Site update

I have updated this web site to reflect my current teaching which has changed as a result of the “Big Wheel” reorganisation at our university. In addition, as starting from the current academic year course descriptions are available at http://courses.helsinki.fi/, I provide links to them at this site without repeating the same information here.  There is plenty of (hopefully) useful content at this site, including suggested readings and some posts briefly presenting some content related to the courses. I have also “rescued” from backups some posts I have earlier written, which I still expect to be of interest. Continue reading “Site update”

Visualising growth and movements

Plants grow and move at speeds that are too slow for us to easily notice. By means of time-lapse-photography we can create videos with increased speed for easier visualisation.

The video above is an example using infrared radiation (IR) for illumination. IR radiation is usually assumed not to affect plants and is invisible to humans.

About planning (or not) your future

I have been quiet for some time, but I will try to post a bit more frequently in the future. This time my post does not have any direct link to plant biology. After watching this video a couple of days ago I was nicely surprised to learn how lucky I have been. Although I am a rather extreme case of a person having many different interests, I have very rarely felt the pressure described by the speaker. In fact many times I have felt encouraged. This may have to do with a different cultural attitude in Argentina, and in addition, because I have almost always connected all those different interests. So, what are those interests? I have training as a crop breeder, but I did find very interesting plant eco-physiology, genetics, micro-meteorology, statistics, systems analysis, computer programming, electronics, photography, and graphics/book design. This seems too much! Doesn’t it? Surprisingly I am using all those skills and interests in my current research and teaching. I did my first experiment with plants, as an undergrad, around 1978 and quite soon after that I designed and built my first measuring instrument, an auxanometer (an electronic instrument to measure plant growth rate with a very good time resolution, of minutes, if not seconds). For this I used what I had learnt of electronics, mostly as a  hobby, and from a friend who studied telecommunications at a technical high school. Then we got the first computer in the lab, an Apple II. Money was scarce, and we had a commercial statistical software that was so awkward to use that I do not think a young person nowadays could imagine that anybody would ever write a program, and be able to charge money for it, where you had to type-in the numbers to analyze one by one, and had no provision for editing any data value after you had entered it. In other words, if you made a mistake, you had type-in again your whole data set! I was not happy with that, so I just wrote a programme myself for ANOVA and ANCOVA. Combining what I had learnt of statistics in regular university courses with what I had learnt about programming mostly by myself, again as a hobby.

I hope none of those of you who do have many different interests, is feeling the pressure described by the speaker. If you do, however, stop worrying, and find ways of combining those interests so that you can either use them together, or alternate among them.