Individual Reflection - Dionne Choo
by Yan Jin in

(|) Plenary Sessions

(A) My key learning points from each session...

1. Importance of Water – Dirty and Clean
Water and energy contribute to economical and societal development, however, economic development can compromise water resources. Thus, there is an increasing need to protect water resources.
Some problems with polluted water bodies is  that infectious diseases can be found, leading to chronic health risks, the polluted water body could also cause environmental degradation and economic and societal impact. The contamination of harmful germs and microbes usually come from cross-contamination from animals (including humans), which are the hosts of germs and harmful microbes. It may be transmitted through egestion and excretion of waste from the body and enter the water, and cause the germs and harmful microbes to spread to other organisms.
With water studies, 
Contaminated water is a key issue in third world countries, with many passing away due to the poor sanitation and lack of clean water. Numerous microbes that could cause cholera, typhoid fever, dycentery, brainerd diarrhoea, present in the water also pose a big problem to them. However, even though Singapore does not face the problem of having contaminated water bodies which causes harm, we still need to do further research on how to purify and obtain drinkable water.
Hence, “Water Studies Research” is an expanding industry that meets urgent needs, with many innovation and entrepreneurial opportunities.

2. Revolution of Microelectronics Technology
Electronics encompasses virtually everything, ranging from the high-tech doctor’s tools to the common computers and laptops. It is pervasive and enables entertainment, medicine, transportation and manufacturing.
The transformation of Singapore’s Electronics Industry means higher value added products and research and development. While the proliferation of Electronics, driving global demands is microchip reality.
Integrated circuits (ICs), the brains of electronic devices, has been improving over the years, in 9 different areas.
    • bio
      • as in bio-metric passport
    • radio
      • high frequency transmission
      • high speed transmission
      • wireless connectivity
    • auto
      • high efficiency without drivers
    • info
      • new media
    • nano
      • nano technology
    • hydro
      • = water (H2O)
    • audio
      • for hearing impaired individuals
    • video
      • high resolution
      • high definition
      • for visually impaired individuals
    • energy
The first letter of the 9 key areas spell “brain wave” which actually encourages a lot of innovation to improve the technology.

3. Innovative breakthroughs in Nano-Science and Nano-Technology
Nano-Technology is an enabling technology. It makes things better, more powerful and enhances the efficiency.
Nano-Technology can be used to kill bacteria, get rid of freckles, clear body odour, clean water, change contact lens colour tint, make masks and braces. It is the design, fabrication and application, at a size of 10-9. The reasons that nano-technology is so useful is that at a smaller size for a fixed volume, there is a larger surface area, which equates to a higher energy level, and is more useful. An example of man-made items constructed with the help of nano-technology is a pot, which has a see-through base, due to ultra-fine grains which allows light to pass through. However, there are many other cases of natural nano-ceramics in nature, like the shark’s tooth and the different coloured gems (basically aluminum oxide with different impurities to give it the tint). 
Biotechnology can be used to remove cataract, make bio-adhesives, biodegradable stents, piezoelectric micro-actuators for thrombus removal.
In the Singapore Army, the uniform has been swapped to a pixelised uniform which makes it less visible from far as the pixels are the size of one’s iris, and thus it does not register. This is to blend into the background and also bluff and deceive the eyes of the enemy.

4. IT for Animation
Animation is linking many frames and playing them back, 24 frames per second. This forms a story, and is a form of storytelling. There are a few types of animations, namely stop motion, 2D animation and 3D animation.
Stop motion is a form of storytelling, where  one uses actual figures to tell a story.
2D animation is the traditional method for animating, with the process starting from a script → storyboard → character design → sound → reference frame drawing → intermediate frame drawing → painting → composition and shooting, and ending with the final print. However, 2D animation is labour intensive and there is a budget pressure.
3D animation applies mathematics (geometry, linear algebra, calculus, law of physics) into it, and is not as labour intensive as 2D animations.
The frontier in science and technology, fascinating animation, mathematics in movies and games, and IT in our life ~

5. Disappearing glaciers, rising sea levels and why gravity is even more important than you think
Geodesists measure the shape and size of the Earth, its gravity field, and how these things change over time. Especially with the help of space-based technology, these things can be measured in great detail.
Even though many say that the sea level all over the world is rising every time a glacier melts, that one figure given is not true for all the places. Sea-level rise will not be the same everywhere. One of the reasons is due to self-attraction and loading. Every mass has a gravitational attraction (Fg = Gm1m2 / d2) and in this case, water in the oceans is attracted to the glacier. Thus, as the glacier melts, the water flows away, and the sea level decreases, while the sea level somewhere else increases. As the glacier melts, the crust also rebounds, and the relative sea level (between the sea level and the crust) also decreases. However, it is difficult to measure the melting rate of a glacier as it is dangerous, and that is why scientists are still looking for a solution.
Sea-level rise will be highest, farthest away from the glaciers, which includes Singapore, in the tropics. We need to plan for this!

(B) Deepest impression…

The plenary session that leaves the deepest impression on me is the “Disappearing glaciers, rising sea levels, and why gravity is even more important than you think” by Asst Prof Emma Hill.
What I like about it is she managed to put it in a comprehensible way that we could all understand, and the topic really applied to the world and Singapore. The topic about the current problem of climate change, with melting glaciers, and the sea level rising is one of the more pressing issues faced now, and her talk helped to understand why people say so, and what is their error in saying so. For example, we now know that sea-level rise is not the same everywhere and the Earth’s shape is constantly changing (from the video she showed us). Thus, I like Asst Prof Emma Hill’s presentation as it really applied to us and how earth science is important.