Let the show begin!

Adrian Loo, conjuring up excitement in LT25 on 11th July 2003 – yes, eight years ago. Photo by Lim Cheng Puay. The occasion? The Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium I.

We had three photographers, I recall, who would pass me their photos at the end of the day. I used iView Media Pro to throw out the blurry material, did reorientations as needed, integrated the timeline between the three lots of photos and uploaded ALL the photos, each of the two days, up to the web the very same night!

And they are still on the server, each measuring 640 by 480 pixels, low-res for fast viewing and you simply need to click the photos to advance through the albums. Easy for the users. Filenames allowed me to trace originals when these were required.

I miss iView Media Pro.

Update – I opened registration for this year’s Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium III (24 Sep 2011)

“Can durians swim?” The Protists in Singapore webpage

Amoeba, dinoflagellates, Euglena, diatoms, Chlamydomonas, myxomycetes – these are familiar names from various groups I had learnt about in my time.

However, advances in molecular and structural biology had thrown the old order into disarray. After the dust had settled, all of these could not be fit into the kingdoms of fungi, plants or animals.

So the protists are a cupboard of curiosities – any eukaryotic microroganism we are unable to stuff into those kingdoms, we toss here.

Many moons ago, the Wikipedia entry on the protists directed me to Harper & Benton’s excellent (2009) “Introduction to Paleobiology and the Fossil Record” (dutifully ordered for the Science Library). There they suggest that we best regard protists as “a loose grouping of 30 or 40 disparate phyla with diverse combinations of trophic modes, mechanisms of motility, cell coverings and life cycles.”

Okay. I get the picture.

In the first year biodiversity module, protists are usually provided one of my most energetic performances because they are otherwise neglected. We have only one module to expose to students to all of biodiversity so there is no time it seems for students to lose themselves behind a microscope, peering into a water sample from some nearby water body.

Well, Brandon Seah on a hiatus has been collecting water samples, peering through a microscope, taking videos and photographs and fired up iMovie for some fun, before populating wordpress with “Protists in Singapore – the Illustrated Guide to Microscopic Life in the City, http://sgprotist.wordpress.com“.

Protists in Singapore | Illustrated guide to microscopic life in the city

Can durians swim?

KR small pond - Euglena
Euglena sp. from Kent Ridge

The site includes a very useful guide for budding scientists about “How to find and study protists.”

Today Brandon announced his new website on The Biology Refugia. I’m glad he has put this up and hope he continues to work on it and encourage protistological investigations in Singapore.

After all, “the little things matter too.”

Snow Leopard


And this one with a drifting left eye!

See ZooBorns.

“Threatened with extinction from extensive hunting and deforestation, the breeding program in which Twycross Zoo is involved helps raise awareness of the threats facing snow leopards in the wild.

Twycross Zoo also funds the Snow Leopard Trust, which looks at the range patterns of Snow Leopards by using radio collars.”

“Some of the most important things in life cannot be quantified.”

“When we begin to care for different aspects in society, we will begin to grow as a people. What distinguishes us as humans is our capacity to love, care and respect.

Which is why such avenues, be it with animals, our environment, and indeed with fellow humans…caring for the less privileged in society, respecting elders and being there for them in their twilight years…the spirit of volunteerism and to be involved… are critical in the building of our nation, and the forging of our heart and soul.”

– 42-year old Tan Chuan Jin who is busy trying to make a difference. You can also find him on facebook.

This mess, not by monkeys

ECP Sunday morning mess

This mess was not left behind by monkeys but by apes, Homo sapiens to be precise.

They don’t usually beg or harass, but they leave an awful mess behind. On early Sunday mornings, before the park cleaners get to the mess, you can see signs of their handiwork all over well frequented parks in Singapore. Despite the many bins.

I suspect most know how to use the bin, but there are enough who are untrained and cause the disproportionate mess.

It’s been five decades but this species is pretty resistant to learning. So the job isn’t over yet. I wonder what we should do.

ECP Sunday morning mess