Author: cecilia

It Takes Three Steps to Get in Shape (if You Are a Spaghetti Strand)

As an Italian I beg you: stop breaking spaghetti strands into two before cooking them! This horrific practice not only diminishes the capacity of long pasta to wrap around your fork deliciously entangled with the sauce, but it is also useless. A spaghetti strand placed into a pot full of water sags and curls over onto itself: scientifically proven! In their recent publication in Physical Review, two physicists from the University of California, Berkely, Nathaniel Goldberg and Oliver O’Reilly, have mathematically described the deformation of a spaghetti noodle as it cooks. In their attempt to answer the question of what drives spaghetti to deform as they are cooked, the two scientists took into account an interesting observation: if spaghetti have not been cooked for too long, when taken out of the pot and placed on a flat surface they would show a curvature that persists over time. Thus, the cooking process must trigger a complex change in spaghetti’s shape that cannot be explained only by the naive hypothesis that cooking weakens the noodles. Goldberg and …

Dead Star

Cecilia Grimaldi, “Dead Star”, Digital color photography Are you trying to save yourself or rather to save me from you? Do you want me to forget that you exist, is that what you want? Then fine, you win. From this moment on you are dead to me: you are my dead star. I found you, I named you after my hopeless heart, and now I will just look at you from a distance. You can kick me out of your orbit and leave; I am fine with that. But I have one last favor to ask: if you do so, go far away, as far as that unfitting, beautiful mind of yours can imagine. Run fast for as long as your tremble legs can support you and your breath will last. Make your body reach its limit, and then push it beyond it. Let your graceful heart explode, and then implode, inside your chest. Go to the very end of the universe so that the light of your eyes will still reach mine for hundreds, …

Time Zone

Listen to me New Day, let time go fast and reach your end soon. I beg you Sun, go down. Disappear below my horizon and rush to him. Caress his face, comb his hair, and kiss his closed eyes. Warm his heart up and bring him back to this life so that I might hear his voice before I fall asleep again. (Originally published in The Creative Cafe on Medium) Cecilia Grimaldi, “Time Zone”, Digital photography  

We Can Count on Bees, but Can Bees Count?

We all appreciate honeybees as reliable, hardworking, and generous insects which play vital roles in different ecosystems. But did you know that they are quite smart, too? A study published last February in Science Advances has shown that one species of honeybees—Apis mellifera— can solve problems involving some basic arithmetic operations. Bees’ cognitive capacities are not news to researches. Previous studies have shown that these insects not only can grasp concepts like ‘left/right,’ ‘above/below,’ and ‘larger/smaller,’ but they are able to count and even understand a concept as complex as the quantitive value of nothing, placing zero at the lower end of sequential positive numbers. To further investigate bees’ numerical capacities, Scarlett Howard and colleagues trained honeybees to associate symbols of a specific color, either blue or yellow, with the arithmetic operations of addition or subtraction, respectively. At the entrance of a Y-maze, bees were presented with a certain number of colored symbols. Once they had viewed this stimulus, they could fly into one of two possible decision chambers. If the symbols at the entrance were blue, …

Couples Counselling for Zebrafish: How to Optimize Breeding Efficiency

Are you a scientist working with zebrafish? Are you having trouble making zebrafish couples mating? Are you tired of wasting your time staring at them swimming around, with no intention of spawning a single egg for your experiments? Read my article “COUPLES COUNSELLING FOR ZEBRAFISH: HOW TO OPTIMIZE BREEDING EFFICIENCY,” originally published on Bitesize Bio. It’s Sunday morning, the sun has just begun to rise, and you find yourself on the way to the lab (again!), sipping hot coffee and melancholically thinking of your abandoned bed. But something is different this time. Today, the freezing-cold wind blowing from behind is not the only motivation pushing you to sacrifice another weekend in the name of science. Today, you will perform the experiment that will boost your scientific career—you can bet on that!  And then lose. Only an hour later, indeed, a way less motivated version of yourself is staring hopelessly at a bunch of zebrafish couples lazily swimming around, with no intention of spawning a single egg for your “Nature” cover. If you work with zebrafish (Danio rerio) as …

All Like It Hot

Have you ever wondered how does temperature affect the taste of your coffee? I had just turned a page when suddenly a cool breeze blew on my cup of coffee and revived the flame of the candle that had been quietly dying on the table for hours. I turned my head; somebody had left without closing the front door behind them. I can’t abide my coffee getting cold; it is one of my rules. I’d rather pay the painful price of a scalded tongue than drink it cold. There is nothing left in a tepid coffee but bitterness. The aroma, the body, the flavor, the lingering aftertaste, all gone; just bitterness. And I am convinced that everyone gets more than enough bitterness for free in a lifetime. So I dog-eared my book, pulled the cuffs of my favorite sweater down over my hands, and walked towards the coffee house’s entrance to close the door.  It was at that moment I realized that the rain had stopped, and a soft, foggy light filtered through the half-opened door. It was the …