1st ISSUE,November 2003 - Nanyang Technological University

clubs.ntu.edu.sg

1st ISSUE,November 2003 - Nanyang Technological University

INAUGURAL ISSUE OF OPTICS-SINGAPORE BY OSA (NTU)

Front row, from Left: Eddie Tan (Treasurer), Joanne Huang (Secretary), Steve Lee (President), Charles Ho

(Publicity Officer), Jon Moh (member)

Back row, from Left: Mun Kit (member), CHRISADA (Publication Officer), Benjamin Tay (Publication Officer),

Balpreet (Vice President), Zhao Jinghua (Member)

Absent: Assoc. Prof Larry Yuan (meeting), Lin Jiao (vacation), Tan Guan Seng (vacation)

"PHYSICS IS LIKE SEX: SURE, IT

MAY GIVE SOME PRACTICAL RESULTS,

BUT THAT'S NOT WHY WE DO IT."

RICHARD FEYNMAN

(1918 - 1988)

US educator & physicist

CONTENT

1. NOBLE

PRIZE UPDATES ---- 2

2. LATEST HAPPENINGS IN OSA (NTU)

STUDENT CHAPTER

& OSA HQ (USA) ---- 4

3. PAST ACTIVITIES---- 4

4. STEVEN CHU’S GRADUATE LIFE-- 5

5. LOCAL ARTICLE BY STUDENTS-- 7

6. CANDID IMAGES FROM OSA(NTU) -- 99

O-SING Issue 1 Page 1 of 9 December 4, 2003

Disclaimer: O-SING is published by the Student Chapter OSA(NTU), School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Nanyang Technological University. Block S1, Nanyang

Avenue, Singapore 639798. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the University.

Copyright c 2003 Student Chapter OSA(NTU), All rights reserved. Material in this publication may not be reproduced without written permission.


NOBEL PRIZE 2003

PHYSICS

Alexei A. Abrikosov

Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Illinois,

USA,

Vitaly L. Ginzburg

P.N. Lebedev Physical Institute, Moscow, Russia,

Anthony J. Leggett

University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, USA.

CONTRIBUTION TO SCIENCE

The quantum physics that controls the microworld

has a wide range of spectacular effects that

do not normally occur in our ordinary macroworld.

There are, however, certain situations in

which quantum phenomena are visible. This

year's Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded for

work concerning two of these situations:

superconductivity and superfluidity. Alexei

Abrikosov and Vitaly Ginzburg have developed

theories for superconductivity and Anthony

Leggett has explained one type of superfluidity.

Both superconductivity and superfluidity occur

ry low temperatures.

RECENT NOBEL UPDATES

NOBEL PRIZE 2002

PHYSICS

Raymond Davis Jr

Department of Physics and Astronomy,

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA,

and

Masatoshi Koshiba

International Center for Elementary Particle

Physics, University of Tokyo, Japan

and the other half to

Riccardo Giacconi

Associated Universities Inc., Washington DC,

USA

CONTRIBUTION TO SCIENCE

The discoveries and detection of cosmic particles

and radiation, from which two new fields of

research have emerged, neutrino astronomy and

X-ray astronomy. for pioneering contributions to

astrophysics, in particular for the detection of

cosmic neutrinos” and “for pioneering

contributions to astrophysics, which have led to

the discovery of cosmic X-ray sources.

O-SING Issue 1 Page 2 of 9 December 4, 2003

Disclaimer: O-SING is published by the Student Chapter OSA(NTU), School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Nanyang Technological University. Block S1, Nanyang

Avenue, Singapore 639798. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the University.

Copyright c 2003 Student Chapter OSA(NTU), All rights reserved. Material in this publication may not be reproduced without written permission.


LATEST HAPPENINGS IN

OSA (NTU) STUDENT

CHAPTER,

UPCOMING....

OSA Student Chapter Launch

(Movie & Dinner)

This event will be to launch our student

chapter into the local student population. In

this event, there will be a screening

marathon of sci-fi movies with buffet style

treat. This launch will be also start off with a

speech and presentation of our student

chapter. This is to show the student

population of our plans and activities for the

year.

Savouring the fruits of Malaysia

This is a mass overseas event to be

organized. The main objective of this outing

is to bring the undergraduates and

postgraduate within the university to get to

know each other. At present, our president

Steve Lee is arranging his activities with a

private tour operator.

The present plan will be a one-day trip to

Johor Bahru, Malaysia. The trip will

comprise of visits to tourism spots and a

visit to the famous gourmet areas with

transport provided.

Post-grad seminars/forums

We would like to create opportunities for

postgrads exchanges through technical

seminars and forums. After all, the students

will become the future of the scientific

society in the ASEAN, so it would be

beneficial for some kind of networking

opportunities amongst the local student

community to stay better connected.

An online version Click Here

LATEST HAPPENINGS IN

OSA HQ (USA)

OSA Student Discussion

Forum

At the request of Student Chapter Leaders at

last year’s Student Chapter Leadership

Meeting, we have developed a new Student

Discussion Forum! This is a great way to

keep in touch with other Chapter Leaders

and optics students that you meet along the

way!

http://www.osa.org/studentcenter/discussion

/

The OSA Student Discussion Forum should

be used to discuss things important to you as

an optics student. Discuss your research,

pose questions, give advice about your

professors and advisors, talk about your

Student Chapter activities, get speaker

suggestions, etc.! Any feedback about how

we can improve this discussion forum is also

appreciated!

Please note: this forum is monitored. Any

inappropriate content will be removed.

Welcoming 6 New OSA

Student Chapters!

Welcome, to the following newly formed

Student Chapters:

• Indian Institute of Technology,

Delhi (I.I.T. Delhi) Student Chapter,

New Delhi, India

O-SING Issue 1 Page 3 of 9 December 4, 2003

Disclaimer: O-SING is published by the Student Chapter OSA(NTU), School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Nanyang Technological University. Block S1, Nanyang

Avenue, Singapore 639798. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the University.

Copyright c 2003 Student Chapter OSA(NTU), All rights reserved. Material in this publication may not be reproduced without written permission.


• Colombia Student Chapter, Cali,

Colombia

• Laval University Student Chapter,

Quebec, Canada

• Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA,

USA

University of California, Irvine,

USA

Nanyang Technological University,

Singapore

May 16-21, 2004

San Francisco, CA

CLEO/IQEC

Four reasons to attend CLEO/IQEC in San

Francisco, CA:

1. Student Housing Packages -

Rooms for less than $100 a night

(more information to come)

2. NEW! Special Student Programs

at CLEO – more information

coming soon!

3. Technical Sessions - present your

ideas to an audience of your peers

4. Short Courses - stay current on the

subject matter required to advance

your research and career goals.

5. Exhibits - Meet the top companies

in the electro-optics industry

This year, CLEO/IQEC will co-locate with a

unique, new conference dedicated to

bringing you the latest breakthroughs in

photonic engineering applications:

PAST Activities

SENTOSA VISIT

What happened? This was the 1st

day where the young energetic postgraduate

from PhRC came in the sunshine beach of

Sentosa. A day for all to remember

What is Charles looking at?

(The image is edited by Steve Lee, images taken by

Eddie Tan)

(Images taken by Eddie Tan)

The weather is HOT & so are the

people…..

Dinner at Sushi Restaurant

O-SING Issue 1 Page 4 of 9 December 4, 2003

Disclaimer: O-SING is published by the Student Chapter OSA(NTU), School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Nanyang Technological University. Block S1, Nanyang

Avenue, Singapore 639798. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the University.

Copyright c 2003 Student Chapter OSA(NTU), All rights reserved. Material in this publication may not be reproduced without written permission.


STEVEN CHU

AN EXPERIMENTLIST ROAD

TO NOBLE PRIZE

Extract from e-Nobel Museum

The Rochester and Berkeley Years

At Rochester, I came with the

same emotions as many of the entering

freshman: everything was new, exciting

and a bit overwhelming, but at least

nobody had heard of my brothers and

cousins. I enrolled in a two-year,

introductory physics sequence that used

The Feynman Lectures in Physics as

the textbook. The Lectures were

mesmerizing and inspirational. Feynman

made physics seem so beautiful and his

love of the subject is shown through

each page. Learning to do the problem

sets was another matter, and it was only

years later that I began to appreciate

what a magician he was at getting

answers.

In my sophomore year, I became

increasingly interested in mathematics

and declared a major in both

mathematics and physics. My math

professors were particularly good,

especially relative to the physics

instructor I had that year. If it were not

for the Feynman Lectures, I would have

almost assuredly left physics. The pull

towards mathematics was partly social:

as a lowly undergraduate student,

several math professors adopted me

and I was invited to several faculty

parties.

The obvious compromise between

mathematics and physics was to

become a theoretical physicist. My

heroes were Newton, Maxwell, Einstein,

up to the contemporary giants such as

Feynman, Gell-Man, Yang and Lee. My

courses did not stress the importance of

the experimental contributions, and I

was led to believe that the "smartest"

students became theorists while the

remainder was relegated to

experimental grunts. Sadly, I had

forgotten Mr. Miner's first important

lesson in physics.

Hoping to become a theoretical

physicist, I applied to Berkeley,

Stanford, Stony Brook (Yang was there!)

and Princeton. I chose to go to Berkeley

and entered in the fall of 1970. At that

time, the number of available jobs in

physics was shrinking and prospects

were especially difficult for budding

young theorists. I recall the faculty

admonishing us about the perils of

theoretical physics: unless we were

going to be as good as Feynman, we

would be better off in experimental

physics. To the best of my knowledge,

this warning had no effect on either me

or my fellow students.

After I passed the qualifying exam, I was

recruited by Eugene Commins. I

admired his breadth of knowledge and

his teaching ability but did not yet learn

of his uncanny ability to bring out the

best in all of his students. He was

ending a series of beta decay

experiments and was casting around for

a new direction of research. He was

getting interested in astrophysics at the

time and asked me to think about proto-

O-SING Issue 1 Page 5 of 9 December 4, 2003

Disclaimer: O-SING is published by the Student Chapter OSA(NTU), School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Nanyang Technological University. Block S1, Nanyang

Avenue, Singapore 639798. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the University.

Copyright c 2003 Student Chapter OSA(NTU), All rights reserved. Material in this publication may not be reproduced without written permission.


star formation of a closely coupled

binary pair. I had spent the summer

between Rochester and Berkeley at the

National Radio Astronomy Observatory

trying to determine the deceleration of

the universe with high red-shift radio

source galaxies and was drawn to

astrophysics. However, in the next two

months, I avoided working on the

theoretical problem he gave me and

instead played in the lab.

One of my "play-experiments" was

motivated by my interest in classical

music. I noticed that one could hear outof-tune

notes played in a very fast run

by a violinist. A simple estimate

suggested that the frequency accuracy,

times the duration of the note, did

not satisfy the uncertainty

relationship . In order to test the

frequency sensitivity of the ear, I

connected an audio oscillator to a linear

gate so that a tone burst of varying

duration could be produced. I then

asked my fellow graduate students to

match the frequency of an arbitrarily

chosen tone by adjusting the knob of

another audio oscillator until the notes

sounded the same. Students with the

best musical ears could identify the

center frequency of a tone burst that

eventually sounded like a "click" with an

accuracy of .

By this time it was becoming obvious

(even to me) that I would be much

happier as an experimentalist and I told

my advisor. He agreed and started me

on a beta-decay experiment looking for

"second-class currents", but after a year

of building, we abandoned it to measure

the Lamb shift in high-Z hydrogen-like

ions. In 1974, Claude and Marie

Bouchiat published their proposal to

look for parity non-conserving effects in

atomic transitions. The unified theory of

weak and electromagnetic interactions

suggested by Weinberg, Salam and

Glashow postulated a neutral mediator

of the weak force in addition to the

known charged forces. Such an

interaction would manifest itself as a

very slight asymmetry in the absorption

of left and right circularly polarized light

in a magnetic dipole transition. Gene

was always drawn to work that probed

the most fundamental aspects of

physics, and we were excited by the

prospect that a table-top experiment

could say something decisive about high

energy physics. The experiment needed

a state-of-the-art laser and my advisor

knew nothing about lasers. I brashly told

him not to worry; I would build it and we

would be up and running in no time.

This work was tremendously exciting

and the world was definitely watching

us. Steven Weinberg would call my

advisor every few months, hoping to

hear news of a parity violating effect.

Dave Jackson, a high energy theorist,

and I would sometimes meet at the

university swimming pool. During

several of these encounters, he

squinted at me and tersely asked, "Got

a number yet?" The unspoken message

was, "How dare you swim when there is

important work to be done!"

Midway into the experiment, I told my

advisor that I had suffered enough as a

graduate student so he elevated me to

post-doc status. Two years later, we and

three graduate students published our

first results. Unfortunately, we were

scooped: a few months earlier, a

beautiful high energy experiment at the

Stanford Linear Collider had seen

convincing evidence of neutral weak

O-SING Issue 1 Page 6 of 9 December 4, 2003

Disclaimer: O-SING is published by the Student Chapter OSA(NTU), School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Nanyang Technological University. Block S1, Nanyang

Avenue, Singapore 639798. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the University.

Copyright c 2003 Student Chapter OSA(NTU), All rights reserved. Material in this publication may not be reproduced without written permission.


interactions between electrons and

quarks. Nevertheless, I was offered a

job as assistant professor at Berkeley in

the spring of 1978.

I had spent all of my graduate and

postdoctoral days at Berkeley and the

faculty was concerned about inbreeding.

As a solution, they hired me but also

would permit me to take an immediate

leave of absence before starting my own

group at Berkeley. I loved Berkeley, but

realized that I had a narrow view of

science and saw this as a wonderful

opportunity to broaden myself. IT WAS

NOT LONG THAT IN THE YEAR 1997, STEVEN

CHU EARNED THE NOBEL PRIZE FOR TRAPPING

OF ATOMS USING SIX LASER BEAMS.

THE IMAGE OF

POSTGRADUATE

RESEARCH IN

SINGAPORE

BY STEVE S EVE LEE L E AND BEN B N TAY

Postgraduate research in

Singapore has always been regarded as

an avenue exclusive for students with

the best academic results and it is not

recommended for students with

reasonable grades who possess an

interest to find new things and are

creative in the work that they do.

Another prevalent perception is that only

renowned researchers who are based

overseas can accomplish good research

work. Local postgraduate students are

just innovators of existing technology.

However, this is not true because in

most scientific research, the main

emphasis is on logical scientific thinking

and attention to experimental

observations and analysis. All these

values are not necessarily brought to

light in examination results but over the

course of a research project, a student

finds that many more skills are needed

besides being exam smart.

Apart from misconceptions about

postgraduate studies, many

undergraduates, upon graduating with

their first degree, would go out to the

workforce due to the opportunity cost of

going for further studies, citing the

reason that knowledge gained during

postgraduate studies is not

necessary or important in societal

working life. Another reason is

postgraduate research does not

contribute to the nation’s economy as it

is only of interest to academics. In

addition, life as a postgraduate student

leaves many things to be desired as his

life will be filled with studies and books

and plenty of time will be spent on

theoretical analysis.

Due to all the above misconceptions,

local undergraduate students in tertiary

institutions here are understandably

discouraged to pursue research studies.

These illusions about postgraduate

studies are simply not true and to give

an example, many of the best

researchers and scientists the world has

known are not good students! The two

Nobel Laureates, Albert Einstein and

Steven Chu are two such examples.

This has caused a situation where the

local institutions, like NUS, NTU and

NIE, cannot find enough takers from

local students. It has resulted in a

serious imbalance of foreign and local

postgraduate student populations and

this illustrates a fact that many local

research talents are not discovered and

allowed to apply their abilities to further

fundamental knowledge. This imbalance

has to change if the country is to update

O-SING Issue 1 Page 7 of 9 December 4, 2003

Disclaimer: O-SING is published by the Student Chapter OSA(NTU), School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Nanyang Technological University. Block S1, Nanyang

Avenue, Singapore 639798. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the University.

Copyright c 2003 Student Chapter OSA(NTU), All rights reserved. Material in this publication may not be reproduced without written permission.


its economy because science and

technology are not mutually exclusive;

they are symbiotic as both are threads

in the fabric of the Singapore economy.

If some threads unravel, the overall

tapestry of the economy will be less rich

and vibrant.

Singapore will certainly benefit from an

increased local postgraduate student

population which will not only provide a

good cohesive environment and also in

future, upon graduation, these local

postgraduate will supply Singapore’s

need for a highly skilled workforce

capable of creating new knowledge.

These new knowledge can only be

created if we have a strong fundamental

science research culture.

As Richard Feynman has once criticized

that the education of science is just

revisiting the history of science and is

not actually science. Science as we all

know, is a not a subject but the study of

our universe. Stating what you have

read in a book is not science, it is

learning about someone else’s work. In

most scientific research, scientists

propose their theoretical and

experimental work by proxy of

mathematics and physical explanations.

Therefore, we can say that Science is a

way of questioning and understanding

the world around us through

experiments and theories using tools

like mathematics and systematic

observation. Education about the history

of science is essential for any

researcher, because knowing and

understanding what others have done

before will provide a foundation upon

which further investigation is launched.

But being a great student with

exceptional examination results does

not automatically qualify one to be a

good researcher.

At the tertiary level of education,

undergraduates and postgraduates

are not well informed as to what

research is about and how it fits into the

big picture. The tertiary education

managements are just interested to see

is how each individual research projects

can be changed into a feasible

technology to market. Most of the

engineering research projects in

Singapore are based on applied

research, where a particular idea is

developed to a point where it is

commercially viable. Fundamental

research, on the other hand, is research

into the basic principles of the laws of

physics that exist around us.

Breakthroughs are difficult but when

there is success, the impact on the

scientific community and the

implications of the research will far

outweigh what applied research can

produce. This fundamental scientific

research has been neglected as it does

not produce commercial products at the

end of the day and it is also high risk,

meaning that it is possible not to find

anything of significance upon conclusion

of the research. As a result, many

tertiary and research institutions do not

focus on gaining future technology

through fundamental research but focus

on applied research instead.

The main reason for the lack of

undertaking in fundamental research is

the risk adverse culture in Singapore,

referred to as the bureaucratic culture,

which still resides strongly in the tertiary

institutions and GLCs. As a result, many

project leaders will only want to see high

gains that are both short term with low

risk.

As researchers, we feel that there is an

increasing need to reduce bureaucratic

culture in tertiary institutions and GLCs

so that the emphasis on research can

be more balanced. One way to stimulate

the research culture is to attract more

local researchers who are more willing

to contribute back to the local economy.

The local researchers are the

O-SING Issue 1 Page 8 of 9 December 4, 2003

Disclaimer: O-SING is published by the Student Chapter OSA(NTU), School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Nanyang Technological University. Block S1, Nanyang

Avenue, Singapore 639798. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the University.

Copyright c 2003 Student Chapter OSA(NTU), All rights reserved. Material in this publication may not be reproduced without written permission.


postgraduate students in the tertiary

educational institutions. They and their

Professors are at the leading edge of

various scientific fields and

technological breakthroughs. To

encourage more locals to take up

research, the managements in the

tertiary and research institutions should

try to understand how research is

actually conducted and not just take

research as short term investments.

Furthermore, the institutions should see

how the present misconceptions on

scientific research in society could be

corrected because this will benefit

Singapore as a whole.

Some Canadid Pictures

from OSA (NTU)OSA

EDITED AND UNEDITED

(Images taken by Eddie Tan)

The FIBER DUO!!!

with babe…

(Images taken by Hery)

CONFRONTATION?!

Intro to final

year students

on OSA student

Chapter

MEN @

WORK

EDITORIAL TEAM

EDITOR IN CHIEF – BENJAMIN TAY CHIA MENG

(PHRC/MENG)

ASSOCIATE EDITOR – STEVE LEE WOEI MING

(PHRC/PHD)

PHOTOGRAPHER – EDDIE TAN KHAY MING & HERY

SUSANTO

(PHRC/PHD)

Using the

Celestron

Telescope

from

Photonics

Lab 1

NEWSLETTER ADVISOR – CHARLES HO KIN FAI

(PHRC/PHD)& DR RAJ (PHRC RESEARCH FELLOW)

O-SING Issue 1 Page 9 of 9 December 4, 2003

Disclaimer: O-SING is published by the Student Chapter OSA(NTU), School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Nanyang Technological University. Block S1, Nanyang

Avenue, Singapore 639798. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the University.

Copyright c 2003 Student Chapter OSA(NTU), All rights reserved. Material in this publication may not be reproduced without written permission.

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