Friday 22 November 2013

Versatile Bamboo!

HotScience │Petrosains

We’ve seen people rafting along a river on bamboo rafts, bamboo scaffolding at construction sites and of course the housing for Malaysia’s all-time favourite, lemang!  Now try to imagine clothes, bags, towels and soap made from bamboo.  Maybe computer casing too!  
One of the fascinating uses of bamboo is as scaffold in the construction industry.  China has been using it for the past 5000 years and today it’s still widely used in many Asian countries, not only for low rise buildings but the tallest skyscrapers imaginable!  So what’s special about bamboo?  Well basically it’s light, strong, portable, cheap and renewable! 

In 2012, researchers from the University’s BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials embarked in a collaboration with Coventry University and the University of Cambridge to explore the use of bamboo for the widespread construction of homes.  Studies are on-going.
Another interesting application is clothing.  We have cotton and woolen clothing, why not bamboo?  Bamboo fabric is impressive for the following reasons:
Softer than cotton - its texture is similar to a blend of cashmere and silk.
Better moisture absorption and ventilation.  
Natural antibacterial elements.
Ability to absorb and evaporate human sweat in a split of a second.  This makes it extremely cool and comfortable, even in hot weather. 
100% bamboo yarns show a great elasticity i.e. nearly 20%.

What’s available in the market now?  There’s sweaters, bath-suits, underwear, t-shirts, socks, sanitary napkins, masks, mattress, bags, bathroom products and decorating items.  All this from the humble bamboo.  Bamboo is indeed versatile!

Some Bamboo Malaysia merchandise are also available at our gift shop 'Xplorasi'.

This article is written in conjunction with an Engagement Session at HotScience, Petrosains from 20-21 September 2013 with Bamboo Malaysia.

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Dari mana asalnya asam keping?

Bercakap mengenai asam keping, pastinya ramai yang pernah melihatnya? Apatah lagi kepada sesiapa yang selalu             menjenguk ke dapur untuk memasak. Tetapi, pernahkah kita terfikir, asam keping di perbuat daripada apa? Dari mana    asalnya asam keping? Perkongsian yang sangat menarik pada kali ini adalah  mengenai sesuatu perkara yang mungkin      ramai yang tidak pernah mengetahuinya atau melihatnya sendiri.

Asam keping berasal daripada buah asam gelugur. Asam gelugur adalah sejenis buah yang boleh diperolehi dari pokok     asam gelugur. Gambar di atas menunjukkan  pokok asam gelugur. Jika diperhatikan  dari segi morfologinya, pokok asam gelugur lebih tinggi dari  pokok-pokok yang lain dan ketinggiannya boleh mencecah 10 hingga 15 meter. 
Daunnya pula berbentuk bujur memanjang seperti yang dapat dilihat dalam gambar di atas. Buah asam gelugur berketak di sekelilingnya. Buah asam gelugor yang muda bewarna hijau manakala buahnya yang sudah matang bewarna kuning. 
Pada kebiasaannya, buah yang telah matang akan dikait dengan menggunakan galah. Kadang kala buah asam gelugur ini boleh dijumpai gugur di atas tanah kerana sudah terlalu masak. Untuk membuat asam keping, buahnya akan di potong     setebal  3mm. Kemudian  ia akan disusun di atas permukaan yang rata dan di jemur di bawah panas matahari selama 4      hingga 7 hari.
Rasa masam dari buah asam gelugur sebenarnya berasal dari rasa masam pelbagai jenis asid yang terkandung di dalam     buahnya. Di antaranya adalah asid sitrik, asid tartarik dan asid askorbik di samping ia juga mengandungi khasiat lain         seperti serat, vitamin dan mineral. Asam keping digunakan sebagai bahan perasa di dalam kebanyakan masakan seperti   asam pedas, masakan singgang dan kuah laksa. selain itu, rasa masam dari  asam keping juga digunakan untuk membasuh bahan mentah seperti ikan kerana ia boleh menghilangkan bau yang hanyir.

Posted by Ayu
Learning Specialist, Petrosains

Friday 15 November 2013


Petrosains Science Festival 2013 has successfully concluded and proven that public institutions, private corporations, and individuals from diverse science and technology industries and academia can rally together in a shared goal to engage and inspire the Malaysian public and specifically our youngsters with the wonders of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

The inaugural festival, a collaborative effort between Petrosains and 34 partners was organized by over 200 staff and assisted by more than 100 volunteers, managed to draw in crowds of over 42,000 people within the 6 days period. In comparison, the attendance to the 2012 San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering (4th edition) in multiple venues around San Diego with 44 partners was estimated at 50,000 people over its 8 day period.

The Petrosains Science Festival, running from 22nd – 27th October 2013, had activities ranging from speaking engagements by scientists/personalities, hands-on workshops, interactive exhibitions, and performances by various groups at 3 different locations within KLCC area: Petrosains, The Discovery Center, Suria KLCC Centre Court, and KLCC Esplanade.

Partners’ contribution was in the form of exhibit  items, high speed broadband infrastructure for seamless internet connectivity, state-of-the-art LED screen facilities, personality appearances and many others. Special participation by world-class corporations such as Google, Boeing and GE made the event more special.

The PR, media and online exposure were estimated at more than RM 500,000 with print ad insertions in the STAR, SCJP, Harian Metro, daily editorials, online ad/web banners, Red FM radio activation, below the line and out of home media promotions, digital media/blogger coverage and plasma screen at shopping malls. 
The news updates via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by public figures such as Major (Dr.) Faiz Khaleed (Angkasawa Negara), Najwa Latiff (local singer), Terry & Mynn (Red FM deejays), Dato’ Fazley Yaacob (celebrity chef), and many other personalities have surely hyped up the event in the social media sphere.
The exhibitors inside the Petrosains’ Gallerias such as the PETRONAS Carigali, SIRIM, StreetSmart, UMT, UiTM, Bamboo Malaysia and many others had six busy days attending to visitors. The Recycle Zone and Play Zone by Legoland Malaysia were also a hit among the kids. 

Some of the 63 workshop sessions as well workshops organized by Petrosains such as the ‘Cow’s Eye Dissection’, ‘Make Your Own Ice-Cream’, ‘Digital Animation’, and ‘Batik Painting and Painting by Yusuf Gajah’ just to name a few, attracted full capacity rooms with long waiting list for participation.

A total of 36 talks and forums were conducted with some popular sessions such as ‘Debunking the Myth of Gravity’ by Major (Dr.) Faiz, ‘Let’s Talk Fitness’ by Kevin Zahri(fitness guru), ‘Edible Science’ by Dato’ Fazley, forum on social media by celebrities: Nik Michael Imran, Imran Ajmain and Vincent Ha of Gushcloud, and ‘Your Brain: Use it or Lose it!” by UiTM drew a full house with crowds cramming in to listen to the talks. Other interesting sessions included ‘Science of Tongkat Ali’ by UMS, ‘Belangkas Bukan Ketam’ by UMT, and ‘Mystery Solved! Forensic Science’ by Jabatan Kimia Malaysia.
The exhibition at the Suria KLCC Centre Court during the last 3 days of the festival was the culmination of the 6-days science festival. Key Partners like PETRONAS Motor Sport, PETRONAS Dagangan, TM, Google, Star Publication, Nova Spectra, Yayasan Angkasawan and Petrosains, had significant presence with their individual display of interactive exhibits and running of exciting activities.
The presence of Dr. Graham Walker, a globally known science show performer from Australia, had the crowd in the Suria KLCC Centre Court in stitches with his amazingly funny and educational science show. Talented Petrosains’ science communicators as well science busking teams also had the audience enthralled with their interesting science shows and trivias.  
Stage performances by local artists such Yassin Sulaiman, Najwa Latiff, Capoeira Dancers, Kakinari Dancers, Zumba by Kevin Zahri’s Team, YAWA recycled items performance group, St John Bagpipes band, and many others added more colors to the festival. 
Not limiting to only indoor, we also had outdoor activities such as kid’s favorite ‘Bubble Madness’ demonstration by Prof. Chong Hon Yew, and ‘Mencari Ramli’ football activity by TM.
Based on feedback received, visitors of the festival were very pleased with the activities organized and were happy to have spent an enjoyable and educational time at the festival. With this year’s success, a benchmark has been set for the 2014 edition which can only be bigger and better.  It will be more than just ‘Bringing Science Alive’ but perhaps ‘Bringing Science Up’ to the next level!

Friday 8 November 2013

Kenapa Cili Rasa Pedas?

Ramai yang berpendapat bahawa rasa pedas apabila memakan cili adalah kerana biji-biji cili. Tanggapan mengenai pemahaman ini sebenarnya adalah tidak tepat. Pada lewat tahun 1990an, saintis telah mengenalpasti bahawa rasa cili yang pedas sebenarnya berpunca oleh bahagian putih yang terdapat di sekeliling biji-biji cili ataupun juga dikenali sebagai plasenta. Terdapat bahan kimia di dalam plasenta cili iaitu kapsaisin (kap-sai-sin). Kapsaisin ini sebenarnya yang menyumbangkan rasa pedas atau rasa terbakar di dalam cili.
Deria rasa di dalam mulut manusia adalah sensitif terhadap rasa terbakar ini dan ia di hantar ke otak manusia melalui sisitem saraf dan diterjemahkan sebagai rasa pedas. Sedangkan rasa terbakar ini boleh juga dikenalpasti oleh deria yang lain pada manusia. Sekiranya kapsaisin dapat dikesan pada deria rangsangan yang lebih sensitif seperti pada bahagian mata, maka mata kita akan menerima kesan dari rasa terbakar oleh kapsaisin itu.

Kapsaisin bersifat hidrofobik ataupun dengan kata mudah 'fobia-air' . Dari segi etimologinya hidro bererti 'air' dan fobik bererti 'tidak suka'. Molekul kapsaisin tidak suka pada molekul air. Hal ini boleh dikaitkan dengan cara untuk menghilangkan rasa pedas. Dengan cara mengambil bergelas-gelas air minuman untuk menghilangkan pedas sebenarnya tidak akan memberi kesan apa-apa.
Jadi cara yang terbaik untuk menghilangkan rasa pedas adalah dengan pengambilan bahan lain selain air seperti susu kerana kapsaisin sedia untuk melarut di dalam makanan berunsur lemak.

Pada kebiasaannya, kita akan membuang biji-biji cili untuk meyediakan masakan di rumah kerana ia difahamkan ia tidak elok untuk sistem pencernaan manusia. Ia juga dikhuatiri akan menyebabkan rasa pedas kepada masakan yang disediakan. Setelah mengetahui sebab sebenar ini, maka kita juga akan membuang bahagian plasenta cili bagi mengelakkan rasa pedas dalam masakan.

Posted by Ayu
Learning Specialist, Petrosains

Monday 4 November 2013

Steel Wool Lighter

There are many ways to start a fire. For instance, campers usually bring along a lighter or match, army men might bring their fire starter if you’re doing it old school, you can use wood or bones to start a friction-based fire, and you can also use a lens and sunlight to start a fire.  In this short demonstration, we bring you a cool experiment on how to start a fire using a 9-volt battery and steel wool.

All you need is a battery (which in this demo, we prefer to use a 9 volt one because it has both terminals at the same end) and fine steel wool. Simply stretch out the steel wool so that it touches both ends of the battery terminals. Almost instantly, the steel wool will puff up and ignite.

If you are going to set a bonfire, make sure you have your tinder pile at the ready, because this all happens very quickly!

How does it work?

The basic principle involved is steel wool is a good conductor and battery is the power source. The moment we make contact between the steel wool and battery, the “electrical current” flows through the steel wool and the fine steel wool gets hot enough to create sparks and burn. If we try this using thicker steel wool, which strands are of a larger diameter, then there isn't enough "resistance" in the strands. We might not get any spark but we may later feel the battery getting warmer. In fact, we are discharging the battery.
A nine volt (9V) battery is considered a high voltage supply for small diameter strands of steel wool. Thus, the higher the voltage, the more current will flow and the hotter the steel wool strands will get.

Try to get an assortment of steel wool, an assortment of batteries and play and observe for a while. You may need some testing to find what the optimal combinations are to get the instant spark. Don’t forget the safety aspects. Get an adult to help you and be careful with fine steel wool as it can get in your skin like a splinter. Finally remember not to keep the battery and the steel wool together in your pocket or pack or they could start a fire on their own!

Shared by Izhana
Learning Specialist, Petrosains