Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Nice pictures of Matlab

One can hardly admit that this is not art. These beautiful images are created from MATLAB by accident. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

NTUBS & NUSBS Meditation Retreat 2010

On 20th to 27th June 2010, during their holidays, 15 young people went overseas and stayed at Santi Forest Monastery, Ulu Tiram, Johor for a meditation retreat joined-organised by NTUBS and NUSBS. This is a break from the usual tradition of organising a retreat in the busy city of Singapore. It allows a change in environment from noises of cars and aircons to noises by the wildlifes in the forest and natural shades, which definitely is more condusive to meditation.

We toiled, worked, and pushed hard everyday on our meditation practice, having 5 hours of group sitting (with monks), 2 hours of chanting, 3 hours of group sitting (by ourselves), totalling in 10 hours of opportunity per day to hone our meditation skills! The 2-3 hours talks and group Q&A sessions by Bante Seng everyday are the most interesting, enlightening and inspirational part of the day. He teaches us always, if possible, quoting the words of the Lord Buddha himself, from the suttas. Everyone benefits from the group Q&A too as many of the questions asked by eager students are the questions in everyone’s mind.

Bante Seng managed to finish a basic (intermediate) meditation course including, Anapanasati (mindfulness on breathing), Metta (loving kindness), Asubha (on the loathsome, to combat lust), Buddhanussati (Contemplation on the Buddha), The 5 subjects for frequent recollections, How to overcome sleepiness, How to remove distracting thoughts, and much more......

The atmosphere is verrrrrry nice there, too a while to get used to washing our own clothes and the 4-5 hours of sleeping time there, but it is wellllllllllllll worth it.

Santi Forest Monastery allows most of us to take turns and join in the Pintapata (alms collecting) as a kapiya (helpers) for the monks. Other than that, a special experience not to be found in city monasteries is living in a Kuti, a small hut in the forest. (to experience and overcome laziness, pain and fear) The experience is very close to what is available in the early Buddhism and for that we hope that we will be able to follow the footsteps of the Buddha and Arahants to be free from all suffering.

Finally, we are grateful to Bante Seng for teaching us and guiding us with patience and tolerance, Santi Forest Monastery for providing the opportunity and grounds for the making of merits, Sis Meng Hui from NTUBS and Bro. Xin Zhao from NUSBS for co-organising the event. Sadhu to all.

Hopefully next time we have a retreat there, you guys will not miss it!

NUS Module Review: PC4245 Particle Physics

Description: This is an introductory course on the fundamental constituents of matter and their basic interactions; important concepts and principles, recent important experiments, underlying theoretical tools and calculation techniques in elementary particles physics will be expounded. The topics covered are: basic properties of elementary particles and the standard model, relativistic kinematics; symmetries: isospin and SU(3), quark model; parity and CP violation; Feynman diagrams and rules; quantum electrodynamics; cross sections and lifetimes: deep inelastic scattering; and introductory gauge theories and unified models. This module is mainly targeted at physics majors.
Credits: 4
3 lecture hours per week
1 tutorial hours per week
0 lab hours per week
1 hours for projects, assignments, fieldwork etc per week
5 hours for preparatory work by a student per week
10 Total

Personal Experience:
I feel like catching up finally to the frontier of physics 30 years back, but to catch up those 30 years requires really speciallisation in this area. I like the way Feymann make his rules about how QED works... And you don't need QED to know this module.... it's not too applied Physics either, you need to apply the theory to get to deduce from new theories+ experimental facts to find out the Standard Model..... A very cool module I say! A must take for anyone serious in Theorectical Physics (and in uniting the quantum and the gravity).

Teaching Staff:
A very nice and patient Prof. Dr. Teo Kian Boon is. You might get lost in his speed but be sure to catch him and tell him to go slow if that happens and you are lost. But to be able to cover so much in one module is just plain amazing!

Same as almost all level 4 Physics Theory modules, it covers the tutorials in class and have 2 term test each 15% and a 70% final term test. It's bearable but beware of the heavy tutorials, and make sure you do it to get good grades in the term tests. Just read, understand, and do then you should get an A.

Quite heavy in Maths and Problem solving, but also essential for any good foundation in Particle Physics, after this course, you can read the graduate Particle Physics and Electroweak theory, Higgs Mechanism etc.......(which was covered briefly)....

Friday, June 18, 2010

Reminder: What to post online...

This is another update on my life, and due to time constrain.... (ironically it's the holiday when I'm supposed to have more time than during the semester) I shall be briefer than I would like to write.....

Last I updated was just before moving off to my uncle's home in Woodlands. My parents came (all the way from Malaysia!) and helped out (and including my roommate) to pack my stuffs and put them to a car. Then I also visited some relatives in Singapore before going off to Malaysia and stopping by Santi Forest Monastery for a brief visit. Photos here.

Then going back to Malacca to visit my grandparents, and to Petaling where I read Integrated Photonics for my upcoming internship with Data Storage Institute (DSI), A*Star (which I got the acceptance email only at 30th April). It's kinda the only time I had to play some of my games before realising that I've wasted too much time on them and deleted them all (almost all). (Or I did that during the middle of last sem.... Doesn't matter)

The rational is that I'm too busy to play anyway and it takes up my PC space, making it slow. (So bye bye, X-men, Neverwinter Nights 1&2, Spiderman Web of Shadows, Ultimate Spiderman, World of Warcraft, Spore, Star Wars: Knights of the old Republic, Star Wars: Jedi Acedemy, Street Fighter 4, Dynasty Warriors 6, Civilization 4, Rise of Nations, and Pokemon!)

Didn't realise there are so many games..... Wow!

Ok, so back to Malaysia, I went for the National Buddhist Undergraduate Conference in Malaysia where about 100+ undergrads from Buddhist Societies of Local Universities come to Buddhist Maha Vihara Malaysia (Brickfields temple) for 3 days 2 nights and listen to current issues in forums and discussions of the Buddhist circles of Undergrads in Malaysia!

The conference ended at 9th May where a friend helped to fetch me back to home and there came a surpise early Birthday Party! I have my mother to thank for that: my relatives and cousins are here to help me celebrate!

The early part is because the next day I came back to Singapore and Straight to DSI for the first day briefing! Then there is the China Immession Programme (CHIP) for the next 2 weeks and then I came back to Singapore and work!

Gone back to Malaysia one weekend, (had a near accident!) and came to work again....
(Sorry for the brievity, each paragraph above is worth a post)
I've lots of things on my list to do now.

  • Job
  • Website
  • Study (for next sem)
  • Write Book (finally started 3 pages so far)
  • Blog (finally a brief update)
  • and Retreat to Santi Forest Monastery
And so this might be the last time before going for the retreat on 20th to 27th June 2010 in Santi.

See why I'm so busy to write something here now?

See ya all next time.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

What Does One "Do" With an Undergraduate Physics Degree?

I've just been introduced to the blog post in the link and I think it is a worthwhile read for those who are interested in physics but keep on worrying what can One "Do" With an Undergraduate Physics Degree? And thus barring oneself from loving Physics.

As I said in a previous post, do what you like in Uni, don't suffer for 4 years.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Places to visit in Malaysia and Singapore

My hometown in Malaysia is in Malacca, the historical city of Malaysia. There's a saying that visiting Malacca means visiting Malaysia. The main attractions here(other than museums and the cultural values) is the food and Jonker Street. Jonker Street is opened at the nights of Fridays and weekends where you can walk the whole lenght and buy many interesting souvenirs. The must try food here is Chicken Ball Rice (opened during the day).

There's also the Taming Sari tower which brings you up to view the whole of Malacca while spinning slowly. Be sure to take photos of the iconic A Famosa door near the mall called Dataran Pahlawan.

There's waterworld, and A Famosa resort too, but if your time is tight I wouldn't recommend these as each is worth a full day of exploration.

Kuala Lumpur
There's lots of megamalls in this area: Times Square (has an indoor rollercoster), Suria KLCC, Sunway Piramid, One Utama, MidValley Megamall, The Curve (included is the bookstore Borders, one of the biggest in Malaysia, if you intend to buy books, do it in Malaysia, it's most likely cheaper there than in Singapore).

If shopping is not your style, perhaps the science of the Petroscience would interest you more. Petroscience is in Suria KLCC, where you can spend the whole day in there enjoying the sciences involved in mining Petroleum. The National Science Centre is also worth a visit, where it is sure to interest you.

Of course, I almost forgot to mentioned the KL Tower which you can go up and enjoy the highest McDonald in the world. And the KLCC Twin Towers, where there's limited passes everyday to go up to the link bridge. Oh, and for Water fun, Sunway Lagoon (besides Sunway Piramid) is a good choice.

Pulau Perhentian
Here's the place to go scuba diving, the water is clear and nice, you can even see sharks and go forest hiking too!

Genting Highlands
The City of entertainment, go there for a whole day for the cool temperature and enjoy Disneyland like attractions and rides.

There's the Gua Tempurung, a dark cave where you will get your pants wet and have an adventure of a lifetime! Be sure to bring a flashlight!

Pulau Pinang
Go there for the food, they claim to have the best food, try anything, laksa mee, to kuey tiao goreng, eat till you're filled! The bridge there is one very beautiful bridge, so enjoy the view too!

Also there's the Taman Negara (National Park) and the mountains in the middle of the Penisula, for your adventurous legs.

Ok, that's all for Malaysia, you can have a full week's worth of fun there.


Well to tell the truth, I don't know much about Singapore, I've been staying in campus most of the time. But there's Chinatown, MacRitchie Reseviour, Little India, Orcard Road, the Singapore Science centre, and the Singapore EXPO. For camping, night cycling and barbecues, the East Coast Park is a very good location.

Physics in NUS part 2

Today I got an email like this:

I was wandering on the Internet and found your blog. I see you're a physics major at NUS, so I guess maybe you can help me with these questions as I'm pretty baffled about physics at NUS. Would you, please?

- What is the forte of NUS Physics department? (Quantum I guess, because I see a lot of researches done in this field)
- What about the research opportunity available in those fields?
- And how about the physics professors at NUS and the learning environment?

I would appreciate it very much if you help me with those questions. Thank you.

And I replied:


Sorry but before giving my opinion, can you please give me some relevant info about yourself? This is for me to create some more personalized advice instead of the generic ones you can find in my blog.
  1. Are you planning to come to NUS for undergrad study or grad study?
  2. Which country are you from?
  3. What's your interest in Physics? Theory? Applied? Which field? Comology? Quantum? or just not yet decided? (it's ok to be undecided yet)
  4. What other University are you considering other than NUS?
  5. When are you coming in NUS if you decide to come? This coming academic year 2010/11 or the next?
  6. Have you read this page?
Thanks for reading my blog.

And I got back the reply:

1 - I'm coming to NUS this year for undergrad study. Actually I was accepted to Electrical Engi. (because it's my first choice when I applied), but it's just a pragmatic choice and unsuitable to me (I know it for sure, but it's still a practical choice), so I'm considering to switch my major to physics. At least, I know I love physics. Besides I got a scholarship from NUS so there won't be anything distracting me. I'm quite sure that NUS will consider my request to change course, as my interviewer in the scholarship interview told me so.
2 - I'm from Vietnam. Vietnamese physics major at NUS is quite rare, right?
3 - Undecided I guess. But not applied physics certainly as I tend to like pure physics things. The 2 things most appealing to me right now are Quantum Physics and Cosmology.
4 - The other one is NTU. Actually there were more, but I gave up on them due to my financial need.
5 - Yes, AY 2010/2011, starting in August 2010, which means I have 2 months to decide.
6 - Yes. But (sorry for saying this) I found it quite generic. I mean, most info can be found on the website.

And then I replied again:

Xin Chao,

Haha, thanks for telling me that, I do enjoy studying physics here.

  1. I'm glad you choose physics over engin (me too!)
  2. You can say so, about 2% or less of the people in Physics is from Vietnam.
  3. Me too!
  4. I don't know much about physics NTU, so can't say much on that, but I still think (bias due to me being in NUS) that NUS physics is better!
  5. Ok, hope to see you as a junior.
  6. Yes, it's ok, I refered to the website while making it. At least it brought you to email me.
- What is the forte of NUS Physics department? (Quantum I guess, because I see a lot of researches done in this field)
Yes, there's also a lot of other directions in applied physics, in cosmology it is not strong here, but things are getting brighter as they just introduced a new module "Cosmology" last semester (I'm taking it next year)

- What about the research opportunity available in those fields?
All fields, so far that I see (quantum, applied, cosmo) have some students doing research in it. Even theorectical black holes! (by Prof. Edward Teo, student of Stephen Hawkings, was my group's supervisor) It's just that sometimes people tell you it's weak or strong in it only reflects the number of students (and profs) that are doing research in this field. Let that not bother you, more people in one field means more help you can find, less means less competition you'll face.
Besides, you're only here for undergrad study, so relax on the research part first. Did you know about SPS? I highly recommend it to you. Oh and undergrad here doesn't mean grad study here, although the 3 year bond is kinda tricky and hard to go around.

- And how about the physics professors at NUS and the learning environment?
I don't know about other Universities, sorry can't compare. But there are a few very good lecturers here, this doesn't mean that the rest are bad, some are good some are bad, it's the same in all Uni I believe. The learning environment? I'm not so sure, I heard the others around me say that NUS is very stressful...... I'm playing games most of the Anyway, it'll likely be tougher than your high school, so don't be cocky if you're good at physics, you still need to work hard. Anyway I'm in SPS room most of the time, and the people there are like my family away from home, so I can destress there.

Year 1 physics is boring here, you can go read year 2 stuffs then, or have more time to enjoy other aspects of Uni life (CCA).
Year 2 physics really need understanding to score.
Year 3 physics is nice and challenging, lots of maths and concepts.
Year 4 physics is like upgraded year 3 physics, challenging and fun.

Anyway for me, doing physics is understanding. The practical way I know of to do the exam is to do past year papers to prepare oneself. Nothing disappointing there I think. Cheatsheet is a good bonus that some of the lecturer let us bring during exam. Maybe that's another practical way.

Oh and to introduce myself, I'm a year 2 physics major from Malaysia in SPS, USP and double major in Maths. And unless you're like me or better that takes so many modules in a semester, there's definately enough time to understand Physics.

There's a Research Centre of Excellence just for Physics,
And it's expensive, so I don't think that Singapore doesn't care about physics!

Lastly can I publish some of the advices here to my blog? I haven't updated it for so long now. Thanks!