From the inner workings of the universe to the biological system of a fruit fly, these stories uncover the revolutionary nature of basic science and its potential to shape our world.

a handful of complex physics equations like E = mc2 on a background of the universe (lots of stars)

Speaking Math

Imagine spending an entire lifetime reading one sentence — that’s the kind of problem Joaquín Drut faces every day. The UNC physicist works with numbers too large to compute in an effort to better understand the way our universe works.


a blacklight makes everything purple while a gloved hand places a test tube full of yellow fluid into a a test tube tray

Generating Power Like Plants

When plants absorb sunlight, they convert carbon dioxide into energy-rich organic compounds. What if humans could do the same thing? What if we could pull CO2 out of the air and use it to build organic molecules? This revolutionary idea is still just that — an idea. But organic chemists at UNC are laying the groundwork for turning it into reality.


a 40-something male holds a container of fruit flies -- shelves with colorful labels are in the background

Why a Fly?

The genome of a fruit fly is strikingly similar to that of a human — so much so that scientists have been studying these tiny insects for over 100 years, in search of treatments for diseases like spinal muscular atrophy and neurological disorders. UNC geneticist Bob Duronio is one of those scientists.