Monday, August 30, 2010

Keeping up

My science degree is taking up much of my time, mid semester assessments are coming up, preparation is utmost important, remember I have a contract with my university, my study is provided with a scholarship; it's a prize, it's also a responsibility.

Jason Derulo with a fan.

After watching the final show of Crimson Spring presented by Chinese Music Group (21/8/2010), I was invited to attend the post production dinner. I've had chance to talk to people, otherwise I wouldn't have it, it's a one off opportunity, so precious, the unique combination will never come its way again. There're so many ways to look at things, many a times I've been caught up in my opinion, all it takes is a person to communicate, take a step back, and examine a different perspective.

Since this was the second time I watched the musical, being a person who pay attention to the utmost detail, the character of the blind flower girl was central to the play, not from the question of the storyline structure but from a perspective of artistic portrayal. Upon the first hint of the character being blind, I started to pay attention, has this actor played her role up to the vivid quality I've been asking for? For a sighted person to present the character of a blind is no easy task and vice versa, at some point of the play a subtle mistake can make or break the scene. The cast demanded much acting skill, Soe Yi Jing being placed in her position has played it well.

I can still find the homeless (in Malaysian terms, that equates to being beggar) in the very livable city of Melbourne, so where's the love?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

To Add Maths or not to add?

Approaching the end of Form 3, I'm sure many of you are posed with the choice of science or art stream, the decision you make will ultimately decide your subjects taken in SPM.

It is a known fact that Mathematics (aka modern mathematics) is a compulsory subject to take in your secondary school leaving examination. Therefore there isn't much to discuss about it.

What about Additional Mathematics?

The subject, popularly known as Add Maths, introduces you to advanced mathematical ideas at the junior secondary school level. A few landmark topics in the subject include functions (in general), differentiation, integration, trigonometrical functions, indices & logarithms and vectors.

I know most science stream students will take Add Maths as an exam subject. If you're in the art stream, you can choose to take the subject, and I have compelling reasons for you to do so.

The common misconception is, add math is only for the smart. I know add math can be tough at the beginning, you simply need to practise your skills to make it perfect. Having gone through education, with the hindsight, I can tell you that you'll surely encounter Add Math topics when you go to college (unless you choose to ditch math). Trust me, taking Add Math at high school really make your college life easier :) Furthermore, your life is governed by mathematics, you just simply can't run away from it even for one day.

If you're in the art stream and taking business subjects (Commerce & Principles of Economics), I'd recommend you to take Add Math! Remember knowledge in algebra (logarithms, indices), calculus (differentiation & integration) and statistics are essential in business courses, you'll certainly make use of the skills gained to look at advanced materials. So, get yourself familiar with the methods earlier rather than later.

Add Maths is a challenging and fun course, I got to appreciate the mathematical beauty and intricacy not gained in modern math subject. I can assure you that you wouldn't regret if you have taken Add Maths in a Malaysian high school later in your life.

To get yourself started, simply gather your friends and enquire your school about providing resources to teach Add Maths (Malaysian law states that your school must provide when there's a minimum of 15 students request  to take ANY subject). Or, approach any tuition centre about providing means of primary instruction about the subject.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I don't know from where, I am so obsessed with looking up course descriptions of subjects in other universities. From my university handbook, I know the subject names by heart. The fact is that, the handbooks are public to allow for easy access, who knows some busybody might pop around.

You expect topics to be covered by reading a subject description. Coupled with information on level of the course (as per the university) you can tell the standard of the university, as well as the academic demands placed on students. Prescribed textbooks can give clues too.

Obviously you must learn from the best right? Some math papers from Cambridge for you to try! Here and here. You need Adobe Reader to open them.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Crimson Spring review

My disclosure: I'm a member of Chinese Music Group promotion department.

Since the success of The Puppets in year 2009, CMG is back this year to present her annual production "Crimson Spring". Having the opportunity to catch this play on its premiere is of course another bonus.

The play opens into a nightclub in Shanghai set in the 1960s. It is a routine, part and parcel of this vibrant Chinese city. Dancers are an integral part of everyday nightlife, along with madam and club owners who hold everything together.

I must say, the beginning scenes may seem mundane. In a series of events, the audience is introduced to Xiao Yun, the blind flower girl, serving as a turning point, and set the direction for the play. Again, the flower girl is going through her everyday life, calling out wares.

Encounter of You Jia, owner of Crimson Spring with Xiao Yun turns the play out of the routine as viewers have seen earlier. Blindness of the flower girl is used as a powerful device to portray the essence of beauty, innocence and purity, shielded from temptations of the world. The encounter turns into a harmonic duet of a beginning romance, that was the highlight of the play before intermission.

Where the story 'kicks in' is the scene of Mo Gu facing consequences of her decision to flee from her former nightclub. In a series of events, the characters are drawn into the whirlpool of conflicts, painting a picture of the society: the diminishing law and order, the neglected familial love and the devaluation of romance, integratively sending a political message. The father and son duet speaks of helplessness arising from the setting. Xiao Yun, now in an altered circumstance, had the thematic of her blindness shifted to criticize naive idealism and corruption.

Crimson Spring drawn the audience into a world of principalities that engages with set values. The play features excellent scores of original music; it's the plot that takes some time to build up.

Monday, August 16, 2010

So, what happened in neurofibromatosis?

In any disease, something must have gone wrong with the functioning of our body. The cause can either be genetic or acquired (infections from microbes or diet).

If any of you are reading , you are well aware that she has a condition called . In simple terms, this condition causes benign tumours to grow around her auditory nerve.

Neurofibromatosis (NF) is a genetic disorder that affects the nervous system. Patients with this condition develop benign tumours around their nerve, which can be harmless or cause serious damage by compressing neighbouring nerve or other tissues and affecting their function. Affected people often undergo repeated surgeries to remove tumours and suffer complications as a result (deafness, blindness, loss of balance, etc.)

Classification of Neurofibromatosis

There are three types of Neurofibromatosis, namely Neurofibromatosis type 1, Neurofibromatosis type 2 and Schwannomatosis. Type 1 is caused by mutation at chromosome 17; type 2, mutation at chromosome 22; Schwannomatosis is caused by mutation in both Chromosome 17 and 22.

Molecular biology and pathology of Neurofibromatosis

I am majoring in molecular bioscience in university, so I am in a position to let you understand the disease from a molecular perspective. Furthermore, nobody has blogged about what happened in the cells that forms tumour.

I have told you that NF can be traced back to genetic mutation at the chromosome. First of all, a question remains to be answered. What does a gene do and how it causes diseases?

DNA, the genetic material for humans, is contained in chromosomes. A gene is a specific region in DNA that codes for protein (sometimes RNA). Whether a gene codes for a protein or RNA, we shall call it the product of the gene. It is the gene product that carries out the function inside our body. Since a gene codes for a product, there is a flow of information in the process, any error in the information will be carried forward. So, you get a dysfunctional protein (in most cases) from a mutated gene.

In NF1, the gene affected codes for neurofibromin 1 while in NF2, the gene affected codes for neurofibromin 2. Both neurofibromins are proteins important for tumour suppression.

But.... haven't we forgotten that all of us carry two copies of each chromosome? In other words, most of us carry two copies of any one gene. Many versions can exist for a gene, due to the differences in DNA sequence. Since a gene is represented twice in our body, we can have at most two versions of a gene. Several combinations can arise, we can either carry two working copies, only one working copy or none at all.

neurofibromin 1
Ribbon diagram of neurofibromin 1

Both type 1 and 2 NF shows dominant inheritance. In other words, having one copy of the gene that gives NF will give the disease. The gene that gives NF is actually, a defective version of the normal gene. But didn't the affected person have one working copy? Isn't this one working copy enough to stop the disease? Why is this the case?

To find out what's the effect of having only one normal copy of a gene, we must understand what its gene product do. Remember, the gene only codes for the instruction to make protein. I have said earlier, it is the protein (the gene product) that does the job. What happen is, the gene on both chromosomes will be expressed to make many copies of gene products, each chromosome contributes half of the total. For some traits, you only need one working copy of the gene to give the normal trait, but not for NF. In NF patients with only one normal gene, you expect half of the proteins will be normal and the other half will be dysfunctional. For patients with no working copy of the gene, needless to say but their symptoms will be worse.

So we turn our attention to the protein made from the gene. In NF1, the protein affected is neurofibromin 1, an important tumour suppressor protein. For NF2 the protein affected is neurofibromin 2 (also named Merlin, schwannomin), a structural protein and also a tumour supressor protein. [The structural role of Merlin actually has nothing to do with its tumour supressor role, don't believe Wikipedia!] Tumour supressor proteins, as their name implies, act to prevent a cell from growing uncontrollably that leads to tumour formation. They function by interacting with other proteins in signalling pathways inside the cell.

neurofibromin 2 merlin
Ribbon diagram of neurofibromin 2

You can imagine proteins in the signalling pathways as those mini messengers, each carrying a message telling the big cell "what to do next". Tumour supression proteins inhibit these signalling proteins from carrying out their function, so the cell will not grow and divide when it's not supposed to. Having only half of the tumour supression proteins working is just like having not enough police to stop a demanding protest, so the cell proceeds to grow and divide because signalling pathways become unchecked.

Unchecked signalling pathways causes the cell to grow and divide, uncontrollably. Note that one cell divides giving two new cells, and these new cells continue the successive cycles of growth and division giving many many cells. The result is tumour.

Inheritance of Neurofibromatosis

The dominant nature of NF means that, if you have NF and have children, you can expect your children to have the disease, though not all. Still wondering why NF is dominant? Think about the consequence of having only half of the proteins working or something that the defective protein do. In NF, it is the latter that is the case, this condition is called dominant negative by geneticists/biochemists. The pattern of inheritance (dominant/recessive) of a condition can give a clue of what the gene product do, and how it give rise to the condition :)

The message

To find out more about the life of a NF patient, do visit Yvonne Foong, and support her by donation. She is raising funds to combat this lifelong condition; she needs your help, of course.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Outside your comfort zone

After attending the open day of my university, I have some good news! The breadth requirements has been changed, effective from 2011:

  • You must take a minimum of four (4) breadth subjects in your degree.
  • You can only take a maximum of six (6) breadth subjects.
  • Up to three (3) breadth subjects can be taken at first year level.
  • You can't take more than 3 subjects as breadth in your first year.

So, the good news is, the irritating "one breadth subject must be taken at 3rd year level" is abolished! This saves most of us from meeting prerequisites and taking subjects we're not interested in. It means, more freedom!

How does this mean to me? In my third year, I can try more science subjects at third year level. Breadth subject is good for early stages of your university to learn more, but you don't need to go too deep into something not of your kind unless you choose to.

Another tip is that, most science practical subjects will not be available as breadth for other degree courses. Why? Places are limited for these subjects, furthermore science people need these subjects to qualify for their degree.

The idea of taking subjects outside home faculty is not new, actually. From keen observations, I've seen people broadening their horizon, and their university enforces similar rules for such practices.

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sodium potassium pump

sodium potassium pump

The protein shown above is a favourite model to describe active transport across cellular membranes in high school textbooks. Do you know this transporter is also named as an enzyme?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Back from Crimson Spring premiere

Just watched Crimson Spring 春祭 presented by Chinese Music Group of The University of Melbourne!

Crimson Spring CMG Yi Jing and Biopolymath
Catch Yi Jing as Xiao Yun, the blind flower girl in the play.

There are three more shows on the 19th, 20th, 21st Aug at 7 pm at Union House, The University of Melbourne. Tickets available! Interested please call +614 2322 2648.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Biocandidtry: Wacky Dawei

During Fotoholics trip to the Otway Ranges...

Fotoholics Otways Dawei Ye

The president of Fotoholics was so futuristic, taking a group shot of us using a telephoto lens! And he has to run 200 metres to be in the photo >.<" The group shot never worked out; the photographer was sniped :P Technorati tags: ,

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Gelatomio, Pavilion KL

Gelatomio Platter Pavilion KL gelato

For RM 16, you got to try four flavours of cream based gelato of your choice. The fat reduced ice-cream was up to my taste; Macademian nut flavour is something Australian. Was disappointed with gelato served in one of the restaurant in Melbourne, flew to my homeland for the best of it!

To try out delicious Italian ice-cream, come to:

Gelatomio Lounge
(outside Forever 21)
P04-17-00, Level 4,
Pavilion Kuala Lumpur,
168 Jalan Bukit Bintang,
55100 Kuala Lumpur,
Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur,

Shock, Numb and Tears

Nowadays, I always feel sleepy when I go to class, after I woke up on a Monday morning (in fact, yesterday), I was browsing my Facebook top news, to catch what's happening, before I set off for the day, having a few stimulants would boost my attention during class.

I scrolled down, exclaimed my disbelief over an entry. It says "RIP Soo Jen Ruw", my high school junior and the brother of Soo Jen Ric. I have received news of death from people around me, friends and bloggers alike, but this was a shock to me.

What happened?
Why, at a tender age?
Most importantly, when I've met him?

I searched my mental archive, Googling everything about Jen Ruw, and hit the Play button at everything. Words that were said, they're a few years old now, I hoped he has grown out of it. The last time I've seen him in person at a church near my mom's workplace, how I greeted him, but regretted, that was the last time I've seen him.

The next thing after death itself, was to face the verdict of the Holy Judge. Even right now, these questions I should ask myself:

Have I loved people around me with all my heart?
What people will remember about me?
Ultimately, what have I done with the time I've been given, & used on Earth?

The time is near, hearing death strikes upon people intimate to my circle is heart wrenching. Not everybody is given the time, and I may not have the time also, you can be called Home at any time.

Just as a fact, Soo Jen Ruw isn't on my friend list on Facebook, but am I being calculative now? That's the reason I come to know of this late, but this doesn't matter anymore from my perspective. Like Missycheerio has said it, I may hate my friend for something transiently, but deep down, I feel for people.

My condolences to Soo Jen Ric and his family.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Beautiful Sunday

I had good experience volunteering at Planetshakers Beautiful Women conference at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) on Saturday. This is my first time volunteering for a church event, serving participants! From responses, messages preached appeal to all genders! So, I am really considering to buy the DVD recordings of this women's conference, definitely worth my money.

The next day, a special church service was held at MCEC. Yup, I'm attending church for the first time in 4 weeks :)

For the time being, Kern Hoh is back! He was the person who brought me to my current cell group. He's very affectionate, loves every person he knows with his heart. After the service, my fellow cell group mates were waiting for him along with his mother for lunch. He's such a popular figure to the extent that he spent so much time catching up with his friend, I was feeling a little annoyed for that.

Overall, what a great day!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Auto Gauge encore

Remember the race queen clad in yellow representing Auto Gauge @ Super Auto Mix, a car modding and drifting competition held at Car Park A, Bukit Jalil Sports Complex?

My church mates praised at my choice of good angles for this Auto Gauge race queen. Behind every picture perfect subjects, there's the photographer who coordinates and take the shot. Communication is essential, remember in due process it's a two way thing.

The yellow race queen, in full glory :)

super auto mix 2010 auto gauge 1

super auto mix 2010 auto gauge 2

super auto mix 2010 auto gauge 3

super auto mix 2010 auto gauge 4

super auto mix 2010 auto gauge 5

Till then.

Friday, August 6, 2010

CMG pre-production camp part 2 plus Healesville

Day 2

Highlight of the day were games, obstacle course, sketch presentation and campfire.

Clockwise: Yik Jiun, Gwen, me, Pei Yi, Sie Kieh, Susan, Yoyo Lin and Ivy Lin

During the night, watched FIFA World Cup round of 16 match, Germany vs England. Remember the disallowed goal scored by England and the German counterattack after a free kick for England? That was a memorable match.

Experienced intense chest pain that night, so wasn't up for the second match. Had to rest to prepare for day 3. My health was screwed to the max.

Day 3

Woke up to a refreshing morning, my chest pain was cured. Air in the Yarra Valleys was unusually frigid, temperature estimated 1 deg celcius at the lowest. Heard reports from Melbourne that frost formed too!

morning Yarra Junction Adanac CYC
Misty morning. This shot was taken not long after I wake up.

Next up was de-briefing.

This was gross! Wrapped head with pantyhose. Done to the losing group as punishment XD

trampoline adanac cyc
This springy stuff look nice now but the surface was cold! Ice formed in the tiny pores, my socks wet after jumping XD

jumping on trampoline adanac cyc
Fun right? But, your feet went numb (Why?)

After all the hard work, we chilled at Healesville!

Hang out with Tse Han, Yi Jing, Wenqi, Aimee Hall and Jun Wey in Healesville. Our first stop was Beechworth Bakery.

Food I ordered:

To nom nom at this prominent bakery, visit

Beechworth Bakery
316 Maroondah Hwy
Victoria 3777
Fax +613 5962 2905
Opens 6 am-6 pm every day except Christmas Day

Stopped by at Innocent Bystander, a wine processing plant before setting off for Melbourne. Tried out the pink moscato.

Moscato is a mild alcoholic drink, taste much like grape juice. Suits me well :)

pink moscato innocent bystander
Bought two bottles of this :)

Innocent Bystander
336 Maroondah Hwy
Healesville VIC 3777
Phone: +613 5962 6111
Opens weekdays 10 am-10 pm, weekends 8 am-10 pm

Two days later was my flight to Malaysia and the beginning of happenings, starting with Super Auto Mix 2010!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Semester sneak peek

I'm now in semester two of second year at The University of Melbourne. My first semester was a chaotic in the beginning because I was having the nightmare of subject clashes and last minute arrangements. What I did was doing the microbiology lab subject first and postpone my biochemistry subject to semester two of 2010, I am grateful to my lecturers who helped me along the way too.

Choosing to do a lab subject after completing the theory (or called lecture) subject has the upside of better understanding, as my lecturers told me from experience. I am feeling that right from my first lab session in DNA extraction.

Microfuge tubes

The biochemistry practical subject is called Techniques in Molecular Science, the landmark experiments being DNA extraction, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), molecular cloning and protein purification. Being able to work with biomolecules was the real excitement of the subject.

Next, I am doing the second semester biochemistry lecture subject, Biochemical Regulation of Cell Function. The subject takes me further in knowledge gained in first semester through Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, so I'd like to call it the "biochemistry sequel subject".

Ribbon diagram of a protein.

I am going to learn about photosynthesis, cell signalling, hormones and nutrition from passionate people. Biochemical Regulation is not essential for majoring in biochemistry, but definitely worth your semester to gain more knowledge if you have a slot to spare!

I've mentioned, I am in university to learn more about biotechnology right? So it's here, Biotechnology as a standalone subject! Unlike other private universities in Malaysia, which prescribe you a list of subjects to study for their biotechnology course, the structure of biotechnology major at my place is very flexible. To complete a Biotech major, you choose to complete a stream within the major along with a compulsory subject, that's very cool! Molecular stuff and chemical happenings appeals a lot to me, so are structure and functions! So it's there, biochemistry stream of biotech major :)

Biochemical biotech is actually under biomedical section, oh well... there is molecular biotech (genetics and cell/dev biology streams). I think microbio/immuno and pharmacology streams (under biomed biotech) are pretty cool too!

Biotech is only a recommended second year subject for Biotech major, I know some are taking it as a breadth subject. There's some extra effort for non-science, the department does offer additional support for you, so you're not left alone. They come in the form of extra classes, it's because you need to know.

This time around, I'm sampling another university-wide breadth, Learning Cultures: Minds, Ideas, Objects. Again, people from various disciplines are coming together, the coolest part of this subject is getting to browse historical collections and archives. Learning Cultures is also about interdisciplinary research, I think getting to know (and understand) how different people think and work is useful; in the world we are using our expertise to solve problems in varying fields. Being a university-wide breadth, anyone from any course can take the subject, and I can guarantee you that there'll never be timetable clash with any course. Also note that all university breadths starts with UNIB in their subject code.

Till then! It's going to be another exciting time for intellectual life.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Xian Ding Wei, The Curve

Was having lunch with fellow Twitterers after watching Inception at Cathay Cineplex at Xian Ding Wei @ The Curve.

Xian Ding Wei The Curve 1

Xian Ding Wei The Curve 2
Clockwise from top left: blackankh, patricklkw, biopolymath, spinzer, kaykayster, amelialing911

G41A, 6 Jalan PJU 7/3,
Mutiara Damansara
47810 Petaling Jaya,
Selangor, Malaysia.

Tel: +603 77257331

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Bon Odori 2010 Shah Alam

After watching Inception courtesy of FeeqSays Network at e@Curve, I made my way to Panasonic Sports Complex in Shah Alam for Bon Odori.

Bon Odori is a Japanese Buddhist festival to honour ancestors. It's similar to Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival. However, instead of celebrating it traditionally in Malaysia, the organiser turned it into a Japanese cultural showcase.

Bon Odori fan 2010
Each visitor got a fan!

crowd Bon Odori 2010 shah alam
Sea of crowds!

The event carried on into the night. That was when the fun began!

lantern bon odori shah alam 2010

Bon Odori was also an overrated night market. Food were sold at exorbitant prices for the high demand and exhibitorship at the event. A bowl of rice simply cost me RM 10.

main stage bon odori shah alam 2010

All I saw was people all over the place. They were on the seats, picnicking on the field or simply loitering around.

Bon Odori is never complete without yukata!

By the way, yukata is also known as summer kimono. It's most often worn to large outdoor events and at hot springs too!

mob dancing bon odori

Was tired of walking for hours, so I sat at the seats. Mob dancing was a spectacular sight!

So I had a blast at Bon Odori 2010 @ Shah Alam. I don't think the sports complex can handle the attendance next year.

Monday, August 2, 2010

St Kilda beach

st kilda beach melbourne victoria australia

Took this shot when I was on my birthday outing in year 2009. Not far from the city of Melbourne, St Kilda features one of the few calm sea beaches around, overlooking the tranquil Port Phillip Bay.

The scene is considered unusual to many, the restful seawater has a soothing effect on the soul, St Kilda is definitely a place to rewind and relax.

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Crimson Spring by CMG

Chinese Musical Group of The University of Melbourne proudly presents..

Crimson Spring chinese musical group the university of melbourne poster

The midnight bells strike as nightfall descends and the city slowly awakens. Beneath the neon lights seeps desire, drowning all but the last traces of law and order; love is a dear luxury, family a long-forgotten term; the crowd’s wails and grievances intertwine into this city’s very own symphony. A murderous rampage arises within this darkness, and who shall become the next chord of sacrifice?

What lies in wait for this innocent girl, while taking her first steps in this chaotic city? Will her blossoms end up in the hands of her lover, or land on a funeral wreath? As the bell tolls ring anew, will the survivors of this pandemonium be left with a smile or silent tears?

Crimson Spring will bring you an original musical with the themes of Desire, Isolation, Politics, Sacrifice and Family.

This musical is an original production by CMG and features live orchestra. English subtitles provided.

Venue: Union Theatre, Union House, The University of Melbourne
Shows: 7 pm at 13th, 14th, 19th, 20th and 21st Aug
Admission: General public 18 AUD; CMG members 13 AUD; University of Melbourne students (and final show) 15 AUD

For bookings, please call Elena Yan at +614 2322 2684

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