The wonderful world of virtual reality for science learning

Featured image: Taken from a tour inside a virtual biological cell, now facing the nucleus with its pores. Found here.

It’s good that you are reading this. The Internet has become a big part of most human lives. If you’re student of biology, there has never been a better time than now to immerse yourself in the wealth of resources made available for learning science.

Inside the living cell
Cellular processes – those ‘events’ inside a living cell – happen all the time and they need to occur otherwise we’ll stop being alive. The cell, so tiny and small and seemingly insignificant, is busy 24/7 because staying alive is hard work. Growing into a healthy individual is even harder work.

Learning about these processes, though, is challenging. The interior of a living cell is difficult to visualise, and when we learn about the many fascinating things that occur in the microcosm of the cell, we may find it daunting to get to grips with ‘how everything works‘ on such a small level. Things can very easily go wrong – that is why biologists and other aspiring scientists marvel at how Mother Nature has created such intricate systems. There’s so much to learn!

The Virtual World 
Enter the world of computer animation. To make it easier for us to visualise how Mother Nature is able to function so beautifully, we need the best of computer animation techniques in order for us to visualise (or “see” in our imagination) the inner workings of such a tiny world.

Start this journey by visiting the NDSU Virtual Cell Animations Project on YouTube! Be amazed and tell everyone you know. There’s a website as well, containing some of the best biology-based animations. Take your time, and have your notebook ready.

Let me know just how useful you find this set of resources. You can also send me links to your favourite resources, and I can add them to our growing list of computer-aided learning resources.

I look forward to that.

Mr/s CrAbScie

You don’t need to be a scientist to appreciate science

Featured Image: Book Cover of The Moral Arc: How Science Makes Us Better People (Kindle Edition)
Author: Michael Shermer
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company, New York
Found on this website, take a look!

Imagine that! Yes, you don’t really have to enrol into a science course to appreciate what science has allowed mankind to dream and do. Ask Peter Thompson, a Berkshire-based personality famous for financial theories and products, about his website and projects on lay science where it states “The Black Scholes model, a model of price variation over time, for stocks as an example, would not exist without […] scientific laws.” Let’s take a look at this idea of knowing about developments in a field without having professional attachments to that field.

For that and other reasons, there are terms such as lay people or lay scientists or lay musicians, meaning that these “lay” characters developed a particular habit as a hobby without acquiring professional skills in that area. (“Laity” has a special religious significance to it, but we won’t focus on that). For example, if you’re a medical doctor and you want to refer to a group of people at a conference who are not qualified medical doctors but they show an interest medical sciences or healthcare, it will be easier for you to refer to them as lay people instead of using heavier expressions such as ‘unqualified people with an interest in healthcare and medicine’. Remember, these expressions are not meant to offend people, in general, but don’t be too surprised when use of such expressions create unwanted tension. You don’t want people to think you’re talking down to them, i.e. being condescending. Some of the potential trouble you’ll land yourself into is outlined in this blog about lay audiences. Your ideas on the matter are welcomed; you can think of and submit terms that may be used instead of lay audience or lay peopleLay theories, on the other hand, refer to the everyday beliefs and constructs that people apply in judgments of situations at home or work and in other personal spaces.

How can I become more appreciative of science while not being a scientist?
Well, if you have been asking this question, then you’ve obviously been giving the matter the right amount of thought. Merely by asking this question, you are opening the door to science, and the act of opening that door might just make you a happier and more appreciative person, in general. Science and scientific advances are a fact of our daily lives; it is no more a myth or public cravings of lunatics, as some overtly skeptical people may have referred to it in the past.

You start an appreciation of science by first looking around you and making a note of all things you can see for which positive scientific advances are responsible. Your refrigerator has been improved to not hurt the atmosphere as previous generations of fridges have done; your electrical vehicle is not adding to the atmosphere’s growing level of carbon dioxide; the screens of your smartphones and computers don’t hurt your eyes as older screens might have done; and in winter the insides of your home can stay warm and cosy despite the outside freezing temperatures. There are some negative side-effects, e.g. waste disposal due to development of non-biodegradable plastics. All these developments are due to how science has developed, as a discipline of study and enterprise, and how it has tried to make our lives more comfortable.

We haven’t always been as successful. Yes, many greedy people have been abusing scientific knowledge and have instead created systems that are more damaging to the environment, keeping it a secret for so long. However, a growing number of people are standing up to speak out against people with such negative intentions, and as a professional body worth keeping intact, scientists from around the world are uniting in making the world more balanced and more enjoyable (click here for more on scientists taking a good stand). This is by no means an easy task; to achieve this, scientists need the help of every single non-scientist, i.e. lay people, to take an active interest in furthering the cause of good science, and ridding the world of bad scientists.

As mentioned in a related blog in this series, the second activity you can initiate is the development of a good reading hobby, where you choose your preferred science news websites. This could be a lot of fun! Your dedication to the task will make you realise that you could be reading ten good articles in a day, altogether taking no more than one hour, and you’ll be richer with knowledge regarding how science adds to your life (or our lives). Yes, even if we don’t personally know each other, we still have something in common: science has affected our lives. (Perhaps science hasn’t affected us all by the same margins of magnitude, but it did affect all human lives over the last century). Human beings are complex social animals living in a fascinating natural world, and our relationships with each other and nature are extremely complex. There is never a dull moment in the world of science.

Best yet, by following updates and developments, you’ll soon agree that the world indeed needs such enquiring minds engaged in the professional world of science, in order to advance us to the next level. If your mind remains curious and your work habit (or diligence and work ethic) is solid, then your lay interest in science could easily become a professional interest! If you’re already a scientist, or you’re currently aspiring to become one, then you already appreciate how science has the potential to improve the status quo for many humans across the world. But please don’t forget: not all people around the world has been affected in a positive sense: everyday there are hundreds of news stories about destruction at the hands of scientists who use their skills to develop destructive weapons. The professional world of science needs the support of both professional scientists and laypersons to rally against the abusive use of scientific knowledge. If science is used to destroy humans, then perhaps it is not a worthy discipline to follow.

Examples of Amazing Lay Science
Here are some rather inspiring contributions by lay scientists, some of whom decided to take science up as a career path

10 amazing medical breakthroughs by teenagers
10 names: Angela Zhang, Eric Chen, Joe Landolina, Serena Fasano, Brittany Wenger, Jack Andraka, Elana Simon, Suman Mulumudi, Tony Hansberry and Ethan Manuell

South African teen wins Google Science Fair price
Name: Kiara Nirghin

Teenage girls to launch Africa’s first private space satellite
4 of the 14 names: Brittany Bull, Sesam Mngqengqiswa, Ayesha Salie and Bhanekazi Tandwa

6 Uneducated Amateurs Whose Genius Changed the World
Names: Michael Faraday, William Herschel, Srinivasa Ramanujan, Mary Anning, Donald G. Harden and Gregor Mendel


Appreciate science and contribute!
Once you’ve seen for yourself how scientific pursuits can be beneficial, then you would be in an ideal position to make your own contribution. Any person can contribute to science – without having to be a scientist! You can be a lay contributor, and the act of making a contribution to science will then transform you into a well-known scientist, even without qualifications. Science is a way of life. Gaining professional qualifications, on the other hand, is very useful when you think your active interest in science can last a lifetime. There are many benefits attached to travelling around the world and offering your professional science expertise.

These are some basic ideas on this topic. If you feel it is in need of expansion, then please notify me by replying to this post, or by sending an email. I can’t wait to hear from you.

Mr/s CrAbScie
20 October 2017


Science in the NEWS – a guide for career seekers

Featured Image:
An artist’s illustration of two merging neutron stars.
University of Warwick/Mark Garlick

Science-loving people look forward to the ‘SCIENCE’ sections of their favourite newspapers, magazines or websites. It is often a great idea to have a fixed time in your day or week to read up on the latest scientific developments and breakthroughs. Most computer and mobile operating systems allow for convenient notification settings that allows one to know about developments as soon as they are published on your favourite sites. Never before in human history has there been so many major discoveries in such concentrated spans of time; being alive in the 3rd millennium AD (i.e. after the year 2000) is something worth writing volumes about! Scientists live for the small and big discoveries, as well as for the subsequent enlightenment, advancing the collective body of knowledge about the world in and around us.

For example, imagine the awe, excitement and absolute ecstasy when astronomers (in the fields of astronomy and/or astrophysics) were able to detect the light AND gravitational waves from the collision of two neutron stars! (It was common to detect either light OR gravitational waves from distant objects outside Earth’s atmosphere, but never both). More than 100 years ago the iconic scientist named Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves, and said that they would ‘bend’ (i.e. distort) under the influence of gravity. He couldn’t live to the present in order to see his prediction proven correct using state-of-the-art wave detectors; we realise at once how fortunate we are. (Einstein is the same legendary wizard known for conjuring the magic that states E = mc2)

If astronomy doesn’t excite you, consider the scientific breakthroughs closer to home, as in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). Most recently, a computer called AlphaGo Zero made history by learning a human board game called “Go” without any human input! Imagine a computer teaching itself. It sounds like a sci-fi movie, right?! Scientists managed to bring the fiction into real life, which is no small achievement. AlphaGo Zero beat its predecessor, AlphaGo Lee, by a stunning margin of 100-0, after AlphaGo Lee was the first AI computer to beat a human world champion of the game by a margin of 4-1! This recent event took us back 20 years, to 11 May 1997,  a significant moment on human history’s timeline, when the world’s most iconic chess grandmaster, Gary Kasparov, struggled to accept defeat against an IBM supercomputer called Deep Blue, an event credited with launching the great data revolution.

Another example of AI news here.
Other warnings AGAINST the use of AI here.

The domains of healthcare and medicine also benefit by advances in biotechnological sciences. Quoting the abstract of a recent publication (click the link here or see the citation below, the purposes and usefulness of a career in biotechnology are rather forthcoming:

“Biotechnology has offered modern medical devices for diagnostic and preventive purposes, which include diagnostic test kits, vaccines and radio-labeled biological therapeutics used for imaging and analysis. Human health is a major growing concern worldwide because of infectious diseases. Biotechnology has played a dynamic role in improving the challenges regarding to human health as it has flexibility to reduce global health differences by the provision of promising technologies. Health, life quality and expectancy of life have been increased worldwide through the services provided by biotechnology. Malnutrition mainly arises due to the lack of essential nutrients and vitamins in food and ultimately results in [premature] death. Biotechnology has play[ed] a major role in eliminating these problems by producing [nutrient-enriched] food such as golden Rice, maize, potato and soybean, etc. Biotechnology has also played an important role in controlling the environmental pollution through biodegradation of potential pollutants. This review sketches improvement of human health by the use of biotechnological advances in molecular diagnostics, medicine, vaccines, nutritionally enriched genetically modified crops and waste management.”

Citation: Afzal H, Zahid K, Ali Q, Sarwar K, Shakoor S, et al. (2016) Role of Biotechnology in Improving Human Health. J Mol Biomark Diagn 8: 309. doi: 10.4172/2155-9929.1000309

Other examples of biotech in the news can be found here, here, here or here.

Then we’re also interested in showcasing major news topics in the energy sector. Here you would not find a lack of exciting developments! Take a look at the ideas already expressed in 2012, compared to what is happening today, a mere 5 years later! So much science and development is happening every day – it takes a dedicated habit of reading to get to grips with it all. (And don’t worry – scientists say that reading a modern LCD/plasma screen is not as harmful to your eyes except for making your muscles tired. Please read for no more than 30 minutes at a time. Take regular breaks).

Many people have been saying that solar energy might not be as economical as previously thought, but in the meantime these conjectures have been proven false:

“Renewable Energy World posts in Facebook every headline it publishes online. A few stories in 2016 garnered a lot of attention in the social media platform, but the news that Dubai broke the record for the lowest cost of solar blew away Renewable Energy World’s record for engagement in Facebook by followers. Written by Moritz Borgmann, partner at clean tech advisory Apricum, the story explained that the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority received bids as low as US$3/kWh for the 800-MW Sheikh Maktoum solar park phase three, marking not only the lowest cost ever for solar power, but also beating costs for fossil fuel in Dubai. Expect Dubai to continue to make headlines in 2017, as the city works to achieve Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid’s clean energy strategy for 2050, which includes generating 7 percent of all of its power from renewable resources by 2020 and 75 percent by 2050.”

From the website (Published 30 December 2016)

The World is Watching This Development, very closely indeed.


In conclusion

You could also try some or all of the major news outlets listed below. It is by no means an exhaustive list. Expand it and broaden your horizons into the forays of science. Note that this may or may not show actual scientific publications, which can be found on other sites by following links found through your own research activities.

BBC Earth (UK)

CNN Health (USA)

Independent Indy/Life (UK)

The Guardian Science (UK)

Fox News Science (USA)

ABC News Science (Australia)

Science (Journal) Magazine (Europe)

Science (Journal) Magazine (Africa)

Science (Journal) Magazine (Latin America)

Main site:

Brazilian Science News

Russian Science and Education News

Nature (Journal) – News – Global
Nature (Journal) – News – Africa

Australian Academy of Science – News

Canadian Science News

Chinese Science and Technology News

Indian Science and Technology News

Japanese Science and Technology News
Japanese Science (in general)

Northern Europe Science and Technology

Scandinavia Life Science Cluster

South African Science and Technology News

South African Engineering News


Thanks for you attention

Mr/s CrAbScie
19 October 2017

Why studying science is good for you and humanity

(Featured Image downloaded from

Earlier this year, Bill Gates, the richest man on earth, predicted that three fields of human endeavour are worth investing one’s future in: AI (artificial intelligence), biotechnology and the energy sector (Fortune Magazine, Jan 2017). In this post, we’ll expand on the role of science and scientific knowledge in these fields, and more.

Being a scientist means that you’ve learned and understood the process of science (explained here). It takes a number of years to prove that you are able to successfully and independently initiate and conduct scientific research. You should also prove that you can work together (i.e. collaborate) with other scientists. Team-based collaboration usually brings the best results, despite the sometimes competitive nature of scientific pursuits. (Humans are prone to being overtly competitive, and even the best scientists are not saved from this nagging, sometimes debilitating human trait). The most important aspect of scientific endeavour is to benefit mankind by the scientific knowledge you try to uncover, and sometimes you must be aware of the fact that negatively-minded people can abuse the knowledge and perform rather damaging acts with the new knowledge so created. For example, creating a chemical bomb to kill people in a designated geographical region is considered an abuse of advances in the fields of chemistry and physics. Being a scientist encapsulates the ideas of being responsible in your life; knowledge creation is a powerful part of humanity’s unquestionable impact on Earth.

In AI, the focus is on building robots and robot-like systems that can respond to human commands and conversations in real time. Very recently, a robot addressed the UN (a big first in the AI-robotics industry), and claimed that AI robots will be able to help humanity in powerful ways. This is still a dream, however, and perhaps we’ll not be able to prove it just yet. That’s where scientists come in: our collective work will be to scientifically prove that our lives will be better with AI, else we don’t need to be investing so much money and resources into developing technology that won’y benefit us at large. Scientists find themselves facing – and sometimes crossing – the boundaries of ethics and morality (click here for an interesting immersion). Regarding AI, we can and should ask ourselves: is it moral to receive advice from a non-living robot? You can even become a scientist to study ethics and morality in the domain of scientific development! The sustainable future of our world depends on the ability to make more informed decisions. Poor decisions in the past have led to the high incidence of destruction and inequality across the globe.

Biotechnology is the ideal option for those interested in both biological sciences and the latest science-based technological advances. In fact, any recent advance in technology is expected to be science-based. This means that if you are contributing to the advancement of technology, it is expected that you prove – by using some sort of scientific data collection process – that your technological development is beneficial to other humans and not just yourself. Scientists spend huge chunks of time studying quantitative and qualitative research techniques in order to gather the necessary information so that the evidence can be presented to anyone interested in the advance you’re trying to implement. ‘Scientific techniques’ pervade all spaces where technological development is being considered; being knowledgeable about the specific science (e.g. biology, chemistry or physics) is indeed a major advantage. On the ‘technological side’, the other major advantage would be a deeper practical knowledge of computers, hardware, software, databases (cf. proteomics and genomics), coding and web-based applications (e.g. applets and widgets – use IE or Safari browsers). Applets in mathematics, physics and engineering are very common tools for learning and the sharing of knowledge. Advances in biotechnology over the next few years may even surpass current expectations.

Advances in the renewable energy sector is one of the hottest topics among the world’s most influential economic corporations and institutions. Scientists are needed for developing the best systems and devices for delivery of renewable energy on a large-enough scale over a sustainable period of time (i.e. a minimum of three generations). Investing in a field within this sector is definitely advised. The Paris Climate agreement achieved the cooperation among more than 170 nations, representing one of the biggest achievements in human history characterised by cultural divisions: collaboration will help us create a more sustainable future. The quote below will demonstrate the importance of the above statements:

In July [2017] Schellnhuber told a science conference in Paris that the world needed “an induced implosion of the carbon economy over the next 20-30 years. Otherwise we have no chance of avoiding dangerous, perhaps disastrous, climate change.”


Studying science will allow you to participate in the collective growth of humanity, while also allowing you to establish yourself in a sustainable career field. Yes, it takes longer for scientists to “rise to fame” or achieve any level of significant economic wealth, but there is more than money at stake: the progressive survival and overall happiness of the human race. The study of science and its contribution to humanity, as a whole, will allow you to participate in any major development that humanity will face over the next 30 years, guaranteed.

You can still “make lots of money” when investing in a scientific career, but in order to do so it will be necessary to sharpen your technological skills, as indicated in the section on biotechnology.

For any questions related to this post, please leave a reply or contact us via our Facebook page.

Thanks for enjoying this read!

Mr/s CrAbScie

Brought to you by CrazyAboutSciences (c) 2017


[SKILLS] How can I learn faster and more effectively?

Featured Image: a Mind Map, a very popular study tool

Yes, it’s time we talk about this thing: LEARNING. What a boredom this brings!

If you feel that learning is boring, I dare you to reconsider. Learning is boring when you’re not learning much. True? Well, you can do your own experiment. Try to remember all the times you had fun… and tell me that you didn’t learn anything during that time… the whole trick is that you feel rewarded when there are signs that you actually learned something. And nothing on earth can beat that wonderful feeling that comes with accomplishment.

You want to study sciences. I get that. And I love it. The more we have people signing up for learning proper sciences, the better our sights for the future. I get that you want to study sciences. And I want you to know how much it means to a teacher if a student is keen to learn. So, you should not walk away from this opportunity to learn more about sciences. But if you’re afraid of all the nightmarish things of scientific learning, then it’s my job right here to tell you that these nightmares will be over in no time. I promise.

Consider this: there is a science behind studying and learning. Can you believe it? People are spending lots of time and resources to understand how we can best learn. There’s a website you can visit (when you’re done with reading this page): The Science Behind How We Learn New Skills. Basically, you can learn to become a great learner. Many people before you have changed their lives by investing a little bit of extra reading time, and in the process also setting themselves up for a greater career or set of skills.

Which brings us to the issue of skills. SKILLS are the reason we must learn. It is a law of life. So, you want to improve academic skills, which entails learning skills. This is the new language you will become familiar with:

  • key skills
  • transferable skills
  • skilful practices
  • academic skills
  • employability skills

There are also alternative terms in use, such as capabilities, competencies, or abilities. And there is inevitably some overlap between all of these and other attributes, such as knowledge, understanding, and aspects of personality. [Reference]

In your quest to becoming a better learner (or more skilled), you will accept that a certain amount of effort is needed. You are allowed to be a little bit nervous but you must not be demotivated by this nervousness. Effort is your friend. Now that we’re settled on this, you can start your amazing journey to great learning success!

Look up “SQ3R Method“. It’s a very good place to start (like doh re me in “Sound of Music”). You can print the pages from the link in the first sentence of this paragraph, and display those pages within view from where you sit to study. (YES, you are advised to have a specific study location, a place that you made some effort for in terms of getting it ready for the exciting journey of learning by doing). The SQ3R Method will now be our introductory means of getting to appreciate the differences between a skill and knowledge. First, you will gain knowledge of study methods. Then, after applying these methods to learning the necessary content for your different subjects, the learning skills will develop. Finally, after your learning skills have improved, learning ability will improve, and you’d be able to learn quicker. See the pattern? It all started with the ACTION of reading. Reading, therefore, is also a skill that can be improved. Better readers learn more effectively.

This concludes the introduction to skills and faster learning. Now you can visit the site about the science behind learning.

Mr/s CrAbScie


Exemplary effort ::: > IGCSE REVISION NOTES

Ruru Hoong shared her/his IGCSE revision notes with the world:

At first I was looking for simple notes on IGCSE chemistry, but I soon realised s/he posted (after SCANNING) all her/his HANDWRITTEN notes for his entire list of IGCSE subject examinations! This came as a most welcome shock, mainly because I repeatedly say to my students that one remembers your academic stuff best when it’s in your own handwriting. Research on this has shown that your brain prefers to read your handwriting more than the typed text (reference). It thus remembers more.

I salute this student; s/he did well.

Furthermore, it’s great to have such a resource to your disposal – you can then always refer to it whenever it’s needed. And if you use her/his notes to study you might do well, indeed; but you might be surprised to learn that if you copy her/his example – by writing and compiling YOUR OWN NOTES – you may jump from a D or E to, say, a B, or even an A*. This is because your body remembers the content of the subjects more readily because you had to do the ACTION of writing, which is then committed to memory more securely. When it’s in your memory banks – so securely – it becomes more difficult for you to forget the work.

And this is where you want to be with sciences: you want to retain your knowledge more securely, and for longer. The exemplary effort by students such as Hoong is well appreciated; and there are other more well-known sites such as Doc Brown that takes you through entire courses, showing the type of dedication needed for successful mastering of scientific subjects. Following these leads, the learning of scientific knowledge is virtually at your fingertips. And you would be well-poised to take the leap of faith into this more enjoyable quest towards knowledge-driven enlightenment of the world through the eyes of those who clearly had a great time when walking this path to scientific wonderment.

Mr/s CrAbScie
13 February 2014


Why study science (or scientific) subjects?

Featured Image: Albert Einstein, the greatest scientist in recent history, on the importance of asking (better) questions, courtesy of Braidwood

I am a science teacher; most of my students show me (through their behaviour) that the study of sciences are just a big, unforgivable pain in places where no photosynthesis can take place.

This blog, in general, would be a place for me to meet those students; we could form an e-friendship that would form a medium of interaction through which (I hope) it becomes much clearer that there are unusually higher levels of reasons for considering the study of sciences in a much happier frame of mind. In other words, it doesn’t have to be a pain. Actually, it can be a pleasure that will increase in speed until terminal velocity is reached just before you leave school!

I studied  physics, chemistry, biology and geography at the time of my high school graduation. My Grade 8-9 physics teacher was the school’s athletic coach (and he has world records attached to his name). My senior year physics teacher is still my friend in real life (after 27 years since my graduation) and he is now completing his honours degree in cloud computing. Together with my biology teacher (Mr Poyo), these teachers all showed me the various possibilities of the frontiers within scientific knowledge. When I teach science, my students are usually impressed by the wide range of topics I can talk about during science classes (I teach physics, biology, chemistry and information technology). All this is possible because I always had a deep appreciation for the worth of knowledge within the scientific domain.

Precisely because I had very trustworthy role models, I aspire to bring out the best within sciences education. This blog will aid in achieving that goal by allowing me to foster connections with students who might need a different approach in order to see how knowledge of the content within  scientific  subjects can become a very good addition to one’s everyday skill sets. If you really want to allow science subjects to be less boring, and for the study of it to be more rewarding, you have to stretch out a hand to your mirror image and acknowledge that nothing worthwhile in life will come to you without considerable effort. But effort does not need to be strenuous.

Add comments, suggestions, questions or other queries, and as we’ll get better acquainted you’ll notice how much less stress you can have with the thoughts of physics, chemistry, biology, or whatever other scientific subject you are studying. Effort can allow you to experience a special, achieving kind of pleasure that would not be worth any money in the world.

Mr/s Crazy-About-Sciences (Mr/s CrAbScie)