Da-Yuei Joyce Cheng's blog

Decoding the Waggle Dance: Evidence for Animal Consciousness

The waggle dance is a form of communication used by honeybees to convey the location of food source. Honeybees manipulate two variables in their dance to accurately locate the food source: direction is encoded in the angle of the dance in relation to the sun (i.e., vertical direction), and distance is encoded in the duration of the dance, with one second waggle equating to a forging distance of 750 meters. Due to the great distance between the sun and the earth, the sun remained fixed relative to the bee’s motion.

Silk Protein Sericin: Then a Garbage, now a Goldmine

Silk consists of 25-30% sericin, a natural macromolecular protein that facilitates the formation of a cocoon with its adhesive properties. Sericin is most often removed during silk production and discarded in silk processing wastewater. However, recent researches suggest that this by-product of silk industry can be recovered for other uses. These applications of sericin reduce environmental impact of silk manufacture and create economic and social benefit.

Combating Our iDisorders: Disconnect to Reconnect

Dirt is defined as the “matter out of place” by anthropologists. But when we look at piles of dirt next to, say, our iPhones, which is more out of place? iPhones are novel inventions completely unheard-of throughout our evolutionary history; whereas dirt was there all along since the very beginning, even before we were around. So which is more out of place, really? If our ancestors were to see our world today, they would be utterly overwhelmed by the countless things that are out of place.

Make It Contagious!

We are social creatures innately wired to connect. We exist as social units and our abilities to form reciprocal relationships determine our survival fitness throughout evolution. Given such interdependence, it is necessary that we develop an effective system of communication. Written or spoken language allows for documentation but they are not universal; body language can be universal but it is purely visual. We need a system that is pervasive, instantaneous, and applicable across all sensory modalities.

Treating the Person, Not Just the Illness

This week we once again explored the fascinating intersection between science and art. We even took a step further, looking at the implication of art in the treatment for cancer. Like many, I tend to think of art as something tangible and concrete, or something that pertains to the senses, like a piece of production that is excites vision or a melody that is pleasing to the ear.

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