Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How I wasted my free day

Wasted meaning not studying or doing homework at that day.

Today is Wednesday, my free day, I woke up at 8:40a.m., late for the 9a.m. Seminar of Stress 101 by 40 minutes. Don't worry, it's an extra activity that I joined just because I'm free today.

Free meaning no class or tutorial or leacture or lab, you get the idea.

Next, at 12p.m., I walked to SPS room then gone down a level to ask about the Summer Programme to University of Waterloo, Canada. Then I registered for it, and it's from May to August 2009, for 15 weeks. With the tuition fee waived, the only staggering thing is to take care of the rest of the cost, including plane, lodgings, food, and others. It seems that I need to take up some more loans and Awards.

Staggering means about 10000 Sing!

Then, running to catch up with EH and LG, we went to the Science Centre of Singapore and listen to the Science Buskers Festival Briefing from 3 to 4p.m.. It's a first event for Singapore and if I'm going to join, I got to post the demontrations in YouTube. And if I got high ratings, viewings, or comments, I'll get some points, so help vote for me later on! Thanks... I'll tell you when it'll be up, it'll be up before Nov 11 and on 17th Jan next year, we'll have the finals!

Busker means demontrations, shows, just like a booth for the public.

Coming back, it's about 5 o'clock that I go on again to verify my certs in the Office of Admissions (which closes at 5:30p.m.), and it is hard to find that place. Then going to the opposite building, I asked the Office that handles International exchanges to find out about Imperial College. As it turns out, it's only for Engin Students.... not even USP....

Well I had to go back there some time later cause I didn't bring my Birth cert and passport.

Then, walking through UCC and visiting the NUS Museum, I went to Staff Club to meditate, from 6:30 to 7:30p.m.. At last, at 8 to 9p.m., I went for the Guitar Sentimientos by the NUS Guitar Ensemble or GENUS at UCC. Now I'm back in SPS room again to do my homework!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dreams and Philosophy

I just watched batman the animated series, Perchance to Dream. In there, batman had a dream which gave him all he wanted: He was Bruce Wayne, marring Selina(Catwoman), having both his parents, and not Batman! At first he was confused and refused to accept this world, thinking that everything was all wrong. Then as he realised this is all he wanted and able to temporary explain away his previous life, he accepted this dream life, and was going to live happily ever after but for a giltch in the dream. Then the usual batman managed to wake up again and take down the mad hatter who did this to him.
This is an interesting situation which is repeated all over again, in various ways. Have you ever dream a dream so real that if you don't wake up, you'll never know you're dreaming? The matrix was one of the popular movies which explored this concept. We can also imagine that the future maybe so advanced that the main form of entertainment is to escape into that dream state, with your bodily needs tendered by robots automaticly. This concept has all been explored by movies and novels. The question that I want to ask and explore is this: If bruce wayne hadn't find out about the glitch, or if there wasn't a glitch, Would he be justified to stay on in his dream world? Should he just stay there?

The answer will depend on many factors.
  • First situation:
  1. The dream world is real (defined in point 3), identical in every respect to the real world.
  2. The dreamer has no knowledge of another world or any difference between the dream world and the real world.
  3. All the other participants including the laws of Physics, Maths, and Everything and record making (memory) in the dream world would in any practical sense behave as they would have in the real world.
  4. The dreamer may or may not have a way to tranverse between the worlds. ( not important as the dreamer has no idea that he's dreaming)
  • Example: In the multiverse, there's infinitely many Universes, so anything that may happen, can happen, will happen in one of the Universes, not only one but for every possible permuation of action, quantum fluctuations, and decisions, there will be an infinitely many Universes alike in every single aspect. So suppose there's a way for the mind to travel to one of the other Universe and interchange instantaneously, then in the "real" sense you're not in your own "real universe" but in another Universe.
But is this a good defintion of real? What is real anyway? I'll explore that later on. For now, I'll test the concept of "real" by practicality. If the Universe is exactly the same as your original one, which by definition it is, then by all accounts, there's no way of detecting any difference whether you're back in your own Universe or you're in another one, or you're switching to many Universes Instantaneously right now. So what's the point of asking whether this is the real Universe? You won't by any chance meet any duplicate of yourself, and any Universe you left will be filled by another you, the same you but not you.
In case you're worried or scared or confused, don't because in every practical sense, you're in the real Universe, so keep on living and keep on reading. This is hypothetical, you'll have no way of testing or knowing whether the Universe works this way or not. (Even suicide wouldn't answer the question as there's no guarantee that you'll get the answer, but I guarantee you that there won't be anyone to learn it in that case) So RELAX, even if this is true, it won't make the slightest difference in the way your leacturer is going to finish that chapter tomorrow morning or that the eggs in your pot will cook in less than a minute. You'll live! Just as before. No big.

  • Second:
  1. The dream world is real (same definition as above), but different, some parts of it or all parts of it will either favour the dreamer's long wanted cravings, or are against it or are indifferent to the dreamer.
  2. There's two sub cases: The dreamer knows there's something different from the world he is used to. Or the dreamer accepts the world as he know it, perhaps by having amnesia in the transit between worlds.
  3. There's two more subcases here: There's a way to go back or; There's isn't. These are further divided into 2 more cases, the dreamer knows about going back or ; He doesn't.
  4. So having listed down 8 cases in conbinations, I'll try to give an example and treatment for each one.
    • The dreamer knows there's something different, There's a way back, and the dreamer knows it.: This is the situation of time travellers or dimensions travellers. Micheal Crithton in his book had conbined both in Timeline, a book which I had just finished reading. In his novel, there's an technology that transport a group of scientist to the past by bringing them into another Universe. The past of the present Universe was influced by another Universe travelling into ours. This rules out changing history. But that is another topic on time travelling.
So back to our situation, we see no Problem here. The "dreamer" is fully aware of the "dream" world he is in, He is in full control of his choice of worlds, and he is perfectly justified in choosing to stay or to go back. In fact in the book, one of the characters decided to live in the past even if there's no way of going back. As to the case where the world is hostile, like Jumanji, The dreamer will just have to play by the rules and try to survive or find a way out hopefully. Perhaps the problem maybe timing, Like A Sound Of Thunder, the Scientists will have to correct the timeline in time or else it can be the case of no way back and don't even know there's a difference.

  • The dreamer knows there's something different, There's a way back, but the dreamer don't know it or don't know how. This is the situation where batman is in, and Alan in Jumanji before the kids played it, and most of the situations in movies including Matrix. I'll take an example from the Justice League. There's a villain who could make anyone dream of any dream that will make the dreamer as happy as can be. In particular, Superman had all he ever wanted, a wive, a child, a good planet to live in a dream world! But he does know it's different somehow, and tried to go back, because his friends need him. Ok not a very good example.
Anyway, Superman's actions are justified, even if you don't know whether you can go back or not, it's worth a shot to go back because you'll have to. Because it's a dream, a lie. Batman had "bravely" jumped down from a high tower once he knew with certainity that he was dreaming but didn't know how to go back. Philosophically, should someone do this? Should someone risk death at a chance to wake up? This is a deeply unsettling question with many moral impacts. Originally I want to take this up and discuss it, but as this is taking too long a time.

  • There's no way back covering all 4 cases. There's really not much point discussing these, there's no solution, only consolations.
So this is the main point, the dreamer may try, he may know that he's in dream world and knows there no way back. Then this is the worst nightmare or Permanent Universe shift, or best dream... depending. Anyway he had to get used to the place he's in. Like Robinson Crusoe, this is the case where adaptations are necessary. If he doesn't know there's no way out, then it can be a false hope, or as the previous example showed, a risk that batman took. It may work in his world, but don't do that in the Matrix ok?

He may not know he's in the dream world, then lucky him. All he had to do is to keep on living there. There's an example of this in a short time travel story of how a slight change in the distance past can affect all evolution so greatly that we don't even notice we changed, we'll just take for granted that we're suddently fishes that talks, cause that's the way it always was always is and always will be. Scary huh? Not so if you don't know. No point talking about knowing how to go back.

  • The dreamer don't know there's a difference, there's a way back and the dreamer may or may not know it. If the dreamer doesn't know there's a difference, there's no motivation to go back. Say like Tarzan, he didn't knew that there's a species called humans so he contented to live his whole life in the Jungle, with the Gorillas. It doesn't matter to him whether he can go back or not because there's nothing there to go back to in the first place. Until he met Jane of course.
So in this case, there's nothing much of a Problem here, Tarzan's happy. And that's what it matters does it?

  • Third:
  1. The dream world is not real, it is personal, just like a normal dream.
  2. The dream looks real through, or this wouldn't be worth to discuss.
  • The question here then is : if a dream is so real, that if you don't wake up, you won't know it's a dream, should you wake up? Assuming all the future technologies to maintain your body.
Now it is worth to define the concept of real. What is real? Is real things you can sense by all 5 senses? But not everything can be sensed by all 5 senses. Quarks for one is deduced, yet there're as real as you're. Is real just something that existed? But then fake things exist too, Are forgeries real? Are lies real? Are thoughts real? Ok maybe real is the things that everyone can sense or agree upon. So are you're private thoughts real?
I think that all of these are partially true, partially not. So I'll adapt the working view or operative definition or practicality of the concept of reality. When used with thoughts, whatever that's in your mind is real to you, but only as real as you allow it to be. Whatever everyone can agree upon is real to everyone. Since there's forgeries and lies that exist, real when used against them must be separated from the concept of true. Forgeries and lies are real, but they're not true things. Here I shall define true as whatever that the laws of nature allows it to work. Lies are not true because they don't work in the real world but truth does. Imagine: I am not affected by gravity. This sentence exist, it is real, but not true. When used against perception, reality is whatever you perceived. But you can perceive lies too, so there's the true/real distiction again. Here perceived means using all 6 senses, including your mind. So indirectly we can deduce the existance of quarks in our mind. It is with our imagination that we "see" them. That makes all the abstact concepts to be real too but not necessary true. When compared to Illussions, real is defined by Physics! Real Image is one that can be captured on Screen, Virtual one is one that can't. But the Virtual world is every bit as real as the real world, ust different kind of reality.
So when you're dreaming, you're dream world is every bit as real to you. When you're awake, you can agree on reality with others.
When you dream, all achievements will be gone once you wake up; If you're awake, the achievements is shared, still temporary but shared.
Ultimately, the question reduces to whether do you want to be real only to yourself or do you want to share?

I for one want to share.

Report of the 39th International Physics Olympiad 2008 for MHS magazine

I am proud and grateful to be able to represent Malaysia in the 39th International Physics Olympiad(IPhO) 2008 held in Hanoi, Vietnam from 20th of July 2008 to 29th of the same month.
Of course such a chance to represent the country, we must have gone through vigorous training, so on 18-21 February 2008; 49 Six Formers students in Physics are invited from High Schools all over Malaysia to participate in the 1st Training Camp at UKM. While we are being cramped with 1st year Physics, we are expected to take a selection test at the last day! The Malaysian Institute of Physics decided to allow interested students to stay on in UKM to concentrate in Physics Trainings. I was the only one who took up this offer and I stayed on in UKM from 18th of February to 25th of April to continue my training.
After the 3rd training camp, on 21-25 April 2008, the final 5 were selected and I was one of them. The other 4 are Muhd. Khairul Azri b. Zulkipli from Mara, Selangor, Saw Siong Keat from Chung Ling High School in Penang and from Klang High School, classmates Phan Chow Fu and Kee Wee Siong. We went for two more training camps and then on to Vietnam after arriving at UKM on the 17th July. We flew to there on the 20th and checked into our hotels.
On the 22nd we had our theoretical exam for 5 hours followed by the Experimental Exam on the 24th. On the 28th we attended the Closing Ceremony of the IPhO 2008. Phan Chow Fu was awarded Honourable Mention and I was awarded Silver Medal. Of the 380+ contestants from 82 countries, I had come up no.73 with 27.9 /50 marks. We came back on the 30th of July, staying one more day to enjoy Vietnam.
After reaching the airport, I was interviewed by reporters from sinchew. We took a group photo, including our Professors who trained us very hard. I would like to express gratitude towards Mr. Wee who trained me and recommend me, Mr. Tan, a retired but good Physics Teacher, Professor Roslan who taught me Quantum Mechanics, Dr. Geri, who Lead us in the IPhO Vietnam, Pn. Chin for making the trips from Penang to KL just to teach us some more Physics, and Mr Chia who coordinated with Mr Fadzil, making our trip free for us. I am grateful for being able to make history in Malaysia by scoring the first Silver Medal in IPhO. It’s an improvement from what I got last year of which I, still a student in Malacca High School, got Honourable Mention in IPhO. This is a great experience which I will treasure for life. And I hope the future generations of young Malaysians can keep on improving the Physics Standards of our country.
P/S: This article will most probably come out in the School Magazine in 2009, so practically no one will have known me personally. I am a six former in Malacca High School, Alpha Class for 2006-07, perhaps those from St. Francis Institution might have seen me before, I was in class of 5H 2005.
Written by,
Ng Xin Zhao

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Countdown Towards The Start of LHC!

10th of September 2008. The date the first beam of Protons is to be detected at the Large Hadron Collider. The Day Physics will be changed. And that's tomorrow! Let's see what new stuff will the collider discover, what new revolution will this bring about in Physics, and what new technology will emerge......

Monday, September 08, 2008


Thanks to Mr. Wee for this link.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

List Of Things to do!

Ok, just last night I had finished my draft for paper 1 in Writing and Critical Thinking. Today, I have lots more of homework to finish.
  • Physics lab 1142 report.
  • Physics tutorial revision
  • PC1141 tutorial
  • PC1141 lab preparation
  • MA1505 tutorial
  • MA1505 revision
  • SPS bio trip
  • SPS paper presentation
  • SPS Project
  • UIT Project
  • UIT topic 3 reading
  • USP paper1 final
  • USP readings
Then Adding CCA:
  • Physics Riddles making
  • Physics Announcement
  • MSL typing the chart flow
In addition, I have to do the Study Loan, Find back my student pass.....
P/S oh I found my student pass. Phew!