Dr. Josefino Comiso: NASA’s Filipino Physicist

Discovered recurring polynya

Josefino Comiso is a senior scientist at the Cryospheric Sciences Branch of the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. At Goddard, he co-authored the first satellite atlases on sea ice that revealed for the first time the true extent and spatial distribution of sea ice in the polar regions. He also generated the first detailed maps of surface temperatures in the polar regions as derived from thermal infrared satellite data.

His research led to new insights into many important processes in the polar regions. Those include the role of sensible and latent heat polynyas (“Polyna” is a Russian word meaning “an enclosed area of unfrozen water surrounded by ice”) and the Greenland Sea Odden on ocean convection and bottom water formation. The “Odden” is a large sea ice feature that forms in the east Greenland Sea that may protrude eastward to 5°E from the main sea ice pack (at about 8°W) between 73° and 77°N. It generally forms at the beginning of the winter season and can cover 300,000 km2 (115,800 sq. miles).

His research also includes the influence of sea ice on phytoplankton blooms and the warming signals revealed by sea ice in the polar oceans. He has been a member of satellite sensor teams and has developed algorithms for the retrieval of sea ice concentration, surface temperature, albedo, and clouds. He was the chief scientist in many NASA aircraft missions that included a flight over a nuclear submarine in the Arctic and has participated in many Antarctic field programs. In addition to the three sea ice atlases, he is the author or co-author of several book chapters and more than a hundred refereed journal articles.

He received his Masters Degree in Physics from Florida State University and Ph. D. in physics from the University of California in Los Angeles. He held a post-doctoral position at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and worked as a senior consultant for Computer Sciences Corporation before joining NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Highlights of research efforts by J. Comiso during the last 20 years:

1. He develped the Bookstrap Algorithm for the retrieval of sea ice parameters from satellite data that
is now being used worldwide and adapted for new satellite systems.
2. He made important contributions on studies of Polynyas and the Odden, including
a. the discovery of an theory behind the Cosmonaut Polynya;
b. the role of coastal polynyas in bottom water formation and thermohaline circulation in the Ocean;
c. new insights into the large Weddell and Maud Rise polynyas;
d. detailed characterization of the Ross Sea Polynya; and
e. the role of the Odden as one of 4 convection areas in the world’s ocean leading to deep
water formation.
3. He has provided useful insights into the global climate change phenomenon with the discovery of:
a. an unexpected cooling in Antarctica during the last two decades;
b. hemispheric asymmetry in the trends of the sea ice cover;
c. Effects of El Nino in the Antarctic and a changing climate in the Bellingshausen Sea;
d. rapidly declining perennial ice cover; and an accelerated warming in the Arctic.
4. He is first to put together and analyze a long term and co-registered satellite data set on sea ice,
surface temperature, cloud statistics, and albedo in the polar regions. This data set is now used for
climate studies in many centers around the world.

Abelardo Aguilar: Filipino Scientist Discovered Erythromycin

Abelardo Aguilar, a Filipino scientist, sent some soil samples to his employer Eli Lilly in 1949. Eli Lilly’s research team, led by J. M. McGuire, managed to isolate Erythromycin from the metabolic products of a strain of Streptomyces erythreus (designation changed to “Saccharopolyspora erythraea”) found in the samples.

Lilly filed for patent protection of the compound and U.S. patent 2,653,899 was granted in 1953. The product was launched commercially in 1952 under the brand name Ilosone (after the Philippine region of Iloilo where it was originally collected from). Erythromycin was formerly also called Ilotycin.

In 1981, Nobel laureate (1965 in chemistry) and Professor of Chemistry at Harvard University (Cambridge, MA) Robert B. Woodward, along with a large number of members from his research group, posthumously reported the first stereocontrolled asymmetric chemical synthesis of Erythromycin A.

The antibiotic clarithromycin was invented by scientists at the Japanese drug company Taisho Pharmaceutical in the 1970s as a result of their efforts to overcome the acid instability of erythromycin.

Scientists at Chugai Pharmaceuticals discovered an erythromycin-derived motilin agonist called Mitemcinal that is believed to have strong prokinetic properties (similar to erythromycin,) but lacking antibiotic properties. Presently, erythromycin is commonly used off-label for gastric motility indications such as gastroparesis. If Mitemcinal can be shown to be as effective a prokinetic agent, it would represent a significant advance in the GI field as treatment with this drug would not carry the risk of unintentional selection for antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Erythromycin is a macrolide antibiotic that has an antimicrobial spectrum similar to or slightly wider than that of penicillin, and is often used for people who have an allergy to penicillins. For respiratory tract infections, it has better coverage of atypical organisms, including mycoplasma and Legionellosis. It was first marketed by Eli Lilly and Company, and it is today commonly known as EES (erythromycin ethylsuccinate, an ester prodrug that is commonly administered).

4 RP green projects showcased in INTEL Science Fair

Four science investigatory projects that have strong impact on the environment will represent the Philippines in the prestigious Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2010 in San Jose, California, USA, from May 9 to 14.

The science projects for the world’s biggest pre-college science research competition are commonly focused on solution to environmental problems.

More than 1,500 students from around the world will share ideas, showcase cutting-edge research and inventions, and compete for nearly $4 million in scholarships and awards.

The four science projects, which were turned in by seven high school students from different schools outside Metro Manila, were selected from an original field of 59 studies.

“I am proud of these brilliant students for their excellent science projects, which will surely have positive impact on the environment especially in the light of global warming we are experiencing,” Education Secretary Mona D. Valisno said.

Marc Mapalo, Maria Clara Sia, and Jean de Guzman came up with the study that will lessen the occurrence of harmful Algal blooms or Red Tides. “Our study will help the fishing industry where many of our countrymen depend for livelihood,” said Mapalo, a fresh graduate from Philippine Science High School in Palo, Leyte.

Meanwhile, another research study is able to turn an otherwise pestering garbage into fertilizer. “My study is helpful in minimizing garbage and convert it into a cheaper alternative for fertilizers,” said Jennifer Doromal, from La Filipina National High School in Tagum City. Her study aims to determine the capability of fungi Trichoderma Harzianum in the decomposition of used diapers to source fertilizer for Basella Alba or spinach.

Seaweeds as source of medicine were the focus of the study of an individual researcher Marc Arthur Limpiado who is also from the Philippine Science High School in Palo, Leyte. “My project will help popularize the country’s seaweeds industry” said Limpiado. “If this happens, our country will have enough sources of raw materials for pharmaceutical products,” he added.

A science project by students, Brayl G. Ymbol and Hanna Escobido of Caraga State University in Mindanao uses corn cob ash as temperature sensor. This project was chosen to represent the country in the ISEF Physical Sciences Competition. “Our project can help minimize pollution and the corn cob can also be used as a cheap source of semi-conductors since pure silicon is expensive.”

To prepare for the Intel ISEF presentation, the group underwent training from research advisers Janeth M. Fuentes, Engineer Liberato Ramos, Dr. Claro Santiago, and Dr. Maribel Nonato. Their training was also supported by DepEd which was a close partner of Intel in many of its education advocacies in the country.

Intel Philippines’ Education Manager Cecilia Ubarra said the Intel Philippine Science Fair and Intel ISEF are part of Intel’s work in advancing science education in the country and around the world. Education is a key component of the Intel’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) effort.

“Intel believes that young people are the key to solving global challenges. A solid math and science foundation coupled with skills such as critical thinking, collaboration and problem solving are crucial for their success,” she ended.

(Story courtesy of the Manila Bulletin)

Watercar: Philippine Innovation

Daniel Dingel’s water-powered car traces its development back to 1969, per Philippine newspaper accounts and the inventor’s own claim that he has invested at least thirty years’ worth of work. Dingel has had several cars converted since that time – all his own.

The Daniel Dingel water car is not a fuel-cell car. Fuel cell cars like the new Honda FCX Clarity uses hydrogen gas to produce electricity in a fuel cell, and it is this electricity that powers the car’s electric motor. Also, fuel cell cars are reliant on hydrogen that is pre-extracted using costly methods.

Contrary to its name, Dingel’s car does not burn water. The inventor claims to have designed a process that efficiently maximizes on-demand hydrogen extraction from the electrolysis of ordinarily-available water. It is the hydrogen gas that his car burns directly in the engine’s combustion chamber. The extraction process being on-demand, Dingel’s car does not store hydrogen gas onboard in quantities that pose an explosion risk.

THOMAS Alva Edison conducted some 50,000 experiments on the battery to perfect its capacity to store power. To a friend who come to offer his condolences to the American inventor on the lack of results despite his efforts, Edison replied: “Why, man, I’ve gotten a lot of results! Now I know several thousand things that don’t work.”

Most Filipinos don’t know it, but we have in Paranaque, an inventor who displays the same trait, judging from the number of useful ideas he has thought up.

Daniel D. Dingel hails from La Union, his mother’s province, but lived in an orphanage, as his parents died when he was still young. Americans from Clark and Subic provided the lad opportunities for a predominantly technical education.

“I earned my mechanical engineering degree by dint of effort from the International Correspondence School. Perfected by practical experience, my educational attainment could be equated to a Ph.D.,” he says.

Dingel admits that he once nurtured the ambition to study for the priesthood but Providence willed otherwise, Still, he firmly decided to commit his God-given talent for invention to the service of humanity.


It was in the early 80s that Dingel came into the national limelight with his declaration that he had discovered a way to make a vehicle run on water.

This was in the wake of the first world oil crisis of the mid-70s which stunned everyone into realizing that petroleum was fast-dwindling natural resource and that western nations had to knock their noggins together to come up with alternative sources of fuel, fast.

Foreigners came flocking to grill Dingel about his invention, and a year or so later, one of them declared that the claim was hoax. But Dingel stuck to his guns and let Philippine authorities objectively evaluate his claim.

Test drives

In 1985, Dingel said, he drove his car from Metro Manila to Laguna over a distance of 167 kilometers consuming 15 liters of water and half a liter of gasoline.

When he made a trip to the US, he added, he had occasion to show Americans that his car could make the Detroit-to-Florida run on 60 liters of water and two liters of gasoline.

Government authorities have confirmed these claims in scientific tests and today Dingel drives a car with these words, in bold letters, painted on the rear windshield: “This car runs on water.”

How it works

In brief, Dingel’s invention uses gasoline only to get the engine started. Then water passes through two reactors in the engine which splits it into hydrogen and oxygen to trigger off combustion.

His related invention – the electromagnetic fluid, or EMF – is a lubricant additive made up of extracts from vegetables, leaves, flowers and trees and resinous materials and perfumes.

An ounce of this fluid, which bears the trademark EMF Fluxy Fluid 2000, is all that’s needed to cleanse an engine of accumulated carbon deposits and to limber it up over a guaranteed distance of 36,000 kilometers. This is equivalent to four years of running time without any adjustment or replacement of any mechanical part.

More demos

Dingel has full confidence in his EMF, offering a satisfaction-or-your-money-back guarantee on it. His latest demonstration of the surefire success of his EMF took place last Oct. 3. Among the spectators was mechanical engineer Gil Milag Buan, marketing manager of both Agile Technodynamics and of a family-owned electrical contracting firm.

“I was taken in by his demonstration of the potency and efficiency of EMF in just over two minutes during which a car rids itself of carbon dirt from its innards and runs with higher compression, less revolutions per minute and more torque, lesser knock, all on lesser fuel for more kilometers,” Buan says.

“He knows whereof he speaks after decades of hands-on work with engines of so many makes. But what drew me to him was his simplicity, unassuming attitude and humanitarianism for others who have less in life.”

A proud Pinoy, An Achiever, Daniel Dingel….

Filipino Version of Bill Gates: Diosdado Banatao

Diosdado Banatao, a native of Iguig, Cagayan and an electrical engineering graduate from Mapua Institute of Technology in Manila is credited for eight major contributions to the Information Technology. Banatao is most known for introducing the first single-chip graphical user interface accelerator that made computers work a lot faster and for helping develop the Ethernet controller chip that made Internet possible. In 1989, he pioneered the local bus concept for personal computers and in the following year developed the First Windows accelerator chip. Intel is now using the chips and technologies developed by Banatao. He now runs his own semiconductor company, Mostron and Chips & Technology, which is based in California’s Silicon Valley.

He worked on the following technologies as have several hundred other engineers and does not claim having invented or innovated any of these technologies.

1.First single-chip, 16-bit microprocessor-based calculator (while at Commodore in 1976. Note: The first single-chip 16-bit microprocessor was the 1976 TMS 9900 by Texas Instruments. Texas Instruments also came up with the first pocket calculator in 1972. (Was Commodore the first to come up with the single-chip 16-bit calculator?)
2.First 10-Mbit Ethernet CMOS with silicon coupler data-link control and transreceiver chip; got 3Com into the Ethernet PC add-in card business (while at Seeq in early 1980s)
3.First system logic chip set for the PC-XT and the PC-AT (while at Mostron in 1984 and Chips and Technologies in 1985)
4.First enhanced graphics adapter chip set (while at Chips and Technologies in 1985)
5.Pioneered local bus concept for PC (while at S3 in 1989)
6.First Windows Graphics accelerator chip (while at S3 in 1990)- This is debatable
He is a managing partner of Tallwood Venture Capital. Prior to Tallwood he was a venture partner with the Mayfield Fund. He has served on the board of directors and as chairman of several emerging companies, including Marvell Technology Group, SiRF (acquired by CSR plc), NewPort Communications (acquired by Broadcom), and Cyras Systems (acquired by Ciena Corporation).

Banatao holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Mapua Institute of Technology in the Philippines and a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Stanford University.

Dado Banatao is now a multimillionaire investor. He invested in a lot of networking companies that were eventually sold before he joined the venture capital firm Mayfield Fund in 1998. After two years, the company offered him to promote to a general partner but Dado refused it and instead decided to start his own venture capital firm named Tallwood Venture Capital with a capital of US$300 million, all of which came from his own pocket. He then believed that independence is more important than security.

Today Dado Banatao manages several businesses. His Cielo Communications is developing the vertical cavity surface emitting laser or Versel, which speeds the transmission of data along optical lines. His SIRF Technology is designing a chip for a global positioning system which utilizes satellites to locate objects. His Marvell Technology had a highly successful public offering with the stock price soaring more than 300% during its first day of trading. He has proven to be a master investor and venture capitalist. He invests, oversees, and sells several companies that include Cyras Systems acquired by Ciena; Newport Communications acquired by Broadcom; Acclaim Communications acquired by Level One; Stream Machines acquired by Cirrus Logic; Marvell Technology Group and New Moo software.

He has more than three homes in the US, including resort properties in Lake Tahoe and Sonoma San Francisco. From his childhood roots of walking barefoot, he now drives his high-performance luxury cars and he flies his own fast jets. Yet despite these blessings, Dado Banatao still contributes to the society and to the country. His Banatao Filipino American Fund assists Northern California high school students of Filipino heritage in pursuing a college education in engineering. Aside from this, he also went back to his childhood town of Iguig in Cagayan Valley where he built a computer center at his grade school making it the only public school with the most modern computer network.
A proud Filipino, definitely an achiever…

Energy Efficient Invention

Filipino Achiever

2008 Associate Laureate

Energy efficiency is one of the solution in combating climate change. Scientists, inventors, innovators, govermental funded institutions, non-governmental organization and multinational corporation are heading towards a common goal. They are in one way or another developed technologies that they consider and promoted as energy efficient.

More renewable energy and greater energy efficiency will improve our energy security. The market for future energy efficiency technology and clean energy technology is huge. This is just one of the points of views from the different nationalities attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference which will be concluded tomorrow, December 18, 2009.

As Filipinos we also have our share in this conference. Two Filipinos have won the the cnn/youtube debate contest on climate change, Paul Darwynn Garilao and Alfonso Orioste, Jr.

Philippine delegation to COP 15 in Copenhagen

1. Senator Loren Legarda

2. Senator Edgardo Angara

3. Secretary Heherson Alvarez

4. Albay Gov. Jose Ma. Clemente Sarte Salceda

5. Rep. Nanette Daza

6. Amb. Elizabeth Buensuceso

7. DENR Usec. Lucille Sering

8. Vice Consul Lenna de Dios-Sison

9. DA Usec. Segfredo Serrano

10. DOE Usec. Zamzamin Ampatuan

11. DOST Usec. Graciano Yumul

12. Atty. Tony La Vina (Dean, Ateneo School of Government)

13. Amelia Supetran – UNDP

14. Ma. Rosario Felizco – Oxfam GB

15. Naderev Sano – WWF

16. Conservation International Philippines (no name specified)

17. Ms. Bernabe – Asian Farmers Association

18. Ms. Victoria Corpuz – Metrobank Foundation


19. DFA Asec. Leila Lora-Santos

20. DFA Asec. Evan Garcia

Source: Memorandum issued to DFA Secretary Alberto Romulo from the Office of the Executive Secretary dated November 24, 2009

With the continued discussion on climate change, we as filipinos are very proud of our fellow kababayans who are making it big in the international front.

Sometimes we have neglected somebody who have made us proud also… In terms of energy efficiency one person who have made us proud worldwide is the recipient of the ROLEX awards.

Iloilo professor Alexis Belonio is the first Filipino to win the prestigious Rolex Award for inventing a stove that converts rice husks into environmentally friendly cooking gas.

Founded in 1976, the Rolex Award is given to “visionaries” who have undertaken groundbreaking projects.

As an Associate Laureate, Belonio received $50,000 and a steel and gold Rolex chronometer at the awarding ceremony.

His invention turns agricultural waste into purified gas in a top-lit, updraft and biomass gas stove. The low-cost stove powered by rice husks–the most abundant of farm wastes–reduces fuel costs and minimizes greenhouse gas.

Stoves fueled by rice husks have been used before, but are sooty and unhealthy and do not generate enough heat to cook food quickly.

Converting husks to gas provide a much hotter, cleaner flame for cooking–not to mention a cheaper source of energy.

A ton of rice husks contains the same energy as 415 liters of petrol or 378 liters of kerosene. A few handfuls of rice husks can boil water in six to nine minutes.

Belonio is an associate professor of agricultural engineering at the Central Philippine University in Iloilo City.

He intends to use the funds from the award to set up a demonstration center in Iloilo to disseminate free information and to provide training and technical advice about technologies he has developed.

Belonio joins nine other awardees from India, Jordan, Mexico, Paraguay, South Africa, the Philippines, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The 2008 Rolex Awards for Enterprise winners were chosen from nearly 1,500 applicants in 127 countries by an independent panel of scientists, educators, economists and other experts.

Proud Cebuano, Bantayanon Inventor

Fluorescent Lamp Inventor

Many Filipinos acknowledge Agapito Flores as the inventor of the fluorescent lamp, which is the most widely used source of lighting in the world today. The fluorescent lamp reportedly got its name from Flores. Written articles about Flores said he was born in Bantayan Island in Cebu. The fluorescent lamp, however, was not invented in a particular year. It was the product of 79 years of the development of the lighting method that began with the invention of the electric light bulb by Thomas Edison.

Among the other inventors who claimed credit for developing the fluorescent lamp were French physicist A. E. Becquerel (1867), Nikola Tesla, Albert Hall (1927), Mark Winsor and Edmund Germer. French inventor Andre Claude was recognized for developing the fluorescent tubular lighting systems. Yet, he was not officially recognized as the inventor of fluorescent lamp. It was reported that the General Electric and Westinghouse obtained Claude’s patent rights and developed the fluorescent lamp that we know today.

According to Filipino scientists, fluorescent lamp was not named after Flores. The term fluorescence first cropped up as early as 1852 when English mathematician-physicist George Gabriel Stokes discovered a luminous material called “fluorspar”, which he coined with “escence”. The National Academy of Science and Technology also dismissed Flores being the inventor of fluorescent lamp as a myth. “No scientific report, no valid statement, no rigorous documents can be used to credit Flores for the discovery of the fluorescent lamp. We have tried to correct this misconception, but the media (for one) and our textbooks (for another) keep using the Flores example,” a Filipino scientist wrote in her column at the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

The fluorescent lamps were introduced into the U.S. market in 1938. Still, Filipinos recognize Agapito Flores as the inventor of the product that illuminated the world.

Young Pinoy Scientists Win in Intel ISEF

Young Pinoy Scientists

The Philippine delegation brought home two Fourth Grand Awards, one Team Projects Fourth Grand Award and a Special Award from the recently concluded Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF), which ran from May 14-19, 2007 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.

Bringing home the bacon for the Philippines in the world’s biggest science fair were: Melvyn Carlo Barroa, 16, Capiz National High School, Roxas City who won Fourth Award in Microbiology for his project, Fish Mucus: its Potential Antimicrobial Effects on Human Pathogens and Possible Role in Innate Immunity; a study that explored his findings of a potential antibiotic produced from a natural defense mechanism of fish.

Hester Mana Umayam, 15, Philippine Science High School – Cagayan VAlley Campus, garnering Fourth Award in Behavioral and Social Sciences for her research, Ethnomathematics in the Geometric Patterns in Woven Fabrics of the Indigenous Kalingas of the Philippines; a study that brought her to bring a better understanding of the patterns of Kalinga woven fabris in particular, and of its soci-cultural implications in general. The team of Ivy Razel Ventura, Janine Cindy Santiago, Mara Elaine Villaverde, all 16 years old, from Philippine Science High Schoo – Main CAmpus, won the Fourth Award in Team Projects, for their study, Screening, Isolation and Characterication of flourescent Proteins from Nudibranchs. Ventura, Santiago and Villaverde explored the potential of Nudibranchs as useful in tumor research.

Meanwhile, Luiji John Karlo Suarez, 17, Dona Hortencia Salas Benedicto National High School, La Carlota City, won a Scholarship Award from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance/The Lemelson Foundation for his research, The potential of marine bioluminescent bacteria as abtibacterial agents against two major rice diseases caused by xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae and xanthomonas oryzae pv. Oryzicola. Suarez introduced a new way of controlling bacteria infection in plants, to help farmers in the production of infection-free rice.