Saturday, August 25, 2012

My recent weekends

This coming weekend will be spend in Malaysia.

My recent weekends were spend this way:

18-19th Aug: SPS Newbie Orientation Camp, I was the game master, for two of the most fun games in the camp (in my opinion) and got to know quite a lot of the newbies.

11-12th Aug: Helped in LDW for Saturday morning, afternoon at Buddhist Fellowship with Chriswini Tanaka and Jasper Ang, night celebrating The Return of Thuan Beng and Mukthar, Sunday morning gone treetop walk, afternoon at Tergar Singapore in Tai Pei Buddhist Centre, night relax, play and time for facebook and me.

The ones before that was non-working period, so not so remarkable. 

More remarkable is that the next weekend, 1st-2nd Sep, I will be joining "Joy of Living" by Tergar Singapore, missing out both Tzu Chi one-day camp (which I went twice already) and NUSBS MC handover day (which I had 3 already). 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Graduation done list.

Here's the list that I've done from the previous one.

  1. Found a place to live.
    • Minh had kindly offered me a place to live in Clementi, as his roommate. Recently I've cleaned the room with him and the place is very near NUS and cheap! Good deal for the next 3 years!
  2. Found a job.
  3. Play
    • Marvel: Avengers Alliance is my main game now: Level 127
    • Pokemon trading should be done within a few days: not done.
    • Movies: Watched MIB 3, Avengers, The Amazing Spiderman and The Dark Knight Rises.
    • Finish up Fringe: Not yet, starting Young Justice.
    • Presenting the Brain Band: done a bit, should use it more.
    • Boardgame: Mainly playing Cashflow now.
    • Computer games: Not really interested.
  4. Tie up loose ends
    • Finish up some more work on my Honours Project: not done
    • Write that report for the Summer Research: not done
    • Go through all the stars in my gmail: not done
    • Check for the after graduation stuffs, for international students, Loan, Grant, Work Pass, progress
  5. Religion
    • As usual, get to attend all that I can attend, and in fact bring more people in via Temple Explorers Singapore!
      • NUSBS Meditation Retreat,
      • Tzu Chi: Near to joining as member,
      • MDC: going to be treating them soon... as my first paycheck comes.
      • Awaken Challenge
      • Weekend visits to temples with cousin and friends: precursor to temple explorers.
      • Other Buddhist Societies events...
  6. Plan for graduation trip
    • My graduation trip was back home, with NUSBS friends, tiring, hmmm... but haven written about it yet.
That's all for now.

Habitual tendencies

Do you have the feeling of being lazy?

It's not easy to live a human life. An unbalanced life will lead to accumulation of some problems or another that develops into a crisis which we deal with and then life gets back to be a little bit more balanced.

And then something unexpected happens. And here we go again.

I'm feeling a bit lazy to live a balanced human life. The middle way, the noble 8 foldpath that I follow should be my guide. Yet, as usual, it is hard to keep up all three aspects of morality, concentration and wisdom.

I go for a lot of temple tours, yet habitual tendencies tend to take over very fast. For example, I'm supposed to be sleeping now. So that I can get up early for work tomorrow. I'm still used to the student lifestyle.

Becareful of how you choose to live your life, for it sets habitual tendencies that require a lot of effort to change. I miss the old life of a student very much, but it is not a suitable lifestyle for me anymore. Gotta have to let go, and live a more balanced life.

Will I be able to bring meditation into my daily practice? I do hope so. The realm of youth is not to be wasted playing and pursuing stuffs that are impermanent. Let me be able to guide myself to have the energy and condition for meditation practice everyday.

Multiverse Part 2: Science Fiction

Refer to Multiverse Part 1,

But all this assumes another thing: that all choices that can be made must be made. It is reasonable to think that given infinite time or resources (universes), all quantum probabilities that can happen, will happen. And yet is free will determined by quantum probabilities? This is the question. Is free will truly free?

The real question is: is there something that is possible for you to do, but you would never in all the universes do it? No matter what happens.

It's hard to think of something like that. In the end, it depends on the idea that is the mind subject to the laws of probability?

Hmm... it seems that I need to refine my ideas about the 9 different kinds of multiverse according to The Hidden Reality by Brian Greene.

Meanwhile, we take what works: Morality, free will and conditioned cause and effect.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

More Money or Interest?

Received an email a while back and now I'm posting this. 

Good evening,

How are you doing? Alvin Poh Leong Ann here... My apology for the late reply and for all the trouble caused. Yes, I do have a rough idea of it now. Recently I was away very often. I had attended several orientations organized by the Engineering Faculty and the NUS MSL. I’m glad I have read your blog. It gave a better insight of the Physics programme in NUS.

As mentioned earlier, I intended to further my studies in Physics however I’m offered to study Electrical Engineering instead. I would like to inquire, are there many differences between them? Are there more research and academic enhancement programmes such as the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme in Science (UROPS) and Special Programme in Science (SPS) for students who opt to do a Science degree? I have read about the SPS. Is it a recommended programme for research students? Engineering students wouldn’t be able to join, right?  I come to realize the Summer Programmes for NUS Science Students include many research orientated places in the prestigious university around the world, isn’t it?

I’m offered to do EE with a scholarship. I’m uncertain whether the switching of courses is allowed. I do understand that taking a double major is different. However, do you think is advisable? I inquired about it through a senior during my orientation. He did mention in such cases, students will have to overload each semester with more modules.

My main interest lies in the field of energy, particle and nuclear physics. When I was young, I aspire to be part of CERN research team despite the fact that it is quite farfetched. Anyhow, I’m uncertain of how to even get there. Being in EE, do I lack a lot academically? Will it be a disadvantage for me? It is most appealing to me that the Centre of Quantum Technology is affiliated to NUS. However, does it only involve Physics students in NUS?

Besides, are you graduating soon? Will you be doing your graduate studies? Will you be around in NUS?

I’m glad to meet you. Recent years not many students from Malacca High School are studying in NUS. You have been very helpful. Thank you very much!

Have a nice day! =)
My reply:

 Cool. Good that you've known MSL.

First off I would like to say that even Engineering Science studies nothing close to what we pure science students do, much less Electrical Engineering. From what limited experiences I had in USP about EE is that it mainly focuses on manipulation of electrical fields, wiring, etc...go google it. It's a bit boring to me. And nowhere close to the field of energy, particle and nuclear physics. So a double major is not a replacement for a pure major in Physics.

Only thing that you might get closer to Physics is to do the France Double Degree Program. It's extremely prestigious and hard. Full of pure maths and then physics and you'll have to learn them in France. It's open to Physics, Maths and Engin students. You'll spend your Saturdays studying with these people, and mainly become a study machine. For 1 and a half year from sem 2 onwards. Then 2 years in France and back for masters. But I'm not sure if you're going to study the same thing as a pure Physics student over there.

Secondly, SPS is not something to overlook here. It's only for Science students, it's tough, it's designed for research students and although I haven't described it fully in my blog yet, it's the main thing in Uni that I am glad to have and never regretted. In fact, I'm in SPS room writing to you right now. Summer Programmes, ya, lots of cool places to go to. See my Imperial experiences. I do believe there's a similar programme for Engin students, focusing on Engin stuffs. Go find out.

Third, Scholarship. Now the money factor comes in.
If you're an idealist, you'll switch to Science, no matter what it cost and will follow your passion to the end.
If you're a realist, then here's the deal: if you're so desperate for Physics as to want to turn down this Scholarship, you'll have to have loans. Assuming you'll already have Tuition Grant, so locked in Singapore for 3 year after graduating. Tuition Fee Loan, Study Loan, Student Assistant Loan. Amongst the 3 of them, you'll cover the tuition fees, Accommodation and might need a bit of money for food and others. (I don't buy books or printer, so I save from there.) The occasional Summer trips, Global Programmes, Summer Programmes, you'll either have to find the ones that gives you net money (i.e. you work there), or you'll have to ask from your parents. (about $900 for most of them, once a year.) Or you can just do a part time job. It's not that hard to work and study at the same time. There's demo lab, and SPS Mentor (year 3 and 4 only), and Physics lab (year 4 only), and others. Or summer internship etc....
And most of all, after graduating, the interest will start to count and you'll have to pay all the loans back. To make it comfortable, you'll have to pay more than 3 years. That's what I'm in now. But it's ok for me, I'll just continue paying it using my PhD. Scholarship, when I get it. You'll be poorer than most of your peers, but if you're pursuing further studies... then there's not much difference anyway, you'll stay poor until you graduate from PhD.
Overall, this is not a small factor to discount. It's your life: compromise your passion for money, or money for passion. Your choice. Your parents and family will prefer if you chose the first one. My style is the second one.
Fourth, there's no way in NUS, even in Engineering Science that you'll get a good exposure to the field of energy, particle and nuclear physics if you choose Engin. Ok you can always self study or take the France thing. Ok, just ask my friends over there. You can take mostly Physics over there, including things like energy, mostly about nuclear, environment friendly energy and management stuff. But it's not guaranteed that you'll get into a School. It's hard to get in and it's harder than SPS. And you've to be super intelligent with good CAP in your first sem to get invited to the programme. And super hardworking for the next 1 and a half years.

Fifth, to get to CERN, they need technicians and physicists too. So as an EE you can go there too! Just visit their website, build up your profile, etc, apply there....Just that you might have to do maintenance stuffs more than the real Science. But there's no guarantee that you'll make a better Physicists too, cause research is not really as cool as in Iron Man 2. To do what Tony Stark can do, go Engin. Research in CERN mostly involves analyzing whole chunks of data, not as exciting as they show in the movies. In EE, you know you can't do theoretical Physics then (see the unless above). But if you do theoretical Physics, you don't need to go to CERN, you can do it anywhere. CQT works with people from Computer Science too, to get a different perspective. If you go for Physics major, you'll most likely end up here, at least for a short while. I'm going to be here for 3 years.

That's about all. I really can't decide for you, so I hope I made this email not too bias either way. You'll have to decide for yourself and try not to get influenced by the tone of the email but rather consider the facts and make the choice that your heart tells you to make. Or your logical mind. You see, I'm still mixing up the tones here.

I later found out that his Scholarship allows him to change the faculty if he wants, but he prefers Engin, and not a fan of too many maths he sees in Physics. So he's doing Engin now. 

But anyway, food for thought. What's your choice? More Money or Interest?


So, I'm posting this for fun. For now. Again. After so long of talking about other stuffs, it's back to me. The Ego. Oh well, school has just started, and it shouldn't affect me, but that I get to meet a lot of new people. Both in SPS and NUSBS, not so much on USP cause I don't go there.

Well, it seems a bit strange, I had started work on week 0 itself and I should be getting to know the people in CQT rather than my old attachments. Well, for that matter, a lot of the people I met asked me where do I work after the introduction that I'm an alumni.

Here's what I tell people:
Me: I'm working as a Research Assistant in Centre for Quantum Technologies now, yes it is in NUS.
Questioner: What am I researching on?
Me: Physics
Questioner: Which field?
Me: Theoretical Physics
Questioner: What topic? 
Me: (If not physics people then I think: Do you really wanna know?) Quantum Entanglement in General Relativity.
Questioner: (Blank look or amazed look if not physicist) So what do you do in it?
Me: (If I know it would not be called research is it?) Oh, I read papers, do the maths, get ideas, do the maths, write papers etc....

It's actually different people added together from above. Well, anyway, don't feel bad if you are one of them and reading this. I'm just letting you know my inner state.

On a cooler note, I am discovering more and more people who reads my blog! People who are going to enroll/join in SPS, USP, NUSBS, Physics, etc... Thanks for reading people! It's inspiring to know, so do leave comments, that way I can know that the post is read there and then! (Instead of having to meet you guys in NUS one by one and having a long enough conversation to come to the topic of my blog, it's nice, but it's only once a year!)

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

My Honours Year Project

You are welcomed to cite it with the following details:
Title: Thomas Precession: A Fibre Bundle Approach
Author: Ng Xin Zhao
Dr. Kuldip Singh

University: Physics Department, National University of Singapore
Date: April 2, 2012

MathJax to type LaTeX in my blog


Trying this out:

$$\frac{2c}{45}= \pm \lambda $$

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Temple Explorers Singapore

I recently (a few weeks ago) created a group on facebook called "Temple Explorers Singapore".

Here's the about on the page:

 Hi all, I'm Ng Xin Zhao and I'm currently exploring the temples in Singapore, so I might as well invite my spiritual friends along the tour. You can see each week having at least one temple. (On average) I'm looking forward to new temples that I haven't been to.

 This group is meant for those who wishes to explore more of Singapore's Buddhist Temples and Organisations. As such, almost every weekend there will be visits to Temples and Organisations in Singapore.

 The activities are mainly to join in the existing events and activities of other organisations and temples to find out if it is suitable for us. Temple tour is optional and secondary to getting the feel of the atmosphere.

 Why should you join in the ride?

 If you only know a few or one Buddhist Society or Organisation or temple, and wish to open up your border of knowledge and unstated assumptions,

 If you wish to explore other temples but don't have friends to come with you,

 If you wish to introduce your own temple to your friends, If you wish to understand other traditions of Buddhism,

 If you wish to just hanging around good and kind friends,

 If you wish to score well in the next Om quest, 

If you wish to be the next Buddhist leaders of Singapore,

 You know this group is for you!

 Of course, if you stumble upon a temple you like, you can feel free to become a regular there! No need to follow in this nomadic existence.

 If you're an existing Buddhist Committee, do carry on your work and not join this if it clashes with your own activities. We may join you later on. However, if you want to know more about how others run their activities and events first hand, then do come and join in.

 If you are totally new to Buddhism, please note that some of these tours will go to places that are not exactly beginner friendly.

 Especially do take note of the language used for a particular event.

 Ground rules:
1. Everyone of all religions are invited.
2. Travelling fee are individual responsibilities.
3. No clashing of events timing.
4. Everyone who comes along should keep an open mind to learn for themselves.

 This is because I'm in the exploring stage, having emerged from the cocoon of NUSBS, and although I represented NUSBS to visit a lot of temples and places, and I've started the idea of inviting lots of different Buddhist Organisations and Temples to Dana Lunch of NUSBS, I do think that visiting and joining in their activities is the one thing that a lot of people who's starting out in Buddhism might encounter. Well, some people started with a temple/Organisation, and then stick to it for most of their life. So if they join in this one, it's an opportunity to get to know other ways of approaching the Dharma and to expose themselves to various different stuffs.

 Anyway, so far the activities that I've been to are:

  •  Mangala Vihara Temple Visit Saturday, July 14, 2012 at 10:50am To register myself for the Diploma at Buddhist and Pali College Singapore 
  •  Retracing buddha's footsteps Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 7:30pm This is one course I'm going currently, at 4/10 session now. 
  •  Abhidhamma class by Sayalay Susila Saturday, July 21, 2012 at 2:00pm One example of an event that happens to happen around that time. 
  •  Buddhism and Science Symposium IV “Growi... Sunday, July 29, 2012 at 8:30am This one is part of my interest in Science and Buddhism, but this time's topic is getting very far from Physics and Buddhism, it's more of Education, so didn't sparked my interest much. And only at the last event above was there some more people joining in. 
Well, in the following future events, more and more people are joining in too!

  •  Pa-Auk Meditation Outing: Fort Canning Sunday at 6:00pm Once a month thing that I'm thinking of committing too. 
  •  NUS Tzu Ching Welcome Tea! Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 7:00pm Joining in Tzu Chi as a member soon! 
  •  NUSBS Welcome Tea Friday, August 17, 2012 at 6:00pm Of course, my alma mater. I'm joining in more NUSBS activites too but not all are suitable to be advertised out. Like the Camp Ehi Passiko for freshmen tomorrow. 
  •  Camp Lions Workshop: The Making of a Bud... Sunday, August 26, 2012 at 8:45am Regrettably, I forgot that I'm going back to Malaysia this weekend. But it does give awareness to the people in the group about this good leadership training thing. 
  •  Joy of Living Saturday, September 1, 2012 at 9:00am $50 class, not one I would go during my time as a student. But well, now I'm exploring! Including this style of meditation!
  •  VISUDDHI MAGGA CLASSES Sunday, September 16, 2012 at 6:00pm I'm pretty interested in this one, haven't got the chance to read this difficult book, which apparently needs a class to teach it! 
  • Dandelion Dharma & Tulku Films, T.H.I.S.... Saturday, September 29, 2012 at 3:15pm Part of the few films I'm planning to watch at the Thus Have I Seen Film Festival! I think calling might be more effective to ask people out in this one. 
 Some other events are closed to the public but not for the people who are regulars at the temples.. I'm joining these too. Well, after the Diploma Classes started at Mangala Vihara in October, my Sundays will be restricted. And I'm planning for Postgraduate Diploma Class at Buddhist Library too! By then I'll be tied down and considered settled down. So unless the momentum for the group keeps growing, and I can appoint a successor who's in the exploring stage, the group's going down within half a year. Are you the one I'm looking for? Go to : to find the group and join in! I'll approve anyone.