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Staff Writer

Alison Pearce Stevens

Alison Pearce Stevens' Articles

  • Caught in the act

    Scientists observe some evolutionary speed demons as they adapt over the course of just a few years to new environmental conditions.
  • Some dirt won’t hurt

    Wash your hands!

    That familiar piece of advice helps prevent the spread of disease. Good old soap and water remove the bacteria, viruses and other germs that can make you sick. But is there any big advantage to soap laced with bacteria-killing chemicals? Should people sanitize computer keyboards, shopping cart handles and anything else that others have touched?

    Indeed, is it possible to be too clean?

    Actually, data show, it is. A growing number of studies suggest that routing too many germs might actually foster life-threatening allergies. If you find that hard to believe, it’s probably because you’ve been taught that germs are bad.

  • Explainer: What is a stem cell?

    Human stem cells viewed under a microscope. To better see them, their nuclei have been stained with a blue dye. Credit: iStockphoto

    Stem cells are cells that can specialize into many different types. They fall into two main categories: adult stem cells and pluripotent (PLU ree PO tint) stem cells. (Pluripotent means the ability to become many different things.)

  • Stem cells: The secret to change

    Inside your body, red blood cells are constantly on the move. They deliver oxygen to every tissue in every part of your body. These blood cells also cart away waste. So their work is crucial to your survival. But all that squeezing through tiny vessels is tough on red blood cells. That’s why they last only about four months.

    Where do their replacements come from? Stem cells.

    These are a very special family of cells. When most other cells divide, the daughter cells look and act exactly like their parents. For example, a skin cell can’t make anything but another skin cell. The same is true for cells in the intestine or liver.

  • Pathways to research: Young scientists tackle abstract problems

    When Nilesh Tripuraneni set out to make pancakes one morning, he had no idea he’d also wind up with the makings of a first-rate science fair project. But as the high school student sprinkled water on a hot griddle to test its temperature, the dancing droplets got him thinking: What, exactly, was going on beneath them?

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