Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Manang Madre's Natural Aquarium - Keyhole View to Magnificent Creation (San Vicente IS to the World Series):

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 Evening Class, Monday to Friday

                                                                           Glass aquarium at home 
There was no electricity then, and therefore there were no motorized air pumps and filters, aquarium lights, oxygen generators, and the like, which we use in aquariums today. Yet the aquarium in those days was beautiful in its own natural way, and it was simple and easy to maintain.

When I was a kid I used to visit my cousin who later joined a religious order (Sister Francisca Rotor, SPC) just to watch and ponder on her glass aquarium sitting on a window facing the northeast. The sun shone through the glass, its rays splitting into the prism of the rainbow spreading on the aquatic plants, and the playful goldfish. Bubbles hanged on the glistening Elodea and Hydrilla plants, then rose slowly to the top faintly hissing and popping. I now understand that these bubbles are pure oxygen, the by-products of photosynthesis.

At the bottom and side of the aquarium were small snails which did the job of the janitor fish as gleaners and cleaners. Snails scrape off algal crust and being saprophytes too, convert organic matter into detritus which is equivalent to compost - in turn provides nutrition to the aquatic plants. Carbon dioxide emitted by the fish and snail is used by the plants for photosynthesis, and in the process produce sugar, and oxygen as by-product. Sugar is subsequently converted into other organic compounds which are necessary for the plants to grow and gain biomass. Being herbivores fish and snail depend upon the plant.

The secret of a stable aquarium is balanced gas exchange and organic-inorganic cycle. Once this is attained we can say the aquarium is a "balanced ecosystem," a microcosm of a pond or lake.

Manang Madre aquarium soon led me to search for great minds and their works, among them, Aristotle's Natural History, Darwin's Theory of Evolution, Oparin's Beginning of Life, Cousteau's Oceanography,  EO Wilson's Sociobiology, Leeuwenhoek's Microscopy, and  Henry David Thoreau's Treatise of Nature and Man. 

On the other hand I taught my students to build aquariums without any electrical gadget, telling them, "In any experiment, understand and apply the laws of nature." 

Why don't you put up a project in your home or school, and replicate Manang Madre's natural aquarium? It is peeping through the keyhole of magnificent creation.   ~

Discovering a wonderful world under the sea

Characteristics of a Natural Aquarium
  1. A natural aquarium is a miniature pond, lake, or sea. 
  2. The basic principle is conversion of the sun's energy into food and oxygen by algae and plants (photosynthesizers).
  3. Food and oxygen are important to fish and other animals.
  4. In return, the animals give off "waste" as nutrients and carbon dioxide important to plants.
  5. A natural aquarium therefore is a simple ecosystem, balanced environment. 
  6. Like any ecosystem, its balance depends on healthy interrelationship of the living and non-living world.
  7. The organisms are classified into producers (plants, algae), and consumers (fish, snails), and decomposers (bacteria)
  8. Balance is dynamic, it changes, but nature guides it to attain stability or homeostasis.
  9. Energy flow goes through the food chain, food web, food pyramid.  
  10. Humans are part of this system, and has assumed dominance over other organisms.
  11. Nature takes care of itself even without man.  Thus, forests, coral reefs, and the like, are best maintained without man's intervention.  
  12. On the other hand it is man that may destroy this natural balance through pollution, over fishing  chemical farming, deforestation - and global warming, which is a consequence of man's increasing number and affluence. ~
        Natural Aquarium - Miniature Ecosystem 

I loved watching the guppies in an old fashioned aquarium
     sans any gadget for lighting, filter, and fancy screen;
the sun, the provider of food and oxygen through the algae
     clinging on rock, and snails living off the glass clean.  

I was a kid then eager to discover the mysteries of nature; 
     a little of Darwin, Linnaeus, and Arthur Doyle I sought,
of Fleming's serendipity and Leeuwenhoek's microscopy,
     seeing their images in an aquarium my cousin taught.

It was schooling, experimenting, and above all, dreaming,
     it took me to a little Smithsonian, to a niche in biology,
 archive of living history, the microcosm of the living world,
     to the ends of the world, far from man's technology.   

 Basic microscopy for kids.  Bubbles of Oxygen, by-product of photosynthesis cling on the alga before they are dissolved in water  for the use of fish, or released into the atmosphere for humans and animals. 

Kids in the neighborhood observe how guppies devour mosquito wrigglers, a lesson in controlling diseases carried by mosquitoes without use of harmful and expensive chemicals. Common house mosquito, Culex, lays eggs on water which hatch into wrigglers

 Microscopic community nestles on the alga.  It is made up of protists living in a complex interrelationship, and interaction of energy and matter, in dynamic balance. 
To me, Manang Madre's aquarium was a laboratory, the curious kid that I was.  It introduced me into a realm I would be devoting much of my time as biologist. It left an indelible mark of nature's self-contained system - the dynamic balance that keeps order and harmony in nature which scientists call homeostasis.

Utility Wheel Chair Mobile: Inventor Jose Pepito A Rojas (San Vicente IS to the World Series)

The genuineness of an invention lies in the unselfish motive and dedication to serve the “least of God’s brethren,” indeed the greatest service one can contribute to humanity.

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday

Features of the UWC Mobile:
  • Road Car
  • Utility vehicle
  • Wheel Chair
 Side view of the UWC Mobile shows simplicity in design, made of all-surplus and easy to assemble parts, allowing details in innovations and personal aesthetics. Options: TV and radio, GPS, a detachable roof-umbrella easy to open and fold.  It is its simplicity and practicality that makes the UWC Mobile universal, revolutionizing today's two-, three- and four-wheel transports. It is home made.  

It is said that necessity is the mother of invention.  There’s no argument about that.  But taken on another line of reasoning, which to me is on the level of philosophy, invention is the work of a genius whose condition becomes the parameter of the benefits others might be served by such invention.  

For example, Braille writing and reading was designed by a blind inventor Louis Braille to whose name his invention was named. Today his invention is benefitting millions of blind people all over the world helping them become literate and share the world of those whose vision is unimpaired.

John Milton’s sequel of Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained is believed to be in the imagery of the inner eye expressed in romantic and forceful epic poetry, while in the case of French impressionist Claude Monet his mural masterpieces evolved from the twilight of his vision that puzzled scientists if he had an ultraviolet eye.    

Can you imagine a deaf Ludwig Beethoven composing Moonlight Sonata for a blind girl wishing to see the stars? 

What motivated Alexander Graham Bell to invent the telephone, and Thomas Edison the phonograph and the cinematic camera but their indomitable courage in conquering their disabilities in learning and hearing, which consequently “brought the world closer.”  

And to think that the great Albert Einstein who split the atom was diagnosed of Aspergers Syndrome, a type of autism, Sir Isaac Newton the father of physics an epileptic, and Stephen Hawkings suffering of a rare motor neuron disease.

Henry Ford had dyslexia, so with Leonardo da Vinci and Walt Disney.  Perhaps the most extreme scenario is the case of Helen Keller who was blind, deaf and mute, and yet she became the light of the world for persons with disabilities (PWD). 

There are many PWDs who have hidden qualities akin, in their own ways, to those of great inventors and leaders.  One of them is our special person, Jose A Rojas, known to his family and friends as Boying.  He was born with a chronic paraplegic disability.  His hobby in electronics and mechanics gadgets led him to put up a home workshop, a local hub, so to speak, for radio and TV repair, for students working on school projects,   motorists and hobbyists as well.

Imagine how busy Boying’s workshop is, not only because of his everyday visitors and many friends.  He would keep their attention and interest by sharing his rich knowledge, practical and experiential, about a wide range of things electronic and mechanical. It’s a tutorship school of sort.  

Who would not ponder on his invention, a Utility Wheel Chair Mobile (UWC Mobile)? 
It is a Road Car, Utility vehicle, and Wheel Chair combined. What is amazing is that the parts he used are second hand, and some even came from the junkyard.  

Which reminds me of the Moon Buggy. The inventor is a Filipino, Engr. Eduardo San Juan, a.k.a. Space Junkman. It is said that the “junkyard” provided components in building this wonderful lunar rover which beat all entries, including the sophisticated and all new models. Isn’t the passenger jeepney, signature of Filipino ingenuity, made of war surplus after WWII? And became a symbol of Filipino culture?
  In 1971, the Moon Buggy was first used by during the Apollo 12 landing to explore the Moon. The inventor, Eduardo San Juan graduated from Mapua Institute of Technology. He then studied Nuclear Engineering at the University of Washington. In 1978, San Juan received one of the Ten Outstanding Men (TOM) awards in science and technology.

Here is a brief description on how The Moon Buggy won over all entries. 
“During the final test demonstration to select one design from various submissions, his was the only one that worked. Thus, his design won the NASA Contract. His overall concept and design of the Articulated Wheel System was considered brilliant. Each wheel appendage was mounted not underneath the vehicle, but was placed outside the body of the vehicle and each was motorized. Wheels could work independently of the others. It was designed to negotiate crater ingress and egress. The other vehicles did not make it into or out of the test crater. Our Father, Eduardo San Juan, was a very positively charged creative who enjoyed a healthy sense of humor.” Personal Note from Elisabeth San Juan, the proud daughter of Eduardo San Juan
Boying’s UWC Mobile is an alternative to the ear-splitting noisy motorbike and tricycle (it simply moves around virtually noiseless). It offers a no-pollution alternative to gasoline- and diesel-fed engines (internal-combustion engines). The UWC Mobile is for and of the people. It is a hallmark of a PWD's ingenuity in his own way to be of service to his kind - and humanity for that matter.

 Boying Alconis Rojas poses with family and relatives with his three-in-one invention for today's active living, to serve the increasing number of senior citizens, persons with disability (PWD), including the infirmed getting out of their confine, and technology becoming practical and people-oriented.      

Rear view of the UWC Mobile shows a series of standard car batteries conveniently tucked under a plastic armchair. Wall socket charging for a few hours is all that the prime mover, a simple electric motor, needs for a few days' service up to a week or two.

Below: Two of the latest inventions of Boying:
Electronically controlled double lock system, one for the gate with hydraulic hinge control; the other for sliding door (lower photos), both designed for convenience and security. Note local and second hand parts were used in assembling the two inventions.

People on the grassroots are fascinated by simple and functional inventions, even  without the benefit of understanding their scientific explanation.  Among such inventions are Dr Fe Del Mundo’s improved incubator and a jaundice relieving device, Francisco Quisumbing’s Quink quick drying ink, and Rolando de la Cruz’s mole or wart remover without leaving marks or hurting the patient. More popular ones are the solar panel, rice hull stove, mechanical driers for grains, among others.

On the collective consciousness there are inventions which developed spontaneously and through time lost the identity of their sources. Like oral history, stories passed on through generations (e.g. Epic of Lam-ang) became “literature of the people.” So with many indigenous inventions, which are regarded today as “people’s inventions.”

These are the likes of the jeepney, tricycle, kuliglig (hand tractor cum trailer).  We don’t have to go far. Balisong (butterfly knife), kampilan (local sword), kumpit (swift motorized dugout). On the culinary side we have pinakbet, kare-kare, caliente (ox hide) whose origin are untraceable.  It may be as simple as it looks, but who invented the scissor? Paper clip? Indeed there are one-thousand-and-one inventions likely by the “Unknown Inventor.” 

The genuineness of an invention such as the UWC Mobile of Jose Pepito A Rojas lies in the unselfish motive and dedication to serve the “least of God’s brethren,” indeed the greatest service one can contribute to humanity. ~ 

NOTE: Jose Pepito “Boying Rojas” is the youngest brother of the author’s wife Mrs Cecilia Rojas Rotor. Boying took up industrial education and became proficient in electronics and mechanics by experience and association with his father who was an ardent hobbyist of cars and machines. Boying manages his own shop in his residence in Bayubay, San Vicente, Ilocos Sur.    

Pictograph  to Ponder  

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Wall Mural on Nature as a Park (Part 1)

A wall mural on Nature comes alive with children.
Mural Painting and Verses by Dr Abe V Rotor 
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School on Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday

Portion of mural fronting Lam-ang St  
Ecology Wall Mural is a composite painting about nature on a 90-feet long x  7-feet (average) high concrete wall of the author's residence in Lagro QC, facing two streets - Kudyapi on the northeast, and Lam-ang on the southwest. Its obtuse angle perspective gives an earnest viewed of the whole mural.  

The mural consists of representions of ecosystems of the coral reef, mangrove, estuary and the open sea on one side of the wall, while on the other, the ecosystems of the tropical rainforest, stream and river, intertidal zone, mountain and valley. 

Portion of mural fronting Kudyapi St

The mural depicts the unity and interconnectedness of the ecosystems as one holistic Nature with resident species of organisms in their natural state. The presence of man in the mural exudes his playful character, and adventurous nature in exploring the landscape. Some historical and fictional aspects take the viewer to Ernest Hemingway's prize-winning novel The Old Man and the Sea, and Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, while views of Mt Makiling in Laguna and Mt Pulog in Benguet, are typical of many favorite views on the local setting.  

The author took six months to complete the mural using as medium acrylic paints conventionally applied with paint brushes. Twelve overhanging LED spotlights were installed to light the mural for evening viewers. 

A series of articles about the mural has been published in the barangay newsletter, Greater Lagro Gazette, the Ilocano magazine Bannawag, and on the Internet, Living with Nature [].  Christmas with Nature is the mural's theme this Season. Camera enthusiasts and children in the neighborhood  frequent the place as  a sort of mini park.  This article, the fifth of a series, is earnestly dedicated to them.

Imagine hugging a tree host of butterflies,
a street post made alive by art's sweet lies,
nature's art of camouflage and mimicry,
tools for survival, sharing and living free. 

Sentry the whole night through, an owl retreats 
at sunrise into  its abode, the hollow of a tree,
and finding a girl playing with butterflies, wonders
if  the garden is always open and  free. 

The friendly capybara, the biggest rodent,
never has been  tamed, never a pet; 
but on a wall, it earns love and respect
beyond animae other creatures create.

A twin by the waterfall and stream,
and another twin fishing;
reality and imagery are but one -
parallel worlds we live in.

The blue whale, the biggest creature that ever lived,
bigger than the dinosaur, and man a minuscule;
lucky it is to touch, to talk to, to listen to its song,      
paintive with a message for man to heed its call.

Explore the cave, these kids are challenged,
seeing three of their age emerging;
adventure can never be explained or written;
one must submit to a deep urging. 

Touch the rays of the sun through the trees,
be like the butterflies and bees, 
the singing birds and the splashing fish, 
breath the cool morning breeze.


Do you like to live at the edge of the sea,
where the tides rise and fall and stir,   
the waves in rhyme and rythmn with the wind,
where creatures appear and disappear?  

Beach party by imagination, hear the music
of the wind and waves, song of the sea gull, 
the wall comes alive with echoes of lilting 
children, friendship and abandon extol.

 Can we live under the sea like the fish
among corals and  seaweeds?
Only fairies in the world of fantasy do,
yet without the sea all dies,
for the sea provides our basic needs..     

It's a kugtong, giant lapu-lapu, and it's true,
dweller at the bottom of the sea,
zealously guarding its cave from anyone;
no fisherman dares, but she,
who is learning to face danger from images
                                                        before dealing with reality.

 Never kiss a parrot we are told, 
just listen to it talking;
save in circus, among the bold, 
on picture, toy and painting.  


 This is how big a kalaw is, as seen in the wilderness;
its body pitch black, breast bright yellow, beak bright red;
take time, it's now tame on the wall, posing to viewers,
its  imagined sonorous call reverberating far and wide. 

 Splendor on the grass, the world's still,
minute to hour, year to a lifetime;
 company of a few, we touch and filll
some vacuum, through nature sublime.

 A bed of grass takes these children 
to the field and the meadow;
a waterfall and stream in make-believe 
to the ends of the rainbow.~ 

Are you an aspiring journalist? Take this advise from the Dean of Philippine Journalism

This article is dedicated to the father and pillar of Philippine journalism: Teodoro or "Ka Doroy" Valencia (center). His column Over a Cup of Coffee shaped the thinking of his readers, and influenced the decisions of leaders in his time. 

Dr Abe V Rotor

 Teodoro or "Ka Doroy" Valencia (center) father of Philippine journalism. Ka Doroy influenced me in becoming a journalist and a painter. I was commisioned to paint in situ favorite scenes of his boyhood along Tanauan River, c. 1972. 

Like "Ka Doroy" an aspiring journalist must -
1.         Be inquisitive
2.      Be constant in his purpose
3.      Be fair and balanced
4.      Be genuinely interested in people
5.      Seek the truth
6.      Be resourceful
7.      Have guts
8.      Master his grammar
9.      Know his medium
10.    Read, read and read.

Above all, he must be God-fearing, compassionate, and true to his country and fellowmen. And uphold journalism as a profession and institution.

Excerpt from a lecture by Dr Abe V Rotor, journalism professor at the UST Faculty of Arts and Letters

 Teodoro F. Valencia (May 7, 1913 - May 4, 1987)
"Teodoro F. Valencia, better known as "Ka Doroy," was widely regarded as the Dean of Filipino Journalists. His many civic undertakings made him a legend, particularly his knack for raising funds to help the underprivileged and the less fortunate. Known as the "Builder of Rizal Park," Valencia was largely responsible for developing Rizal Park into one of the best parks in Asia.

Ka Doroy was born in Tanauan, Batangas where he finished his elementary and high school education. He earned his degree in Journalism from the University of Sto. Tomas in 1935 and took up Law at the Philippine Law School where he graduated in 1941.

Pursuant to Republic Act 6836 renaming Agrifina Circle to Teodoro F. Valencia Circle and in grateful recognition of his life-long service to the Filipino people, the National Parks Development Committee under the Department of Tourism, dedicates this circle as a living memorial to Teodoro F. Valencia on this 7th day of May 1990. City of Manila" (Internet)

Monday, December 28, 2015

Major World Events of Year 2015

The International Year of Light and the International Year of Soils by the United Nations
Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School on Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday

Highlights: Terrorism took a sudden upsurge launching several attacks killing hundreds, occupying territories as their bastion  and establishing linkages globally, which prompted many countries never before to unite and fight terrorism to preserve world peace and security, in the midst of the Syrian crisis which has displaced millions of people seeking refuge even in countries tightly guarded against their entry. 

Scientific breakthroughs revealed  a new human species, success in the control of AIDS, syphilis, and rubella (German measles), space exploration in revealing possible life in Mars and other planets, and clearer understanding on the nature of space.     

2015 is a year of unity: creation of Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) of 5 countries led by Russia, 41 G7 summit (Bavaria), Expo 2015 (Milan), global climate change pact (Paris), US-Cuba diplomacy restored after 54 years, China and Taiwan presidents in a historic handshake, Saudi Arabia-led coalition of Arab countries to fight terrorism, India and Pakistan ratify mutual border agreement.  

It is also a year for a country to legalize same sex marriage (Ireland); a year of scandal in the world's biggest sport football (FIFA), for a country's (Greece) failure to meet its obligation to IMF - a historic first to the  71-year International Monetary Fund; shooting and bombing incidents of unclear motivation costing the lives of hundreds of innocent people.       

It is also a year of new record in the art: a painting by Pablo Picasso and a sculpture by Alberto Giacometti sold at US$179.3 and US$141.3 million, respectively. 


  •  The Eurasian Economic Union comes into effect, creating a political and economic union between Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. 
  •  Lithuania officially adopts the euro as its currency, replacing the litas, and becomes the nineteenth Eurozone country  
  • A series of massacres in Baga, Nigeria and surrounding villages by Boko Haram kills more than 2,000 people
    After Houthi forces seize the presidential palace, Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi resigns after months of unrest.


  •  Leaders from Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France reach an agreement on the conflict in eastern Ukraine that includes a ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy weapons. The ceasefire was broken several times, both sides failed to withdraw.
  • The United Nations Security Council adopts Resolution 2199 to combat terrorism.
  • The Egyptian military begins conducting airstrikes against a branch of the Islamic militant group ISIL in Libya in retaliation for the group's beheading of over a dozen Egyptian Christians.


  • The ancient city sites of Nimrud, Hatra and Dur-Sharrukin in Iraq are demolished by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.(Photo: Ancient city of Nimrod)
  • NASA's Dawn probe enters orbit around Ceres, becoming the first spacecraft to visit a dwarf planet.
  • The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant become allies with fellow jihadist group Boko Haram, effectively annexing the group.
  • An Airbus A320-211 operated by Germanwings crashes in the French Alps, killing all 150 on board.
  • Saudi Arabia-led coalition of Arab countries starts a military intervention in Yemen in order to uphold the Yemeni government in its fight against the Houthis' southern offensive.


  • 148 people are killed, the majority students, in a mass shooting at the Garissa University College in Kenya, perpetrated by the militant terrorist organization Al-Shabaab.(Photo)
  • April 25 – A magnitude 7.8 earthquake strikes Nepal and causes 8,857 deaths in Nepal, 130 in India, 27 in China and 4 in Bangladesh with a total of 9,018 deaths.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) declares that rubella has been eradicated from the Americas.


  • May 1–October 31 – Expo 2015 is held in Milan, Italy.
  • Version O of Les Femmes d'Alger by Pablo Picasso sells for US$179.3 million at Christie's auction in New York, while the sculpture L'Homme au doigt by Alberto Giacometti sells for US$141.3 million, setting a new world record for a painting and for a sculpture, respectively.
  • A second major earthquake in Nepal, measuring 7.3 on the moment magnitude scale, results in 153 deaths in Nepal, 62 in India, 1 in China and 2 in Bangladesh with a total of 218 deaths.
  • Ireland votes to legalize same-sex marriage, becoming the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote.


  • FIFA President Sepp Blatter announces his intention to resign amidst an FBI-led corruption investigation, and calls for an extraordinary congress to elect a new president as soon as possible.(photo)
  • The governments of India and Bangladesh officially ratify their 1974 agreement to exchange enclaves along their border.
  • The 41st G7 summit is held in Schloss Elmau, Bavaria.
  • ISIL claim responsibility for three attacks around the world during the Ramadan:
    • Kobanî massacre: ISIL fighters detonate three car bombs, enter Kobanî, Syria, and open fire at civilians, killing more than 220.
    • Sousse attacks: 22-year-old Seifeddine Rezgui opens fire at a tourist resort at Port El Kantaoui, Tunisia, killing 40 people.
    • Kuwait mosque bombing: A suicide bomber attacks the Shia Mosque Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq at Kuwait City, Kuwait, killing 27 people and injuring 227 others.

  • Cuba becomes the first country in the world to eradicate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.
  • A Lockheed C-130 Hercules operated by the Indonesian Air Force crashed into a crowded residential neighborhood in Medan shortly after take-off from Soewondo Air Force Base, killing 143 people including 22 others on the ground, marking the second-deadliest air disaster to ever occur in Medan and the deadliest crash in Indonesian Air Force peacetime history.


  • Greek government-debt crisis: Greece becomes the first advanced economy to miss a payment to the International Monetary Fund in the 71-year history of the IMF.
  • NASA's New Horizons spacecraft performs a close flyby of Pluto, becoming the first spacecraft in history to visit the distant world. (photo)
  • Iran agrees to long-term limits of its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief
  • Cuba and the United States reestablish full diplomatic relations, ending a 54-year stretch of hostility between the nations.
  • Turkey begins a series of airstrikes against PKK and ISIL targets after the 2015 Suruç bombing.


  • Debris found on Réunion Island is confirmed to be that of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, missing since March 2014.
  • A bombing takes place inside the Erawan Shrine at the Ratchaprasong intersection in Pathum Wan District, Bangkok, Thailand, killing 20 people and injuring 125


  • Scientists announce the discovery of Homo naledi, a previously unknown species of early human in South Africa.
  • Automaker Volkswagen is alleged to have been involved in worldwide rigging of diesel emissions tests, affecting an estimated 11 million vehicles globally.
  • A stampede during the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, kills at least 2,200 people and injures more than 900 others, with more than 650 missing.
  • NASA announces that liquid water has been found on Mars.

Scientists have for the first time confirmed liquid water flowing on the surface of present-day Mars, a finding that will add to speculation that life, if it ever arose there, could persist now.
  • Russia begins air strikes against ISIL and anti-government forces in Syria in support of the Syrian government.


  • A suicide bomb kills at least 100 people at a peace rally in Ankara, Turkey, and injures more than 400 others.
  • Hurricane Patricia becomes the most intense hurricane ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere, with winds of 200 mph and a pressure of 879 mbar.
  • A magnitude 7.5 earthquake strikes the Hindu Kush region and causes 398 deaths, with 279 in Pakistan, 115 in Afghanistan and 4 in India.
  • Flight KGL9268, an Airbus A321 airliner en route to Saint Petersburg from Sharm el-Sheikh, crashes near Al-Hasana in Sinai, killing all 217 passengers and 7 crew members on board.


  • Chinese and Taiwanese presidents, Xi Jinping and Ma Ying-jeou, formally meet for the first time. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, left, shake hands at the start of a historic meeting

  • Several suicide bombings occur in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 43 and injuring 239. The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant claim responsibility.
  • Multiple attacks claimed by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Paris, France, resulting in 130 fatalities.
  • Syrian Civil War: Turkey shoots down a Russian fighter jet in the first case of a NATO member destroying a Russian aircraft since the 1950s.
  • The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) is held in Paris, attended by leaders from 147 nations.


  • December 12 - A global climate change pact is agreed at the COP 21 summit, committing all countries to reduce carbon emissions for the first time.
  • December 22 – SpaceX lands a Falcon 9 rocket, the first reusable rocket to successfully enter orbital space and return


About the Year of Light (UNESCO)

The International year aims at raising global awareness on how light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to problems in energy, education, agriculture and health. First of all, light plays a vital role in our daily lives.  It has revolutionized medicine, opened up international communication via the Internet. Noteworthy anniversaries in 2015 included the first studies of optics 1,000 years ago to discoveries in optical communications that power the Internet today. The International Year brought  together many different stakeholders including scientific societies and unions, educational institutions, technology platforms, non-profit organizations and private sector partners.

International Year of Soils (Food and Agriculture Orgabization) 

The IYS 2015 aims to increase awareness and understanding about the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions; educate people on the crucial role soil plays in food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation, essential ecosystem services, poverty alleviation and sustainable development; support policies and actions for sustainable management and protection of soil resources; promote investment in sustainable soil management activities to develop and maintain healthy soils for different land users and population groups.