Monday, October 24, 2011

SAT Essay : Does knowledge improve one’s happiness?

“The farm consumes a farmer’s life.” This phrase has destroyed my initial romantic connotations associated with a life in the farm. Now, in the olden times everyone was a farmer, and there were no time for the to conduct other pursuits. Only the royalty and aristocrats can afford to do so. Then, the Industrial Revolution came. The advances in science and technology in turn helped developed machines that can replace human work. The scientific method assisted man in discoveries, such as hydraulic systems and the exact nutrients that plants need; they helped alleviate man’s burdens and maximised the yields for his efforts. People now had more time for themselves, to find inner peace and live mroe contentedly. This has shown that the advance of scientific knowledge makes one happier!

One will claim that “ignorance is bliss”, that people with knowledge of how the world works and its limitations are often unhappy persons. In reply to this, I cite an example of the legendary fable “The Ant and the Grasshopper”. While the ignorant Grasshopper leaps about, enjoying the warm seasons, the knowledgeable Ant gets down to work, building up its food supply for the coming Winter. In the end, the ignorant and ‘blissful’ Grasshopper died in the cold while the Ant stayed in his nest, knowing that he can make it through the winter due to his effort. Therefore, this shows that the ‘knowledge’ way to happiness ensures a more long-lasting ‘bliss’, rather than relying on pure ignorance.

However, only by obtaining the right knowledge only one will then gain the right happiness. Think about it – one who attained sinful knowledge, such as trickery and manipulation will never attain true happiness . This is because it goes against the basic human nature, as quoted by Confucius – that “All humans are originally good”.

________________________________________________________________

Thanks for reading. Do comment below for any critique and improvements to be made.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Writing

It seems a Chrono13 Dancing Mad post haven’t been posted by me for a long time.

Why the italics? It’s simply because I’m trying to avoid taking responsibilities for my statement, I use the passive voice. The passive voice is a magic box that sucks away your dirty tracks on whatever that happened. Mistakes were made. It has been brought to light that a serious disaster has struck the community of Los Desperados due to failure of the municipal government to conduct periodical spot checks on slope stability. They just couldn’t afford to say, “The city council didn’t check the slopes regularly, so a landslide occurred.”

Due to English education in Malaysia gives more emphasis to English communication than grammar. For example, we are more often taught how to use English when we buy things, take the bus, and etc. My faintest recollection of learning grammar is a/an, who/what/where/which/when/how, and a smattering of past, present and future tense. I vaguely recall hearing weird terms of ‘past present’, ‘present continuous’ and all other sorts of combinations. In the UPSR up to SPM I’ve always relied on intuition, on whether my sentences ‘sounds’ right or not.  Usually it doesn’t fail me due to my voracious reading which builds up my autocorrect system, but in exams such as the SAT the level simply doesn’t match up. That’s why I’m here today, reading on the ancient art of English grammar.

Writing is also an art. This book of mine quoted Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address as a fine piece of writing. The author broke down and analyses each and every sentence in the speech, then predicts the meaning and psychological effect of some creatively structured sentences on the tired soldiers. Actually, I don’t even know where Gettysburg is, but I heard that they (Lincoln’s side – the Union) eventually won the war.

If I have the courage I might post some of my SAT essays up here. SAT test takers, English professors and most importantly SAT readers are welcome to chop them the essays into a million pieces, then chew them until the juice run dry and dish out the comment.

Well then, good luck for the SAT!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Space Shuttle

The space shuttle has been a fantastic vehicle. It is unlike any other thing that we've ever built. Its capabilities have carried several hundred people into space.
Robert Crippen

The Space Shuttle Program by NASA, held from 1981 to 2011, was a defining programme that shaped human space endeavours for the last 30 years. Everyone, every kid is fascinated by the sight of the space shuttle that has dutifully brought humans up to the Mir Space Station, and subsequently the International Space Station to conduct scientific research, experiment long term living in space and providing the groundwork for future, deeper explorations.

On Thursday, our beloved club treasurer Yeang Ching, under her own initiative, offered to share with the club about the story of the space shuttle.

06102011573 

Pic shown is the orbiter #0 Enterprise, named after the legendary Star Wars spaceship. It is #0 because it is a prototype and it was never used for real space exploration. The first one to do so is Columbia instead.

Yeang Ching’s main topic is the materials used to build the space shuttle, which is very interesting on its own. Do you know which part of the Space Shuttle gets the hottest during atmospheric re-entry? And what are the few substances that are able to stand such crazy temperatures and are used to line the Space Shuttle’s Exterior? Do you know what are the names of the booster rockets attached to the Space Shuttle? Do you even know how many orbiters were there? She knew it all! :P

Ok well, first off here’s a chronology of what happens during each flight : File:Space shuttle mission profile.jpg

When people have asked if I'd like to go in the Shuttle, I said you don't get to fly it, except for landing, which I'd love to do. I wouldn't go unless I could command it.
Wally Schirra

The most dangerous part of the flight, other than liftoff, is the re-entry part where the orbiter can face temperatures of up to 3000 degrees! This is due to friction with the Earth’s atmosphere. Sorta like having your own mother killing you.

As you can see the whitest and hottest part is the edge of the wings. Special protections are applied to these areas so that the orbiter would not melt. There you go!

File:ShuttleTPS2-colored.png

click for larger image

One of the more famous tiles are the High Temperature-Reusable Surface Insulation (HRSI) tiles which are black in colour and lines the bottom of the orbiter. In this pic a spot check is done on Discovery’s heat tiles while it was docked to the ISS. The tiles are not all black, the one with faded colours are the old tiles. 

Enclosed is a diagram of the materials for the HRSI tiles. Someone commented that it was oddly similar to mahjong tiles lol.

File:Space Shuttle (HRSI tile).png

I think the Space Shuttle is worth one billion dollars a launch. I think that it is worth two billion dollars for what it does. I think the Shuttle is worth it for the work it does.
Pete Conrad

Other than that, Yeang Ching has also presented on the launch system of the Space Shuttle!

06102011575

In the pic, the orange big rockets is known as the External Fuel Tank, and the twin small rockets beside are the Solid Booster Rockets! The club members remembers this well as it cost them a free ice-cream, except for Daisuke! :D

Lastly, a talk on the thermal protection system of the Space Shuttle is not complete with the tragedy of the Columbia Orbiter in 2003. This was due to a heat tile that happened to dislodge during reentry and hit the shuttle’s left wing, causing a puncture and allowed hot gases from the reentry to enter the wing and disintegrate the wing from within, leading to eventual loss of control and breakup of the shuttle. Due to this incident, space shuttle was put on hold for two years, similar to the Challenger incident and improvements were made on the three remaining orbiters, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour.

That is all for Yeang Ching’s sharing session! Clap clap clap! And congrats to the winners of the quiz session, Priscilla, Daisuke, Yee Lin, Yi Kun and Chee Meng who won a free ice cream to be redeemed on the Oct 29th Sidewalk Astronomy Night!

298279_293330184011854_137865269558347_1259854_632035265_n

Well then, see ya next meeting!

The Twilight Zone' wasn't around with the kids. They think going up in space is neat. Within their lifetime, there will be paying passengers on the shuttle.
Christa McAuliffe (teacher astronaut who perished on the Challenger incident)