Monday, July 30, 2012

The Miraculous Blood of Horseshoe Crab

When I was young I was baffled to see blue-colored blood squirting out from the chest of Broly, the antagonist in the Japanese anime Dragon Ball, after he was sent hurling towards the sun by Goku and sons. 

So I thought having blue-blood was one of the characteristics of alien races.

Most animals have red blood. Our blood is red thanks to the presence of iron (Fe) in our hemoglobin. Hemoglobin transports oxygen, and since oxygen has poor solubility in water, iron is needed to bind those oxygen molecules onto the hemoglobin.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

How Mosquitoes Fly In The Rain

Have you ever wondered how insects, especially small ones like mosquitoes and flies survive the downpour?

Raindrops pose hazard to mosquitoes because of their relatively large mass and speed. A mosquito is around 2~5mm in length, weighs around 2mg, and flies at 1m/s. On the other end, a drop of rain has 1~4mm radius, weighs 2~50 times the weight of a mosquito, and travels at 5~9m/s. Putting that into perspective, it's like us getting hit by a blob of water with the size of a shopping cart, weighs 3 tons and travels at 18~32 km per hour.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Nuclear Tuna Coming to Town

Remember Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011?

It was the most serious disaster since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. The crippled reactors released an estimated 22 x 10E 15 Becquerel of Cesium-137 into the ocean, which was then picked up by the Pacific bluefin tuna, Thunnus orientalis and carried all the way across the northern Pacific.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Flame Challenge

Brevity is the soul of wit~Carl Zimmer.

The Flame Challenge is aimed at explaining what a flame is to a bunch of 11-year-olds.
 For some of you who think that it's easy, you're dead wrong. 
Just because you've seen flames all your life doesn't mean you can explain what it is to a fellow economist or accountant--it has to be simple enough for them to understand, and at the same time include all the complex scientific concepts.

This is a challenge faced by science writers everyday-how to use everyday language to convey insights that scientists describe to each other. Words like atoms, electrons, and nucleus are usually enough to repel the most avid of non experts. And most 11-year-olds nowadays have cell phones, X-Box, and Facebook to distract them. Hooking up their interest in science is getting harder by the day.
The winner of this competition is Ben Ames, a 31-year-old American doing graduate work in quantum optics. For those of you who wish to learn what a flame actually is, you can watch the youtube video here.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

How Does Snake Venom (Hemotoxin) Affect You?

Snake venom is one of the most sophisticated bio-weapon in the natural world. A single drop of cobra venom is enough to kill several men in a few hours. 

There are three different types of snake venom: hemotoxin which affects blood, neurotoxin which affects your nervous system, and cytotoxin which affects your muscles.
To develop antivenom, we need to first understand how venom works.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sunset of Mars

Women love sunsets (so do mosquitoes), because sunsets are gorgeous. 

There are a menagerie of colors appearing in the sky during sunset--orange, red, maroon, yellow--that reminds women of their own temperament; hot, suffocating, just like the planet that bears their namesake. 
On Earth, we see orange, red and yellow merging together around the sun, and when we look away from the sun the sky is blue. But a Martian sunset is different. It's blue surrounding the sun, and the color fades into faint pink as your eyes trail away from the sun. It's blue where the red should be, and red where the blue should be.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Random Rant

I was feeling really really down yesterday morning.
SUPER DOWN AH! t('-'t)

1) I am currently a member of the sponsorship team for an NGO organizing the one of the biggest camp in Malaysia, and my job-scope includes looking for sponsors. The thing is, I didn't choose to join this team, I chose three other teams but out of respect for nobody the interviewers decided to lelong  me into this 5-person team without getting a nod from me first. I didn't get any notification, nor did I get any email telling me anything at all, until the day I was told to attend a meeting and even then I was confused because they themselves weren't sure which team I belonged. 

And they want RM100K from us 5 ugly ducklings. Great.

And despite that I've decided to do my job and be professional a little bit. Bro-Sis-mance or not, this shall not be a highlight of my life. Unfortunately there are some asses who don't really know how to speak nicely, and they, thanks to their awesome imagination, wish to build a castle in the air. Some stubborn asses lack serious knowledge about PA system-some could easily cost up to RM10K-and think it's possible to get concert-quality system, along with live-feed for free. For three fucking days. Which includes a live band performance.

Great. You go find. I play band for so many fucking years and couldn't find a shit company to sponsor us for anything less than RM3K. And. You. Want. It. For. Free. Dream. On. Asshole.

2) Some seniors in my lab recently graduated. Seats are scarce, and single-seats-with-personal-table are even more so. According to the rule we should wait for our turn to take the single seat. Unfortunately some sissy guy decided to skip the queue and jump straight ahead. Some bitches, too, jumped the queue.

But this is just a small matter. I wouldn't let this small this ruin my day. But seeing several 23++ year-olds fighting and moaning to get single seats is just pathetic.
Seriously, I have the utmost disrespect for sissy guys. They can complain about anything; too far, too hot, too steep, too full, too hard. Especially those fair-and-always-upload-profile-picture-and-don't-do-sports sissy guys. They are basically good for nothing.

3) Experiment. Yes. Another down day. =.=

4) My amplifier spoiled. The orange amp was still functional last week. Last night it was okay initially, then it went berserk. I can't dish out another RM60++ to fix the damn port. And there's only one fucking store in the entire Malaysia that knows how to fix this brand. Fucking overrated fruit.

5) There's an ass in the group that always invite me for futsal. I bet he can't even outplay a 13-year-old me--I know this sounds a little hubris but really, his basics are awful, he has zero skills, but still thickface enough to announce that he can dribble skilfully. I almost puked when he said that. The thing is, he always choose to be in the same team with me. Not only that, he loves to dictate how I play. "pass it!", "here!", "what the fuck?!", yes you read that right, he even wtf-ed at me when I passed him the ball and he failed to cushion it. Great, asshole, you'll see me in the other team tonight against you.

Seriously, life hasn't been kind to me.

I was contemplating about all these bad lucks this noon when I thought about counting my blessings. Okay lar, I obtained some things I've always wanted recently. Mom came for a visit, and fortunately both my parents are still well and healthy. And my brain is still active enough to convince me there's no such thing as luck and superstition, only chances and science.

Hm... that's about it. Not enough.
t('-'t) Fuck you life.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Superstition: Even Animals Have It

There are a menagerie of routines in some of our behavior which, when we stop to think of it, make absolute no sense.
Retired French footballer Laurent Blanc kissed the shaved head of teammate Fabian Barthez before every match. Ancient sailors would throw salt over their shoulders to keep the devil at bay. Coldplay's front singer, Chris Martin, won't go on stage before brushing his teeth first.


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