31 October 2012

Knitting for SCIENCE! Part 1.

I knit a giant squid.

It's wearing an eyepatch. Why, you ask? Because the mascot of Deep Sea News is a red giant squid wearing an eyepatch, silly! I bought the pattern here, and the Ravelry page for the project is here.

17 October 2012

How to make snapdragons talk.

While walking along the street in Seattle, I came across some snapdragons. Look how plump and lovely their petals appear! I love plants. I also love interactive plants, and anthropomorphizing floral features by turning them into puppets. Therefore, I present: making snapdragons talk. Snapdragons are members of the plant family Scrophulariaceae and genus Antirrhinum. Their petals are modified and fused into a bilaterally symmetric structures characterized as bilabiate corollas. What's nice about that, you ask? Well, "bilabiate" means "two-lipped," implying that these flowers are basically begging to talk! 
So here's how you do it: find a Goldilocks flower (one that isn't too young or too old). Grasp the sides between your thumb and forefinger, then squeeze so that the top and bottom "lips" pop open like a mouth. You might need to try a few flowers, since the structural integrity of the bloom changes as it ages (there's some cool science about senescence involved here). I like to also make sounds for them, in proper puppet-style. My snapdragons always say things like, "Muah muah muaaaaaah." Sometimes they even sound like robots!
An additional method for making snapdragons talk involves wrangling a fairy with magic. I haven't quite mastered the technique yet (in truth, I've never even tried), and there is also no sure way to tell what the flowers will say. Therefore, I'm only presenting my "manual method" here. 

Perhaps I should stop now while I'm still claiming this is a blog that talks about science.

13 October 2012

Monocots represent at Seattle Convention Center!

Hey, what's that over my shoulder? At least FIVE different orders of monocots represented in the Seattle Convention Center's plant displays! From the left: a bromeliad from Poales, snake plant (Sansevieria) from Asparagales, Calla lilies (Arales), some little decorative palm (Arecales) and wandering Jew (Commelinales)! As an added bonus, you get to see my "crazy from so much science after four days of conference" face. 

I had a great time representing NESCent here at SACNAS. The session on ecology, evolution, and human health in which I participated by presenting was well received, and there was a great discussion about public health policy and the biology of disease after the showing of Contagion at our movie night last night. Many thanks to Jory Weintraub for inviting me along and doing a splendid job organizing!

11 October 2012

Reporting in from SACNAS!

I'm in Seattle for a few days to attend the national SACNAS conference as a part of NESCent outreach. I'm presenting in a session on ecology, evolution, and the environment tomorrow, and am serving as a judge and mentor throughout the meeting. It's a nice change of pace from my usual work week...plus, my badge matches my shirt today!