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Do you dare to dream?

dreamsAre you one of those who get up each morning with enthusiasm to go to work or are you a worker dedicated to take his work´s place during the whole 8 hours, without even leaving your chair and blinking in time with the tik tak of your computer´s keys as a zombie?

It’s been a month since my last post, since I remember the stay hungry, stay foolish of Steve Jobs and the importance of doing things that we love. “The only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle”… a month ago I did not know that these words were going to have so much sense in my life. A month ago I wrote it thinking it was the right thing, today I am deeply focussed on this quest to find this lost dream of finding a job that makes me grow as a person.

Many of you will wonder what happened to me this month?

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One Year blog

unañoblogYes, one year ago I published, a little indecisive I admit, my first post. Passionate about science, biotechnology and addicted to nature and driven by the desire to share, I dared to say “why could not I?“. A year later, and thanks to you, my doubts became purpose and resolution, and yes, it has been a year of blog of pure happiness!

It was not always easy to write new posts, some cost me more lot of work, several times I wanted to re-write some, others never came to be published … It was not always easy to find words to express feelings in a language that is not mine. But I’ve always enjoyed hearing and reading your comments. I loved it (and sometimos I was surprised too) to see until how much you like to share what I am writing, and I am proud to see that my little blog, among hundreds of others, gradually found its place … Thanks to him, I discovered a wonderful world full of science, humor and above all fantastic friends who supported me all the time to move forward with this project. It gives me immense pleasure to read or hear your comments, and it is an honor to know that you dedicate some of your time to read me.

With this first anniversary I have the opportunity to say thank you … Thank you for being there, from so many different countries, for following me, for supporting me … Thank you for your enthusiasm, thanks for all these exchanges, thanks for doing this live my blog. Thanks to you I discovered a true passion, thank you!

mapamundiblogA year of blog is 3.548 visits of 1813 people spread over 43 countries. Each month you are more Readers, most of you are from Spain, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, the U.S. and France of course where many friends and family follow me too.

The record in one day is assigned to the post “TEDxElche: Sharing ideas that deserve to be disseminated“, which pleases me particularly because TEDxElche was a very important project for me, and I am especially glad that you also have noticed so.

And part of this post, you also liked:

Biofuels from microalgae (II)

Will we solve hunger in 2050?

How long does a rose last?

Living with Down Syndrome

Plant extracts with therapeutic activity

A Monday of glory for bees

So I invite you to read those posts if you do not already know them!

For next year, I hope of course to increase the frequency of publication of the posts. In the shorter term, I will start a series of collaborations with various friends blogs, I hope you will like it and as always I hope looking forward to your comments and suggestions.

Again, thank you for contributing that this blog has grown so much in so little time.

Thank you very much, really.

Elodie Brans.


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TEDxElche: Sharing ideas that deserve to be disseminated

you know TEDHow schools kills creativity” is what tells us Ken Robinson in one of the most viewed TED talks with more than 8.6 million views; a young man who fought as a child soldier in Sudan moves us explaining how it has become a hip-hop star and an international activist for children in war zones; in a very touching talk; a man suggests break the silence surrounding suicide; a woman strikes us showing until how the human footprint on the planet threatens the balance of underwater life

… These are some of the exciting messages of the TED Talks in which Ideas worth spreading and will change your way of seeing our world.

But why the TED talks?

We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other“.

A very daring misión, no?

And it is exactly why I LOOOOVE TED TALKS!

Some may think that TED only makes eulogy to utopian messages, and creates an imaginary world that only a few deluded understand. No, that’s not it. TED teaches you how to think differently, and distance yourself from your own reality to better understand the world around you. The TED Talks are one of the best free sources of Communication & Optimism on the Web to learn more about your World and develop yourself. TED Talks generate endless valuable questions to generate discussion and encourage critical spirit. Where elsewhere can you access to talks of great thinkers, distinguished teachers, critical minds and innovative people talking about what they do to improve their environment and change their world?

Surfing the web and find a TED talk is like walking into a giant candy store where everything looks and tastes delicious. You want to try it all, but you know it will be too much if you eat it all at once. Every day, according to your mood, you can look for the “candy” you like, the more in tune with your feelings. You can taste it alone or share it with friends. But be clear about before tasting it that TED´s spirit is contagious!

What is TED?

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Biofuels from microalgae (II)

chlorophyceaeIn my previous post I spoke as the race towards a new form of fuel began in 2005 with the rise in petroleum prices, the increasing import dependency and the worldwide resource depletion. Fortunately, scientists have been studying for years the production of “cleaner” alternative fuel with less impact on the environment.

In recent years, the algae are becoming one of the most accepted solutions for the production of biodiesel. Are the same algae we see every summer at the beach? You also might be wondering of how a slimy green matter can be converted into fuel for cars and planes, and even for heaters that heat our homes? Before delving into the production of biofuels from algae, let’s see what we know about algae.

Are all algae the same?

fotosintesis2_intefIf you remember the high school biology class, you know that algae are photosynthetic organisms such as terrestrial plants and some other photosynthetic bacteria; they use the sun’s energy, atmospheric CO2 and water to create organic matter.

There are more than 30,000 known algae species, from the microscopic (microalgae) floating in the pond, to the giant that can reach hundred yards which inhabit the oceans. Microalgae are the most primitive form of higher plants. While the mechanism of photosynthesis in microalgae is similar to that of higher plants, microalgae, due to its simple cell structure, they are generally more efficient at converting solar energy into lipids, the base component that will then become biofuel.

What makes the production of biofuels from algae so exciting?

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Biofuels from microalgae (I)

mar2I Already spent the last Monday of August, the holidays are over!

I’m not going to lie, it took me a lot to get up to go to work, but after several weeks without writing in my blog I really want to share with you my summer experiences! After several breaks, holidays are definitely the best remedy for recharge the batteries, to experience new sensations and enjoy a great late afternoon with your people and of course, also, the holidays are a great source of inspiration!

This summer I was reading much about biomass industries in Spain, and as I was very close to the one in Chiclana near Cadiz, I wanted to know better that they were doing there. Among pescaitos and pescaitos, white sand and good life, because  remember, I was on vacation, I saw that the Cadiz people also have a worldwide pioneer production plant for growing algae and designed to produce bioenergy using wastewater. After two years of research, the European project “All-Gas, which also involved Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, announced in early August the first promising biomass crops. The project is ambitious: treat wastewater for recycling and produce a high performance in clean energy. And it is anticipated that by 2016, the plant biomass production will reach an area of ten hectares, the equivalent of ten football fields, large enough to cover the annual energy consumption of a fleet of 200 city vehicles.

Aqualia-Chiclana

Aqualia installation in Chiclana, Cadiz. (Aqualia)

I wish I had been able to visit the production plant! I am fascinated by biotechnology, and I wish I could give my two cents and participate in a project of biomass production as exclusive as this… But before explaining what makes the production of biofuels from algae so exciting, let´s look at what are the future prospects of biofuels.

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Living with Down Syndrome

iqualhands

Earlier this month we heard a news that went unnoticed by many of us but which supposes a great breakthrough for science and a small puff of air flavored with hope for the 5 million people with Down syndrome in the world.

A group of scientists has managed to ‘silence’ the supernumerary chromosome 21, causing the well known ‘Down Syndrome’. The study published on Wednesday July 17 in the journal Nature opens new possibilities for the disease´s research and, if other research teams confirm the results, we’ll probably remember this article of 2013 as one that, after gene therapy, has opened the way to chromosomal therapy to correct disorders of the “extra” chromosome 21 responsible for the syndrome.

Origin of Down Syndrome

Normally in the human species we have 23 pairs of chromosomes, including two sex chromosomes, making 46 total chromosomes in each cell. However, globally 1 in 700 children born with an extra copy of chromosome 21 (or part thereof) instead of the usual two. That trisomy 21 is responsible for this genetic disorder characterized by the presence of a variable degree of mental retardation and peculiar physical features that give a recognizable look.

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Plant extracts with therapeutic activity

AntioxidantsThis past March, my colleagues of the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology (IBMC) of the Miguel Hernández University (UMH) in Elche issued a press release to unveil the public of their progress in the research of bioactive compounds extracted from olive leaves in delaying the growth of breast cancer tumor cells. On many occasions I have spoken in my blog about the importance of science diffusion to stop marginalizing science. And here’s one of the best examples! When I told my friends and family about the press release, most people didn´t know the scientific studies carried out in the University. And I must say that until I have been enrolled in the Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals specialized professional course coordinated by CIDAF of the University of Granada, neither I was aware of these studies such important for our basic understanding as well as for future industrial applications in the public health sector. Indeed, after several years of research on the antioxidant and anticancer effects of various bioactive compounds contained in olive leaves, IBMC team is proud of its progress in the development of an extraction method that respects the strict pharmaceutical requirements without altering the bioactive properties of these active substances.

In recent years, science has been interested in studying the antioxidant power of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, based on historical knowledge of medicinal plants and their uses in oriental medicinal therapies. Scientists have investigated the role of various natural bioactive compounds in various cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disorders, including many cancers and other diseases directly associated with the aging process (cataracts or nervous system disorders). Today, several scientific reports show the antioxidant potential of various bioactive compounds contained in red fruits, citrus, vegetables from the nightshade family and brassica, green and black teas, as well as compounds from various condiments (ginger or cinnamon) or some ornamental plants (Aloe vera or Hibiscus).

Today the plant antioxidant molecules are booming in the food industry and nutricosmetics. But do we know what are their roles in the body? Do we need an additional contribution of these antioxidants or a balanced diet is enough to stay healthy? Continue reading