Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Rainbow Meals

It'd be very interesting if I can absorb the pigments and turn rainbow colors.
Spicy Middle Eastern vegetable barbecue
(Sauce made from balsamic vinegar, honey, and basil)
Chicken gizzards and Swiss chard stir-fry
 Rainbow vegetable and chicken salsa stew on rice
(I used salsa instead of soy sauce and sugar in the stew.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Yazoo - Situation

Situation performed by the British synthpop duo Yazoo. The lead singer is Alison Moyet. Just by listening to this song, for months, I've been thinking she was a man ... (as embarrassing as when I thought the Bee Gees were women)

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Best Fossil with the Best Name


A genus of awesome fossil from the mid-Cambrian with an awesome name. Those worm-like creatures are about 0.5 to 3 cm long and are abundant as fossils, suggesting that they were one of the dominant species of their time.

The discoverer of those fossils gave them this name because of their "bizarre and dream-like quality". Scientists have been disputing which side of this animal is up, and which side is front. There is no obvious "head" but a bulb at an end and a "tail" at the other end. Neither of the two pairs of spine-like appendages seem to be suitable for any kind of movement. The classification is also troublesome. Scientists now believe that Hallucigenia is related to modern arthropods.

Trilobites are adorable, but Hallucigenia is just too cool!

Some reconstruction images of Hallucigenia:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Harvest from the Farmers' Market

I love going to the Farmers' Market. Seeing the harvest and people's happiness when they sell their products or buy the things they need just make my heart warm.
I bought two chili pepper plants from the market and harvested the peppers. The long peppers, which I stir-fried one with vegetable, were not spicy at all, though it added the good peppery smell. The other variety is the small Thai chili. I hope it'd be hotter.
There were some strange things I saw. Emu eggs! I nearly thought they were dyed ostrich eggs but I noticed they were significantly smaller and had a different shape. I've heard they are naturally of this deep blue color, just beautiful! The farmer also sold emu jerky and emu sausage.
Things I bought from the market: bread, brats, Swiss chard, and jam made by Pilgrims.
The Swiss chard is also called rainbow chard.
Currant jam, pickled mushrooms (garlic and dill flavor), strawberry bread, and cherry almond bread.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Animal Abuse at My School

I'm distressed to learn that some researchers at UW-Madison, my school, have been abusing animals. A orange tabby cat named Double Trouble had metal coils implanted in her eyes, holes drilled on her skull, ears deafened by toxic chemicals, and was imprisoned, starved, and forced into cruel experiments for several months in the name of science that they claimed would improve the human life. The anesthesia was also not strong enough that Double Trouble woke up during the surgery of opening her skull. The wounds from surgery were inflamed and Double Trouble's health deteriorated. As the results she began to twitch and became deeply depressed. The researchers eventually declared the experiment as failure and killed the cat.

This experiment of determining how the brain locates the source of sound is regarded by people as "useless" since results have already been collected by other researchers using modern and noninvasive methods on human volunteers. However, about 30 cats per year have been treated the same way and died. PETA has sued the UW experimenters and compelled the school to release the photos taken during the experiment process.

As a student of UW-Madison, I'm saddened by this news as I thought bioethics is a field of interest in my school. We can take courses on bioethics and the topic is addressed in various other life science courses. Sometimes I can see signs promoting animal rights around campus. This shouldn't happen here. Many people are indignant or distressed because the experimental subjects were cats, and they think cats' are humans' good companions. I think I'd feel bad for any animal if it was treated like this. There shouldn't be any excuse to mistreat animals even if they are less related to us than cats are.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


再看一眼我的窗台,好像可以擺很多植物。床頭櫃的那個是juvenile hormone III,除了那個藍色的nitrogen應該是一個carbon,因為做模型時carbon不夠。
 African violet, peace lily, and maranta green.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Flying Spaghetti Monster

(Touched by His Noodly Appendage)
Probably the most hilarious thing I've seen this week. My evolutionary biology professor told me about it. I wonder why I didn't know about this "religion" earlier.

From Wikipedia:
"The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) is the deity of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Pastafarianism, a satirical movement celebrating lighthearted irreligion and opposing the teaching of intelligent design and creationism in public schools."

Website of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

People of this church profess that they believe in a supernatural being that resembles spaghetti and meatballs who is the Creator, and that their belief is as valid as other religions such as Christianity. If intelligent design should be taught in schools, they argue, the theory of the FSM should gain equal time in the classroom along with intelligent design and evolution. They also constantly say "ramen".

Disclaimer: The content of this blog post doesn't represent the beliefs or point-of-view of the blog owner.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Goodman Lab

This is what the lab I'm working in looks! I'll probably spend a lot of time over this year in this small place full of test tubes, petri dishes, pipettes, and little machines. The bald gentleman in the background, heh, is Prof. Goodman.
This is a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) machine. I just learned about this incredible process that can replicate over 1,000,000,000 copies of the specific DNA sequence we want within an hour. The machine automatically sets up cycling conditions between 94 and 75 degree Celsius. Oh, the DNA polymerase is isolated from a bacterium from the Yellow Stone hot spring, so it can sustain the near boiling temperature when the double-stranded DNA is being denatured!
 A sign on the door that says "Manduca" (genus name of the tobacco hornworm) made up by caterpillars. I wonder if Prof. Goodman did it.
 Manduca larvae feeding on artificial diet.
 More Manduca.
 More Manduca.
 Manduca pupae.
 In the nature, those caterpillars dig into soil and turn into pupae there.
This plushie is made by a thrid-grade teacher who worked with Prof. Goodman. She never saw a wild type Manduca so she made it blue like the ones in lab. It's definitely limited edition - there are only 4 of those in the world!
 Isn't it amazing? It's got all the details of the caterpillar.
Even has the cute "tail" that characterizes the hornworm. Oh my, I just never had the chance to have a plushie like this when I was a kid.

There is a protein model on the desk that I didn't take a picture of. Prof. Goodman said it was "printed" by a very special printer that can print 3-D things. (WOW!)

I was so excited to learn that Prof. Goodman is the original scientist who discovered the juvenile hormone binding protein (JHBP) in 1970. He's been working on JHBP for more than 40 years. I mean, I've got to talk to the real scientist and do real stuff. Maybe just like my mom said, he sits beside me and explains the textbooks and the previous lab notebooks to me almost like a grandpa reading story books to his grandchild. It's inevitable that I feel privileged.

"So ... when the bacteria produce this sequence of amino acids, it will just turn into the binding protein?" I asked. "It's your job now," Prof. Goodman said, "no scientist has done that. Now we have the right bacteria. The question is whether the bacteria can fold the protein right. Your job is to stabilize the protein." Wow, it's surely exciting to work with real scientists and do real stuff; perhaps too exciting, I think I'm overloaded with excitement, anxiety, and confusion now.

My Garden

Here are some photos of how my garden currently looks.
Those purple and orange flowers are varieties of what are called "mums" in markets. The leftmost yellow flower is a variety of black-eyed suzy. The rightmost is a kind of aster.
 The black-eyed suzy is not doing very well. It's too dry. (And its flowers get eaten too.) The soil is very dense and clayey - no matter how much I water, water just seems to run-off instead of going into the soil.
 At least the mums seem good. I think I caught what's destroying my plants! You can see that all the pansies' flowers disappeared and their leaves were plucked. I was so angry to see a hare running away from the flower bed when it saw me. Okay, I've some "pest" problem here. I probably need to experiment what kinds of plants fit here the most.
 Those are my herbs! Herbs seem to like here. The person who sold them said most herbs like the temperate climate and grow in the drier and sunnier side.
 Rosemary and basil.
 Thyme and cilantro.
Mint. I probably need to wait a long time for them to grow to the usable amount?