Comfy dusters (and how they came to be)

It’s week 3 of Extended Community Quarantine here in Manila, and we’ve been working from home. A lot of us have been rocking our favorite house wear, but nothing beats the cool comfort of wearing the Pinay duster (pronounced as daster).

My beautiful Mama Delia ❤

Dusters originally started out as cowboy outfits worn to protect inner clothing from dust (duh!) as you ride around with your horse. It was eventually appropriated into a linen coat worn when riding automobiles to protect your fancy clothes from… well dust. By the 1920s, it metamorphosed into indoor clothing, often worn by women, to protect their houseclothes when… ehrm, dusting… around the house.

In the Philippines, duster-like clothes were worn by women when bathing or washing clothes in the river for modesty. The loose cloth is tied above the breasts and its length and width are perfect to allow squatting and climbing up the steep slopes of rivers. With the American colonialization, the duster made its way into the home as well, but instead of using cotton or linen, original Philippine dusters were made of batik cloth from Indonesia.

The beautiful prints and the resilience of this cloth is linked to the precise technology that allows for its making. Linked with the hydrophobicity of wax, and beautiful plant-based dyes, original batik cloths can take as long as a year to make due to the repeated practice of drawing the prints with wax and immersing in dyes based on how many colors there are in the textile.

Dusters can be heirlooms passed from one generation to the next. In this video, I rock some of the dusters my Mama Delia has passed on to me while I discuss the science behind dusters:

Thanks for passing by!

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to let me, your resident Filipina scientist, know in the comments section below.

And remember, when in doubt, always use your (con)science!

Population growth and response to calamities

In our 2nd and last discussion on population and life tables, I would like to focus on the importance of monitoring population growth.

Proper monitoring of age structures of different populations allows us to project if it is expanding (rapidly or slowly), or if it is stable, or if it is declining. Developed nations often have stable populations, as reproduction does not cause undue stress to the production of these countries. Considering, however, that we are beyond the carrying capacity of the planet, we may want to consider interventions that would result to a decline in population over time.

In Ecology, predictions of modifications in the fecundity or survivorship and its effect on population growth or decline can be made by computing for net reproductive rate or intrinsic rate of increase.

These equations help model if interventions in policy, response to calamities, or plagues can have long term effect on population sizes. There used to be a time when nations were considering (some actually implemented) limiting the number of children that families could have. It was predicted that one-child policies would lead to drastic declines in population, but of course, implementation is often different from models.

These models will eventually help us determine the impact of Covid19 in our population sizes. Countries are bracing for gigantic economic impacts, but we must also note the status of our population sizes as this pandemic takes its toll on various societies.

For a more holistic discussion on the history of human population growth, please watch this SHE-ensya video:

Thank you so much for dropping by!

If you have any questions, queries or requests, please don’t hesitate to let me, your resident Filipina scientist, know in the comments section below.

And remember, when in doubt, always use your (con)science!

Putting power in your methodology

The common (mistaken) assumption when people write research proposals is that the Methodology is the easiest chapter to write. After all, you only need to paraphrase established protocols and you’re done.

This. Is. Wrong.

A good methodology needs the following things:

  1. A clear and robust hypothesis – How? The quickest test is simplicity, and if it is falsifiable given the set of experiments you plan to perform. It needs to be specific and if possible, focuses on one variable at a time.
  2. A meticulous experimental design – What are your experimental units? How many treatments will you have? How many replicates do you need, and will you have subsamples? How will you allocate experimental units to your treatments and how would you arrange your experimental set-up? All of these questions must be answered concretely before you launch into your methodology. Also, to determine the number of replicates needed, you may want to launch into a quick power analysis. Don’t know how? Here’s an easy-to-follow tutorial from Machine Learning Mastery at https://machinelearningmastery.com/statistical-power-and-power-analysis-in-python/.
  3. Proper experimental execution – This requires proper judgement (common sense and humility to ask for help when needed), technical skill (don’t train using your experiment, TRAIN before your experiment), prevention of systematic error and avoidance of random errors.
  4. Correct statistical analysis – There is a huge menu to choose from but luckily, if you don’t have time to go through a 3-month statistics course in school, Khan academy has a crash course available at https://www.khanacademy.org/math/statistics-probability.
  5. Appropriate interpretation – This should be straightforward if you have a clear hypothesis and a solid RRL.

To further help you venture into the exciting world that is the experimental methods, SHE-ensya also produced this video for you:

Start (scientific) critical thinking young

When I was young, not too long ago, I would run from home from school to watch television. Sounds familiar?

What was different then, I think, was the type of shows available for kids. Just like most Filipino families in the early to mid-90s, we had no cable channels and so I was pleasantly stuck with Sineskwele, Math-tinik, Hiraya Manawari and Bayani for my afternoon enjoyment (until anime shows came, much much later).

Image from ABS-CBN news.

These TV shows, together with some awesome teachers (Maraming salamat po!) helped me appreciate science and math, instead of being scared of it. In fact, they made me love STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) instead of not caring for it. And 20+ years later, ta daaaa, you have the ultimate science nerd/geek blogger/vlogger trying to share her love for the sciences!

How’s that for a glow-up? >.<

To thank these educators who have helped change my life, and thank also the next generation of teachers, I made this tribute video in our YouTube channel:

Thank you so much for dropping by!

If you have any comments or suggestion, or your own recollection of your Science teachers, please let me, your resident Filipina scientist, know through the comments section below.

And remember, when in doubt, always use your (con)science!

Life, survival and mortality

Recent events has made a lot of us aware of our own mortality. Though initial reports of Covid19 indicate that the elderly and those with comorbidities are more susceptible to the virus, about 20% of cases worldwide are actually from individuals aged 20-64 years old.

In the Philippines, one of the first fatalities from the medical field is a 34 year old doctor at the peak of his career. And more are in danger because of carelessness, corruption and outright self aggrandizement. It is also too bad, that unlike the Department of Justice of our country, the virus doesn’t pick who it affects. I guess this year proves to a lot of Filipinos how their political choices actually are issues of life and death. (So please vote in 2022!!! And vote wisely too.)

Credits to Mr. Don Peter

In Ecology, the response of different populations to changes in their environment, such as increase or decrease in food supply, incidences of epidemices, and the like, can be predicted using life tables.

A life table is a record of the likelihood of survival of different age groups or developmental stages in the life span of an organism. It involves a fair amount of computation, but if you’re not swayed away by the Math, it can be very informative.

One application of data in life tables are survivorship curves. This helps us look at trends in the probability of survival of a species, dependent on its age. To learn more about how it’s done, please watch the video below:

Thanks for dropping by!

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to let me, your resident Filipina scientist, know through the comments section below.

And remember, when in doubt, always use your (con)science!

How to make a good (scientific) first impression

People are judgy. We have to accept that.

In the field of science, they are even judgier when it comes to the quality of our scientific writing. More often than not, our first chapter in a paper or proposal can set the mood of our readers.

This makes the writing of the Introduction, so tricky.

The general content of the Introduction can be summarized with the following outline:

a. Background of the study

Here we define the domain, or general research topic, that we want to be part of. We become more specific as we progress in writing. We have to be aware that our research is novel (new and unique!) and needed by making sure that we checked existing literature on the subject (So do your RRL first!!!). Highlight the existing gaps in the knowledge about the subject that you wish to focus on.

b. Research Question and hypothesis

The research question needs to be connected with the gaps indicated in your Background. This is complemented by a counterpart hypothesis. A lot of students, at this point, mistake this for a statistical hypothesis. But if you did your RRL (Yes, I’m nagging at this point.), you should notice that there is no scientific paper that says anything like, “The plants exposed to acid rain will experience no significant difference in growth to plants not exposed to acid rain.”

The statistical hypothesis is more relevant to the methods, prior to your application of the statistical tests, but the hypothesis in the introduction is an intelligent (backed by RRL) proposed explanation to the phenomenon you’re studying, that is falsifiable by the experiments you want to perform.

c. Research objectives

This is classified into a general (over arching) objective and a list of specific objectives that break down the general objectives into simpler, measurable and accomplishable bits.

d. Scope and limitations

Also known as “excuses, excuses, excuses”.

Kidding aside, this portion allows you to define the depth and breadth of your experiment. This should (ideally) prevent your readers from expecting too much from your work.

e. Significance of the study

This is a nice way to end your Introduction because it will remind your readers why your study needs to be done in the first place!

To make this discussion on the basics of writing an Introduction, please watch the short video below (and like and subscribe to the channel ^_^):

I hope this was informative for you, specially those trying to make the most of the time at home during the community quarantines a lot of us are experiencing.

Please don’t hesitate to send me, your resident Filipina scientist, your questions and queries in the comments section below.

And remember, when in doubt, always use your (con)science.

The science of kitties (and the Condicats)!!!

It’s Saturday, and it’s my birthday tomorrow!

And as SHE-ensya tradition dictates (with the compounding factor of birthdays!!!), we post fun stuff on weekends.

And what could be more fun than… kitties?!?

Please note, however, that I am not exclusively a kitty person. I appreciate puppers, and bunnies, and snekks, and hammies, etc. But, at the moment, our home is ruled over by three precocious kitties who are holding us hostage.

To learn more about how this happened, watch the video below:

Please don’t hesitate to wish me, your resident Filipina scientist, a happy birthday in the comments section below. Also, if you want more kitty goodness, follow the Condicats in their IG page (@condicats_ph) and in their FB account: Condicats.

And remember, when in doubt, always use your (con)science!