Sunday 28 September 2014

Biomechatronics & Being Superhuman!

What are biomechatronics?  Is it something like the television series The Six Million Dollar Man who was "rebuilt" with superhuman qualities after he was severely injured in a crash?  
The Six Million Dollar Man
Image credit: ABC Television

In case you didn’t know or have forgotten - his right arm, both legs and left eye are replaced with "bionic" implants that enhance his strength, speed and vision.  He can run at speeds of 97 km/h and his eye has a 20:1 zoom lens and infrared capabilities.  He has the power equivalent of a bulldozer! 

Biomechatronics however, is NOT about enabling people with superhuman strength.  It is an interdisciplinary field that encompasses biology, neurosciences, mechanics, electronics and robotics. Its scientists attempt to make devices that interact with human muscle, skeleton and nervous systems with the goals of assisting or enhancing human motor control that can be lost or impaired by trauma, disease or birth defects.  

Army prosthetic
Image credit: U.S Army
New York City Marathon
Image credit: Howard N2GOT

In other words, biomechatronics is to enhance the quality of life of the physically challenged and not to create a race of superhumans!  Its core objective is altruistic.

What if there were sinister plans to create a race of superhumans? World domination! Do you think it’s possible? How will normal or regular humans survive in such an environment?

Biomechatronics - superhumans literally or figuratively?

Shared by Azni
Learning Specialist, Petrosains

Friday 26 September 2014


Symphony In Motion

How do bats or birds know how to fly in an orderly fashion while in a large group?  Is there a special signal or understanding among them?  Likewise a large school of fish swimming in synchronicity to the shape of a tornado.  How do they do it?  It doesn’t just occur in nature but also among non-living things.  
Starling flock at Sunset in Denmark
Image credit: Tommy Hansen
A fish tornado
Image credit: Bare Dreamer

It’s not planned.  It just happens!  So strange, Confusion hooking up with Orderliness to give us Synchronicity or Organization!
Image credit: Edward Aspera Jr. - U.S Air Force

Changes in the weather. Cardiac arrhythmias. Traffic flow patterns. Urban development and decay. Epidemics. Bats and birds.  The behavior of people in groups.  Chaos and complexity holds all of these together.  

These things that happen, although unpredictable are quite frequently, not chaotic at all, but well organized. For example, the function of the exceedingly complex human brain.  

In nonlinear systems, change is not continuous – sudden transitions resulting from dramatic reorganization.

Saturday 20 September 2014

Strumming with Science at the Petrosains Science Festival 2014

It is a common misconception that science is all about complicated theories and intricate experiments. The majority of us forget that science is present in everything we do, see, feel, taste and hear in our everyday life. The 2014 Petrosains Science Festival is here to remind us that science is everywhere.

Music, one of the focal points of the festival, is one of the main themes for this year’s festival. Workshops such as “Box-elele” where you can make your own ukulele out of a shoe box and exciting forums and talks led by renowned guests are a must for music lovers.

Attending the talks and forums led me to discover the scientific side of music. Who knew that singing in the shower involved a significant amount of science? Without your brain instructing your vocal chords to vibrate and generate sound waves that will produce the desired notes, --e.g. a C note, you won’t actually be able to belt out your favourite ballad while shampooing your hair. This is a common fact that is generally known among many of us; sound waves = music. But how many of us truly comprehend the magnitude of its application in our lives? The “Enhancing learning through music neurosciences” talk by Dr. Valerie Ross from UiTM (photo below) explores the usage of music in education and pinpoints the importance of music in our life.

The “Basic Vocal, Learn it from a Soprano” talk hosted by UITM Music Faculty educates the public on the basics of singing such as how to utilise your vocals, how to fix your posture and breathing, phonation, resonation and articulation techniques. With enough vocal practices as demonstrated by the guest speaker, attendees will find themselves singing like Beyonce soon. Attendees also enjoyed a stunning performance by the guest speaker before her talk ended.

The Box-elele workshop is a definitely fun activity for kids and adults alike. Playing a self-made ukulele has an added attraction that comes from the gratification and satisfaction you obtain from the result of your hard work. The workshop provides you with all the tools and materials needed to make your own ukulele from simple household items and some ukulele strings. The workshop is conducted by a Petrosains staff member and aided by other Petrosains volunteers to ensure that visitors have a pleasant experience at the workshop.

The workshop kicks off with a brief introduction on the history of the ukulele which originated from Hawaii, followed by the crafting of the ukulele. Provided with clear and easy instructions in the form of a booklet, it took me nearly an hour to finish my ukulele. I was aided by two friendly Petrosains staff members who did not hesitate to answer all my inquires and to guide me through the steps. I was pleased with the ukulele after it was finished and took it home to show my siblings. They were delighted with it and could not stop strumming the ukulele. They are currently begging my parents to bring them to Petrosains to attend the Box-elele workshop.

After a fun and tiring day at the science festival, I would definitely rate it 10/10 and recommend everyone, regardless of age, to give the festival a visit because the best kind of learning is through fun and play.

“Necessity may be the mother of invention, but play is certainly the father.”
Roger von Oech
Contemporary American creativity guru

by Guest Blogger,
Nik Nur Liyana Rahimi (@Liyana_R)
Petrosains Science Scout, Troop 3

Sunday 14 September 2014

Wear Your Art on Your T-Shirt!

Do you know what primary colours are? Yes, they are red, yellow and blue and they are the only colours that can’t be created by mixing two other coloursWhen you mix two primary colours, you will get a new colour which is also known as a secondary colour.  Try to mix two primary colours in liquid form. Do you get these as a result?

Red + Blue      = Purple
Red + Yellow     = Orange
Yellow + Blue    = Green 

Purple, orange and green are secondary colours – each a mixture of two primary colours. Their tone is halfway between the two primary colours that were used to mix them. On the colour wheel, the secondary colours are located between the colours they are made from.

There are 6 tertiary colours (red-orange, red-violet, yellow-green, yellow-orange, blue-green, and blue-violet) that are made by mixing a primary colour with an adjacent secondary colour. On the colour wheel, the tertiary colours are located between the primary and secondary colours they are made from. 

By using Sharpie pens and methylated spirit (you can get it in pharmacies) as the magic potion, you get cool wearable art! Here is an activity, you are able to apply your newfound colour mixing skills to creative use and learn something about solvents and diffusion. 

Step 1
Spread and even out the t-shirt on a flat surface. Ensure that there is a piece of wax paper underneath the first layer.
Step 2
Draw any design on the t-shirt. Be as creative as possible!
Step 3
Evenly spray the drawings with a few pumps of methylated spirit. Observe what happens!
Wow! A 'tie-dye' effect can be obtained when a few drops of methylated spirit is dropped onto patterns drawn using Sharpie pens as the ink dissolves in alcohol and is carried through the fabric.
Please take note: Be extra careful because the usage of methylated spirit must be closely monitored as it is a toxic solution. It cannot be handled by children below 12 years old. It is also highly flammable and harmful by inhalation, in contact with eyes, and if swallowed. 
Step 4
Using a dark coloured Sharpie, doodle over the drawings to fill in any details if desired.

Sign up for the 'Art-ivi-Tee' workshop happening during Petrosains Science Festival from 15-21 September 2014. Get your tickets at NOW! #petrosainsfest

Shared by Izhana

Friday 12 September 2014

Petrosains Science Festival FUN CREW Brings Music, Arts & Science into LRT Train

Hooray! Petrosains Science Festival is back, bigger and better this year! So to spread the excitement we decided to get together and bring to you the Petrosains Science Festival FUN CREW! Our FUN CREW gave the public a taste of what this year's festival is all about with a surprise promo in an LRT train! We played music, did some science busking, gave away balloons & flyers and took photos with the unsuspecting but delighted public on the train. Check out the pictures!
Petrosains Science Festival FUN CREW before starting the promo. A total of 60 Petrosains staff and volunteers came out to surprise the public in an LRT train and a few stations.
Colourful Petrosains Science Festival balloons given out to public. 
Our crew all set at KLCC LRT station.
Getting ready before the fun starts!
Pay attention please! Safety briefing by station manager of  KLCC RapidKL LRT.
Here we go! We started at Kelana Jaya station.
Music on a train? Now that's what you call a 'moving' performance! 
Science busking with the 'energy ring' on the lucky train!
Snap! Snap! Don't forget to hashtag us with #petrosainsfest!

Check out the video!
We ended with a flash mob at KLCC station..

Join in the fun at Petrosains Science Festival 2014 this 15 to 21 September 2014! More info at 
#petrosainsfest #music #art #science

Tuesday 9 September 2014

Ingin tahu tentang mata?

Dalam menjalani kehidupan seharian, banyak perkara yang kita perlu fahami supaya pengetahuan yang diperolehi dapat dimanfaat semasa ia diperlukan. Misalnya, dengan cara memahami bagaimana mata kita berfungsi, ia secara tidak langsung membantu kita mengetahui punca-punca dan membolehkan kita mencegah dari jangkitan penyakit yang berkaitan dengan mata. Kita juga mampu membuat keputusan yang tepat ketika hendak mendapatkan sebarang rawatan mata daripada pakar perubatan sekiranya berlaku jangkitan penyakit terhadap mata.
Secara definisi, mata merupakan satu organ yang telah terbentuk untuk mengesan cahaya. Secara ringkas, ia berfungsi untuk mengesan sama ada keadaan sekeliling terang atau gelap. Pada kebiasaannya, semua benda hidup mempunyai sepasang mata. Ia berbentuk hampir sfera, berisi bahan seperti gel optik jernih yang dikenali sebagai gelemaca, dengan kanta fokus dan otot yang dikenali sebagai iris mata yang mengawal kadar cahaya yang masuk. Iris mata ini mengawal bukaan anak mata atau dikenali juga sebagai pupil, iaitu bulatan hitam di tengah-tengah bahagian berwarna di dalam mata.

Di Petrosains, kita dapat mempelajari mengenai struktur mata secara terperinci melalui aktiviti ‘pembedahan mata lembu’. Tujuan aktiviti ini adalah untuk melihat dan mengenal pasti bahagian –bahagian dalam mata seperti kornea, kanta, iris dan retina serta fungsinya. Mata lembu dipilih dan digunakan kerana struktur mata lembu adalah hampir sama dengan mata manusia.
Pada kebiasaannya, mata bertindak dengan memancarkan imej ke atas retina yang sensitif kepada cahaya. Kornea dan kanta akan menumpukan cahaya yang masuk ke atas retina, yang mengaktifkan suatu tindak balas kimia dan menghasilkan isyarat yang untuk dihantar ke otak melalui saraf optik.

Cahaya yang masuk dari luar akan melepasi kornea dan melalui gelemair sebelum sampai ke kanta. Gelemair membantu mengekalkan bentuk cembung kornea dan melembapkannya. Seterusnya cahaya itu akan melalui gelemaca sebelum sampai di retina. Di sinilah terletak banyak sel-sel yang sensitif kepada cahaya.
Pastinya mata merupakan anugerah yang sangat berharga kepada semua benda hidup. Jadi, kita perlu menjaga dan memelihara kesihatan mata. Salah satunya adalah dengan mengamalkan pemakanan sihat seperti pengambilan ubi keledek, lobak merah dan sayur-sayuran hijau yang kaya dengan sumber vitamin A dimana ia dikatakan adalah baik untuk mata kita. Elakkan juga dari menyentuh mata dalam keadaan tangan yang kotor kerana ia dapat menginfeksi mata kita dan akan mengakibatkan mata terdedah kepada pelbagai penyakit mata.

Untuk mencuba melakukan pembedahan mata lembu, sertai aktiviti 'Cow Eye Dissection' di Petrosains sempena Petrosains Science Festival 2014 dari 15-21 September 2014. Maklumat lanjut boleh didapati di 

Posted by Ayu
Learning Specialist, Petrosains