Entries Tagged as 'Science & Biology'

Taking part in the Hot, Loud, and Proud Meme

For those of you unfamiliar with the word, meme, YourDictionary.com defines it like this:

meme (m?m), noun

a unit of cultural information, as a concept, belief, or practice, that spreads from person to person in a way analogous to the transmission of genes

Interesting definition.  I just never bothered to look it up.  In a nutshell a blog meme is a sharing of like information between bloggers.  It’s similar to a blog carnival but not quite the same.  A meme is more focused.

Noel over at A Plant Fanatic in Hawaii brings us this meme.  I fell in love with the idea because I take pictures of the craziest things simply because they’re beautiful.

I don’t have my own garden but our local flora is always an attraction and now I have something to do with those photos that I couldn’t stop myself from taking!

Here’s how it works:

IMG_2817

Show us your tropicals and exotics, your hot mediterranean colors and wild combinations, amazing discoveries and unusual variations. Or how about something exciting you just saw, a crazy garden,  amazing garden art or design, an inspiring visit or hike?

This meme is open to all (you do not have to live in an exotic location to participate)  and will be on the last day of each month…so mark your calendars and lets do something fun on the hot, the loud and the proud meme. I’ll have the link available early, east coast time (USA) to catch you early birds and even earlier for those of you in other countries.

Here is the most recent edition put together by our Plant Fanatic friend, and what follows is my participation in this meme.

White ginger with a beauty matched only by its sweet fragrance

White ginger is so delicate but smells so wonderful and makes the sweetest lei!

Red torch ginger seen around more often these days but still used at graveyards for its longevity

We’ll use this hedge as a divider between the ginger and some of my hibiscus pictures. 

Looks like a mock orange hedge but its color is diluted green instead of forest green

The hibiscus go along with what our meme host, Noel, has done with his meme article this month!  Hibiscus seem to cry out to have their pictures taken!  I’m always on the look out for that perfect hibiscus, no matter what color it is.

A little yellow hibiscus from the grounds at Aloha Tower.

It’s interesting to see how the same overall color hibiscus can still look so very different!  

Beautiful, full, yellow hibiscus from the top of Nu’uanu

I wonder how much of this is soil content and/or environment.

Same yellow hibiscus but this one is from Mililani

While the yellow hibiscus is our State’s flower, there is certainly no faulting the beauty of the other colors!

Perfect pink is hard to find but this pink hibiscus came very close.

Again, we still see variations, albeit some are only slight differences.  

Bright pink hibiscus doesn’t have the perfect leaves but oh my the perfect color!

I’ve discovered that the hardest hibiscus to find in perfect shape seems to be the red one.  They are very alluring but perhaps the bugs and birds think so too.  They are often a bit beaten up.

Cattle egret stepping dangerously close to an oleander hedge

I’m using my darling bird friend here as another divider between the hibiscus and the bougainvillea.

Pink and orange bougainvillea

 Another bright and beautiful flower, the bougainvillea can sometimes be a challenge to maintain and keep tidy.

Lavendar bougainvillea are beautiful and the photo does not do them justice

They do create a lot of leafy trash. 

Bright magenta bougainvillea

There are a lot of bougainvillea all over the place and they are used for decoration and another favorite hedge-type plant.  They don’t always cooperate with the hedge idea and may require a few more trimmings.

These little yellow flowers are always eye-catchers

These little yellow guys are often used as ankle-high hedges and are being used here as a divider between bougainvilleas and the other miscellaneous oddities that I have found.

Pretty yellow and white flowers are actually weeds

These pretty little things are actually weeds.  All weeds should be so lovely!  

This spider lily looks oh so fragile

The spider lilies are always very pretty and so interesting. 

My favorite in this post has to be this little confused t-leaf plant.

Green t-leaf plant with red streaks

I can’t help but think this t-leaf plant was just trying to fit in and keep up with its neighbors!

This was fun!  Thank you, Noel, for letting us share the various forms of beauty that catch our eye and make us pull out our cameras!

It’s a Thirsty World!

On October 15th, the blogosphere is talking about WaterAid – The Burden of Thirst

There are so many statistics about the bad things around the World — staggering statistics.  There are some that attract my attention, some that horrify me, and some that shake me up pretty badly.  Dirty drinking water shakes me up!  But, no water — now that’s even worse!  Unheard of!  Water is such a precious thing but we tend to take it for granted.

“4000 children die each day due to illnesses from lack of clean drinking water. Give money and blog about this. WaterAid is lobbying the UN to make water a human right. Why isn’t it? Over 1 million kids die each year from lack of water and there are easy solutions to this problem. It’s disgraceful.”

Bloggers Unite has struck another one of my nerves with this one so I’m sharing our thirsty World’s water drama.  In Hawai’i we pride ourselves on the cleanliness of our water but we don’t realize that there are so many people out there who are without water — clean or dirty!  How can this happen?!?

America doesn’t have perfect water.  I won’t drink the water in St. Louis, Missouri.  You can smell the chlorine.  Talk about a shock!  “What’s wrong with the water?”  I thought I had inhaled too much cigarette smoke on the plane!  But, at least they have water!   

Bloggers Unite has joined forces with WaterAid America, Megree, and a host of other bloggers, to alert the United Nations and the rest of the World to the need for attention to this and the need to raise money to help start a resolution.

Change.org|Start Petition

If you’re feeling the need to help provide others with what we take for granted, think about donating and/or sign the petition.

It’s a thirsty World, I just never realized how thirsty.

Who’s Biting Who?

Are sharks wrongly accused?  We don’t often think of them as gentle, peaceful creatures.  These black-tip, reef sharks certainly look peaceful here — swimming around quietly with the other fish in their aquatic home at the Waikiki Aquarium.  If anything, you might even call them friendly.   

Two black-tip reef sharks swim quietly at Waikiki Aquarium

The ones at Sea Life Park hide at the bottom of the tank during the daylight hours but these guys swim by and glance at admirers with mild curiosity.   I remember the first time I saw them up close and personal like this.  I was beside myself with awe and admiration and couldn’t take my eyes off of them.  Even now the sight of them nearly has me in tears. 

Obviously, I’m not the only nut case that has an attraction to this particular ocean creature.  Bobbie, over at The Right Blue, can share the drama from a fish’s-eye view.  Nobody shares the water more intimately with the sharks and the other aquatic wildlife, more than divers do. With that in mind, nobody can feel the pangs of animal cruelty like a diver can either!

The underside of a shark swimming overhead

Yes, they are scary to behold but that’s because some fiction writers (love them as I do) and our own beloved Hollywood movie makers have distorted the true character of these aquatic marvels in the interest of providing us with some great entertainment. 

The truth of it is, these ocean dwellers have little to no interest in us.  We taste junk!  They obvioulsy don’t know our race very well because they mistake us for seals and sea lions and the like.  In other words, they mistake us for lunch.    In reality, their biggest danger is us. 

We need them.  They are essential to the balance of the ecosystem and without them our oceans may end up like so many swamp lands that are either tarnished, polluted, or completely destroyed after the upheaval of their environmental balance.  There have been instances where the loss of just one essential life form was enough to throw the entire ecological system of an area out of whack.  

My philosophy is that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”  Our attempts at “fixing” things are exactly what’s leaving them broken!  Our sharks may be joining the humpback whales on the endangered species list if we’re not careful.  Remember insisting on buying dolphin-safe tuna?  We’re going to need a new label soon:  “Dolphin & Shark-Safe” tuna!  

Achievements of Science and the Human Mind

You just never know what’s going on around town! The strangest things could be happening just about anywhere. I have to admit, I was really fascinated to find out that this kind of research is actually going on in our little town!  Intelligent Human Assistive Technology, or iHAT, is part of what makes Archinoetics tick.  While this kind of technology may be a difficult thing to put your arms around, it is a fascinating study in the literal linkage of technology and the human brain.

Entryway at Archinoetics

A fellow Twitter member asked if anyone would like to participate in one of their scientific studies.  Of course I’m just naturally nosy and, thinking this would be something about “going green” I had to raise my hand.  There was talk from the company about reading vital signs and about studies in fatigue — I knew I was still a good candidate at that point.  The fatigue reference was not what the volunteers were for, but it is part of their ongoing areas of research.

Never underestimate the power of the human brain.  For those of you who cannot decide if your brain is into the sciences or into the arts, like me, you will love this one!  Part of Archinoetics' Brochure Cover

“Archinoetics is currently developing ‘Brain Painting’ applications that allows people to paint on a digital canvas using only their thoughts. This is part of research conducted under a National Science Foundation grant to create brain-computer interfaces.”

When I was visiting with them, I was told that one of their ultimate goals is to create a way for people to use their brain power to operate a computer.  Oh my!  Can you imagine what that kind of technology could do for the blind, for quadriplegics, or for anyone with a condition that limits the abilities?  This is a way to tap into the human mind so we won’t lose any intellectual or artistic treasures these individuals have to share.  See how nicely art and science can mesh together?  🙂

These studies are going on in our own back yard!  They’re right here, in downtown Honolulu!  Visited by politicians and students alike, Archinoetics is reaching out to the community, leaving a mark, and being recognized across the globe.  My favorite part is that they are trying to get and keep the scientific interests and abilities of our youth involved.

“Archinoetics Chief Science Officer Hunter Downs was recognized in the 7th annual ‘Flavors of Technology’ ceremony for being one of Hawaii’s ‘Top 40 High Tech Leaders’. Says Dr. Downs, ‘I think the key to the growth of Hawaii’s technology industry is to promote entry into the industry by young adults / students; impassion them to innovate with new ideas; and then to train them to identify development opportunities for those ideas.'”

Archinoetics is definitely an organization to keep on your radar!  I’m impressed.  They’re going places — they already have.  Down the road this kind of technology may open doors into understanding the severity of brain damage caused by accidents or strokes, and maybe even find ways to repair that damage.  Okay, I’m stretching it, but I’m hopeful that Archinoetics’ achievements in research will someday help the human mind in areas we’ve previously seen as hopeless.

Neuroscience is a fascinating thing and neuro-anything behaves differently from one individual to the next.  Hats off to Archinoetics for their research and for their analysis of ways to harness and interpret the information they are able to extract from their scientific trials.  Research in this area is long overdue!

Morning Moon and “Shocking” Surf

Morning Sun shines on the Moon

It’s morning, the sun is shining… and the moon is still hanging around for us to admire. Apparently our evening skylight has decided that being full last week wasn’t enough time in the limelight. I’ve always found it curious when the moon is so visible in the daylight.

Obviously the moon is always there, but it’s not always quite so obvious about it. I wonder what other anomalies accompany months when the moon shares the daylight with the sun. The surf was up, I know that. It still is. Well, on the North and West shores of Oahu it was.

When a Swim is a Shocking Experience

So, where am I going with this and what’s so shocking about daylight moon sightings and high surf?

The jellies! The box jellyfish will be here today or tomorrow. Like clockwork, they will make their appearance, float around, wash up on the beaches and wrap their loving tentacles around unsuspecting swimmers, divers and surfers. Some people say 8-10 days after the full moon while others say 10 to 13. I’m going with 10 just for the sake of simplicity.

Hawaii is one of the very few places, if not the only place, that has this peculiar behavior of mass jelly movement. But, they’ll be flocking into the beaches if they haven’t already. Perhaps we should say constellating since we’re tying it in with the full moon… or maybe we should say “schooling” since they’re more like a school of fish rather than a flock of birds. I like constellating because it’s more visually accurate — the beach will be dotted with them for sure.

Getting away from the pretty bubbles floating on the water is not enough… it’s what’s under the water that’s gonna get you! Although they are toxic and have been known to be deadly, Hawaii has never had a death from these not-so-charming characters. We’ve had illness, pain and maybe even infections, yes, but no deaths.

When I was lucky enough to feel that kind of trauma, it was one of Hawaii’s Portuguese man-of-war that caused the problem. At least with them you can see them coming… they’re the pretty blue bubbles that the unsuspecting swimmer can admire just before they feel the sudden shock of pain. The box jellyfish are clear and under water so you may not see them in time… but you’ll sure feel them if they’re there and you cross their path!

Stinging Jellyfish
Mahalo to “Rob’s Aquatic Moment” at Explore Biodiversity for this wonderful graphic!

All is not lost, swimmers! The lifeguards will post warning signs and they will have remedies ready for tearful victims. Of course, you do need to heed their cautionary statements and the signs they post. If you’re feeling adventurous and in the mood to ignore the warning signs, or if you’re just going to a beach with no lifeguard on duty, be sure you have a bottle of vinegar on hand and a clear knowledge of the closest aid station (fire station or hospital) in case your reaction is more severe than just pain. They also say to use heat but some people say ice. Everyone is different, just see which one works. Personally, I think I would go for the ice.

Certain months bring more squishy visitors than others. Hmmm… with the moon being so cocky and the Northshore having a high surf advisory yesterday morning, maybe the jellies will be out in force! I’ll let you guys know what happens. I’ll listen to the news and we’ll make this our little scientific experiment! Shhhhhhh! We’ll list it as “Homespun Honolulu’s Studies in Biology.” Of course we’ll have to do this more than once to confirm our findings. 🙂 Then someone will just come and beat us up about it. Oh well.

Beware of these little aggressors — they’re not just dumb, floating bubbles. If you’re more than familiar with these characters and are leaning towards shrugging it off, beware of anaphylactic shock. I’ve seen similar, unexpected reactions like this to things like Penicillin and aspirin. “But I wasn’t allergic to it before,” you say.  Well you are now! It can happen so just beware. Don’t let the surf be too shocking!