“Jumping genes” are ubiquitous. Every domain of life hosts these sequences of DNA that can “jump” from one position to another along a chromosome; in fact, nearly half the human genome is made up of jumping genes. Depending on their specific excision and insertion points, jumping genes can interrupt or trigger gene expression, driving genetic mutation and contributing to cell diversification.
Life is quirky. Although the molecules that make up all living things obey physical and chemical laws, they do so with a puzzling twist. How did the distinctive molecular features of life emerge, and what can they tell us about life on Earth and elsewhere in the universe?