Traveling for Bytesize Science: Animals, machines and a little bit of history

I’m back from a long week of travels filming for Bytesize Science. A colleague, Kirk Zamieroski, and I went up to Boston filming at MIT and the New England Aquarium, then traveled back to Washington DC through New York City and Princeton, New Jersey. If you haven’t yet, check out the video series online at

Dear Readers,

I am alive! And I am appalled at myself for not having posted anything since 21st April. Here are some updates: I am on internship with the American Chemical Society in Washington DC producing videos for their online video series, Bytesize Science! And dear readers, I hope you’re all enjoying flip-flops and summertime.

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Chinese New Year, and reflections on combustion

Late Saturday morning, I watched children go down the snow-covered streets with sleds as text messages started to stream in from my family. It was approaching midnight of Chinese New Year in Malaysia, where my family returned every year to reunite with my father’s siblings and their families. It occurred to me that there are a lot of Chinese practices that involve burning stuff. If climate change went up against these deep-rooted traditions, who knows what sort of debate we’ll get into?

Pineapple adventures: Part 1

This is a very special year, because it marks the first (and possibly last, I’m still thinking about it) year that I make my own pineapple tarts. Yes, the pineapple tarts that are an essential item in every Chinese Singaporean’s house during Chinese New Year.

What I did not expect, was that the five pineapples I cut up and cooked into jam would eat all my fingerprints.

Killing stories

This past week, I had two blog entry ideas that were supposed to become two blog entries. But somehow, I convinced myself that they were dumb ideas and I shouldn’t write them. And now I’m writing an even dumber entry about this story-killing process. So I guess, even though it’s the middle of January, this year, I would like to be brave enough not to let the fear of failure stop me from trying. I would like to learn to be OK with imperfect blog entries. I would like to be brave enough to fight the good fight.

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Kopitiam in Boston

As noon approached on a recent Sunday, a line of people began to form outside the multi-purpose room in the M.I.T. Sidney Pacific Graduate Residence. These people were mostly from Singapore, queuing patiently, as Singaporeans are known to do, for good food. The rich aromas of cooking curry mixed with various aromatic spices began to waft from the doors. The chatter grew louder, more animated, until it abruptly fell to an absolute silence as a student came out of the multi-purpose room and calmly began to instruct people what to do once they went in. Then, the line started moving. The kopitiam was open for business.

Welcome to Do The Molecule Dance, and 2013.

This is not the first entry here, but it is the first entry in 2013, and since this blog just sorta got a new look, Welcome to Do The Molecule Dance! Also, I guess it is kind of an afterthought, because I didn’t write a ‘First Entry’ when this blog started in October 2012.

So here goes.

One of those reflections on life

We had a guest speaker for our class on Friday, a stay-at-home mom with a child diagnosed with autism. She told us about her experiences – bringing her son up, his problems with digestion, her struggles with their doctors, and the camp that her son went to this past summer. She briefly mentioned that before she had her children, she was working at MIT.

Her stories resonated with me for several reasons.