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Science in the Café – 2017

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2017 Café Calendar

DatePresenter(s)Title   Click for more details. (* : tentative)
2-May-2017Ms Jenny Hawkin* Engineers Without Borders
6-Apr-2017Dr Shanmugam Muthu Kumaraswamy* Neem and Prostate Cancer
23-Mar-2017Prof Vijay Kumar SinghA Promising Radiation Countermeasure for Acute Radiation Syndrome
23-Feb-2017Ms Sandra MarichalThe Melting Aircon
Prof Brian J FordWhen Humans Explode!
11-Jan-2017Prof Howard WisemanAre We Living in the Matrix?
An Introduction to Quantum Weirdness

Cafés Details

Are We Living in the Matrix? An Introduction to Quantum Weirdness
Date & Time:11 Jan 2017 @ 7pm
Free admission for all pre-registered attendees.
Presenter:Prof Howard Wiseman, Griffith University, Australia
Sponsor:Centre for Quantum Technologies, National University of Singapore
Synopsis:In the movie The Matrix, the bulk of the human population lives not in the real world but inside a computer simulation called The Matrix. The people are unable to detect their predicament, except for the fact that certain people can transcend the normal rules of physics. In this Café, Prof Wiseman will explain how this is eerily similar to the world we live in. Certain people (quantum physicists!) can transcend the normal rules by using entangled particles to do things that "should be" impossible. While not as visually impressive as dodging bullets and leaping tall buildings, these abilities are central to the emerging field of quantum information technology. But even quantum physicists do not agree about what this reveals about the nature of The Matrix.

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CANCELLED       When Humans Explode!
Date & Time:17 Jan 2017 @ 7pm
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Presenter:Prof Brian J Ford
Sponsor:Science Centre Singapore
Synopsis:Many cases have been recorded of spontaneous human combustion (SHC), when random individuals reportedly burst into flame and burned away to ashes. Most authorities dismiss the SHC idea as mythical, though there are too many documented examples for science to turn a blind eye. Professor Ford has proposed a remarkable new mechanism that finally offers an answer to this mystery. In this Café, illustrated with videos and images of victims, the new theory is explained and demonstrated in detail.

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The Melting Aircon
Date & Time:23 Feb 2017 @ 7:00 pm
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Presenter:Ms Sandra Marichal, Founder of #up2degrees
Sponsor:Science Centre Singapore
Synopsis:With an aim to spread the message about climate change in Singapore, Sandra embarked on a 13-day expedition to Antarctica in March 2016, with 130 other explorers, led by the polar explorer and sustainability leader, Robert Swan, OBE. There, she learned and saw how global warming is impacting Antarctica and more specifically, about Singapore’s impact on the melting pole. /// But why and how does Antarctica matter to Singapore? How does our aircon impact the planet? How can each of us, individually, have an immediate and positive impact on our climate? Sandra will answer these questions through sharing her tales and learning from Antarctica. She firmly believes that ...
Antarctica is the aircon of the world, as it keeps our planet cool. But Singapore's air conditioners, which contribute to increased carbon emissions, are warming our planet up. If Antarctica was to melt completely, it would raise worldwide sea levels by more than 60 metres – we need to stop the melt before it is too late!

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A Promising Radiation Countermeasure for Acute Radiation Syndrome
Date & Time:23 March 2017 @ 7:00 pm
Free admission for all pre-registered attendees.
Presenter:Prof Vijay Kumar Singh, Department of Pharmacology & Molecular Therapeutics, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Sponsor:DSO National Laboratories
Synopsis:Nuclear and radiological mass-casualty incidents are significant risks to deployed military personnel and civilian populations. Disasters such as those at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, emphasize the need for available and effective therapeutic options to mitigate and treat the damaging effects of exposure to lethal doses of ionizing radiation. There are currently more than 100 countries without adequate monitoring systems or regulatory control in place to discourage terrorist groups from obtaining radioactive material, detonating a dirty bomb, or using radiological dispersal devices. In the worst-case scenario, an improvised nuclear device, radiological dispersal device or dirty bomb would be detonated in a densely populated city, inciting not only panic, fear, injury and death but also an array of other medical issues arising from the blast, radioactive fallout and extreme heat. The large number of individuals affected by these events would require urgent medical attention and management. In humans, substantial acute radiation injury occurs at radiation doses above 1Gy, with indications getting increasingly severe with the increase of absorbed radiation dose. After an exposure in the range of 1 to 6Gy, the hematopoietic system is damaged in a dose-dependent manner. After exposure to ~6 to 8Gy, hematopoietic symptoms are still present, though with them arise additional symptoms caused by the breakdown of the gut mucosa, resulting in gastrointestinal syndrome. The search for suitable radiation countermeasures has been ongoing for several decades and several novel approaches including cell-based therapies have been investigated. However, to date only two radio-mitigators (Neupogen and Neulasta), while no radio-protector, have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of acute radiation syndrome (ARS).

Promising radio-protective efficacy results for g-tocotrienol (GT3, a member of the vitamin E family) in the mouse model encouraged its further evaluation in the large animal model. These studies demonstrated that GT3 significantly aided the recovery of radiation-induced neutropenia and thrombocytopenia compared to the vehicle controls; these results are particularly significant after exposure to 5.8 or 6.5Gy whole body g-irradiation. The stimulatory effect of GT3 on neutrophils and thrombocytes (platelets) was directly and positively correlated with dose; a 75mg/kg dose was more effective compared to 37.5mg/kg. GT3 was also effective against 6.5Gy whole body g-irradiation for improving neutrophils and thrombocytes. Moreover, a single administration of GT3 without any supportive care was equivalent, in terms of improving hematopoietic recovery, to multiple doses of Neupogen and two doses of Neulasta with full supportive care (including blood products) in the large animal model. GT3 may serve as an ultimate radio-protector for use in humans, particularly for military personnel and first responders. In brief, GT3 is a promising radiation countermeasure that ought to be further developed for US FDA approval for the ARS indication.

FYI: The gray (symbol: Gy) is a derived unit of ionizing radiation dose in the International System of Units (SI). It is defined as the absorption of one joule of radiation energy per kilogram of matter. It is used as a measure of absorbed dose, specific energy (imparted), and the kinetic energy released per unit mass (kerma). It is a physical quantity, and does not take into account any biological context.

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TENTATIVE       Neem and Prostate Cancer
Date & Time:6 April 2017 @ 7:00 pm
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Presenter:Dr Shanmugam Muthu Kumaraswamy, Research Fellow, Pharmacology, NUS
Sponsor:Science Centre Singapore
Synopsis:... To be confirmed ...

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TENTATIVE        Engineers Without Borders
Date & Time:2 May 2017 @ 7:00 pm
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Presenter:Ms Jenny Hawkin
Sponsor:Institution of Mechanical Engineers - Singapore Branch
Synopsis:... To be confirmed ...

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