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Posts Tagged ‘science

How to choose sunscreen (at least for myself and children)?

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In mid November 2013, I read a scientific finding (by J.L. of my undergraduate almamater) that nano particles such as zinc oxide can possibly cause cancer.

Then, I feel the need to check the ingredients of my sunscreen.

SPF 15 or higher only protects against UVB, but not UVA. According to Dr. David J. Leffell (professor of dermatology and surgery at the Yale School of Medicine), the followings (ecamsule, avobenzone, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, sulisobenzone, or zinc oxide) protect against UVA.

According to the webmd.com, children’s sunscreens use ingredients less likely to irritate the skin, like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

It seems that the more complicated a product is, the more hidden or unknown risks it carries.

Is zinc oxide (in sunscreen) good or bad for us?

Dr. Lawrence Gibson (a dermatologist at Mayo Clinic) views that sunscreen is safe (has not been proven to increase the risk of skin cancer, has been proven to reduce the risk of melanoma). Instead of looking at a sunscreen’s SPF, choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that will protect you from UVA and UVB rays

If you are pregnant, avoid sunscreens that contain antioxidant retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A or retinol.

Sand, water, snow and concrete reflect sunlight.

Instead of being confused by the choices of sunscreen,
consider the following tips:
# Avoid the sun during peak hours (between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.), regardless of season (Since UV light can pass through clouds, use sunscreen even when it’s cloudy).
# Choose indoor activities (e.g. indoor swim) during the sun peak hours.
# Wear protective clothing e.g. pants, long sleeve shirts, sunglasses.
# Wear a wide-brimmed hat.
# Use an umbrella.
# Vitamins. Vitamin E can protect against UV-induced DNA damage. Vitamin C helps protect skin from sunburn.
# Do not let any product lull you into a false sense of security about sun exposure.
# Finally, pursue a combinatorial approach (shade, clothing, umbrella / hat, sunscreen, common sense).

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Written by blueroselady

November 14, 2013 at 7:30 am

Dear Dr Douglas Prasher, You are my Hero

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A friend of mine who is a scientist shared with me about Douglas Prasher’s story. When I was a little kid, I consider the following careers very cool / glamorous / glorious : pilot, adventurers (e.g. Columbus, Everest), scientists, astronauts, … and many others.

However, my friend said that being scientists is not all glorious, there is no guarantee that one can meet one’s basic survival needs (according to the Maslow’s hierarchy) of food, clothes, shelter / home, even after one has done high quality work that deserves Nobel Prize like what happened to Douglas Prasher.

In brief, the Nobel Prize I am referring to is for the discovery and engineering of fluorescent proteins – molecules that can glow in the dark. Sound so fun!

The fluorescent proteins are powerful research tools and have become the foundation of a multimillion-dollar industry.

Prasher was not included among the Nobel laureates, as only 3 individuals can share a single Nobel Prize. “The glow of the GFP gene may have illuminated biology, but Prasher has remained in the shadows.” The humble ^ Laureate Martin Chalfie credited Prasher’s contribution:
“(Douglas Prasher’s) work was critical and essential for the work we did in our lab. They could’ve easily given the prize to Douglas and the other two and left me out.”

^ To share the best of the best to you dearest readers, I have carefully studied Nobel Laureates and summarize their strengths that worth emulating.

My friend J, who is also a scientist and used to work 7 days a week from 9 am to 11 pm daily, shared with me that there are sadly numerous unacknowledged contributions in science. She told me that a lady called Rosalind Franklin also deserves a Nobel Prize but she died too early. J told me that she cried reading the story of Prasher.

To quote discovermagazine, the vanishing act of Douglas Prasher “provides a glimpse into what it takes to flourish in modern-day science, where mentorship, networking, and the ability to secure funding can be as important as talent and intelligence.”

Dear aspiring scientists (especially graduate students), I hope that my sharing provide you with additional perspective. One of a leader of a science research institute sadly told me (in a chance encounter in a public transport) that in the past only the rich can do scientific research because they do not have to trade their time to earn a living. These people were for example the landlord who receive passive income ; they have the time (one of the most priceless commodity in the universe), the brain energy & physical energy to carry out scientific experiments.

He also shared with me about his personal experience, he was previously trained as a medical doctor (a career that may guarantee a better earning), but later switched to become a scientist. Few years down the road after he has children, he woke up in the middle of night sweating and worrying on how to finance his mortgage. The good news is his children are now grown-up.

Dear aspiring scientists, your professors and successful scientists you meet would rarely tell you such stories because they need workers. Graduate students are very cheap to the extent that they are free to the professors. You will rarely meet unsuccessful scientists because they are no longer around in the labs / meetings / conferences to warn you / to be naysayers for you who will eventually become successful scientists. Do not give up on your chosen career easily. After all, scientists will meet countless failures (positive people prefer to refer a failure as a learning experience) because they are at the frontier of discovery and innovation. You really need perseverance in the pursuit of science, science needs you, our world need you ; but one must not neglect what is entrusted to him by the Universe / the Creator / God, e.g. young children to feed, nurture, take care.

Dear aspiring scientists, do not be disheartened by what I share here because if you are really passionate about science, you want and you should give it your best, until you really meet dead ends. You can be like Douglas Prasher, to be humble and willing to take other kinds of jobs, including being a bus driver at $8.50 an hour. I respect bus drivers, they provide essential service to many people, and I personally rely on them often. I view them as my everyday heroes who courier me safely from a place to another. But to be honest, one who had worked as a scientist must have to endure the words of their past colleagues on becoming a bus driver. If you master the art of endurance, are willing to work hard and have integrity in life, no matter what you do / your career / job, you will have inner happiness, which is much more important than prestige (e.g. awards) / glamor. If you want to be successful in a particular career, perseverance * and resourcefulness ^ are essential.

* “Doug doesn’t have the ‘Goddammit, you’re not going to stop me’ attitude,” Ward says.”
^ “It was the kind of resourcefulness that Prasher seemed to lack.”

After all, there are many things that Prasher can be happy and grateful about: his supportive wife, his children, his home-grown vegetables & finally a return to science.

Dear my readers, all careers are similar in the chance of success; they just vary in the steepness of the climb. My kind friend shared that the climbing field for being successful scientists started relatively easy for students who have done well academically / with exceptional scholastic ability, but become very very steep toward the higher place(s).

Final reflection:
Let the (use) value that we bring to ourselves and others through our work / pursuit / career / vocation shine itself.
Do not pursue recognition / award as a goal because it is beyond our control.
Even one of the most deserving Nobel Prize winner – Gandhi, never receive it.

Dear Dr Douglas Prasher, thank you very much! You are my Hero!

Related:
http://discovermagazine.com/2011/apr/30-how-bad-luck-networking-cost-prasher-nobel
http://galette86.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/the-inspiring-story-of-douglas-prasher/
http://www.bio.purdue.edu/lab/leung/blog/?tag=douglas-prasher

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How not to listen to non-constructive criticism?

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This article is inspired by John Gurdon’s experience on criticism. He received Nobel prize in 2012. Though I have never met him, I counted a blessing that in a period of my life, I walked / cycled passed the Gurdon Institute (named after him) regularly.

An Eton teacher of John Gurdon wrote that the then 15-year-old John Gurdon wouldn’t listen, couldn’t learn simple biological facts and, horror of horrors, "insisted on doing work in his own way". In one test, Gurdon scored a miserable two out of 50.

The report made John Gurdon disheartened, but fortunately one of John Gurdon’s early decision on not to listen to non-constructive criticism indeed played an important role in his subsequent research work, including the discovery that mature cells can be converted to stem cells (and ended up winning a Nobel prize).

How not to listen to non-constructive criticism?

1. Be prepared that in life, no matter what we do (including noble actions), some people will criticize us. To protect ourselves against these peace robbers, we can
# enhance our inner strength by reminding / focusing ourselves on our strength
# have a thick face

2. Be aware of the reasons why people give non-constructive criticism

# jealousy and justification attempt. They are jealous of our achievements and attempt to gain self-importance by criticizing us. They justify themselves at the expense of us. Do not fear those who criticize us because of their jealousy. Perhaps, those who criticize us suffer from low self-esteem and meet their need of having self-importance by criticizing, instead we can be kind by giving them empathy and sympathy.

# ignorance and inexperience. For example, you want to attempt a new venture and you seek advices from people around you. Those who never start up a company or those who have failed will project their fear and criticize you. Do not listen to these naysayers. Instead, consult those who have successfully achieved what you want to achieve.

3. Be mindful of your perspective (mind), emotions, and body

# Must be able to see the BIG PICTURE
When I was a primary and junior high school student, I accept the fact that teachers are role models. I did not question their authorities. They were the grown-ups with more knowledge and wisdom than me who was only a fledgling individual. I did not realize that teachers are also human beings, subjected to human conditions (both positive and negative attributes). Few of my teachers had ego and misused their authorities. They criticized students who refused to follow them, e.g. if a student refused to learn bad words, he would be labeled as self-righteous. Fortunately, I moved to a better school and I learned a lot from my kind teachers – those who teach for the passion of teaching and nurturing the next generation more than for earning an income (of course everyone has to earn a living). Looking back, those teachers who criticized things I thought as right, did no longer matter.

Then, when I started my study in a famous place, an unhappy professor told me that the only reason I went there was because of the fame. Well, while that reason honestly contributed to my decision, I had bigger reasons why I fought all my ways to gain admission there. At that time, when such a professor with his authority / power and perceived superiority (in knowledge, ability, etc) said such things to students, the impact could be huge. However, I did not listen to him. I shifted my focus to my purpose (FOCUS ON YOUR PURPOSES). I managed to work with more successful (and more generous and kinder) professors, produced results, and graduated. My mentor CNC loves to say that success is always the sweetest revenge (without harming our past offenders).

My learning journey then brought me to meet inspiring entrepreneurs. In some aspects, I look up to entrepreneurs who create jobs for many people and excellent products / services with great values, more than to professors who care only about their tenure, publications, and self-importance in their fields (of course, there are always kind professors, I was fortunate to meet and work with few of them). My experience with the entrepreneurs unleash an inner desire of me: to be an entrepreneur. That is why I am working everyday to prepare myself for my venture, to provide values to my customers. I believe that I will be invited to teach / give talks at universities because of my expertise, instead of having to apply and fight for limited faculty positions.

To summarize, I have met more people and seen the world, my perspectives have changed. When you climb a mountain, your standpoint / perspective has elevated, you can see wider and hence the bigger picture.

# Must be able to be the master of our emotion
Often, when one is criticized, one will end up feeling sad, shameful, worried (worry is a kind of fear), or angry. All these emotions are of lower consciousness.
Be aware of your emotion, then you can shift those of lower consciousness to those of higher consciousness (e.g. courage, patience).
For example, you can manage your anger through techniques such as loving yourself, Siberian North Rail Road, and detachment.

# Learn to relax our body
Criticisms from people whose matter to us (e.g. parents, teachers, bosses, co-workers, or even peers) can result in racing heart, sweating, shaking, flushing face.
When you are aware of these physical reactions of your body, use relaxation to calm down. Breath deeply. Visualize / imagine serene places that you remember from your travel. Recall prayers that you have said countless times.

"Let nothing disturb you,
nothing frighten you,
all things are passing.
God is unchanging.
Patience gains all;
nothing is lacking to those who have God:
God alone is sufficient."
St Teresa of Avilla

Related:
How to Handle Criticism and Nonconstructive Feedback by Nicole Wolfe
*Davidson_not_hopeless* (in my ref folder)

More readings:
http://www.economist.com/node/21564525
http://www.talentsmart.com/articles/

How to engage science into life?

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Science surrounds us, like it or not.
Science allows us to study the world around us and learn how things work.

TRUTH
I do not believe one source of news.
I gather multiple inputs before I arrive at important decisions.

PRECISION
in cooking. I cook using timer. Once, I had a timer from Daiso. Two friends who work in biotech industry gave me timers of abcam and Promega. Thank you!
The timer allows me to multitask without worrying that I over-steam / over-boil my food.

EVIDENCE-based DOCumentation
I self-analyze myself, my health.
I love reading, watching documentaries, listening to insightful talks, talking to inspiring people.

DISCUSSIONs
I love to exchange ideas to acquire and share constructive suggestions.

TRAVEL / TRIP
not necessarily overseas trips, but I love a journey to places where I have never been to.
A trip to museum / nature / botanical garden.
Listen, see, breathe, touch (with care and caution), record (write / take photos / sketch / make videos).

Written by blueroselady

April 20, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Posted in sciences

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Hope for older mothers

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New research:

Women harbour ovarian stem cells.

These ovarian stem cells can give rise to new eggs.

I believe in hopes for intertility treatment for women.

Even aged ovaries contain ovarian stem cells, this fact has been shown in mice.

Boosting mitochondria can also dramatically increase the success rate of IVF.

Thank you:

The Economist March 2012

Written by blueroselady

April 6, 2012 at 3:15 am

Tips: scientists / scholars

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COMMUNICATION
Written, oral and presentation skills.
The only way to get ahead!
Includes: email, discussions, interviews, Q&A at conferences and seminars
ENGLISH!
It is only a skill – you can learn it!
Polish it up!
Train your neural networks from constant reading

PERSUASION
Believe in yourself and what you have done
However, learn to convince your reviewers tactfully!
The art of suggestion is important here
The ability to handle hostile reviewers/audience/fellow scientists is critical to progress in your career
If you cannot beat them, join them ; collaborate instead of confront

PLAN
Make a roadmap of where you want to be:
3 years from now
5 years from now
Longer term….
Plan and organize your life:
PhD
Career
Life
Most quests can be “projects”

PROMPTNESS
Deliver your results on time!
Timelines….
Critical, essential, routine are useful labels
Review these regularly
Make the time: after it all Einstein said that it is relative and can be stretched

INITIATIVE
Be a pioneer!
Try novel approaches
Be curious
DO NOT TAKE ANYTHING FOR GRANTED
Discover new paths (algorithms), new maps (workflows), new places (new data/associations),….
When you get there, there is always another mountain to climb…

Ref:
(1) mentor SR of mentor VT

Written by blueroselady

June 22, 2011 at 3:16 pm

How and when do we want to die?

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This morning on the train to work, I read parts of the Lent reflection. Often, our concerns are limited to our current situation or at most few years down the road.
We tend to avoid pondering and discussing death.
However, nobody can avoid death.
We can choose not to move to a place, not to marry, or to do a particular thing.
Since we cannot prevent death, though with God grace and our health and safety precaution we could improve our lives and live longer (subjected to the will of God), why do not we decide what kind of death we wish?
Though we may not always get what we wish, but a praying heart may get an answer in this life time.

During the funeral of my grandmother, I am inspired by her lantern: mother of 4 generations. Our science teachers taught us that for a species to avoid extinction, they have to reproduce. Our economists warn us that we are living in an over-populated earth. Whom should we listen to?
@~@ People may be concerned about the cost of raising children, and other living costs (housing, taxes, …, the list will be endless).
@~@ Women may be concerned about delay in their careers if they have children.
@~@ People may not have found the right partners. Beautiful, charming, and people seem to be easier to get people to fall in love with them. I argue that this may be a dellusion in some cases. Those admirers may not truly love you as a person, but they love you because you are beautiful or rich or talented. If you are, like me, not outstandingly beautiful in the view of crowd, you can always work harder to build strength in other areas, e.g. inner beauty. God will help you and there will always someone in this world who will love you.

If God grants me, I wish to die in sleep at my old age (I told people that I wish to live to 100 years) surrounded by loving children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Perhaps, several days before my last day on this earth, God will send a message through His angels. Then, I could give my last advices, hugs, and kisses to my loved ones.

If God grants me, I wish to live my old age pursuing meaningful and beautiful things. For example,
@~@ do volunteer work, read stories to children, share with young people. To be able to share, I have to present well and have substances to present.
@~@ be a Justice of Peace to marry people.
@~@ pursue art: photography (especially people and nature).
@~@ do scientific research, though my learning speed may not be as good as young people, I am humble to learn from them.

Written by blueroselady

April 4, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Posted in God, writing

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