Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Tag Archives: turtle

Art in scientific research, part 2

The fact that I use AFM a lot at work is obvious. Some colleagues joke around (or maybe it wasn’t a joke) and say that whenever I’m in the lab, I’m ALWAYS on the AFM, and that was quite true for a period of time. AFM is such a useful scientific technique for my field of research, yet it can get SO DAMN FRUSTRATING sometimes. You might spend half a day calibrating the apparatus and get a weak signal without any useful data on any given day, but when the AFM is in a good mood, you turn it on and BOOM – sweet, sweet data. And data is like food and water in academia – publish or perish, and without data, be ready to perish.

I’m not going to explain the nitty-gritty details about how an AFM (which by the way stands for atomic force microscopy) works and how you can get funky information about the composition, elasticity, roughness, force, etc. of a surface. It is a pretty neat technique that basically allows you to visualize a surface at the nano-scale…i.e. very, very, very small…

…but the point is you get pretty pictures. Maybe not exactly what you expected to see or wanted to get, but it’s art, doubtlessly. Sometimes images containing useful data are actually those that look quite plain and boring, but in the process of acquiring those images, you end up with some unexpected “noise” that is rather…interesting, shall we say. I’ve already shown you some of them in part 1, and since then I’ve gotten many more scans that are worthy of being in my “scientific art” collection. Let’s see whether your interpretation of the following images agrees with mine 😉

 
This is really one of my favourites – a nano-turtle (left)! Well, zoom out a bit and you can actually see a family of turtles (right) – the father, the mother, and the son 🙂 Indeed I have some friends who are crazy about turtles and they would be happy to know that turtles are taking over the world…even the microscopic world of nanotechnology!

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A stroll in downtown

When you’re talking about visible minorities in Bordeaux, it’s REALLY visible. Back in Toronto, I rarely felt like I was part of a visible minority. Perhaps it was because I lived in a neighbourhood saturated with Asians, and attending Waterloo further weakened the feeling of being a “minority” in Canada. In a multi-cultural centre like Toronto, sometimes it seems as if Caucasians, and not Asians, are the minority of the city.

In Bordeaux, I often look around to see if there are any funny stares – luckily there haven’t been any yet – because I can literally FEEL different in the midst of the crowd. It’s the first time that I’m feeling so out of place, even if it’s just superficially.

I believe I will get used to this feeling in time. For now, my greatest fear is having a French come up to me to say something with their authentic pronunciation and frequent slangs. I don’t want to invite any dirty looks by saying “Parlez-vous anglais?” or “Pouvez-vous parler plus lentement, s’il vous plaît?” but I guess it’s something I will have to endure before being able to understand local French perfectly.

As yesterday was my first Saturday in town, excluding the day that I arrived, I took the leisure of exploring downtown Bordeaux, because I’m sure many would agree that it beats reading papers. Also I figured I’d take some pictures before the weather gets cold or I’m either too busy or lazy to blog once work starts.

Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux

First stop – Grand Théâtre. This would be something like a combination of Roy Thompson Hall and the Hummingbird Center (I have no idea when it became the Sony Center, screw that) in Toronto, where you’d go see concerts, ballets, and operas.

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