Field of Science

"Hi - bye" Maneuver - Episode I

You know when you bump into someone you haven't seen for a while, so you're like "OMG HI!", and then you realise you're rediculously late for something, so just before the other party has a chance to respond, you suddenly say "OH CRAP GTG BYE!" and run away?

This is somewhat similar. Hit-and-run blogging.

Thing is...I'm flying home to my parents' house for a week tomorrow...and will sever all internet access until 01 September so I can properly relax.

Relax before my two hellish semesters of 6 courses each, that is. On top of research work. Despite my abysmal study habits. Despite warnings from several profs against such acts of madness. I know I'm doing something incredibly intelligent, thank you! Might as well die gloriously or something.

This brings to mind a quote from Salinger's Catcher in the Rye: "The mark of an immature man is to die nobly for a cause; the mark of a mature man is to live humbly for one." (paraphrased edition, by the way) Instead of humbly accepting that I'm behind and submitting my pride to the Five Year Program, I'll just kill myself with 6 courses. Yup. Expect rants on the subject matter later. Or diatribes, rather. I'm no longer a teenager:

I don't rant.

Instead, I 'unleash diatribes', ie. sesquipedalian ranting intensified by academic references. Citing Nature or The Congolese Journal of New Age Psychology (note: the latter is not a real journal) always makes one's ranting sound quite sophisticated and well-founded. Especially when it's not.

Anyway, I digress. I write in gradients sometimes, never knowing how the hell I jump between rather unrelated topics. Vectors do that, sometimes. I haven't touched calculus in ages...even though I actually enjoy math when I sorta understand it.

The Better Blogs list should keep the potential imaginary reader occupied in my absense, which should be followed by a real début.



I promised pictures of slime moulds...

These were found in the forest around my university. This is a myxomycete (plasmodial slime mould) forming fruiting bodies as the conditions are becoming too dry for its liking. These lovely creatures start out from spores either as flagellate or aflagellate amoebae. The environment determines which set of genes is turned on in order to 'build' the flagellate or aflagellate form! The amoeboid stage is where sexual reproduction happens. Later, the amoebae aggregate in groups and do something amazing -- fuse themseleves into a gigantic multinucleate plasmodium! This plasmodium moves around eating bacteria, with the thicker leading edge pointing to where the abundant food is.

Later, as the conditions become unfavourable (exhausted food supply and/or drought), they organise themselves to form a fruiting body, which then releases spores further away, towards a new food source.

These photos were taken by my friend while were were slime mould hunting. The first one shows a plasmodium forming fruiting bodies, the second image is likely the same species but at a later stage. The brown powdery 'stuff' is the spores. The last photo seems like a different species, although I'm no expert in this field. If anyone could help out, that would be really nice! Oh, and the very last photo is Sparassis crispa, which is apparently edible.

(Photos by Achiru, 2008; EDIT: NB - last image is a fungus, not slime mould)


Although I'm not quite sure which way the welcoming goes; in a way, the readership is the one welcoming (or not) a particular author. But since I hold some power over this web space -- which is owned by Google at the moment, among other things -- and you, the potential reader, submit your eyes to my mercy:


Safety Note: The eyebleach station is just around the corner, in case you may need it.

As much as I love textual rambling, life can get fairly busy so I cannot guarantee daily posts. I will try my best to persist against the laws of motivational entropy (reads: laziness) and post here with moderate regularity.

Also, I cannot guarantee this place to be full of scintillation and excitement. If my performance of fail becomes exceptional, I have a list of better blogs at the sidebar ^_~

My ramblings will mostly focus around biology -- especially cell biology and protistology -- memetics, linguistics, random adventures, diatribes against inferior opinions, and...well, whatever ramblings come to my head at the time of writing. I'll try to keep fundie-bashing to a minimum as that is well taken care of at Pharyngula, FSTDT, et al. I may also, if brave enough, blog on... *gasp* peer reviewed articles. However, don't raise your expectations...

The title of the blog is based on a chapter in Carl Sagan's wonderful book, The Demon Haunted World. The chapter is called "The Marriage of Skepticism and Wonder", which beautifully sums up the job (and life) of a scientist. Wonder is what powers us to proceed further with the exploration of life, while skepticism is the self-correcting mechanism that protects us from delusional worldviews. Skeptical wonder should not be just limited to a handful of scientists -- if presented properly at a young age, anyone -- regardless of occupation or education level -- can practice it and enjoy the resulting beautiful, yet consistent, world.

The pale blue dot comment also belongs to Carl Sagan. I highly recommend watching this clip, especially on days when a little perspective is needed. It is truly a work of beauty and profound wisdom!