Saturday, March 17, 2012

NUS science congress 2012 reflections

The issue of Cancer
After attending this science congress and reading the journals on cancer, I realised how prevalent cancer really is in our society and the very real threats it poses to our livelihood, our family, our relatives and our friends. Cancer may stay inside our bodies for a very long time before its effects are felt and by then it is often too late. The cures often have many side effects and may only temporarily stop the cancer. It is a long and tedious process when trying to come up with new cures to effectively stop cancer and I do not believe we will ever be able to completely eradicate it. However, we can most definitely minimalise it such that cancer can be detected and removed early so it does not pose a danger to our lives or the lives of the people around us in the future. 

Talks by NUS High students

There were 4 presentations all talking about the different projects that the students had worked on. They were not easy to understand at all as we are still too young and not taught on such topics yet. However, I found all of them intriguing and interesting with some that I could understand fairly well and the others not so much.

The first presentation that I want to talk about is the one I understand the most and is entitled, "Effect of stress on subsequent performance in observers during high fidelity simulator-based training". Results showed that even though the trainees who were in the "hot seat" more often experienced a higher level of stress than the trainees who have been observers prior to their SBT session, they had better performance overall. This investigation is useful in improving the training of anaesthetists or possibly even other specialists working in different fields as it shows which method is the most effective in improving the performance in a trainee and this could also help save lives in the future when situations of life and death arise and the performance and level-headedness of the specialist is vital.

The second presentation I want to mention is the one I understand least and is entitled, "Generalised quantum tic-tac-toe". The contents of this presentation were baffling but nonetheless intriguing. It is the creative integration of certain principles of quantum mechanics and the classic game of tic-tac-toe. Currently, my interest is in physics and chemistry and quantum mechanics can explain many of the natural phenomena that we observe in the two fields. Probability was greatly involved in the presentation and it is also a major part of quantum mechanics due to the Heisenberg's uncertainty principle and the importance of probability distributions in discribing certain physical properties of an object at the quantum level. I may hope to pursue a career in this subject as I find it really fascinating.

Poster presentations after the talk

Poster #1
Investigation of neutral hydrogen gas clouds in the Magellanic clouds
This poster was mainly about the investigation of the Magellanic stream which is a cloud of neutral hydrogen gas that connects the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) with the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) which are irregular dwarf galaxies orbiting the Milky Way. The research shows evidence that the Magellanic stream was created by the collision of the two Magellanic Clouds. I find this interesting as this topic is about objects and phenomena on a macro scale which I always find fascinating due to the realisation that even objects as large as a hyper giant stars, make up only a negligible portion of objects such as galaxies. 

Poster #2
Yogurt from soya waste
This poster was about the preservation of soya pulp using yogurt bacteria culture so that they can stay fresh long enough so that they can be recycled into new products. The research showed that the fermented pulp stayed fresh as compared to the non-fermented soya pulp that turned beige and smelly after six days. This can help to reduce the amount of cattle that need to be reared to produce soya pulp. According to a UN report, rearing cattle produces more greenhouse gases than driving cars. Other than contributing to the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, the livestock sector generates 65 percent of human related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of carbon dioxide. Not to mention that cows also produce a great deal of methane as well. This discovery can have the potential to significantly reduce the amount of greenhouse gases produced from the rearing of cows and help alleviate the situation of Global Warming.

Poster #3
Construction of unpowered glider for long endurance
This poster is about how a glider can be built such that it can glide for long distances before landing. Even with the invention of motorised aircraft, gliders still have many applications in the world such as for recreation, research and military purposes or even just for fun. One example of an application is the use of glide bombs which has aerodynamic surfaces allowing for gliding flightpaths rather than ballistic ones. This increases the protection for an aircraft that is attacking a heavily defended target as the bomb can be remotely controlled and directed at its intended target from a greater distance away. Gliders go back a long time but they still fascinate people and they are still coming up with better designs that allow gliders to travel ever more further which to me is amazing.