Individual Reflection - Ho Yan Jin
by Yan Jin in

Plenary Sessions [Day 1]

My key learning points from each session…

Importance of Water - Dirty and Clean

Dirty water can be found in many third world countries, and they come from sewages, waste waters or contaminated waters. They contain disease-causing microbes such as Cholera and dysentery, and microbes used to treat water/waste such as filamentous bacteria. Such microbes enter water through cross-contamination and animal contact, such as cattle, elephants and even humans. Pollution in water can cause bad smell (Which cause most of us to stay away from it and thus diseases does not reach us), chronic health risk, environmental degradation, societal and economic impacts (Like the need for protection of water resources in developing countries), and carry infectious diseases. Polluted water can also cause death from waterborne diseases, typhoid fever and brainerd diarrhoea.

On the other hand, eco-cities like Singapore, have access to clean water. Singapore has many water catchments, and developed membrane technologies that are used in Water reclamation and water desalination (Water is taken from rainwater and wastewater). With the expanding industry of water research, many opportunities for studies, such as Environmental Science and Technology, are opened.

Revolution of Microelectronics Technology

Over the recent years, Singapore’s Electronics Industry have transformed a lot, adding higher value into products as well as Research and Development. One such is the microchip, which is driving global demands. Electronics is pervasive; It can be found almost anywhere, whether it is gadgets or systems. Electronics also enables things such as entertainment, medicine, transportation and manufacturing.

A new wave in the Electronics Industry is the Integrated Circuits, and it consists of nine main components: Bio; Radio, which have high frequency and speed; Auto, which are highly efficient without drivers; Info with new media; Nano, which includes nanotechnology and nano-electronics; Water improvements, like water purification; Audio; Video, which are made with higher definition and more advanced technology; and Energy. (BRAINWAVE)

Electronic Revolution have been taking place, and the following are some examples it: Electronic contact lens, which is to enable the blind to see; programmable blood, where it can monitor the glucose level of patients; Brain implant, which is currently under development; lighter, multi-function and powerful handphones; camera pill, which is an improvement of the endoscope; and cars with more electric components and content.

Innovative Breakthroughs in Nano-Science and Nano-Technology

For a fixed volume, a smaller size will result in a larger surface area. As the surface area increases, its size decreases, and the energy level increases, and that is what Nano-technology does. Nano-technology have benefited the world in many ways, such as killing bacteria, removing freckles, clearing body odour, cleaning and purifying water, changing the colour of contact lenses and even drugs in it to decrease dry eye and making braces ceramic-based.

Other Nano-technology breakthroughs are the carbon nano-tube, which is a very strong and small material (strength to weight ratio), but it has already been done in nature: The spiderweb; Nano-particles have been used to detect tumors at their beginning stage of growth of a few cells; Natural nano-ceramic, Biomineralised Fluorapatite, but done in nature also: Shark’s teeth; Man-made nano-materials,, like on stain glass in churches and in fighter aircrafts; Glass ceramic, on pots that are of ultra-fine grain (Corning vision) or 1-2 micrometer (Corning); Hydroxyapatite, use to detect radioactive materials; Solar cells, a 1D type of nano-technology; body armor, used to prevent bullets from penetrating; and pixelised uniform for soldiers, making them hard to spot from far.

Biotechnology also have some examples, such as hip implants, that could be bio-adhesive in the future; cataract surgeries, to improve eye sight; and Curing heart attack by opening up the blocked passage with biodegradable stents. Currently, a research for artificial photosynthesis is being developed through nano-bio-technology.

IT for Animation

Animation is basically drawing out many frame, linking them and playing them back. A lot of work is taken into animation, because after all, 24 frames is needed in 1 second. Their are three types of animation: Stop motion, 2D animation and 3D animation. Stop motion is widely used for story telling, where the skills creative stories are needed. Frames are taken one-by-one, and with each frame, the characters will be moved a little. 2D animation includes most of the the shows/movies now. It starts of with a script, then storyboarding, character designing, sound effects, reference frame drawings, intermediate frame drawings, painting, composition and shooting, and finally the final print. Because it is very labour intensive, softwares have been developed to help decrease 40% of the drawings they need to draw. One example of a movie developed in 2D animation is The Lion King. 3D animation, surprisingly, is cheaper to produce compared to 2D animation. Most of the drawing of characters are done on a software and facial features can be moved and animated from there. One example of it is Toy Story.

Mathematics is also used in movies, like for geometry, to find out the point, line, surface and solid; linear algebra, to find the vector space, enabling us to rotate and move characters; and calculus, to find the limit, function, derivatives and integrals. The laws of Physics are also used in movies, for the dynamics of fire, water and fabric movements. One example is the diffuse/specular lighting.

Disappearing glaciers, rising sea levels, and why gravity is even more important than you think

With the current Global Warming situation, glaciers will start melting, and sea-level will rise, but it will not be the same everywhere. When the relative sea level is equal to the sea surface of the solid surface, the heavy Glacier causes the crust below it to depress, and the self-attraction and loading (Spatial variations) of the Glacier makes the water/sea level attracted to it and tilt towards it. As the crust depresses, land sinks and bend down.

But when glaciers melt, the crust rebounds, as the glacier is not as heavy; and the attraction force of the sea and the glaciers decrease, causing water to flow away from the glaciers. If you are living in a place near melting glaciers, the sea-level rise will be low. But if you are living far from melting glaciers, like in tropical countries like Singapore, the sea-levels will be high.

GRACE is the Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment, where they measure the gravitational attraction/field of the Earth. It can monitor time-varying gravity, which is mass that moves around the surface of Earth, which is used to monitor sea level changes and estimate the melting of glaciers. Sea level rise will be increased drastically if a glacier melts, and affecting a lot of us, so we have to plan and be prepared.

Deepest impression

The plenary session that leaves the deepest impression on me is the last plenary session by Asst Prof Emma Hill. Because humanities (earth sciences) and mathematics (mathematical sciences) have been my strong interests, I looked forward to her talk. It gave me new information that I did not know of, such as the attraction of the seawater to the glaciers, the rebound of crust if glaciers melt and many more information. It also left me pondering on what are the ways to plan for an important thing such as high sea-levels. Her job and works fascinates me, because her project at GRACE seems interesting, and a lot of science and technology is used in the development of it.