Rome, 2800 years of history – Great location for a scientific meeting

By Guillermo Paz-y-Miño C and Avelina Espinosa

We just visited Rome for the second time. Our first journey was back in 2010 when we traveled to Sicily, Rome, Florence and Pompeii before heading to the UK. But the last encounter with this imposing capital was, finally, what we always wanted: extensive, no rush and with enough opportunities to explore everything possible during three weeks in a 2800-year-old settlement.

As readers of EvoLiteracy know, we do not take vacations, but we explore Earth as much as we can within our academic schedules to attend scientific meetings. We never engage into “checklist traveling” (adding names of locations briefly visited) but rather dedicate quality time to experience –and learn about– each destination in detail. Time, however, is always a constraint.

Our primary reason for going to Rome was the ECOP-ISoP 2019 gathering or the “VIII European Congress of Protistology – International Society of Protistologists Joint Meeting” (July 28 to August 2). Avelina is Program Committee Chair of ISoP and oversees the academic planning and organization of the conference(s), including symposia and special events; local organizers materialize each meeting via specific committees. PDFs of the program (talks, poster sessions) can be downloaded from this LINK.

We attend the ISoP meetings yearly and have reported about them before: Vancouver (2018),  Prague (2017), Moscow (2016) and Seville (2015). Previous conferences have taken place in Banff (2014), Oslo (2012), Berlin (2011) and Kent-Canterbury (2010), which we have attended as well (no postings of those years, but see photography and science traveling during the past 15 years).

This time, the package of the ECOP-ISoP 2019 meeting included a flyer describing our book “Kin Recognition in Protists and Other Microbes: Genetics, Evolution, Behavior and Health” (2018), together with endorsements by Joan E. Strassmann (Washington University in St. Louis), Virginia P. Edgcomb (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) and Joachim G. Frommen (University of Bern). Additional info about the book can be obtained from the publisher Cambridge Scholars.

Nowadays, we are getting used to presenting posters; they bring back memories of our student years when poster presentations were the main format available to us. Fun though. Here is what we shared at ECOP-ISoP 2019 (click on image for higher resolution). Note at the bottom that we highlight two of our cover-journal articles (2012 and 2019), and the book “Kin Recognition in Protists and Other Microbes: Genetics, Evolution, Behavior and Health”.

While exploring Rome, we walked 417,024 steps, equivalent to 209 km or 130 miles (about 10 km or 6.2 mi a day); we took 8,879 photos, of which 154 (1.7%) were shared on social media (Facebook and Twitter). Between the two of us, we lost 10 pounds, despite eating pizza daily. – Here are the most important locations (dots) at which we stopped to do something other than walking.

Below is a graphic account of our experience, before and after the ECOP-ISoP meeting. The images (more than 100) follow a chronological order of the sites visited. No doubt Rome is a great location for a scientific meeting, enjoy:

Above: the Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, as seen from the Angel’s Castle.

Above: a closer look B&W of the Saint Peter’s Basilica.

Above: colors at the Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican [secular camera].

Above: colors inside the Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican [secular camera].

Above: the main pulpit at the Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican [secular camera].

Above: colors inside the Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican [secular camera].

Above: the Pantheon [secular camera].

Above: Fontana di Trevi, the 5th most visited place in Rome after the Colosseum, Saint Peter’s Basilica, Pantheon and Vatican Museums.

Above: Piazza Venezia… day

Above: Piazza Venezia… night.

Above: Fontana dell’Adriatico, Piazza Venezia.

Above: the imposing monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, Piazza Venezia.

Above: another take of the imposing monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, Piazza Venezia.

Above: up close, Piazza Venezia.

Above: the Castel Sant’Angel.

Above: Michael de Archangel at the Castel Sant’Angelo (on top of the castle).

Above: another take of Michael de Archangel at the Castel Sant’Angelo (inside the castle).

Above: the Sant’Angelo Bridge as seen from the Castel Sant’Angelo.

Above: pigeon photobombing at the Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome. Look at the St. Peter’s Basilica in the background.

Above: through an opening, shots at the Vatican (this is what we wanted to show in the previous image before the pigeon photobombed it).

Above: impossible to not know what it is.

Above: ROME, monumental… beyond monumental.

Above: ROME, monumental… beyond monumental.

Above: ROME, monumental… beyond monumental.

Above: when PROTISTS meet ancient ROME. Kin Recognition in Protists and Other Microbes (2018) made it to the Foro Romano…

Above: Colosseum from within…

Above: ROME, monumental…

Above: just outside the Colosseum – Image One of Two – taken at the right place and time.

Above: just outside the Colosseum – Image Two of Two – taken at the right place and time; for this one, we went back to the Colosseum a few days later and looked for the exact spot to take the picture (different angle, of course).

Above: ROME, monumental…

Above: ROME, monumental…

Above: Measuring the Evolution Controversy (our 2016 book) at the Vatican…

Above: ROME, monumental…

Above: ROME, bellissima…

Above: ROME, bellissima…

Above: at the Palatine.

Above: …and the last one of the Colosseum (for this particular day).

Above: ROME, bellissima.

Above: QUESTIONS IN ROME (at the ECOP-ISoP 2019 meeting) – colleagues asked us a few questions about “Kin Recognition in Protists and Other Microbes” – (1) Are there alternative ways to order the book (meaning to make the purchase affordable)? The best option is to order it directly from the publisher. Another option is to ask your university library to purchase the book and have it at your campus. – (2) Is the book suitable for high schools? Short answer yes. Long answer, as we state in the book “offering over 200 figures and diagrams, this [book] will appeal to a broad audience, including researchers in academia [our first target audience: scientists], postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and research undergraduates. Science writers and college educators will also find it informative and practical for teaching”. We know of two high school teachers that have gotten the book for their own use as reference for lectures. – (3) Do we sign copies of the book? Yes, if you are at ECOP-ISoP- Rome-2019, approach us with your copy and we will sign it.

Above: theistic evolutionists have a crush on this guy…

Above: water clock…

Above: there is symmetry in this image, and for a reason.

Above: Roma, bellissima… Ponte Fabricio.

Above: just outside the Pantheon.

Above: the Pantheon.

Above: Head of Saint Giovanni Battista at Santa Maria degli Angeli.

Above: Basilica Papale Santa Maria Maggliori, even more spectacular than the Saint Peter’s Basilica.

Above: Galileo Galilei by Tsung Dao Lee, Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli.

Above: …and the outdoors of the Basilica Papale Santa Maria Maggliori, ROME… today’s walk [secular camera].

Above: we went back to the Basilica Papale Santa Maria Maggliori for a few B&W and color shots – This monument rivals the Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

Above: we went back to the Basilica Papale Santa Maria Maggliori for a few B&W and color shots – This monument rivals the Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

Above: we went back to the Basilica Papale Santa Maria Maggliori for a few B&W and color shots – This monument rivals the Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

Above: ScooteRome…

Above: spectacular Rome, Terme di Caracalla…

Above: Terme di Caracalla…

Above: Terme di Caracalla…

Above: Terme di Caracalla…

Above: Rome, ancient…

Above: Rome, ancient…

Above: …and another basilica in ROME (impossible to miss them in every block) – Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere, another competitor in beauty [secular camera].

Above: National Museum of the Venetian Palace.

Above: Giordano Bruno at the Campo Dei Fiori (where he was burned in 1600 for heresy).

Above: at Piazza Navona.

Above: mirror showing “the heavens” [figuratively, of course] at the Gesὺ Church in Rome [secular camera].

Above: Giordano Bruno… ROME, today’s walk – “…On February 8, 1600, when the death sentence was formally read to him, he addressed his judges, saying: ‘Perhaps your fear in passing judgment on me is greater than mine in receiving it.’ Not long after, he was taken to the Campo de’ Fiori, his tongue in a gag, and burned alive…

Above: the SHHH paradox – “SHHH”… they tell you on loud speakers at the Vatican museums. The SHHH itself is louder than the noise made by hundreds of people visiting the exhibits. The SHHH is to show respect at the temples and for the deities that are always deaf.

Above: only Rome looks like this…

Above: we got great tickets to Noche Española with Plácido Domingo (row 13, center).

Above: Rodin at the Vatican…

Above: Egypt at the Vatican Museums…

Above: sarcophagus of Imhotep at the Vatican Museums…

Above: we found this Roman cat roaming around ancient Rome. It soon decided to pause, self-groom and sleep…

Above: woman on scooter and Rome…

Above: THOTH [Egypt 1300 – 1250 BC], a baboon, Vatican Museums.

Above: detail of oil on wood by Filippo Balbi 1855 at the spectacular Terme di Diocieziano.

Above: One of the “Colossal Animal Heads of the Michelangelo’s Cloister”.

Above: Socrates at Palazzo Massimo alle Terme.

Above: we visited the Bioparco di Roma (the ZOO) and took some images. The zoo is quite good for education, with great signs and posted info about what is in the enclosures; a particular emphasis on animal behavior is evident in the posting (i.e. tips about what the animals do and what it means).

Above: under a fig tree…

Above: pygmy hippo.

Above: close up with a primate-cousin.

Above: reticulated giraffe…

Above: the story of Rome as told at the Bioparco di Roma (the Zoo) next to the wolves enclosure…

Above: a few more shots of reticulated giraffes at the Bioparco di Roma… Trilogy.

Above: a few more shots of reticulated giraffes (mom and offspring) at the Bioparco di Roma.

Above: and one more shots of reticulated giraffes at the Bioparco di Roma.

Above: a few more shots of reticulated giraffes at the Bioparco di Roma.

Above: Lowland Amazon tapirs nose-pointing at something [feeding time], Bioparco di Roma

Above: TAPIR TRIO – top: tongues in – bottom: tongues out… Bioparco di Roma…

Above: chimps feeding…

Above: this is what captivity can do to apes.

Above: an empire collapsed, then gravity took everything else down.

Above: the famous Loba Capitolina at the Capitolini.

Above: Marcus Aurelius at the Museum Capitolini.

Above: Bernini’s Medusa, Museum Capitolini.

Above: …and a fantastic mosaic made of marble… Museum Capitolini.

Above: it does rival any other best museum in the world… the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj.

Above: Hercules at the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj.

Above: same spot, same time…

Above: the spectacular Palazzo Doria Pamphilj.

Above: another take of Centaur at the spectacular Palazzo Doria Pamphilj.

Above: and yet another take of Centaur at the spectacular Palazzo Doria Pamphilj.

Above: Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano.

Above: main door, Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano.

Above: inside details of Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano.

Above: From Egypt to Rome…

Above: Jacob Wrestling With The Angel [Giacobbe e l’Angelo by Stefano Maderno] – Palazzo Doria Pamphilj.

Above: Lion (well, half of a lion) Gallerie Nazionale D’Arte Antica.

Above: BEE – ROME… Gallerie Nazionale D’Arte Antica.

Above: Monumento Celebrativo del “Bicentenario dei Carabinieri”. Imposing, we tried to give it a winter touch (Rome was 100-F-hot on that day).

Above: splendor of Latona e i figli by Domenico Pieratti (1600s) Gallerie Nazionale D’Arte Antica.

Above: Piazza della Repubblica.

Above: CLAUDIO… Emperor of Rome [Museo dell’Ara Pacis].

Above: Museo dell’Ara Pacis.

Above: shot of the Colosseum at dusk.

Above: “TRUMP supporters or Celtics fans”? – That was the question when purchasing the tickets to the Catacombs of San Sebastian (located Southeast of Rome’s downtown); apparently, a joke to anyone requesting info in American-English. We offered a simple answer “we are atheists stopping by.” – This is the original of Bernini’s 1679 The Salvator Mundi (restored 2006), spectacular work on marble, his last sculpture at age 82.

Above: The last shots of Rome – Palazzo della Consulta.

Above: FONTANA di TREVI – despite the thousands of people around, we elbowed ourselves a spot and took some shots of the Fontana, the 5th most popular site in Rome… arrivederci.

Above: BOSTON – back home and to conspiracy inferences that “the plane was not landing due to an arbitrary decision [by the Italian pilot] to take us somewhere else.” – In fact, as the pilot explained and it was obvious to see from the windows, there were very low clouds at ground level allowing visibility to only 1,000 feet (about 300 meters), unsafe for landing. We made it about an hour later, after flying in loops (identical in shape to the Circus Maximus in Rome) to make up time. The human mind is so prone to believing on anything but facts; and yes, it only takes one adamant passenger to trigger the rumor. ‒ EvoLiteracy © 2019

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook @gpazymino and GPC-Facebook 

Exploring beautiful New Zealand

“New Zealand deserves many visits to be fully explored; its beauty and richness of landscape seem endless. The intensity of colors like the deep blue of the sky or the fresh green of the vegetation can only be experienced in the flesh, no other way is possible.”

By Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C

In our quest to explore islands, Avelina and I visited New Zealand during the first three weeks of January, 2019. We are compiling information about biodiversity, human development, and the future of island environments in response to global phenomena, e.g. population growth or climate change. So far, we have been to New Zealand, Hawai’i, the Galapagos, Jamaica and Sicily. Here are the images of our latest journey to the North Island of New Zealand (in no particular order). Enjoy the ride…

Above: the emblematic Pukeko… Western Springs Lakeside Park, Auckland

Above: the three kiwi species (diorama) at the Otorohanga Kiwi House (Native Bird Park) – We did get to see kiwis in captivity (night enclosure, no photos allowed – good)

Above: sheep – At the town of Tirau, New Zealand – “The Corrugated -Iron Capital of the World”

Above: we found this Tuatara (endemic to New Zealand) on the ground at the Otorohanga Kiwi House facilities. – We could not get closer than 3-m (9-ft) to take the photos; it was dark and with vegetation around (blocking our view). We managed to find an opening from which to take some shots

Above: imposing vegetation… and the Tasman Sea

Above: Kiwis crossing… be alert – via Waipoua

Above: exploration summary – 4300 km of driving (2670 mi) in the North Island; 309,550 walking steps while visiting Auckland (i.e. according to our wrist-portable step-counter), nearby and distant cities/towns, their museums and monuments, national parks and protected areas (in other words, about 155 km or 96 mi by foot)!

Above: Sometimes, this is all you need…

Above: …well, you also need this

Above: some good field guides

Above: Boston – Los Angeles (the first 6 hours)

Above: LA to Auckland (13 hours) – middle of the Pacific, through the polarized window of our “modern” plane. We could see the Sun outside (it looked like the moon), but it was “night” inside. Then, quickly, but gently, the “sunrise” effect was controlled from the cockpit to give us the illusion of arriving during the early morning

Above: again, driving on the right / wrong side

Above: antique Honda, well kept

Above: the first colors of New Zealand; the Whenuakite Kiwi Sanctuary – [btw these are the real colors]

Above: Trail at the Kauri-Tree forest in Waipoua

Above: the Albert Park Band Rotunda in Auckland

Above: at the Albert Park, downtown Auckland

Above: at the Albert Park, downtown Auckland

Above: Albion Printing Press from 1863, General Library, University of Auckland

Above: Alligator hiding “behind” duckweed…

Above: And another take of alligator hiding “behind” duckweed…

Above: a take of the beautiful “island of green” in the middle of the Auckland downtown; a vegetation patch with six old, very old imposing trees and their branches; each creature looks like a giant octopus..

Above: anti-earthquake building (hopefully), downtown Auckland

Above: we visited the spectacular Aranui Cave in Waitomo, about two hours South of Auckland. We also entered the Glowworm Caves, which were spectacular as well, but no photos were allowed in there (good policy). In any event, here is a series of seven images taken in the Aranui Cave (where photos were allowed), choose your favorite.

Above: at the spectacular Aranui Cave in Waitomo

Above: at the spectacular Aranui Cave in Waitomo

Above: at the spectacular Aranui Cave in Waitomo

Above: at the spectacular Aranui Cave in Waitomo

Above: at the spectacular Aranui Cave in Waitomo

Above:  this is a CLOSE UP, these stalactites are about 2-3 inches each, others a bit larger.

Above: corner view of the Auckland Art Gallery

Above: the main hall, Auckland Art Gallery

Above: Auckland from the summit of Mount Victoria

Above: Auckland, as seen from the Sky Tower

Above: Auckland… the moon, almost full

Above: B&W moments

Above: Auckland, New Zealand

Above: some time for a panoramic of the Auckland Museum [its actual name is Auckland War Memorial Museum, but the exhibits are not restricted to war or related memories; in fact, the most impressive aspect of the museum is its collection of Maori and Pacific artifacts, spectacular]

Above: Australasian gannet… one of thousands in a five-patch colony. Tasman Sea

Above: Australasian gannet, a bit mad

Above: Australasian gannet after attempting to approach its nest and mate, but too windy… another approach was necessary – Tasman Sea

Above: Quiet bamboo walk at the Chinese Garden, Hamilton Gardens

Above: Before the Rain… Wairoa River

Above: at the Albert Park, downtown Auckland

Above: We managed to get 11 different postcards with illustrations (antiques) depicting the birds of the Tongariro National Park

Above: Black Swan in B&W, Western Springs Lakeside Park, Auckland

Above: an elegant Black Swan at the Western Springs Lakeside Park, Auckland

Above: we found these black swans at Lake Taupō… male and female. They had five offspring with them, almost adult size; the parents were ready to defend them (i.e. charge) if anybody got too close…

Above: close up (color) of the Sky Tower in Auckland

Above: a view of the Bream Head [little peninsula in the back] from nearby Ruakaka, Highway 1 North; about an hour and a half from Auckland – BTW natural colors; the NZ sky is that blue and the landscape that green. – NZ is beautiful

Above: this was not our transportation – “The Dome” – Dome Forest Conservation Area

Above: this was our transportation — every time we rent a car, they give us a bright color one. This time was red. Last time (in Vancouver), a bright blue large truck almost impossible to park. In any event, can you spot the rooster and the hen? There are somewhere in the photo. Highway 1 North, an hour away from Auckland

Above: North Island, New Zealand… sheep skins inside (???)

Above: the youthful looking campus of the University of Auckland

Above: Chinese Pagoda at the Hamilton Gardens

Above: How many? – Australasian gannets, a huge colony. Tasman sea

Above: The colors of New Zealand, North Island, nearby Te Rerenga [btw these are the real colors]

Above: “Dogs [that roam] Kill Our Kiwi”

Above: How do I look, asked the gosling. Zoom in to see the gloom. Western Springs Lakeside Park, Auckland

Above: an overused dynosphere, Sky Tower, Auckland

Above: the Auckland Art Gallery

Above: we found this imposing feral rooster nearby Warkworth. We drove North and reached Waitangi, about 230 km / 143 mi (x2) from Auckland

Above: feral roosters (chickens) are quite common in all New Zealand

Above: some “large birds”, Auckland Zoo

Above: we got ourselves these beautiful field-notes-books and a portable guide of NZ birds and mammals illustrated by Lloyd Esler. What makes the latter special is the sketchy, yet accurate depiction of the species

Above: Hamilton Gardens, in the city of Hamilton

Above: Colony of Australasian gannets on top… one is taking off. Tasman Sea

Above: Australasian gannets flying over the Tasman Sea

Above: the General Library, University of Auckland

Above: inside the General Library, University of Auckland

Above: Zero Tolerance… posted at the entrance to the General Library, University of Auckland

Above: muddy giant tortoise, Auckland Zoo

Above: another muddy giant tortoise, Auckland Zoo

Above: The day ended at a breezy Rotorua Lake

Above: Warm afternoon… Tongariro National Park, North Island

Above: Hamadryas feeding and grooming together… Auckland Zoo

Above: the “harbor building” in Auckland is quite nice, but the street on front of it was under renovation and made it difficult to take a good shot

Above: at the Albert Park, downtown Auckland

Above: Hinana, Auckland Museum

Above: Hotunui, ceremonial, saturation of beauty… Maori and Pacific Island cultures… Auckland Museum

Above: Immense landscape, Tasman Sea

Above: Indian Char Bagh, Hamilton Gardens

Above: The Italian Renaissance Garden at the Hamilton Gardens

Above: Juvenile Hamadryas, Auckland Zoo

Above: Kakapo and Pukeko, street painting, Auckland

Above: Katherine Mansfield’s Coronoa typewriter, with the text of “The Garden Party” – Waikato Museum. – The typewriter is quite small, about 30-cm / 12-in wide (front view); very well preserved

Above: Kauri tree, 7-m diameter, Waipoua Forest – we drove 460 km (286 mi) to the Waipoua Kauri Forest, Northwest part of the North Island. It took us four hours (one way) from Auckland to get to the site. Our purpose was to see the gigantic Kauri trees (in the genus Agathis). We did find them. Impressive, enormous (the largest diameter 6-m / 18 ft), majestic

Above: Kauri Tree (smaller), Waipoua Forest

Above: Kauri trees, the “Four Sisters,” Waipoua Forest

Above: Another take of Kauri trees, the “Four Sisters,” Waipoua Forest

Above: Kawakawa, North Island

Above: Kiwi, Auckland Museum

Above: Kiwi Cross, Mount Raupehu, Tongariro

 

Above: we visited the town of Otorohanga (2:30 hours South of Auckland), searching for Kiwis; this is what we found

Above: Lake Taupo, Tongariro National Park

Above: Male Hamadryas, Auckland Zoo

Above: At the Mansfield Garden, Hamilton Gardens – antique and antique colors

Above: Maori Warriors’ Canoes; the one on the left is for 100 people – Waitangi Treaty Grounds & Museum

Above: Maori carving, Rotorua Gyser Museum

Above: Maori statue, Auckland Museum

Above: Maori statue, Auckland Museum

Above: this Masked Lapwing was simply hanging around at the Otorohanga Kiwi House, looking for free meals

Above: Modern Auckland; one of its metro stations (Britomart). Lots of colors

Above: we spotted this “New Zealand Christmas Tree” (quite common btw). It belongs to the genus Metrosideros. – Can you spot the bees? How many?

Above: a giant mirror, “Light Weight O” by Catherine Griffiths (2018), reflecting O’Connell Street in Auckland

Above: Moss, Waipoua Kauri Forest

Above: a center-view of the Mount Eden crater, Auckland

Above: a side-view of the Mount Eden crater, Auckland

Above: Mount Ngauruhoe Tongariro National Park

Above: Mount Raupehu, Tongariro National Park

Above: mud pool at the moment of boiling; spot the drop – Te Puia

Above: Nga Pou or Rangitihi, Auckland Museum – the Maori Court Central is impressive; the collection of artifacts, spectacular

Above: Nyala eating with style, Auckland Zoo

Above: After trying to photograph the Tuatara (image at the beginning of post) under challenging conditions, we felt the presence of the New Zealand Pigeon from above. It was a wet-yet-semi solid sensation; honorable, since it came from an endemic bird, unique to the Continent of Zelandia. The Pigeon is the size of a hen, imagine the rest

Above: this flat image looks like a painting, but it is not. It corresponds to the endemic and endangered New Zealand Pigeon (quite big, up to 20 in / 50 cm). We found it at the Otorohanga Kiwi House

Above: a cute boat at Opua North Island

 

Above: another panoramic of the Auckland Museum [its actual name is Auckland War Memorial Museum, but the exhibits are not restricted to war or related memories; in fact, the most impressive aspect of the museum is its collection of Maori and Pacific artifacts, spectacular]

Above: We found these pheasants (M/F) foraging nearby the town of Taupō, North Island, New Zealand [introduced species, of course] – suboptimal to get a shot; they were moving; coming in and out of the bushes; close, but not together to get a single photo; alert, but mostly ignoring us; the male did his usual singing and wing flapping… nature continued

Above: The Pōhutu geyser in Te Puia, New Zealand – It erupts about 30-m (once-twice per hour)

Above: another view of Pohutu geyser, Te Puia

Above:  Pukeko series, Western Springs Lakeside Park, Auckland

Above: Pukeko posing – Pukeko series, Western Springs Lakeside Park, Auckland

Above: …and another Pukeko – Pukeko series, Western Springs Lakeside Park, Auckland

Above: Purple Flower Tree, Waikato

Above: Quiet, pretending to not be seen – Western Springs Lakeside Park, Auckland

Above: Rhino and Nyala at the Auckland Zoo

Above:  Richard Owen and Moa skeleton at the Auckland Museum

Above: Sauropod and Theropod dinosaurs at the Auckland Museum

Above: “Rock Drop” by Judy Millard at the Auckland Art Gallery. Immense, yet beautiful. – The AAG is a world class building with a large collection of paintings and sculptures, particularly modern art, Kiwi style

Above: The colorful Rotorua Museum

Above: Sky Tower, downtown Auckland

Above: downtown / harbor Auckland

Above: more of the downtown, Auckland, 10 PM

Above: Southern Black-backed Gull, Auckland harbor

Above: Summit of Mount Victoria, Auckland

Above: it took us five days to find the right restaurant, Tanpopo Ramen, downtown Auckland – complex flavors in simple noodle soups, mixed with vegetables, some pork, seaweeds, ginger, soy sauce, and even corn. Finally, after some intense searching

Above: the iconic Clock Tower at the University of Auckland

Above: “take two” of the iconic Clock Tower at the University of Auckland

Above: “the insights” of the Clock Tower at the University of Auckland – a fantastic piece of architecture (finished in the 1920s); beautiful inside, with many corners and turns, stairs, arcs, pillars; symmetry and color

Above: close up of the top, Clock Tower at the University of Auckland

Above: even closer up of the top, Clock Tower at the University of Auckland

Above: The Cloud, downtown Auckland

Above: The Essence of a Tree – found at the Albert Park in downtown Auckland

Above: The Huia, male (left) and female (right). Now extinct, the bird was common in the North Island of New Zealand. There are some unconfirmed reports of its existence. – We found this beautiful art (about 3×5 meters; 9×15 ft) in the streets of Auckland

Above: The Spitfire TE456 cf 1948, Auckland Museum

Above: biologists will appreciate… Nearby the town of Maramarua

Above: Three muddy Giant Tortoises, Auckland Zoo

Above: Tivaevae manu, tataura, quilt – Cook Islands, Auckland Museum

Above: Jesus – At the town of Tirau, New Zealand – “The Corrugated -Iron Capital of the World”

Above: at the Town of Tirau, Pig

Above: Trail to the Kauri-Tree forest in Waipoua

Above: a detail in B&W at Mount Victoria, Auckland

Above: a “black bird”, Turdus merula, Mount Eden, Auckland

Above: at Waikawau, when we just reached 4000 km of driving in the North Island of New Zealand

Above: Waikino Bridge & Village

Above: the beautiful Wāitukei sculpture in Rotorua

Above: WWI Monument, Thames

Above: “Whol Why Wurld” (2017) by Jess Johnson & Simon Ward, Auckland Art Gallery – Quite modern, attractive, plus the computer animations were so pleasant to watch. Soft music created a micro-atmosphere of calmness

Above: a shiny young Hamadryas… Auckland Zoo. Primates always remind us that wild animals belong in the wild

Above: White Rhino, the end

Above: last day of the journey — Our trilogy in the Continent of Zelandia; the Tasman Sea as seen from the North Island of New Zealand – one of our last images… time to fly North, back home

Above: Back in Boston… 4-F or ‒15-C… It took us 40-min to defrost the car

New Zealand deserves many visits to be fully explored; its beauty and richness of landscape seem endless. The intensity of colors like the deep blue of the sky or the fresh green of the vegetation can only be experienced in the flesh, no other way is possible. — EvoLiteracy © 2019.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook @gpazymino and GPC-Facebook  

Vancouver: The Urban Experience

“…We dedicated quality time to explore Vancouver, its intriguing urban environments. The city is impressive, modern, diverse, busy, with plenty spots to stop by and simply look at. We carried with us a ‘step counter,’ a wrist-watch-like device that told us the number of steps walked daily: a grand total of 234,190 steps during two weeks, about  117 km or 73 miles…”

By Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C

I finally had the time to upload some images from our visit to Vancouver at the end of July and beginning of August, 2018. My collaborator, Avelina Espinosa, and I attended the 5th joint meeting of the Phycological Society of America and the International Society of Protistologists (the latter, ISoP, the society to which we belong). The meeting took place at The University of British Columbia. Here are the PDFs of the full program and abstracts of the presentations (200 talks, 100 posters).

In the past, I have posted photographic/academic reports of similar ISoP meetings in Prague (2017), Moscow (2016) and Seville (2015). Previous conferences have taken place in Banff (2014), Oslo (2012), Berlin (2011), and Kent-Canterbury (2010), which we have attended as well (no postings of those years, but see photography and science traveling during the past 15 years).

The ISoP meetings are medium in size (in the hundreds of attendees) and broad in scope. They gather scientists from all over the world, specialists on: systematics of unicellular eukaryotes (= protists), diversity and biogeography of these organisms, functional ecology (particularly aquatic environments), impacts of climate change on microbial communities, the origins of cell organelles and their physiology and metabolic pathways (e.g. chloroplasts, mitochondria), among other topics. Some  are evolutionary biologists working on the genetics, behavior or health aspects of protists. A few study the origins and evolution of multicellularity, for which microbes are good models.

We presented a poster (below) at the meeting (Kin Recognition in Protists and other Microbes: A Synthesis), which summarized the content of both our latest book on protists and a review article just published in the Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology. Here is the poster’s abstract: “KRP-and-OM is the first scientific compilation dedicated entirely to the genetics, evolution and behavior of cells capable of discriminating/recognizing taxa (other species), clones (other cell lines) or kin (as per gradual genetic proximity). It covers the advent of microbial models in the field of kin recognition; the polymorphisms of green-beard genes in social amebas, yeast and soil bacteria; the potential that unicells have to learn phenotypic cues for recognition; the role of clonality and kinship in pathogenicity (dysentery, malaria, sleeping sickness and Chagas); the social/spatial structure of microbes and their biogeography; and the relevance of unicells’ cooperation, sociality and cheating for our understanding of the origins of multicellularity. With 200+ figures, KRP-and-OM (the book) is conceptualized for a broad audience, including researchers in academia, post doctoral fellows, graduate students and research undergraduates.”

Click on the image below to enlarge the e-version of the poster [click again to see it in real size]:

Before and after the conference, we dedicated quality time to explore Vancouver, its intriguing urban environments. The city is impressive, modern, diverse, busy, with plenty spots to stop by and simply look at. We carried with us a “step counter,” a wrist-watch-like device that told us the number of steps walked daily (grand total 234,190). From it we estimated the distance traveled by foot during the two weeks spent in situ (117 km or 73 miles). The photographic report follows below. If interested click on the images for higher resolution; click twice if you want to see them real size.

The urban experience

We walked 234,190 steps (about  117 km or 73 miles) during 14 days (8.5 km/day or 5.3 miles/day); drove only 652 km or 405 miles (not much in comparison to other trips); and took 1,808 photos (a bit short this time); 82 of the images (4.5%) were shared on social media (Facebook and Twitter). In summary, we had an “urban experience” (walk/drive) with some wilderness and nearby sightseeing. Marutama, in the Westend of Vancouver, was the best restaurant for Ra-Men (specially Tan-Men).

The images © below follow a chronological order of our trip, well, as much as possible. Enjoy.

Above: always needed, maps, more so in Vancouver, a large city with intricate traffic.

Above: Montreal; we flew from Boston to Montreal, transited for an hour and continued to Vancouver.

Above: “Closer to Mars,” figuratively, of course. On our way to Vancouver.

Above: at our hotel; we actually stayed, for the duration of the meeting, at the University of British Columbia’ residence for visitors (UBC Conferences and Accommodation, West Coast Suites). Quite impressive, well kept, comfortable and elegant, with a nice kitchen, better than the expensive hotel we later moved into (downtown) for the rest of the visit.

Above: Masmasa’lano, Multiversity Galleries, at the Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia (UBC).

Above: Buddha, Multiversity Galleries, at the Museum of Anthropology, UBC.

Above:  A close up of Buddha, Multiversity Galleries, at the Museum of Anthropology, UBC.

Above: Carved on wood at the Welcome Plaza, House PostMuseum of Anthropology, UBC.

Above: Carnival Mask, Multiversity Galleries, Museum of Anthropology, UBC.

Above: Haida Bear by Bill Reid, Great Hall, Museum of Anthropology, UBC.

Above: Haida Bear by Bill Reid, Great Hall, Museum of Anthropology, UBC.

Above: More wood carving, House Post, Great Hall, Museum of Anthropology, UBC.

Above: Outdoors of the Museum of Anthropology, image taken from the grounds, UBC.

Above: Raven Discovering Humankind in a Clamshell, The Bill Reid Rotunda, Museum of Anthropology, UBC.

Above: Carving at the temporary exhibit Culture at the CentreMuseum of Anthropology, UBC

Above: Moon Gate Tunnel at the UBC Botanical Garden.

Above: Tree Walk at the UBC Botanical Garden.

Above: Wild flowers at the UBC Botanical Garden.

Above: Leaves and Mosses at the Nitobe Garden, UBC campus.

Above: Log Bridge at the Nitobe Garden, UBC campus.

Above: Memorial to Professor Nitobe at his Garden, UBC campus.

Above: Pacific Bell and Bell Tower at the Asian Studies outdoors, UBC campus.

Above: Trees and Shrubs spot at the Nitobe Garden, UBC campus.

Above: Water Lilies and Duckweeds at the Nitobe Garden, UBC campus.

Above: Water Lilies and Duckweeds (B&W) at the Nitobe Garden, UBC campus.

Above: Kids playing at the Spanish Banks Beach Park.

Above: The Friendship Bench at the UBC campus.

Above: It’s A Mystery by John Nutter at the UBC campus.

Above: Blue Whale at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, UBC campus.

Above: Centre for Business Ethics at the UBC campus.

Above: “I Want It All I Want It Now” at the main library, UBC campus.

Above: Quantum Matter Institute at the UBC ccampus.

Above: Urgent Care Centre at the UBC campus (examine this photo carefully).

Above: Fees apply to all at the Urgent Care Centre, UBC campus.

Above: “The Nest” at the UBC campus.

Above: Victory Through Honour Pole by Ellen Neel, at the UBC campus.

Above: Danbo Restaurant in downtown Vancouver.

Above: Danbo Restaurant in downtown Vancouver.

Above: Blue Buildings and Blue Sky, downtown Vancouver.

Above: The Burrard St. Bridge in downtown Vancouver.

Above: The Burrard St. Bridge in downtown Vancouver.

Above: Is this scientifically true? Granville Public Market, Granville Island.

Above: At the Granville Public Market, Granville Island.

Above: “Three Berries” (well, sort of) at the Granville Public Market, Granville Island, Vancouver.

Above: At the Granville Public Market, Granville Island, Vancouver.

Above: Downtown Vancouver.

Above: Light-Shed, Vancouver Harbour.

Above: Vancouver Harbour.

Above: Sky Jump at the Whistler Olympic Park (located Northwest of Vancouver).

Above: Our rented truck at the Whistler Olympic Park.

Above: Pre-entrance to the Vancouver Public Library.

Above: Pre-entrance to the Vancouver Public Library.

Above: The iconic Steam Clock in downtown Vancouver.

Above: Marutama Ra-Men, the best in town; there are two locations in Vancouver.

Above: Ra-Men being made at Marutama in downtown Vancouver.

Above: Tan-Men Mild at Marutama Ra-Men.

Above: Plain rice at Marutama Ra-Men.

Above: Kakuni Pork Belly at Marutama Ra-Men.

Above: The Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in downtown Vancouver.

Above: Trees Falling at the Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, downtown Vancouver.

Above: The Details of a City, downtown Vancouver.

Above: The Lions Gate Bridge, downtown Vancouver.

Above: At the Vancouver Aquarium.

Above: Chrysaora fuscescens at the Vancouver Aquarium.

Above: More of The Harbour.

Above: A-Maze-Ing Laughter by Yue Minjun, downtown Vancouver.

Above: Space Centre & Museum of Vancouver.

Above: And a close up of the Space Centre & Museum of Vancouver.

Above: Vancouver Art Gallery, in the downtown.

Above: “A Rushing Sea of Undergrowth” by Emily Carr 1935, Vancouver Art Gallery.

Above: “Ayumi” by Corey Bulpitt at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Above: Buckminster Fuller‘s Geodesic Dome at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Above: “Peter” by Corey Bulpitt at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Above: “Tarah” by Corey Bulpitt at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Above: The famous Morgan Guitars exhibited at the Vancouver Airport.

Above: “Meeting is Over”…

Above: Rain and Propeller, Vancouver Airport.

Above: Sunlight and Propeller, light bends, closer to Boston.

— EvoLiteracy © 2018.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook @gpazymino and GPC-Facebook 

On secularism the Czechs have it right – A visit to Prague and Kutná Hora

I finally had the chance to complete this post, which was in the making for quite some time. Preparing 100 images, as included below, can take many hours and much energy. I thank the friends and followers of EvoLiteracy for being patient and for continuing visiting the site and sharing its educational contents. On average, people from about 50 countries visit this portal, thousands a year.

I was in Prague and Kutná Hora during the end of July and beginning of August, 2017. Part of the time was dedicated to attend the ISOP meeting (Prague), or the International Society of Protistologists annual gathering. A conference for specialized biologists and other scientists interested in the lives and histories of microscopic organisms that happen to be unicellular, but that, unlike bacteria like E. coli (a mandatory companion in the human gut), these microbes have a nucleus (= eukaryotes; eu = true; karyon = nucleus, in reality it means nut). Unicellular eukaryotes are also called “protists” (a generic, all-inclusive term). I have written about them in the past, and readers can find that material here.

Today’s pictoric post is divided in three parts: Part One is about the ISOP meeting, with a few self explanatory photos. Part Two covers selected statistics about the Czech Republic, specifically about public acceptance of evolution in respect to other Central- and Eastern-European countries (the Czechs lead on this), views on  secularism, separation between church and state, and the need of believing in God [or not] to be moral and have good values. Readers might find the Czech example impressive. It is indeed a demonstration that an advanced society –organized around highly educated citizens– can reach prosperity (after its devastation during World War II), public education and health care for all; a community that can turn secular and, at the same time, continue to honor and celebrate its cultural past, monuments, cathedrals, castles, arts, music and life. A true case-scenario of civility and modernity in which the monarchs were removed for good. Part Three includes images of Prague and Kutná Hora; they speak for themselves and will be part of my long-lasting memories. — Hope you enjoy the graphic journey below and decide, some day, to visit Prague and Kutná Hora, and make these cities and their peoples part of your own secular soul. – GPC

Part One: ISOP meeting

Above: this is the second time we do a poster presentation for an international meeting. As students, we used to do it in the past (click on image to enlarge, full + resolution).

Above: What is this? A tossing MICROPHONE. Very clever. A 15-cm soft (spongy) cube equipped with a microphone inside. It can be tossed to the audience and expedite the Q&A. I think it does encourage people to participate and ask questions just for the fun of tossing and receiving the cube. The electronics are programmed to shutdown the noise while the cube is bouncing, but the microphone activates itself once stabilized at no-rough motion.

Above: remarks by Miklós Müller during the presentation of the Hutner Award (given yearly to a researcher in protistology), always relevant and a good perspective.

Part Two: Statistics

Above: Acceptance of evolution in Eastern Europe. Note how the Czech Republic leads in public acceptance of evolution: 83% think that humans and other living things have evolved over time (left). And 73% think that humans and other living things have evolved due to natural selection.

Above: 72% of Czechs consider themselves unaffiliated in terms of religious identity.

Atheists Agnostics Nones - M vs W Central Eastern Europe PEW 2016

Above: Atheists, agnostics and nones in Central and Eastern Europe (left). Gender difference in believing in God in Central and Eastern Europe (right). The Czechs lead in terms of atheists (25%) and nothing in particular (46%) in contrast to other Central and Eastern Europe countries. More women (36%) than men (22%) say they believe in God.

Separation Church State - Morality Central Eastern Europe PEW 2016

Above: 75% of Czechs favor the separation of church and state (2nd in Central and Eastern Europe, left). And 87% think that it is not necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values (right).

Part Three: Images

I took 1,914 images during the visit to Prague and Kutná Hora, below is a sample of them:

Above: the spectacular Theology Hall at the Strahov Monastery Library.

Above: Reader, at the National Library.

Above: the Philosophical Hall at the Strahov Monastery Library.

Above: Prague as seen from its “TV Tower” (93 meters above ground).

Above: Prague’s famous (or infamous) TV Tower, the babies climbing up are plastic replicas of the bronze “Babies” by David Černý.

Above: Bronze “Babies” by David Černý.