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Science in the Café – 2017

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2017 Café Calendar

DatePresenter(s)Title   Click for more details. (* : tentative)
24-May-2017Mr Eddy Blokken* On Solar Energy & its Applications
12-May-2017Dr Amit Kumar GuptaElectrification in Aerospace Industry
2-May-2017Ms Jenny HawkinMicro-Hydro Power - Clean and Affordable Electricity in the Jungle
27-Apr-2017Dr Shanmugam Muthu KumaraswamyNeem – The Medicinal Plant
23-Mar-2017Prof Vijay Kumar SinghA Promising Radiation Countermeasure for Acute Radiation Syndrome
23-Feb-2017Ms Sandra MarichalThe Melting Aircon
CANCELLED
17-Jan-2017
Prof Brian J FordWhen Humans Explode!
11-Jan-2017Prof Howard WisemanAre We Living in the Matrix?
An Introduction to Quantum Weirdness

Café 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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Neem – The Medicinal Plant
Bioactive compound from the neem plant (Azadirachta indica)
shows promising effects on prostate cancer
Date & Time:27 April 2017 @ 7:00 pm
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Presenter:Dr Shanmugam Muthu Kumaraswamy, Research Fellow, Pharmacology, NUS
Sponsor:Science Centre Singapore
Synopsis:Prostate cancer (PCa) is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancer worldwide. Currently available therapies for metastatic PCa are only marginally effective; hence novel treatment modalities are urgently required. In the present study, we analysed whether the potential anticancer effects of nimbolide, a limonoid triterpene derived from Azadirachta indica, against PCa cell lines and transgenic adenocarcinoma of mouse prostate (TRAMP) model. Although the diverse anti-cancer effects of nimbolide have been reported in different cancer types, its potential effects on PCa initiation and progression have not been demonstrated in scientific studies. In this research, we have demonstrated that nimbolide can inhibit tumour cell viability – a cellular process that directly affects the ability of a cell to proliferate, grow, divide, or repair damaged cell components – and induce programmed cell death in PCa cells. Our study revealed that nimbolide can significantly suppress cell invasion and migration of PCa cells, suggesting its ability to reduce tumour metastasis. We observed that after a 12-week administration of nimbolide, the size of PCa tumour was reduced by as much as 70% and its metastasis decreased by about 50%, without exhibiting any significant adverse effects. This is possible because a direct target of nimbolide in PCa is glutathione reductase, an enzyme which is responsible for maintaining the antioxidant system that regulates the STAT3 gene in the body. The activation of the STAT3 gene has been reported to contribute to prostate tumour growth and metastasis. We have found that nimbolide can substantially inhibit STAT3 activation and thereby abrogating the growth and metastasis of prostate tumour.

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Micro-Hydro Power - Clean and Affordable Electricity in the Jungle
Date & Time:2 May 2017 @ 7:00 pm
This Café is free for all pre-registered attendees.
Presenter:Ms Jenny Hawkin, Fellowship Volunteer, Engineers Without Borders UK
Sponsor:Institution of Mechanical Engineers - Singapore Branch
Synopsis:Around 1.4 billion people in the world have no access to electricity. Providing them with the benefits of universal access to modern energy services can be transformational, "lighting for schools, functioning health clinics, pumps for water and sanitation… and more income-generating opportunities'' (UNDP, 2011). --- The East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak are just a 2-hour flight from Singapore, but in 2013, one third of the population of rural Sarawak and Sabah were still not connected to the electricity grid. --- Jenny Hawkin is a volunteer for Engineers Without Borders UK. She has spent the last nine months living in Sabah and working with a non-profit organisation, TONIBUNG. TONIBUNG work with communities to install micro-hydro systems and provide access to cheap, sustainable and clean electricity. In this Café, Jenny will introduce some of the challenges of developing and installing these types of systems in Borneo. She will also talk about the project she has been working on with students to develop an Arduino controller; which will reduce the system cost and so help supply affordable electricity to communities around the world.

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Electricification in the Aerospace Industry
Date & Time:12 May 2017 @ 7:00 pm
This Café is free for all pre-registered attendees.
Presenter:Dr Amit Kumar Gupta, Chief of Electrical Capability Group, Rolls-Royce Singapore Pte Ltd, Adjunct Associate Professor, ECE@NUS and EEE@NTU
Sponsor:The Institution of Engineers Singapore
Synopsis:At Rolls-Royce, our vision is to be the market-leader in high performance power systems where our engineering expertise, global reach and deep industry knowledge deliver outstanding customer relationships and solutions. We operate across five businesses: Civil Aerospace, Defence Aerospace, Power Systems, Marine and Nuclear. In Singapore, our Applied Technology Group (ATG) is an important part of our R&D investment, developing advanced technologies to support core business areas. --- Over the last 100 years, since Rolls-Royce developed its first Aero Engine, the “Eagle”, gas turbine performance and efficiencies have continually improved. Recent advancements in more integrated power systems are leading to an increasing adoption of More Electric solutions. This More Electric trend is observed by the sharp increase in electrification with the Boeing 787 ‘More Electric Aircraft’. In addition to More Electric Aircraft, significant research is now being undertaken to investigate Hybrid Electric Aircraft. This talk covers a few aspects of the More Electric challenges. --- More Electric Aircraft (MEA) Architecture reduces or eliminates hydraulic, pneumatic and gearbox-driven subsystems, which results in reduced overall aircraft weight, increased reliability, and significant cost reduction due to fewer parts, reduced fuel consumption and maintenance. Hybrid Electric Aircraft through improved aircraft integration also seek to deliver aerodynamic benefits such as Boundary Layer Ingestion. The power electronic converters and electrical machines play a critical role in delivering the enabling technology. Power density, reliability, weight, volume and fault tolerance are of key importance for aerospace-related electrical machines and drives.

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TENTATIVE - Solar Energy & its Applications
Date & Time:24 May 2017 @ 7:00 pm
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Presenter:Mr Eddy Blokken, Senior Manager, Business Development, SERIS
Sponsor:Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore, NUS
Synopsis:... To be confirmed ...

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