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By studying biology from a physicist's perspective, Tikhonov hopes to shed more light on the ways that traditional biological theories limit the questions that researchers ask.

This recent paper provides new hypotheses for why some bacteria might be using seemingly redundant regulators or ways to modulate their different pathways.

"The 'wasteful' redundancy and unnecessary regulators that we see in many laboratory experiments can be puzzling, but scientists usually study organisms in simplified settings or static environments. The benefits we describe would only manifest themselves in the more realistic, fluctuating conditions. Our hope is that an experimentalist might read our paper and recognize the key ingredients we describe in the system that they study," Tikhonov said.

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