for Bio-Molecules

At the Summons Lab, scientists probe soil and rock samples from both ancient Earth and Mars for bio-molecules

Self-Defense Mechanisms of the Cell

The cell's self-defense repair kit against hereditary, environmental, and other threats

"Shocking" News from Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vents

In probably the most extreme environmment on Earth, organisms are thriving. Peter Girguis explains how.....

Sustaining Life: Biodiversity and Human Health

How the unprecedented loss of biodiversity impacts human health

The Co-Evolution of Organisms and Their Environments

Reconstructing the relationship between biological evolution and geology, climate, environment

The Evolution of Photosynthesis

How photosynthesis --and life-- emerged in Earth's ancient chemical environment

The Human Genome Project

The challenge for genomic studies today is how to manage the vast collection of data

The Jurassic Genome

Genetic material in ancient fossils yields an amazing profile of extinct organisms

The Potential Uses of Deep-Sea Microbes

A leader in the study of exotic microbes at hydrothermal vents explains the significance and the potential of these life forms

Understanding How Life Began

Molecules in meteorites met with an optimal chemical environment on Earth

Using Genetics to Trace Human History

An explanation of how modern genetics analysis confirms ancient human migrations, such as the Indo-Europeans

What Happened to the Honeybees?

The decimation of honeybee colonies is also a public health warning about pesticides