Some Like It Hot: Temperature Signals Across the Tree of Life

Temperature has a fascinating and complex relationship with biological systems. Intuitively, extreme temperatures can be harmful to living organisms. Anyone who has gotten a sunburn or frostbite before knows what we’re talking about. Because of this, when scientists study how temperature interacts with organisms, they often classify temperature as a potential “stress.”

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There is No Biological Meaning for ‘Race’

Science has had a complicated history with the word “race.” In the 19th century, Dr. Samuel Morton believed humans could be divided into five races following a specific hierarchy of intelligence. He assumed he could measure their intelligence based on measurements of their skull capacity, which is a line of thought now seen as the origin of scientific racism.

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Drug Discovery: Behind the Molecules in Our Medicine Cabinet

We’ve all come in contact with pharmaceutical drugs in some form or another.  Maybe you take a prescription drug every day to manage a certain health condition.  Perhaps you keep a bottle of Tylenol in your desk for when you feel a headache coming on at work.  Or maybe you’ve seen advertisements on TV for commercial drugs, featuring people relaxing in bathtubs in an open field or a drug’s name sung to the tune of the Jackson 5’s “ABC.”  But have you ever wondered how scientists discovered the exact molecule in the little orange bottle, in your desk drawer or on your TV screen, that does just what it’s supposed to?  To understand the process of drug discovery, let’s follow one drug’s journey from the lab to the pharmacy shelf.   

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A Cell’s Search for Identity

All of us have gone through the torment of high school—the growing pains and the mood swings and the cliques. It turns out that during development the cells of your body also go through something similar to high school. Once a new cell is created in the developing embryo, the cell undergoes a process called cellular differentiation, where it responds to varying cues to choose what kind of cell it’s going to be, or rather how it should respond to the incessant “what do you want to be when you grow up” question. The process of cellular differentiation in embryonic development is very similar to school—the cell enters the process naïve and innocent about the world, and leaves with an idea of who and what it wants to be.

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