Monday, November 20, 2006

'Main Batu' Space Mission: Even Schoolkids Can Think Better Than Us?

I just noticed this letter from Malaysiakini titled: M’sian space experiments a good joke

The website Stars Academy provides an opportunity for students around the world to send proposals for experiments to be conducted in space. This gives opportunity for students worldwide to design actual experiments directly with scientist, engineers and participate directly in the implementation and experiment hypothesis.

Some of the notable experiments include, reproduced here from the website:

  • From Australia, the Glen Waverly Secondary School. Students design a spider experiment to determine if the spider will build a different web in space compared to Earth. The hypothesis is that the web’s metabolic makeup will be impacted. The objective is to determine how spiders will adapt to life in microgravity.

  • From China, the Jingshan School, Beijing. Observe and experiment and characterise the effects of space flight on the development of silkworm eggs, larvae, pupae and adults during a 16-day space shuttle flight. Upon their return, the silkworms and the silk produced in space will be examined and compared to equivalent organisms and silk grown under identical environmental conditions on the ground.

  • In 2005, members of the Electro-Physics Branch at the Nasa Glenn Research Center and students from Hathaway Brown School conducted a four-year experiment on polymers and how well different polymers can withstand the harsh environment of space.

  • On a more scientific note, Nasa engineers are developing a space station experiment to help engineers design smoke detectors that are sensitive enough to catch fires early. The hypothesis is that smoke particles form differently in microgravity than they do on the ground. Fire in space can be devastating.

These examples cited above are verifiable from Nasa's website.

The Malaysian media, however, reports that Malaysian astronauts will be conducting the following experiments in space which ‘no one has done before’.

  • They will play the ‘batu seremban’ or ‘five stones’ traditional children’s game and spin traditional Malay ‘gasing’ in space.

  • They would do batik printing and make ‘teh tarik’ (hot tea which is cooled by pouring it from one container to another and back, the distance between the containers (held in the hands) being up to one and half metres or more).

Pray please inform the Malaysian public what the hypotheses of these experiments are for. What are we measuring? Do please inform us, even if it is the trajectory of milky tea in microgravity and to determine if it complies with Newton's First Law of Motion. If it does, then what?

It seems again, Malaysia and her half-baked politicians, policymakers and official have done it again with their utterly blind homage to form over function.

We are the laughing stock of the world and will continue to be.

Malaysians, look around you. Look at your rural schools, visit the squalid rural medical facilities, look at the deplorable social programmes for the elderly and underprivileged, count the number of public libraries we have, read about our contaminated water system, check out our crime rate, hear the plight of our underpaid police officers, visit our schools and see the level of our teachers and students.

Then come back and rethink why our government is conducting experiments on ‘batu seremban’ in space.

Read more about the 'schoolkids' experiments here.

Spot a country which Bolehland hates but our thinking is still not a par with them.

I am surprised why the keris is not involved in this 'main batu' space mission.

Majulah sains batu untuk negara.

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