These ScienceBlog entries, written by our Chief Science Officer, Jonathan R. Matias, are listed below for your reading pleasure. These light-hearted essays chronicles many of our current and past projects of interest to the Group. We hope you enjoy these essays.

From time to time and as new articles are posted, a new header of the image is uploaded. These are lost from view as each new image appears. Here I give you those images used in the past as they themselves have a story to tell too.

Shark Tales: JFK, Mercury 7 astronauts and shark repellents
By poseidonsciences, on February 21st, 2012

Between sports fishing, by-catch from longline fishing and the Chinese penchant for shark’s fin soup, man has devastated the world’s oceans to the point that sharks are becoming endangered. But the fear of sharks remains with us. It is a visceral fear considering that more people die of bee stings than shark bites.

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Searching for seagrape seaweed in Indian waters: a nun-scientist’s tale of passion and perseverance
By poseidonsciences, on January 30th, 2012

This is not your usual techinical article on seaweed biochemistry or biology. This topic is quite different. It is the untold tale of discovery, repeated thousands of times around by world by scientists from all disciplines. It is the chase, the hunt for something new, something useful. Starting with a hunch, proving an idea and fulfilling the passion are all the ingredients that make scientific discovery a unique experience.

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Thoughts on that fateful September 11th from a man who wasn’t there
By poseidonsciences, on September 11th, 2011

There is so much going on in science and technology every day, yet I am compelled instead to write about this singular event of the decade–September 11th. Where were you on 9/11? This is a most often asked question posed to any New Yorker traveling overseas or just going across the State lines. I wish I can say how terrifying that day was. How the acrid smoke and the dust filled my lungs. How much anguish it had been to see the Twin Towers disintegrating right before my very own eyes. I could not say those words. I wasn’t there. I was 6,000 miles away, watching the events of that fateful day unfold in the safety of a hotel lounge far away from home.

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Barbarians at the gate: Reflections on the decline of American innovation while
watching a spectacular sunset at Gantry Park

By poseidonsciences, on August 22nd, 2011

America is hemorrhaging its talents not just from reverse migration. American talents from those born here are also being lured by foreign companies and governments with higher wages, better scientific support and a better life style than they could ever imagine at home. Just simply take the case of Singapore, whose expat communities are bursting at the seams. American innovations are being sucked out of the country year after year. You will see great innovations coming out of Asia in the next decade, innovations that would have originated from America had we been able to keep our scientists happier at home.

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Collapse of dictatorships through people power revolutions expedited by science and technology
By poseidonsciences, on February 24th, 2011

Non-violent civil disobedience is not new. It was happening already in many instances long before and made more widespread by Gandhi against British rule in India. But, it was never in the scale seen in the last 25 years. Why such a phenomenon only in the last 25 years? Repressive regimes have been around for millennia and people suffered through successions of regimes—good and bad—without triggering a massive popular revolt. What made the last 25 years so different?

I suppose dictators can blame it partially on science and technology!

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FRACKING Revisited: What lies ahead (or beneath) and the idea of a FRACKING CHALLENGE
By poseidonsciences, on January 30th, 2011

Human beings are great problem-solving species. That is why we are dominant on Earth. We are also a great problem-making species too—but we have the ability to correct our mistakes. This Fracking problem is no different.

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From Gavrilets et al, 2010, Cliodynamics, 1:59-80. Spatial view of polities.

Mathematical models of emerging and collapsing societies. From Asimov’s fictional futuristic tale to the real science of Gavrilets’ numerical simulations
By poseidonsciences, on January 23rd, 2011

Gavrilets developed a mathematical model, using hundreds of years of human historical data, to predict the rise and fall of complex societies. Through numerical simulations that take into account parameters such the size of the state, political power, length of rule, economic variables, etc, his team was able to explain the dynamic processes that cause kingdoms, states and empires to collapse on the scale of decades and centuries.

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Lunar eclipse, Christopher Columbus and the Teredo worm. A convergence of astronomy, history and biology
By poseidonsciences, on December 26th, 2010

Shipworms have been a bane to ancient mariners until the advent of copper clad ships by the 18th century and modern marine coating on steel hulls. These boring clams weakened the wooden hulls of ships to the point that they break apart in the open sea without any warning.

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Balanghai as a war canoe. Watercolor rendering
from a print by Noe Trayvilla, artist, Miagao.
In the JR Matias collection

Balanghai, Borobudur, Phoenicia and the Morgan: Reconstructing and celebrating our ancient maritime heritage
By poseidonsciences, on December 16th, 2010

The science of reconstructing ancients ships and sailing them to validate myths and legends of the past are passions that are taking hold in recent years. This essay chronicles the reconstructions of several ancient ships: the balanghai, Borobudur, Phoenicia…..

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Animation-from an ancient art form to high science. Cryptic images from Paleolithic cave drawings to Shrek, the movie
By poseidonsciences, on November 7th, 2010

Animation, as we know today as motion picture or video, is an increasingly sophisticated art form. It is the method of creating optical illusion of motion through a rapid display of images in two or three dimensions. This illusion is created in our mind because of the phenomenon called “persistence of vision” in which the retina of our eye retains an afterimage for 1/25th of a second….

It is also a perennial surprise to me that the things we now know often have ancient beginnings. Cave dwellers of the Upper Paleolithic era (40,000-10,000 BC) began creating images of animals in motion….

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The fight against cancer needs to be an asymmetric warfare; reflections on a death of a friend
By poseidonsciences, on October 7th, 2010

Why is cancer research so difficult, you may ask? The answer is because it’s a biological phenomenon, not a physical one where all the variables are predictable and easily quantifiable. The cancer cell is a tough opponent — it mutates, it can develop resistance to drugs, it can grow faster than most normal cells, it can hide inside tissues, it can travel at will, it can lie dormant and it can make the blood vessels migrate to it to keep supplying its growing needs.

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Mt. Colden on a misty morning. A wonderful photograph by Ian Plant.
www.ianplant.com

The aging process and the ’7-year Itch.’ Reflections on senescence from the summit of Mt. Colden
By poseidonsciences, on August 14th, 2010

The science of aging paints a picture of a progressive, predictable decline of biological function. One topic that always came up during the traditional Tuesday morning science conference at the Orentreich Foundation was the question of whether we age, like all the graphs typically showed, in a mostly sigmoidal S-shaped mode. But hardly anything even in my own life I can consider linear or sigmoidal. Can we instead age in steps rather than a slope of a curve? For some inexplicable reason, this question followed me long after I have gone on to other things and I want to revisit that issue one more time.

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Cross-section of the skin showing the sebaceous gland and hair

The biology of being oily. Something old and something new
By poseidonsciences, on July 31st, 2010

I think our skin oils have a higher purpose and that is to give our uniquely individual scent. In non-mammalian primates, such as gerbils, rats and mice for example, sebaceous gland secretions are the means of communicating individual identification and sexual attraction. Most likely early humans identify each other by their scent. Perhaps, the sense of smell was more heightened as a means of communication before language was invented. It still persists in our modern world only in some aboriginal cultures. In the Desana tribe of the Amazon and the Batek Negrito of the Malay Peninsula, tribal membership is based on similarity of body odor and marriage is allowed only to a person from another tribal group with a different odor. The Ongee of Andaman Islands, the Bororo of Brazil and the Serer Ndut of Senegal all recognize personal identity by the individual’s smell.

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Photograph on top show the iron bacteria, Gallionella sp.Photo below shows the sulfate degrading bacteria, Desulfovibrio sp.
www.flickr.com/photos/emsl/4252317488

This Fracking problem: Chasing the solution to this controversial mining issue
By poseidonsciences, on July 23rd, 2010

Yesterday, there was a well attended public hearing in Pennsylvania sponsored by the EPA on the use of fracking to release natural gas from shale deposits underneath the earth’s surface. It was a heated “debate.” One side arguing how dangerous it is to their local environment while the industry is saying that it has been proven safe for decades. July 22 was certainly a one ‘fracking’ day for everyone there. It is also uncanny that it was the same day we announced a new project to develop an alternative idea to reduce the environmental impact of fracking.

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Of mice and men: The ecological disasters – Deepwater Horizon and the Dust Bowl
By poseidonsciences, on July 9th, 2010

The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy
(from the Scots poem by Robert Burns, 1785)

Even as I was writing an article early this year for Asia Pacific Coatings Journal on our subsea testing of marine coatings, oil spill was farthest from my mind. Ironically, I wrote my concern about the Deepwater Horizon, not of any potential for an oil spill disaster of this magnitude, but on corrosion damage that may arise over the years from fouling by living things in the deep that attach to the pipelines. The article went into print soon after the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) disaster. Now, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion yanked America back to a new reality, debunking the myth of the super safe oil platforms.

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Tara Oceans: A scientific odyssey in the tradition of HMS Beagle
By poseidonsciences, on June 29th, 2010

The expeditions of HMS Beagle (1831-36) and Tara Oceans (2009-12). Charles Darwin and Capt Robert Fitzroy. His Majesty’s Ship Beagle is among the most celebrated of all British warships, commissioned in 1820 as a Cherokee Class, 10-gun brig-sloop. I always thought that it was odd to name a ship after a dog, unless of course there . . .

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Mountain Lily growing on top of a rock, 1980, artist: JR Matias

The Agony and the Ecstasy: Why science writing is like learning tango and Chinese brush painting
By poseidonsciences, on June 27th, 2010

This is an odd title and I am stuck with it. Worse, I am compelled to explain why this is so. Today, I am at a loss what to choose for my next blog entry and trying to find motivation to write about scientific topics of interest to me – malaria, repellents, arsenic poisoning, the oil spill . . .

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Barnacles attached on the surface of a scallop shell

Charles Darwin’s other passion: rediscovering the origins of barnacle research
By poseidonsciences, on June 20th, 2010

This blog entry has its origins from a company newsletter I wrote in 2009 for scientists working on marine coatings. Darlene Brezinski, the editor of Paint & Coatings Industry magazine, liked the topic so much and asked me to take excerpts from that newsletter into the article that . . .

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Rip Van Winkle, Hibernating Fish and Malaria Control
By poseidonsciences, on June 19th, 2010

When I think of hibernation, my first thought is my high school English literature class on Washington Irving’s tale of a Dutch settler named Rip Van Winkle. The story’s setting is New York’s Catskills Mountains during the American Revolutionary period. In this tale, Rip Van Winkle was a fun-loving, . . .

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