Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Overseas Trip

Just last night, I received a sms from USP people. "hi guys. i duno if vindy has yet 2 inform u guys tt ur in for the bia! ewlcome!=) just 2 inform u, there is a complusory meeting this wed 6 to 8pm where u will get 2 meet each other. our acad mentors and listen 2 impt guest lectures. c u at usp conf rm ya.=)"

I had no idea what "bia" is and what "tt" is. Just knew that there's a USS talk at that time, so I decided to ignore it, cause I was busy. Then later that night, I didn't get the mass email to invite me to go to Japan, the UQR module which costs about $2500 in total. Haiz, just a few hours after the batch that got the good messages, we got the rejection email. But just this morning, I got a email saying that I got selected for Buddhism in Asia (bia!!) Global Programme. Here I quote the programme email that got me interested to apply. "Spending an approximate 12 days overseas, and 3 days in Singapore, the entire programme is a research-intensive one, involving field observations and academic reflections. It is a requirement of the GP for students to accomplish a substantial paper of publishable quality after the trip. Prior to the trip, participants will be given the free option to choose their topics of interest. They will later venture to write research papers on their chosen subject. To give participants a sense of the workings of the academia, these working papers will also be presented at a conference to serve as a platform for individual works to be peer-reviewed." DATES 13 May 2009 to 29 May 2009 LOCATIONS Singapore, Thailand and Taiwan COSTS Each USP student selected will be expected to pay about SG$800, which will go towards the airfare and other fees. The rest will be subsidized by USP.

REQUIREMENTS AND DELIVERABLES

Each selected USP student must:

- be avaliable and committed for the entire course of the programme ( this means attending all 3 pretrip seminars, to the trip itself and to post-trip meetings and the conference)

- be prepared to write an individual or group research paper on a specific topic related to the overarching themes of this programme.

- be committed towards writing field trip reports.

SELECTION PROCESS
Only 12 USP students will be selected to participate in this programme. There are no restrictions on year or major. Students who are interested, please submit the items stated below. You will be required to attend an interview.
- Your Resume (no longer than 2 types)
- An Essay: What is it about this programme which interests you and how do you intend to contribute during and especially after the end of this programme?

Well, it's the same time as the UQR module, but I applied it as a safety net, lol, didn't realise I would actually made it. It's the first time I had to write a CV too. Here it is.

Curriculum Vitae

Name: Ng Xin Zhao

Address: -perhaps I should not display this one.

Nationality: Malaysian

Education:

Sekolah Rendah Jenis Kebangsaan Keh Seng: Primary 1 to 3.

Skipped Primary 4 in Penilaian Tahap Rendah.

Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan Pei Fong 2: Primary 5 and 6.

Obtained Ujian Pecapaian Sekolah Rendah.

Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Seri Kota: Secondary 1.

St. Francis Institution: Secondary 2 to 5.

Obtained Penilaian Menengah Rendah

Obtained Sijil Pendidikan Malaysia:

 Sijil Pendidikan Malaysia (Malaysian Certificate of Education) Bahasa Melayu 2A English 1A Moral 2A History 1A Mathematics 1A Additional Mathematics 1A Physics 1A Chemistry 1A Biology 2A Chinese Language 2A English for Science and Technology 2A

Malacca High School: Upper and Lower 6.

Obtained Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia

 Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (Malaysian Higher School Certificate) Pengajian Am (General Paper) A- Mathematics T A Further Mathematics T A Physics A Chemistry A

National University of Singapore: Currently year 1.

Fellowships and Awards:

Honourable Mention for the International Physics Olympiad 2007

Silver Medal for the International Physics Olympiad 2008

Mensa member of Malaysia.

Anugerah Belia Remaja Pendidikan 2008

Areas of Research Interest or Areas of Specialization or Areas of Competence/ Expertise or Principal Research:

Physics, Buddhism, Mathematics, Specifically, the philosophy of Buddhism and how does it fits in or doesn’t fits in with the finding of Physics.

Teaching Experience:

Taught Further Mathematics Personal Tuition for 2 months.

Works in Progress:

Papers Review on the Topic of Closed Timelike Curves.

Languages: English(fluent), Chinese(native), Malay(intermediate).

But then the complusory meeting! I may not be able to make it. Just then the next email said that the USS talk is delay to 1 week later...... imagine the list of coincidences that made it possible for me to take this programme. So I am still overjoyed, writing this blog and wanted to share it.

Week 10

 Activity hours per week average hours per day Play 32.5 4.642857143 CCA 9.25 1.321428571 Sleep 43.75 6.25 Live 18 2.571428571 Travel 10.75 1.535714286 Lecture 73 10.42857143 Total 187.25 26.75

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Woke up on the night of Friday

On Friday night, I went to the Dharma Circle as usual. This time, the topic is on meditation. The speaker talks on the 4 conditions for sucess. Will, Effort, Focus, and reevaluation. And also on various other topics, like the 5 hindarances of meditation: anger, sensual desires, sloth and torpor, restlessness, and Doubt. And it made me realise that I wasn't thinking clearly since I came back from Vietnam. I was obsessed with studying, immersing myself in it and I'm not even bothered to acknowledge my mental existance.

I've stwiched from obsession to buddhism to obsession to studying. Thus, not allowing any time for me to think clearly, to be of clam mind, to be aware of what I'm doing. STPM was a good time where I was clam all the time, I know how to answer the questions and I'm good in my memories. Compared to now, I was mentally more advanced then.

So I realised that to suceed in my quest, I must not abandon the cultivation of the mind. I like training, I trained myself in terms of Buddhism, then in terms of Physics, and just recently in martial arts. Training has the strange ability to allow you to like what you are training on. And to hone the skills that would last as long as training lasted. It's not always happy while you're training, but looking at the end result and you're happy with it, you've not wasted your time training.

Training myself in the sense of controling my time, I have suceeded in doing the following things in the last week.
• Gone to a Buddhist activity, the last Dharma Circle for this sem
• Gone for training in Nam wah Pai
• Played Badminton with Physoc people
• Sleep around 4.4 hours each in 6 nights.
• And slept 17 hours last night.
• Managed at last to study more than 70 hours in a week.
• Watched 2 movies.
• Attended a Black hole talk
• Gone for a interview,
• Attended 2 more module talks,
• Played some LEGO,
• And done lots of homeworks.
So waking up, I know that I'm not a human studying machine, I'm a superhuman, capable of what I'm like to do! Ok fine, a lame thing to say. Now to add in the list, I want to have some time to write stories and meditate, and train on martial arts and physics more.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Module review

Just thinking of reviewing the modules that I'm currently taking.

ES1301: The most unwanted module, english. It has no MC and yet you need to pass it. Strangely enough, it's one of the few modules that I really enjoy the 2 hours in the class. The class size keeps on increasing with time, from 6 to more than 12.

MA1506: Not just another maths module, this one teaches us MATLAB and the tutorials are quite something compared to MA1505.

PC1143, PC1144: The two heavy core modules that I know almost everything about already. If it wasn't because of Mastering Physics and Labs, I would have gotten much more time to concentrate on other modules.

PC2130: The QM 1 module, looks tough, but it's quite easy and little once you get used to the maths. One of the modules that I really need to keep my head about to understand and follow what's being taught. I really enjoy the feeling of paying full attention towards my teacher.

USS2105: The lightest half a module ever! Some boring talks, some interesting talks. But the response paper is not something to simply write about.

UIT 2203: The LEGO module, and the module with only 13 people, the least amongst my modules, really simple enginnering concepts but it's easy to miss a few marks in the exam if you aren't paying full attention. Wish I can spend more time doing the LEGO too.

SP2171: The killer module!!!!!!!! my senior said that it's practically 2 and a half modules. Now I'm doing the report and it's not easy. But I'm glad to be in SPS anyway. learned a lot. But wished I had spend more time here too.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

52.5 Hours worked from Monday 12a.m. to Thursday 11:30p.m.

So far I have been pushing myself to do a lot of homework and attending lectures. So in the time of 95.5 hours, I have spend about 52.5 hours studying. That's more than 13 hours per day. It seems that I still have some space for improvement, but the remaining 11 hours per day is simply not enough to sustain myself. Now I'm feeling a lot sleepy and still I got to finish up my homeworks.
It's endless. I like this kind of feeling, the end of sem seems to go very fast, but I don't want it to pass that soon. Soon it'll be 8 months since I've been a University student. Time passes very fast here.

Just got a cup of coffee this evening, and going to drink some more. It's been a while since I had to drink coffee. From what I have just read, it's not too harmful to drink coffee once in a while. So busy week, here I finish you up!

Cryonics

In some countries, people can pay for cryonics services for themselves and their loved ones. Such practices are not regulated in many countries. Do you think such services should be banned?
Technologies nowadays improve so fast that it’s hardly surprising that we can fly halfway across the globe in less than a day, sent messages there almost instantaneously, and planning to get out of our planet in the centuries to come. However, one aspect that few people think about, the technology to beat death! Cryonics offers this possibility and people are using its services. However, some thinks that it should be banned as it is a pseudo-science and it’s not regulated in many countries. But as people all over the world want to live longer, I strongly believe that the services of cryonics should not be banned.
The concept of cryonics needs to be defined first. The principle of cryonics postulates the seed of life, the memories, hopes and dreams are encoded in the structure of the brain (Best B. P., 2008). When the brain structure gets destroyed, the person dies along with it, irreversibly. So cryonics aim to preserve the brain structure as perfectly as possible using something called “cryoprotectants” that can form non-brittle glass in low temperature, thus avoiding the formation of ice crystals that will destroy the brain cells. To avoid legal complications, currently cryonics are done only on the clinically dead, where breathing or blood circulation stops. The brain survives for another 6 minutes and during that period; the process of cryonics is carried out.
I repeat my reason, the service of cryonics gives hope to further the reaches of mankind against the most fundamental aspect of nature, the disease called clinical death, so it should not be banned. It is similar to the case of a comatose person, as long as the person is still alive, because there is a small chance for the person to recover again and live on. Cryonics depends on future technology to either extract the data encoded in our brains to robotic bodies or nanotechnologies that can repair almost all bodily damages, making a person as healthy and young as long as possible. The dependence on future technology is the main reason cryonics is called a pseudo science and called out to be banned. True, it had to depend on the future, but if the services are discontinued, there is no hope of reviving at all. Twenty years ago there was no cure for some cancers, but now there are some cancers that have a higher success rate to be arrested and patients may be “cured”. So the service has to be continued, for the slim, but ever present chance of reviving the clinically dead.
Cryonics is also a form of time-travel, travel to the far future. It’s the only time travel machine available to men as the technology for close to light speed travel is still undiscovered. Time travel definitely has its benefits. Not only can our descendants be able to observe and obtain real life people from their ancient history, the biology of our body and the bacteria we carry can serve as experimental data to test the theory of evolution. The cultural studies can be improved based on the different assumptions of each patients of cryonics and observing how the pattern of culture, sociology, develop and evolve with time. The most important part is of course that the patients all come from different times of history and therefore a thorough study of the history of mankind can be conducted. The person who is revived can also learn the advances in the basic sciences and the comfort of future technologies, possibly being able to live the rest of his life in utter bliss.
Cryonics spurs research and therefore shouldn’t be banned. The future technology are not just left to the future, the more people receiving the service of cryonics, the more motivation there is to conduct research in the areas of nanotechnology, robotics, information technology, neuroscience, human anatomy, material designs (to produce the best cryoprotectants material). These researches will most probably produce side products that might pay off its own cost and yet advance one of men’s deepest dreams. For example nanotechnology may produce the cure for AIDS as small nanobots can be sent into the blood stream to destroy the AIDS virus. Robotics advancement might replace hard labour and make it possible to colonise and terraform another planet.
In conclusion, cryonics shouldn’t be banned because not only it provides hope to recover from clinical death, it also acts as the most practical time travel machine available and spurs on research to reach greater heights that benefits other fields.
Works Cited
Best, B. P. (2008, November 2). Scientific Justification of Cryonics Practice. Retrieved February 11, 2009, from PubMed: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18321197

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Time spend in Uni Sem 2

Below are two 2 weeks of constant observation on what I did in Uni.

Live includes eating, bathing, washing clothes, going to the toilets.
Travel includes travel by foot from lecture to lecture, waiting for bus, time inside the bus and some jogging.
CCA means Co-curicular activities, week 8 is just Dharma Circle, week 9 added in Nam Wah Pai training.
Sleep is obvious.
Lectures includes all the seminars, tutorials and homeworks, study time.
Play/Others includes reading books, socialising with friends, watching movies, watching One Piece, wasting time online, etc.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The ten Perfections

1. Dāna parami : generosity, giving of oneself
2. Sīla parami : virtue, morality, proper conduct
3. Nekkhamma parami : renunciation
4. Paññā parami : transcendental wisdom, insight
5. Viriya (also spelt vīriya) parami : energy, diligence, vigour, effort
6. Khanti parami : patience, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, endurance
7. Sacca parami : truthfulness, honesty
9. Mettā parami : loving-kindness
10. Upekkhā (also spelt upekhā) parami : equanimity, serenity
These are the ten perfections, the training that Buddha took lots and lots of life time to perfect. I shall keep on striving, making sure that I train them according to my level and level up at my own pace.

Monday, March 23, 2009

English for Maths and Sciences!

This is a comment for a blog post http://tsuchong.blogspot.com/2009/03/english-bm.html I just over typed it and decided to post this. No offence Tsu Chong!

You might be a bit out of Science and Math touch. But really,

First, learning them in Malay will limit the range of people who will read the "Malay" papers produced by Local Uni students.

Second if we tell them to write papers in English, then might as well learn them in English early on instead of catching up individually when you're in Uni.

Third, the international community ussually uses English in all the international conferences in Science and Maths, it's easier to mix with people from Oxford, MIT, Harvard, Princeton if you speak the science terms in English.

Fourth, some of my friends here are from Chiense Independant schools, so they had to catch up on the English terms during the lectures and have some difficulty in presentations because of translation problems.

Fifth, the countries like Japan, China, French all have firm foundations in the science in their languages mostly due to their own market of Scientist inside the countries(actually I'm not so sure), but Malaysia is still to young to mimic them, yes, it's a nice dream, but it's still a dream.

Sixth, producing breakthrough papers in English will shock the world better than in any other languages.

Last, Personally I find EST is very helpful for me to switch from Malay to English in Form 6. Now, I'm glad to learn Physics and Maths in English. Really, I personally think that it's better to learn them in English than Malay, mostly out of the limitations of Malay.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Advice to Future and Potential IPhO students

One week ago I got this. I just replied it.

Hi,
i am Abhimanyu from India.Being an IPhO silver medalist i would first congratulate you for your achievement.I too am preparing for the 2010 IPhO.Colud me please share your experiences and give me suggestions.
I would be very greatful

Hi, sorry for the late reply, I am very busy in University. First of all, thank you for congratulating me.
I assumed that you know me through my blog, http://ngxinzhaomonk.blogspot.com/ in the below, I'll assume basic knowledge of Olympiad and you can find the relevant materials for it there too.

And now the main thing. Well, I went for the IPhO for 2 times, first in Iran in 2007 where I got an Honourable Mention, second in Vietnam, where I got a Silver Medal. So you can say that I prepared for the 2008 IPhO for 1 and a half years, but not continously. After I can back from Iran, I prepared for my High School Exam and didn't practiced physics much for half a year.

Ok let's do this in chronological order, In December 2006, I first knew of the International Olympiads when I joined the Chemistry training camp. In April 2008, I went for my 1st training camp for the Physics one. I was lucky for I get high marks in my school exam and got selected by my teacher to participate in the camp. After that it was 4 days of lectures on 1st year physics and 3 hour exam on the last day. I can still remember the thrill and excitement of getting into the next training camp, one after another. Until finally I'm in the top 5. So from the last training camp on, just one month before the Competition (I'm sure India's system is better than Malaysia's last minute one), I began doing the past year papers of the Olympiads, even during school hours, I persisted on every question until I can get the solution. At that time it was like walking in the dark, I don't know which road to take to get to the solution, especially since the effort of trying out a solution is so tremendous. But with courage and patience, I managed to break the mystery one by one. The more I do the past year papers, the better I get. But one thing I managed to overlook. I didn't trained to do the 3 questions in 5 hours. So I found that I haven't got enough time to finish up the theoretical part of the olympiad (only 1 question fully answered, 1 more I wrote what I can based on imcomplete understanding and the last one is mostly blank!)

So pausing at this part, I would advice you to train yourself to understand the question as soon as possible and in the correct way. Reading and doing lots of example from 1st year physics text books (althought the level of Olympiad is higher than 1st years) and at other books like "Major American Universities Ph. D Qualifying Questions and Solutions" on the topics based on the sylabus (I assume you know the syllabus) may help too. That said, relax on the exam day, calm down and just treat it like any other practice of past years you have done. This needs to be done because IPhO and other International Olympiads are the most unique exams in the world, stepping into the hall, you're stepping into the most prestigious exam EVER! So get used to the idea and relax and "fight" fast, correct and accurate during the 5 hours exam.

There are ussually some snacks and drinks provided at your desk and you can go to the toilet at anytime during the exam. You might like to simulate the environment a bit to see how many time can you spare for toilet, and how good can you think while eating.

Ok continuing the story, I didn't do very well on the experimental exam either, mainly because I'm not used to the time limit and also took too long to understand the questions. You'll have to learn to think during the 2 minute interval for each measurements for 60 measurements! So the best training maybe to train in a Year 2 lab at a nearby University (if you can) and try to complete the year 2 experiments as fast as possible. You can also read up on the experimental past year papers too and try to see when is error analysis required (I assume you know the importance of error analysis).

Once you reached the venue it is like a heavenly place, totally unsuitable for (last minute) studying, but if you still want to burden you baggage with the books, you are welcome to. Cause there're bound to be a lot of people doing the same thing. And Remember to bring enough souvenirs to give to the new friends you make there!

Ok. So I felt bad at getting only Honourable Mention, and started planning for the next year. I aimed for the Absolute Winner!
After not studying and releasing my stress due to the High School Exam, I was invited to go to the University Kebangsaan Malaysia to attend year 1 and 2 physics lectures. I am regretful to say that I didn't make full use of that time to study as hard as I can. (Don't tell anyone but I also skipped a lot of lectures and played lots of Computer games there.) It's my first time living on campus and I didn't got used to it, most probably because I was alone, so it's hard to get motivated to study. But overall it's a nice experience. Staying there from mid- February to mid-April, I went through the training camps again and got into the top 5.

After that, the semester at the University ended and I also went back to my home to do some "personal studying" there. In truth, I was busy with my University preparation stuffs and otherwise did a minimum effort on IPhO. So here's the advice, if you ever find that you have no motivation to study, find your friends and study together. Spend at least a few hours on Physics, reading and more impartantly doing the 1st year physics stuffs and PhD qualifiying exam stuffs and around 1 past years per week (for you it is possible).

I didn't think I did well on the Theoretical Exam too. The first question was a killer, the rice pounder (do the past year and you'll know).
But I think I must have done quite well on it too to get a Silver Medal right? lol, sorry didn't bothered to remember. I just felt very bad that I lost my Absolute Winner and gold, perhaps... even silver or Bronze here. So I accepted the reality and calmed myself for the Experimental 2 days later.
The Theoretical was hard.
I think I was lucky that the experimental turned out to be very easy! (I'm sure you'll agree with me) I just lost 3 marks out of 20 out of insufficient time. Ok, quite a serious mistake if you aim for a gold, but I'm grateful. After that, I forgot all about grades and enjoyed myself in Vietnam. Except that I got sick after the Experimental and missed out on some fun! lol.

Well, I was surprised that I got a Silver (quite high) for it. But I'm disappointed that I didn't do better looking at the time given for me to prepare. But the past is past.

Lastly most IMPORTANT advice is that DO lots of practice, it's all practice for olympiad. Understanding can be minimal, or perhaps just what 1st years student know. The most important thing is to know how to apply rather that to verify or prove a physical law.

Hope this all helps and I'll publish this in my blog too.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

FAQ for Future and Potential NUS students

The programme here is that we ussually take 5 or the better ones, 6 modules per sem
one module is 4 MC
we need 160 MC to graduate with honours
ussually in 4 years
you can speed up by taking insanely a lot of modules like 7 and a half like what I'm doing now
and you'll like that we can take double major here
Q:
so then u will finish earlier ?
A:
maths
Q:
*ooo
A:
so with the double major I can manage 4 years
Q:
so in that case u can take a double major
A:
but must work hard
Q:
double major = double degree ?
A:
no
just one degree
but you can also join up the French double degree
it's pretigeous, hard, enginneering degree, with lots of emphatisis on maths
Q:
yeah i applied for the DD programme
in NUS
A:
and 5 years, graduating with double degree, and masters
good, so your CAP must be high in the 1st sem
to get invited
Q:
oh how high is high ?
A:
I got 4.4 and got invited
but I don't want 5 years
lol
max is 5(CAP) btw
Q:
u are taking science and was invited by the enginerinng faculty ?
A:
don't worry much about NUS, just join the MSL UFO
Q:
wat is MSL UFO ?
A:
they invite the maths, physics, computing and engin people to join only
Malaysia Student League University Freshman Orientation
free
compared to other camps that are not
just attend the Welcome tea in Penang
around May
and did you registered for the Advanced Placement?
Q:
*wa zat again ?
A:
*skip year one module
*just having exam
*here in NUS
Q:
*they dont have that in the application form ?
A:
*check the website
*dig deep
Q:
*kk
A:
*go to physics website
*and what scholarship you applied so far?
Q:
*Application period is from 1 May to 20 June 2008.
*anyway applied for the singapore scholarship (the best scholarship for Singapore studies, no bond, others require the MOE 3 years bond, deadline 31 march, I think)
A:
*ya remember to apply
*good
Q:
*but that one damn troublesome
A:
*ya
Q:
*application process worse ever
*US apps oso not that bad
*singapore scholarship apps.
A:
*terrorlah you
Q:
*i dont mean the essay
*essays are erm.. about the same
*it's just that singapore scholarship gives u extremely vague instructions
*so it makes it mroe difficult
*hah
A:
*oh
*oh ya SPS
*Special Program in Science
*must come and apply after coming to our welcome tea
Q:
*wait wait
A:
*in early august, just before school starts
Q:
*the welcome tea is for propective NUS students ?
A:
*no(actually yes, spoke too fast), you come around July, to take QET and settle the stuffs, then stay round till 1st week of August only start school
*so we'll be having a welcome tea then
*http://sps.nus.edu.sg/
*we expose you to the world of research very early on
*and it's student run programme
*small classes, 40 over in your 1st sem, and you stay with them for more than 5 sems
*if you want to
Q:
*the SPS programme ?
A:
*ya
*better than USP according to my experience
Q:
*wat is USP again?
A:
*University Scholars Programme
*you'll get the package soon enough
Q:
*what is that programme about ?
A:
*just limiting your scope of choices on elective modules
*and lots of oppotunity to travel overseas
*for various reasons subsidised
Q:
*these programmes seem to be rather confusing
*@_@

A:
*garenteed stay atr PGP up to to 4 years
*you'll get used to it
*there's no centralised one unlike in school
*so each department offer each styles, each organisation too
*so be alert and umm,,,, hard working looking up at them
Q:
*oh yeah i will
A:
*and don't be fooled by USP website
*it's a CAP dropper
*you know why I didn't get CAP 5?
*it because of USP
*so just to see how much you value you CAP (sorry my personal view, for some other people it's a CAP puller, do visit their website and read through
Q:
*thnx for all the info
*will look up on all the SPS UPS and MSL UFO
A:
*welcome
Q:
*stuff right now
*haha
A:
Q:
*so many abbreiations
A:
*of MSL
*lol
Q:
*abbreviations
A:
*lots of malaysian like to help
*and don't be shocked that you'll find close to 100 malaysian in your batch
Q:
*lots of msians go to NUS ?
A:
*ya
*I
*I'm publishing these info, is it ok? I changed your name to Q and mine to A
Q:
*haha
*anything is fine
*in fact
*i am extremely grateful for the info
*LOL
A:
*welcome
*and scroll through the website for MSL forum, NUS and SPS
*I haven't done so myself
*but since you're so free.....
*lol
*start thinking what research you wanna do and prepare for the advance placement
*really save lots of time if you want the double major/degree or some extra stuffs
Q:
*oh yeah

A:
*btw the SPS only accept 1st years
Q:
*will look through the stuff
A:
*so come and apply at the time
*remember!!!!!!!!
*lol
*I spend most of my time in the SPS room
*it's a room so big that it's bigger than most singaporean houses (flats)
*doing homework, play around, socialise, ask seniors that are perpetually there
*and a place to put your stuff in between lessons
Q:
*hmm.. sounds like u are enjoying the SPS programme
A:
*ya
*lots of time involved too
*a great place to make good friends because of that too
*just come and try for 1 sem, if you can take it, then go on to the second sem
Q:
*okok
*will consider if i get into NUS
*IF
*a very big IF
*haha
A:
*you'll get in, your result good enough, you think that 100 over people (inculding chinese independant) can get it only if they got full As?
*lol
*btw are you the CCA type?
*or study type
*or balance?
Q:
*i would say a balanced type
*i like both
*it has been that way all along
*lol
A:
*good
*then no problem for you
Q:
*why ?
A:
*dunno, may be more problem for you to find the right balance
*lol
Q:
*haha
*you are the studious type i assume ?
A:
*trying to find my balance
*lol

Q:
*haha
*then i hope to see u soon
*in NUS
A:
*ya same here
Q:
*anyway i am off to cont. with my scholarship apps again
A:
*it's cool to have juniors that you know here lol
Q:
*thank u for the info
*haha
A:
*welcome
Q:
*nice talking to u again !

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The myths of the World of Harry Potter

Intermixing myths with science is what we are free to think in the University Scholars Programme. The speaker uses myths as a metaphor to describe nature as physics does. I, however, think that myths can be made into reality not so far in the future. As Arthur C. Clarke said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Let’s take a look on the world of Harry Potter (Rowling, 1999) for instance, and try to take the magic out of it.
Firstly, dragons, fire breathing creatures that can fly, can they really exist? No fossil evidence is available, most likely they are figments of imagination of ancient people who stumbled upon dinosaurs fossils. But wait, if dinosaurs can exist, can we somehow modify them, using the recently new genetic engineering to create dragons? After all, what is life form but encoded information within the DNA? Just change a few genes here and there (provided prefect knowledge of DNA is present), and we can create dragons. All other mystical creatures like centaurs, unicorns, and even giants are then trivial and can be accounted for.
What about magic wands then? How can technology possibly mimic them? Well, nowadays nearly everything from the television to the laptop are remote controlled, or capable of being remote controlled. And imagine combining all the remotes of the world into one Universal remote kind of like the movie “Click” (Coraci, 2006). Wouldn’t that be like a magic wand? Ok you may argue that only pre-programmed devices can respond to it, but there’s a technology called nanotechnology. Imagine using the remote to control a bunch of small invisible “tamed” nanobots not unlike those in the novel “Prey” (Crichton, 2002) to lift anything when you said, “Wingardium Leviosa” (Rowling, 1999)!
Finally, we’ll tackle the hardest problem of all, time travel! There are actually no physical laws that prevent time travel, contrary to common sense. In fact, from the framework of general relativity, the theory that Einstein is famous for formulating, there’s more than one way to time travel! The most probable way is through wormholes. Although our current technology is far too crude to create a stable wormhole, it is possible to think that advanced civilisations can create “Time-Turners” (Rowling, 1999) is able to generate a mini wormhole from “quantum foam” (Michael S. Morris, 1988) at will and transport the user back in time. Well, back up to the time the mini wormhole was first created anyway.
In short, there are many seemingly impossible myths that can be realised through the creative usage of technologies and this is the irresistible attraction of the future and of science.
Bibliography
Coraci, F. (Director). (2006). Click [Motion Picture].
Crichton, M. (2002). Prey. HarperCollins.
Michael S. Morris, K. S. (1988, June 21). Wormholes, Time Machines, and the Weak Energy Condition. Physical Review Online Archive , pp. 1446-1449.
Rowling, J. (1999). Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. UK: Bloomsbury.