Monthly Archives: November 2013

My very own microscope at home

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Me and my partner always wish of the possibility of having our very own ‘Leica TCS SP8 Confocal Microscope’ at home. At times when we have to image our experiments (in this case, slices of cells or of the heart stained with antibodies to detect expression of proteins) we spend long, tiring hours in a dark room equipped with the most expensive of microscopes. There are many occasions when we go back to the lab in the weekends to use the microscope hoping that its less crowded. Often, after imaging and venturing out of the dark room and taking a look at the pictures, we are dissatisfied with the quality of pictures. this means another long day at the microscope.

If we only we had one of these at home, our life would be a lot more comfortable. The only glitch however, is that it costs almost a million euros. 😉

ImageThese microscopes are capable of scanning through different layers of a section with precision, stack all the layers to project a cumulative image.

ImageWhat you see here is a group of heart cells- their nucleus in blue and sarcomere (basic unit of a muscle cell) in a striated pattern in green. Isn’t it a cool picture?

The Grandeur of the Grand Canyon

‘Awe-inspiring’ is the word that comes to my mind when I think of the Grand Canyon and it is called so for a good reason. Vision of canyons carved by the mighty Colorado river stretch a vast 200 odd kilometres and its sure to leave you mesmerised.

This summer, I went on a big american road trip from Las Vegas, Nevada to San Francisco, California with my boyfriend and we returned with memories of a lifetime. This post is the first of a series of travel posts about our road trip that I’d like to share with you. It all started with an ‘American Heart Association’ conference in Vegas which we both attended (Yes, for real! Someone came up with the idea of organising a conference in Vegas). Five days in Vegas for the conference were extremely tiring with a busy schedule and the hustle of the most populous city in the world left me extremely exhausted.

My boyfriend fancied driving a Jeep with a four-wheel drive which we picked up from the airport and off we went towards South rim of the Grand Canyon. Before I went on this trip, I did extensive research on which part of GC to go to- The North rim and the South rim are maintained by the National Park Service while the West rim is un by the native Hualapai people. If you are short in time and have just a few hours to peek at what GC looks like, head to the West rim. It is the closest from Vegas if you are heading from that direction. I’ve heard of the ‘Skywalk attraction’ which is very popular with tourists. But, if you are looking for a real park experience and have a few days to spare, head to the north or the south rim. The south rim is more crowded than the north during summer and is also a few degrees warmer due to a difference in elevation. The driving distances between the two (about 4 hours from S-N) make it difficult to visit both if you only have a few days at hand. Mind that accommodation inside the park is booked way in advance during the summer, which is why we had to stay at the nearby town of ‘Flagstaff’.

Once in GC, we received a map and a seasonal newspaper with loads of information about activities at the park.

GC

We walked to the visitors centre to orient ourselves and had a little chat with one of the park rangers who asked, ‘Have you seen it yet?’. We nodded our heads and he told us to walk towards the rim from the visitors centre.

My jaw dropped in astonishment at the first sight of the Grand Canyon. Behind us was a fairly flat land where the national park service made roads and constructed buildings to run the Grand Canyon National Park and in front of us was a marvel of nature- gorges and canyons, high and low, staring at us and spread as far as my eyes could see.

We took a shuttle bus to various view points and thoroughly enjoyed every one of them. To connect with the nature around us and to escape a big part of the crowd, we decided to hike the ‘Bright Angel Trail’ the next day. As we headed down the trail, the bright, sunny skies were overtaken by dark clouds with heavy rain. To save ourselves from being hit by thunder, we had to take shelter for over two hours which meant we couldn’t make it to the ‘Indian Gardens’ part of the hike.  As we made our way to the 3-mile rest house and back, we encountered just a handful of hikers. We were all by ourselves, surrounded by the grandest of canyons, a few birds and wild deers at times.

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What’s better than than watch the sun go down the canyons. We went to the ‘Desert view’ point for sunset which also has a watch tower.

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You can get a glimpse of the ‘Colorado river’ in this picture taken after sunset.

Coming up next in the travel series is ‘Bryce Canyon’. Stay tuned!

Have you been to the ‘Grand canyon’?  Which activities did you do? To share your experience or to know more information if you are planning a trip, leave a comment. 

Children of Men

I’ve often wondered what it is that actually motivated me to pursue a research career.

As an 8 year old, I remember putting together a magazine for kids living in my neighborhood. Every week, I would write a story or two, compile science or math puzzles with the help of my mom, include news about competitions kids could take part in as well as congratulating those who did well in studies or at sports to make it an interesting read. My mom would then put these individual pages together and get a few photocopies for me, so I could circulate the magazine around (sweet memories).

A couple of years later, I would be singing at a competition but unlike those around me (who were definitely wiser), I wrote and composed the tune for the song myself (of course, I made a fool of myself :D)

At 13, I participated in a science fair organised by ‘Intel’ at that time (way back in 1999 folks!) and realised that my mind works best in finding solutions to problems whose answers were not to be found in books.

At 27, I’m trying to understand why the human heart works the way it works and when things go wrong, as they do in certain life threatening cardiac diseases, i hope to unravel the cause and contribute to finding a fix.

I’m lucky that my Grandparents, Parents, Teachers and those around me encouraged the inquisitive and creative side in me as a child. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have discovered something that I’m very passionate about.

 

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Thanks for reading 🙂

D

My first post :)

A scientist by day (and night), I turn to blogging to express myself- Hey, now thats my opinion 😉  If its Einstein you are imagining, typing away these words on his mac book air, STOP right there! 😀

I’m 27, have a thing for looking pretty and being fashionable. While I eat, pray and love science, I like to travel every now and then to ease my hectic lifestyle. That should pretty much sum up my blog ‘Formidabulous’- I’ll write (well, i’ll at least try) about beauty, fashion, travel and of course science.

Love,

D