[chemical|anisotropy] the clueless chemist chronicles

…jottings about working, writing and living as a Clueless Chemist in Manila

Archive for January 2008

[jottings] remembering B’t X

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(image from www.all4seiya.com)

Today was…hm, indescribable, I suppose.  Doing QA over a manuscript for submission to the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry for factual, logical and stylistic faults–including revising the data points of a major chart one by one–is tedious and neuron-killing in the long run.

Speaking of neuron-killing, there’s nothing like a nostalgia-trip to ease the numbness in the head.  After reading the article about switching blood types, I remembered the animé series B’t X, back when it was shown on ABS-CBN in the afternoon.  That translates to eight or nine years ago.  Man, that’s a long time ago!

Anyway, the premise of the series was that the main character, Teppei, revived an old kirin-type mecha (called a B’t) by the eponymous name of X, by giving it a bit of his blood.  Teppei’s blood, however, is not his “original” blood-type–X’s former mistress, Karen, donated hers to save Teppei in the past.  Since B’t’s are linked to their owners by their masters’ blood, Teppei became the new owner of X.  So the story goes.

The real-life story, though, about switching blood types, is much more scientific.  An Australian girl had a liver transplant, with a surprise bonus of liver stem cells from the donor.  The doctors were not aware of the surprise until her blood test showed that her type has changed to that of the donor.  It is surmised that the stem cells from the donor’s liver migrated to the recipient’s bone marrow and replaced the whole system.  How this change was triggered…is still a mystery.

(image from www.duke.edu)

Written by Oui

January 30, 2008 at 10:13 pm

Posted in meanderings, science

[jottings] of old stars and second chances

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We are accustomed to think that life is very linear. Non-recursive, with every kind of time or event happening just once. As Ecclesiastes said: “There’s a time to live, and a time to die…”; opportunities knock only once; this is your only chance in your lifetime, etc. But Nature begs to differ. Lives, after all, are not simply threads spun out by the Fates, but are woven in a web, with the promise of second chances if we look for them hard enough.

Take this news, for example–old stars giving birth again. Carl Melis, a UCLA grad student in astronomy, found out that there is “a new class of stars, ones that display conditions now ripe for formation of a second generation of planets, long, long after the stars themselves formed.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Oui

January 26, 2008 at 11:50 pm

Posted in meanderings, science

[essay] A Nobel Thought – Musings About the Nobel Forum

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(N.B.: I think this will be published in the university newspaper [LSB].)

The 10th Eurasia Conference on the Chemical Sciences—held last 7-11 January 2008 in PICC —achieved nothing short of a casting-coup in hosting the Nobel Forum, with four Nobel Laureates in Chemistry. The audience came from private and public sectors, aside from those belonging to the local and international scientific circles. Despite the disparate background, the forum itself was not a highly-technical talk on the latest aspects of chemical research, but an open discussion about science, creativity and innovation, sprinkled with dry wit.

The four Laureates—Aaron Ciechanover (Israel), Ryoji Noyori (Japan), Hartmut Michel (Germany) and Yuan T. Lee (Taiwan)—shared their unique insights gained from their scientific life before and after winning the prize. Some of their one-liners were humorous as well as thought-provoking.

The following are some of my personal favorites.

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Written by Oui

January 24, 2008 at 8:57 pm

[jottings] of fuchsia shoes

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I am a proud owner of fuchsia rubber ballerinas by Noosa, a local shoe brand that aims to outdo Crocs in terms of quality and price (they’re on sale at Php250 a pair). Yes, I wear them to school (and I don’t care if people stare down at my brightly-shod feet) because (a) they’re comfy and (b) they’re practical for lab, especially when I work in the NMR room.

Of course, there’s (c)…because the pair’s colored fuchsia! Vibrant, pearly, fluorescent pink that I’m quite sure glows in the dark like an embarrassing valentine. It brightens up my day! 😀 Heck, as Reg commented, she could see me (or my feet) a mile away.

Color aside, what makes Noosa, Crocs, Havaianas and Ms. Ang’s Durawalk/Advan footwear popular is comfort. Comfort due to the softness and flexibility of rubber. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Oui

January 23, 2008 at 10:19 pm

Posted in meanderings, science

[jottings] of women science bloggers (or lack thereof)

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This just got me thinking…about the local issues on women in science AND their presence/absence in the local scene. Even in the local blogosphere.

Here in the Chemistry department, there are only a handful of women who keep blogs. Most of them (um, “us”, if I include myself in the count) use blogs for classroom management–to post announcements, additional lecture notes, etc.–much like a message board (or even a virtual “agony column” for students and teachers). Some, to spice up their site’s content, add a “fun fact” corner or something similar to it. Other than announcements and “did-you-knows”, their blogs end there. No article-type essays on scientific topics, or any topic related to their work life. This is understandable, given the workload they handle.

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Written by Oui

January 22, 2008 at 1:40 pm

Posted in meanderings, science

[jottings] film addiction? nah

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For the record, I am not at all addicted to film.  Nope.  I only blew around Php500 for 5 rolls of 120mm color negatives (expired) and one measly roll of 135mm slide (expired).  And I still have 2 rolls of color negatives (fresh–one is already loaded in my Holga) and 2 rolls of black&white film–all 120mm.  I am no film addict; 120mm films are so hard to find in the local markets.

Who am I kidding, really?

But my stash is small compared to the others (who can afford).  And I don’t go through all of them in one sitting.  It’s a blessing in disguise that a university-teaching post is not a lucrative career–I’m forced to economize.

Written by Oui

January 19, 2008 at 12:15 am

Posted in lomography, real life

[jottings] of planners, unravelling plans and a reflection paper

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I’m the type of person who finds order in what seems to be a terrible mess, whether it be piles of clothes, books and schedules.  It’s a “good” mental exercise, to find connections amid the apparent chaos.

Now, apparently, this doesn’t seem to be working out anymore.  For the past months (or years?), my mental mode is always on “urgent”, and rushing through things (i.e., cramming–a talent much-honed by my years in high school and college) lately has earned me a lot of disastrous results.

At the moment, there are at least two “giant” Post-Its on the headboard of my desk/cubicle, each with a long list of things-to-do.  Some items are crossed out.  The others are still pending…and I’ve yet to add another sticky-sheet for a new list (it goes on and on…)  My corkboard/whiteboard bears a reminder in large-caps “WRITE ABOUT NOBEL FORUM”, screaming right at my face.

And, last night, my brother just gave me a Starbucks planner that his girlfriend had given him.  Good coincidence…I was contemplating on buying an el-cheapo one in National Bookstore.

(I used to write on planners, especially during my senior-year in college.  But the problem was–hopefully, was–that I forget what I had written on the pages.  And I don’t get to update it fast enough.  This time, however, will be different–I will not waste paper and ink anymore.)

Right now, my plans on getting planned out for the year are unravelling one by one. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Oui

January 16, 2008 at 10:57 am

Posted in meanderings, real life