Thursday, 6 December 2012

Day 5.

6th of December. 

Today was mostly spent preparing for our presentations, which we will be giving tomorrow! 

I don’t know about the other groups, but our group, the radio astronomy group, definitely feels rather unprepared. We got started in the morning, feeling rather excited, but as the minutes strutted past us, we started to realise how we did not understand so many things, had so many doubts, and were so disorganised.

Our group finally came to a decision that we would do a presentation, guiding all of the audience present tomorrow, on how to weigh the mass of a galaxy. Trawling through the Internet for a suitable galaxy was hard. Most galaxies had very little data attached to them, and we spent hours just searching for a galaxy that had the data that we needed. After hours of searching, we finally decided that we would use galaxy ESO 269-57.

ESO 269-57

After the difficult time we had trying to figure out the mass of the galaxy, it was time to go back to Trinity for dinner. Today, some of us chose to “boycott” the cafeteria, heading out with Ms Tay to Claremont Quarter, where we had giant burgers with giant fries at Grill’d. Today was also our first day taking the public bus. They actually provide change on the bus (if you don’t give them the exact amount).

The giant burgers and fries at Grill'd!

Grill’d was a wonderful place. Nice atmosphere and great staff. They even had this thing called “Local Matters”, where customers are each given a token to place into one of the three available donation causes. The cause with the most number of tokens would receive money after the event period was over.

Local Matters! 
Love the phrase. Refers to how these matters are local, and also how what goes on or happens locally matters. 

After the great dinner at Grill’d, we went shopping. Some of us managed to get a photo with Santa as well!

Santa, how we love thee.

Then it was time to go back for our final night at the hostel. Before turning in, we had our final reflection session. 

On the bus back to the hostel!

Ms Tay and Ms Chong asked us about what we learned during this trip, and if there were any changes or additions to the list of characteristics we mentioned on the first night.

Caleb mentioned that he realised communication skills were definitely important. He said he was inspired by how these people at ICRAR were able to easily impart their knowledge, explain and clear doubts. It seemed so natural for them.

Last night at the hostel.

Finally, Ms Tay got out some cake to celebrate Sathya, Sue Ling and Caleb’s birthdays. It was some kind of blueberry cake, which Sue Ling and Caleb turned down (because today was Sathya’s birthday; theirs would be in the coming days) and Sathya did not finish. 

And it just so happens that all three birthday people are in the same group. Wow. Such a coincidence.

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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Day 4!

It’s already Day 4! How time flies!

Our day began early in the morning with a breakfast and sharing session facilitated by Ms Chong and Ms Tay. Under their supervision, we updated each other on what we had learnt in our respective research groups. It proved to be an informative and fun session as we challenged each other to question more about what we were doing, to better understand what we had learnt.

We were then brought by our friendly guides to a talk on the galaxy, proving to be an interesting session as we learnt more about the universe we lived in. and even learnt how to observe pulsars.


After the session, Dr Jay Jay Jegathesan gave us a talk on how UWA have made use of “Second Life” to design an impressive virtual replica of UWA’s campus. He also showed us how Second Life had spread its influence all over the world, and was being used worldwide for people to view real world places they might not have actually visited. He even gave us a real-life demonstration by using his Second Life avatar to tour the UWA campus. Here are some pictures of this “out of this world” session.


It was a morning full of activity, and it was not going to slow down. After a quick lunch back at Trinity College, we set off for Gin Gin Gravity Discovery centre, taking a long bus trip through the countryside.

Gin Gin Gravity Discovery Centre was full of brilliant new things to learn! The exhibits made copious usages of physics to achieve jaw dropping results. As we walked through, our helpful guide Grant introduced prominent exhibits to us and answered any queries we had regarding the exhibits.

The Discovery Centre was also well stocked with cleverly designed physics-related toys that made for awesome souvenirs.

One of the highlights of the Discovery Centre was the “Leaning tower of GinGin”. It was a cleverly engineered tower designed to have a slanted design, just like the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa.

It was a long climb to the top, but the view at the top was definitely worth the climb as we got to behold kilometre are kilometer of breathtakingly beautiful forest.

But the breathtaking scenery still wasn’t the highlight of the tower. We filled water balloons and carried them to the top of the tower, to drop them off the top and watch the effects of gravity, similar to what physicist Galileo did centuries ago to test the effects of gravity. We would elaborate more on what we did… but the sign and pictures better explains it all.

It was definitely an educational but incredibly entertaining activity, after which we had a sumptuous dinner of hot dogs and chips by the Discovery Centre’s Café

The final activity of the night was a tour through a garden built to model the universe. Our guide Grant told us more interesting information about each planet in our solar system.

After that interesting session, we boarded the bus and left the Gin Gin Gravity Discovery Centre to return to Trinity College. An eventful day for all.

Till next time!

Day 3

After awakening from whatever sleep we could get, we headed straight for the jetty. The setup of the equipment was the same as day 2. Our supervisor, Shane, did make some minor changes to eliminate the annoying electrical noise interfering with our result taking yesterday. Here are some photos of the setup:

Firstly, we took a depth measurement with the marked rope. The depth of water today was 1.9m.

The transmitter was then suspended in the water by attaching the two ropes on its sides to the sides of the jetty. A wire was connected from the transmitter to the signal output, which was set up on the table alongside a laptop plus a signal generator.


A underwater microphone was linked to an amplifier that was also connected to the laptop, thus the laptop recorded both the signal output and the signal recording. We then used the depth meter to actually drop the underwater microphone and hang it directly in front of the transmitter, with the depth meter being used as a measuring device for the distance between the transmitter and the mircophone.

Data Collection
The independent variable was the distance between the transmitter and the mircophone
The dependent variable was the time taken for the microphone to receive the signal
The control variable was the strength of the signal, the depth of the transmitter and the microphone.
With the distance varied every 20cm, and 20 pulses emitted for a duration of an average of 25 seconds, we are able to record through the microphone, thus able to later view the track's on laptops through a program that visualise the waveform of sound.

Problems encountered 
1) Water current- The water current would inadvertently cause the microphone and the transmitter to oscillate back and forth, and not exactly in phase, causing fluctuations in the distance between the two
2) Snapping shrimps- The underwater microphone is extremely sensitive, thus picking up the bursting of bubbles created by the shrimps, interfering with the signal and causing problems in identifiying the signal recieved.
3)Ships passing- Jetty ships, speedboats, all cause underwater sounds just as much as in air. But as sound travels way faster underwater, the underwater microphone is able to detect ships' movement literally miles away.

Altogether 23 tracks of recording were collected, with about 5 of them being duds. We were able to then identify between the interference and the signal recorded in each track. Collecting data of the tracks is important to identifying the trend in signal recieving

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Day 2

Monday, 3rd December 2012

After a great and refreshing night's rest, we woke to a delicious breakfast courtesy of the wonderful trinity dining room.

All fed and ready to go, we met once again with our coordinator, Adia, who brought us on an exciting and informative tour of UWA's grounds. We ventured through the university grounds, beholding the history and heritage behind the various buildings and structures. It was very informative and an absolute feast to the eyes! Here are some pictures of our tour.

During the tour, we also met up with our friends from NUS high. Here's a group shot in front of the beautiful UWA'S entrance. Hello friends!

We had a great time exploring UWA's grounds, after which our friends at UWA treated us to a sumptuous welcome morning tea.  We were graciously welcomed by the University's head of physics and vice-dean with a heartfelt and warming speech.
They welcomed us with open arms and expressed their desires for many more future collaborations between CJC and UWA.

We were then allowed an opportunity to explore the University's high tech and amazing research labs, guided around by our kind hosts. They introduced us to their jaw-dropping research work and experiments that was ongoing deep in the lab. Some of the machinery was so sophisticated, they left us in awe and wonder when they explained how the experiments worked.

It was such an eventful morning! After which we returned to our hostel for lunch (we already had so much in the morning!). After which we were split into our various research groups, and were taken to meet our facilitators.

It was a very informative and educational afternoon with our research groups. In the evening, Dr Andre Fletcher brought us to the rooftops of the UWA physics department for a night of star gazing.
In the cool night air and breeze on the rooftops, Dr Andre displayed UWA’s stunning collection of telescopes, for viewing the many stars in the starry sky that night. With his help, we got to view stars such as Jupiter and Orion. For many of us this was a first time seeing stars through a telescope, and we all found it informative and interesting. We even were treated to a demonstration of UWA’s radio telescope, which was a wonderful ending to a magical night with the stars. With that, we went to bed in high spirits.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Day 1

In the wee hours of the morning, thirteen adventurous Physics students from Catholic Junior College, together with two supportive (and beautiful) teachers, embarked on a journey to Perth, Australia to discover more about the secrets of the universe.

Photo prior to boarding the plane
Arrival at Perth
After a long 5-hour trip, they finally arrived at the Perth International Airport, before the starving group made their way to AnyTimeDeli to get some “Perth-y” pies and cupcakes.

Yummy cupcakes at anytimedeli!

Filled and fueled, through the city of Perth they went to see some of the marvelous landmarks there.

After touring about the city, the group made its way to the King’s Park and Botanic Gardens to have a bird’s-eye view on the whole of Perth.

The whole group

Radio Astronomy
War Hero Memorial at King's Park
The group also saw the wonderful Boab tree, which many would later relate to in their reflections. (Also note that the Boab Tree is referenced in “The Little Prince”, where the Prince claims that Boab trees are bad).

Boab Tree
After the wonderful time spent at the park, the group made to a local supermarket, Broadway, to stock up on supplies to last them the next few exhausting days.

Supermarket 8am-8pm
Everybody was assigned to their own respective rooms at the Hull Wing of Trinity College. After settling down, the group gathered at a comfortable lounge. Looking back at the day's experience, their two most beautiful teachers, Ms Chong and Ms Tay, asked them to describe themselves through what they have seen or learnt from their brief tour throughout Perth.

At first, some students stumbled at this question. Some of them even wondered why the teachers did this exercise in the first place. Ms Tay started off with a description of herself, using the beautiful bird's eye view all the students had of Perth City; she was someone who looked at the big picture, rather than the little details. This helped them significantly and they were able to relate their characters and their learning through what they have seen, felt, heard and even tasted throughout the trip. After going one round, it was Ms Chong's turn. She described herself using the supermarket.

The teachers then asked them about the essential attributes of a successful Physicist. Every student gave a characteristic of a physicist, some more. Everyone was right, since there aren't any "wrong" answers. Then Ms Chong, with a small smile on her face, asked: 
“Are these attributes you mentioned only applicable to a physicist or is it also useful for others as well?” (This was Ms Chong's main point, but is not an exact quote)

This was when they realised the trip was not just about learning more about Physics, but improving their characters. Finally she told them to be aware of our surroundings which is one of the most useful attributes as a physicists.

Here are some of the students' responses to the question:
What are the attributes of a physicists doing research?
A physicist has to firstly follow instructions so as to ensure that the data gathered from the experiment is accurate
Lester: Curiosity is a paramount tool for a physicist to scale greater heights.
Critical thinking is essential for a physicist to analyse information gathered from his data and to bring in a hypothesis. It is also essential to calculate or predict the anticipated errors that can occur in the project.

Thursday, 15 November 2012