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This special dance happens only on a night when the setting is conducive. Like a waiting princess, she stands with head held high, her front end raised from the bottom. Meanwhile, he watches her at a distance, shaking and tossing restlessly á la lambada. A few hours later, he releases a hazy fluid that covers them both. She follows after some minutes, releasing thousands of eggs.
The sea cucumbers have spawned. The dance was successful. In 70 days, about a thousand infant sea cucumbers, all creation of the peculiar dance, will be pitching themselves on the sea floor, waiting to start another generation or to serve as haute cuisine to predators, whichever comes first.
But for Dr. Ruth Gamboa, a marine biologist from the University of the Philippines-Mindanao, understanding the dance of the sea cucumbers is very important. Dr. Gamboa leads a three-year resource management and culture program on Holothuria scabra Jaeger, or sea cucumbers, which aims to help out a bit in producing sea cucumber babies for their research.
“We mix the sperm and the egg to come up with a new generation of sea cucumbers,” she says. Experiments so far showed that H. scabara spawns three nights after the first quarter, while another variety called Bohaschia simillis spawns three nights after the full moon. “Timing is very important,” she points out.
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Communities haunted by mining contamination can look to unique plants to fight their worst fears. “Phytomediation can help us clean tainted environment,” explains Dr. Augustine Doronila, a senior research fellow at the University of Melbourne in Australia.
Phytoremediation is the use of living plants to mop up pollution in the environment like metal contaminants in the soil, and restore ecological balance in a mining area.
Doronila recently proposed assembling a multidisciplinary research group to study the various aspects of using phytoremediation in the country. The group will be called Philippine Metalophyte Research Consortium to be based in Ateneo de Manila University. Its research mission will cover the determination of botanical, chemistry, biological, geological, ecological, and anthropological aspects of implementing phytoremediation in the Philippines.
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The new leadership and members of the Philippine Society of Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Ronpaku Fellows should deal with the challenges of climate change using multidisciplinary approach to help society prepare for its implications, Department of Science and Technology Undersecretary Graciano P. Yumul Jr. said.
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Internet savvy kids of this generation will now have a more exciting way of learning their 1-2-3s and the birds and the bees. Thanks to a virtual classroom that features interactive lessons, learning the once-called mind-boggling math and science has suddenly become more fun and entertaining.
This virtual classroom, called the Courseware Website, was launched by the Department of Science and Technology’s Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) and the Science Education Institute (SEI) on April 15, 2009 at the Philippine Science High School, Davao City.
The website (http://courseware.dost.gov.ph ) features interactive and cartoonized science and mathematics modules released in 2006 in CD format and now are made available online. Students, teachers, parents, and individuals looking for a fun way to teach and learn science and math can log on to the site and navigate through the resources for free.