Cover Story

RNA World 2.0
RNA World 2.0
Jef Akst | Mar 1, 2014
Most scientists believe that ribonucleic acid played a key role in the origin of life on Earth, but the versatile molecule isn’t the whole story.
 

Features

Viruses Reconsidered
Viruses Reconsidered
Didier Raoult | Mar 1, 2014
The discovery of more and more viruses of record-breaking size calls for a reclassification of life on Earth.
 
A Twist of Fate
A Twist of Fate
Jonathan Slack | Mar 1, 2014
Once believed to be irrevocably differentiated, mature cells are now proving to be flexible, able to switch identities with relatively simple manipulation.

Contributors

Contributors
Contributors
Contributors
Meet some of the people featured in the March 2014 issue of The Scientist.

Editorial

Let There Be Life
Let There Be Life
Let There Be Life
How did Earth become biological?

Speaking of Science

Speaking of Science
Speaking of Science
Speaking of Science
March 2014's selection of notable quotes

Notebook

Keys to the Minibar
Keys to the Minibar
Keys to the Minibar
Degraded DNA from museum specimens, scat, and other sources has thwarted barcoding efforts, but researchers are filling in the gaps with mini-versions of characteristic genomic stretches.
Jaws, Reconsidered
Jaws, Reconsidered
Jaws, Reconsidered
Biologist Jelle Atema is putting the sensory capabilities of sharks to the test—and finding that the truth is more fascinating than fiction.
Air Traffic
Air Traffic
Air Traffic
Scientists use DNA sequencing to identify what’s attracting birds to airports, where midair collisions with planes can be devastating.
Northern Exposure
Northern Exposure
Northern Exposure
Researchers are using snowdrifts to artificially warm Arctic tundra during winter and finding that more carbon is released from the soil than plants can soak up from the atmosphere.

Thought Experiment

Ancient Life in the Information Age
Ancient Life in the Information Age
Ancient Life in the Information Age
What can bioinformatics and systems biology tell us about the ancestor of all living things?

Critic at Large

Campus Considerations
Campus Considerations
Campus Considerations
Career options and research opportunities at two-year colleges are often underappreciated.

Modus Operandi

Tension Tracker
Tension Tracker
Tension Tracker
For the first time, researchers quantify the mechanical forces cells exert on one another.

The Literature

Path Finding
Path Finding
Path Finding
Biochemistry reveals the missing link in a pathway that archaea and some bacteria use to generate essential compounds.
Exosome Tentacles
Exosome Tentacles
Exosome Tentacles
Unlike the usual smooth, spherical shape of exosomes, glioblastoma-derived exosomes appear to have long nanofilaments protruding from their surfaces.
Early Evidence
Early Evidence
Early Evidence
Fossilized structures suggest that mat-forming microbes have been around for almost 3.5 billion years.

Profile

Summoned From the Depths
Summoned From the Depths
Summoned From the Depths
Geobiologist Roger Summons analyzes organic material in rocks found deep inside Earth, looking for evidence of how life originated and evolved on our planet—and possibly on Mars.
 

Scientist to Watch

Matthew Powner: Origin Solver
Matthew Powner: Origin Solver
Matthew Powner: Origin Solver
Lecturer, Department of Chemistry, University College London. Age: 32

Lab Tools

Keeping Your Cool
Keeping Your Cool
Keeping Your Cool
A guide to recent advances in ultra-low-temperature freezers and accessories that can help safeguard frozen samples
 
A CRISPR Fore-Cas-t
A CRISPR Fore-Cas-t
A CRISPR Fore-Cas-t
A newcomer’s guide to the hottest gene-editing tool on the block

Bio Business

Incubator Boom
Incubator Boom
Incubator Boom
From San Francisco to St. Louis, biotech incubators are proliferating across North America. Can they deliver on their promise of fueling the economy?
 

Reading Frames

Is Earth Special?
Is Earth Special?
Is Earth Special?
Reconsidering the uniqueness of life on our planet

Capsule Reviews

Capsule Reviews
Capsule Reviews
Capsule Reviews
The Sixth Extinction, Joy, Guilt, Anger, Love, Ha! The Science of When we Laugh and Why, and Ten Thousand Birds

Foundations

Discovering Archaea, 1977
Discovering Archaea, 1977
Discovering Archaea, 1977
Ribosomal RNA fingerprints reveal the three domains of life.