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Reaching K-12: Stem Cell Awareness Day

Tomorrow, Wednesday, October 2, is Stem Cell Awareness Day. It’s a day to celebrate stem cells, have discussions of what stem cell research is, and learn about potential benefits and disease treatments using stem cells. If you want to check for local events near you, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has a webpage … Continue reading »

Ruth Patrick: A Pioneering Ecologist

Ruth Patrick was an ecologist ahead of her time, and she propelled the field forward with her innovate approaches. Earlier this week, on Sept. 23, she died at the age of 105. For most of her life she worked with The Academy of Natural Sciences, which is associated with the Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania … Continue reading »

Toxoplasma: A Common, Mind-Controlling Parasite

Parasites are unnerving at best, and, at worst, they’re fatal. The Toxoplasma gondii parasite has a mixture of these traits. Probably the unicellular protozoan’s most unnerving characteristic is being able to change its host’s behavior. And as if that weren’t enough – what’s also unsettling about Toxoplasma is that it’s pretty common. In fact, it’s … Continue reading »

Fighting Antibiotic Resistance

So often when a person is sick and goes to their doctor, they’re prescribed some antibiotics. Antibiotics are an amazing invention that has greatly improved our quality of life, and life expectancy, by helping us battle bacterial infections. But due to overuse, antibiotics have also created some extremely dangerous pathogens – antibiotic-resistant bacteria. On September … Continue reading »

Metamorphosis Revealed: 3D Imaging of the Inside of a Living Butterfly Chrysalis

Metamorphosis is an amazing process. A caterpillar appears to magically turn into a butterfly. Think of it – a worm-like critter that spends its time constantly eating leaves and growing somehow becomes an insect with relatively huge wings that mostly eats nectar from flowers. The two stages look completely different and have completely different diets … Continue reading »

Mysterious MERS: The Next SARS?

Do you remember SARS? People first showed up sick with it in late 2002, and from then until mid 2003, it caused the deaths of 775 people in China. SARS (short for severe acute respiratory syndrome) is a viral respiratory disease. Because it can be rapidly transmitted and has a high mortality rate (about 9.6% … Continue reading »

Cicadas: Boisterous (Yet Elusive) Insects

Have you been wandering outside lately and heard a buzzing sound? If you tracked the sound back to some trees or shrubs (and not to a neighbor’s power tool!), chances are good that what you’re listening to is a cicada (or several of them!). Cicadas are among the loudest insects in the world, but because … Continue reading »

Poisonous Animals May Be Responsible for Trypophobia, or Fear of Holes

Phobias are fascinating. It makes sense that a person would avoid, or even fear, something, but for the response to be completely involuntary and irrational; that’s where it gets interesting. What evolutionary advantage might a certain phobia have given someone generations ago? Geoff Cole, at the University of Essex, tried to answer this question for … Continue reading »

The Olinguito: A Newly Discovered Carnivore… Sort of

Over the last couple of weeks, you may have heard news about the “newly-discovered” South American carnivore, the olinguito. Perhaps what’s most interesting about this discovery is that people have actually been closely looking at olinguito specimens for decades. Olinguitos have even been on display in zoos in the U.S. However, people thought these animals … Continue reading »