Posts Tagged ‘12 days of christmas’

Day 135. Twelve around the table

In December 2012 on December 25, 2012 at 7:34 pm

body parts puzzle

On the 12th day of Christmas, ScienceforLife gave to me:

*Today I shared a long Christmas lunch with twelve wonderful people. The best science present of the day? Aunty Anna wins again, sending from Paris this magnificent body parts puzzle to my 7-year old daughter. Most thoughtful gift goes to my husband, who created a book from my first 100 Science for Life.365 entries and presented one to me and each of my other adult family members. Merry Christmas everyone.


Day 134. Eleven egg-whites foaming

In December 2012 on December 24, 2012 at 8:40 pm


On the 11th day of Christmas, ScienceforLife gave to me:

*Today I baked my first meringue, and hallelujah what a success! The whites from eleven eggs were whisked briskly in a metal bowl to introduce air bubbles; I was looking for the ‘soft peak’ stage, in which amongst the egg proteins the somewhat ‘coarse bubbles are still lubricated by plenty of liquid’. The addition of caster sugar made the ‘fragile egg-white foam into a stable, glossy meringue’ (quotes here are from Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking: The Science and lore of the Kitchen). I spread my concoction into a large rectangular shape, and then baked in an oven for a brief 20 minute spell. This rendered the outside crisp and slightly brown, and the interior still relatively moist. Tomorrow I shall line it with passionfruit, paw-paw, rasperries and bananas along with sweetened cream, creme fraiche and mascapone, then roll and slice to create individual serves of summery Christmassy crunchy proteiny explosions of sweetness. Science is life!

[image thanks to Annie Mole on flickr]

Day 133. Ten legs a-squidding

In December 2012 on December 23, 2012 at 10:45 am


On the 10th day of Christmas, ScienceforLife gave to me:

*At the risk of losing friends, I admit I am somewhat obsessed with those 10-legged sea creatures known as squid. The image shown here is of one of my most treasured possessions, a small ceramic bowl featuring a hovering blue/green squid surrounded by chromatophore-like spots.  The bowl was a gift from a friend. Highlights in my twitter and Facebook feeds over 2012 revealed vampire squid, changing colours in squid skin (set to music), the piglet squid, reminiscent of Gonzo from the Muppets and the tantalising news that in 2013 Discovery will broadcast footage of a live giant squid. My family and I are hoping to catch and eat a few Yorke Peninsula squid over the coming weeks.

Day 132. Nine inspiring ladies

In December 2012 on December 22, 2012 at 4:44 pm


On the 9th day of Christmas, ScienceforLife gave to me:

*Many science-trained Australian women inspired me during 2012. If forced to list 9 of them, I’d start with my Mum (Masters in Ag Science, MBBS and PhD in medical education), then add my botanist aunt Carol, neighbour and nutritionist Jane, friend and previous employer Kristin Alford, Tedx presenter/PhD candidate/podcaster/writer and friend Upulie Divisekera, two outstanding breeders of babysitters in Caroline McMillen and Liz Farmer, and everything-she-touches-is-gold Professor Tanya Monro. As my 9th pick I nominate nutrition scientist Katrine Baghurst, whose funeral I attended today.

[image thanks to puuikibeach on flickr]

Day 131. Perme-8 from milking

In December 2012 on December 21, 2012 at 9:28 am


On the 8th day of Christmas, ScienceforLife gave to me:

*Australian consumers were up in arms during 2012 when certain dairy distributors suggested that permeate-free milk was what we should all be drinking. Please, for the sake of your health, avoid permeate! The problem was, nobody seemed to know what permeate was; even scientists were confused. Luckily @heatherbray6 came to our rescue with this blog post. The bottom line? Permeate is basically low-protein, low-fat milk produced by passing whole milk through a membrane. It’s not a ‘chemical’ and it’s not artificial, and it’s added to whole milk before packaging to allow standardisation of nutritional content. No doubt I’ll be drinking a little permeate in my egg-nog this Christmas.

[image thanks to circasassy on flickr]

Day 130. Seven terrible minutes

In December 2012 on December 20, 2012 at 10:56 am


On the 7th day of Christmas, ScienceforLife gave to me:

*When NASA’s Curiosity rover approached Mars on August 6 2012, it had to enter the Martian atmosphere, slow down, pass through it and then land safely. The entire process was referred to as The Seven Minutes of Terror: the entry-descent-landing procedure combined with the time taken for data to travel from Mars to Earth meant that when NASA staff first received information that Curiosity had reached the outer edge of Mars’ atmosphere, in reality it had already arrived ‘dead or alive’ on the surface of the red planet. Seven minutes later they received confirmation the landing too had been a success. Curiosity has since collected an incredible album of colour photographs and performed soil and chemical analysis on Mars.

[image thanks to jasonb42882 on flickr]

Day 129. Six tweeps a-tweeting

In December 2012 on December 19, 2012 at 10:49 am

On the 6th day of Christmas, ScienceforLife gave to me:

*I’ve written here and there about how twitter can play a role in the professional lives of scientists and communicators. Here’s a list of six tweeting science-types who’ve interested and/or influenced me during 2012 (not an exhaustive list, and order not important):

  1. Rebecca Skloot
    Sample tweet: Science writing: how do you make complex issues accessible and readable? [link to article] #sciwri
  2. Ashley Ng
    Sample tweet: Quite amazing @TIME: PHOTOS: Tiny beauties – Visions from under the microscope [link to article]
  3. Kevin Zelnio
    Sample tweet: Giant Squid on Video?! [link to article] #DeepSN via @deepseanews
  4. Bora Zivkovic
    Sample tweet: How does Wikipedia deal with a mass shooting? A frenzied start gives way to a few core editors [link to article]
  5. Samantha Thomas
    Sample tweet: Hi everyone looking for #instagram alternatives. Logged into @EyeEm – really good. Very similar to Instagram.
  6. Cameron Webb
    Sample tweet: Hearing is a vastly underrated sense: The Science and Art of Listening [link to article]

[photo thanks to katerha on flickr]

Day 128. Five bulk gold rings

In December 2012 on December 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm

bulk gold

On the 5th day of Christmas, ScienceforLife gave to me:

*My 5 most-worn rings – sentimental favourites, being gifts from my husband and parents – are made from ‘bulk gold’. As explained by TechNYou, bulk gold is familiar to us all as a relatively soft, stable metal which conducts heat and electricity well. The colour of bulk gold is…, a result of the wavelength of light scattered from the surface of the mass of gold atoms held together by metallic bonds.

Gold can also exist stably at the nanoscale, many thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair. Instead of metallic bonds creating a mass structure, nanogold consists of small aggregations of gold atoms.  In solution, light scattered from nanogold can appear red, green, blue or even black depending on the size of the gold particles and this distances between the particles. Stained glass windows made during mediaeval times contained nanogold at varying concentrations to produce different colours.

Day 127. Four extinct birds

In December 2012 on December 17, 2012 at 2:02 pm


On the 4th day of Christmas, ScienceforLife gave to me:

*In 2102 the palaeontology world was abuzz as more fossil evidence of feather-clad dinosaurs was uncovered. The largest feathered dino Yutyrannus huali (‘beautiful feathered tyrant’) was reported in April 2012, joining other feathered specimens the four-winged Microraptor, and small beasts Dilong and Guanlong. That birds evolved from small, meat-eating dinosaurs is now generally accepted; the discovery of large dinosaurs with feathers has reopened debate as to how feathers offered survival advantage, and how and when flight evolved.

[photo thanks to Dendroica cerulea on flickr]

Day 126. 3D shape

In December 2012 on December 16, 2012 at 9:14 am

christmas pyramid

On the 3rd day of Christmas, ScienceforLife gave to me

*Three-dimensional shapes are all around us. For the last two years we’ve used this pyramidal garden frame as our Christmas tree, my rebellion against using a pine tree – for reasons of allergy and a small snub of the nose towards American culture.