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Final Day

Wednesday, the last day of the tour. This morning we went to IMB- the institute for molecular biology at Biopolis, we were given a tour of their laboratories, which as every place we have been, were very good. We then had a look at their microscopy unit, where they had a few confocal microscopes, a super resolution microscope, which provides a way to overcome the diffraction limit of light microscopes, and then some microscopes for live tissue cells, which were contained in a Perspex box which could have all ambient conditions controlled to keep the cell alive.

Professor Victor Nurcombe then talked to us about Singapore’s opportunities and how money is no object for research and Singapore is also home to most millionaire households per capita. He then went on to talk about some of his research, which was pretty amazing, basically he worked out that the sugars that activate stem cells can be used to re grow bones, capillaries and many other hard to repair cells.

We then had lunch, and went to NUS. We went to the surface science department, and had a tour of their laboratories, which had mass spectrometers and scanning tunnelling microscopes. I found the tour pretty interesting as I have just learnt how these microscopes work so it was good to see them in real life and talk to people that use them. We then had a quick tour of the NUS synchrotron as we were running a bit behind schedule, I also found this interesting as it was my first time visiting a synchrotron.


To finish off the tour, we went back to IMRE, where we had a talk with Shaun and Nicolai and had some coffee and biscuits for about an hour. Nicolai was very interesting to talk to, he told us about alternate light sources, which are made from gallium nitride and have a life span of 50 years if they are used for 6 hours a day, and they are 3 times more energy efficient than current power saving light globes. After the coffee break, we had completed the study tour, a few of the guys and me had a couple of beers and relaxed for the rest of the night.


He got game

Today was a nice easy day to relax after that crazy weekend of doing not a lot. The day started with us getting into our groups to work on the group projects. This went reasonably smoothly with us all sorting out who had to do what.


The afternoon then kicked off with a visit to the SMART CREATE centre where we were shown around their lab facilities. The facilities they had were quite similar to that of the MCN in the non-clean area. They had an area that was set up to create microfluidic devices using basic polymers that was very similar in lay out to that found in the MCN however due to their more specialised device creation lot less cluttered. The devices they have created there have some interesting properties like spiral devices that allow the separation of cancer cells from other cells.


The day climaxed however with a showdown between Nano and Pico in the greatest intelligence arena of them all. The Basketball court. Now you may think that a bunch of nanotech nerds may not have been overly agile and co-ordinated but gosh we put on an exhibition. Sinking 3’s from all over the court like Larry Bird, lay ups that Russell Westbrook would be jealous of, smashing backboards like Shaq and breaking ankles like AI3. But seriously now, a couple of us may have been mistaken for NBA prospects…. Could be just to do with the height factor however.

Off to the hawkers

We visited NTU in the afternoon where we had many presentations from PhD and Master graduate students on projects they had completed previously. This was a different experience to what we’d had so far as previously they had all been professionals who had been in science for decades. It was good to change it up a little.


Now on with the more fun stuff.


Tonight was my first real chance to go and see what a hawker market is like and I seized it. It was located in a part of Singapore known as little India. Little India had experienced riots fueled by alcohol after a man had died from being run over by a bus on the 8th of December last year. Little India is where all the workers that get bussed in from the main land of Asia for cheap construction jobs on high rise buildings come to drink on their one day off in the week and to them this area feels like a home away from home. In Singapore there is unrest amongst its citizens over these workers coming into their country as it will take jobs away from their children as well as crowd the city more. These tensions probably also leant themselves to increasing the amount of damage that was caused in the riot. Since this has occurred there have been strict policies enforcing no public alcohol in Little India just in case such a set of events should happen again.


Some of you reading this may have heard about this in the news and write this not to scare you (specifically you mum) but to let everyone know what an interesting part of Singapore it really is. The streets in this area aren’t as clean as the city center but I would say are still cleaner than a lot of streets in Melbourne if not a little narrower with all the cars parked randomly along the street. They all have a different character to them too whether it’s because of the dirt that you don’t get from some other parts of Singapore that appear sometimes sterile, it’s easy to believe people actually live in these areas.

The hawker center itself was great with rows upon rows of food vendors cooking Asian food from all over the continent at amazingly cheap prices or providing drinks to thirsty customers (cheapest place I’ve found for beer too, anywhere else in the city don’t be surprised to pay upwards of $14 for a pot). The stores set up right near it all provided the unwary traveler an easy way to burn their money quickly with stalls set up with watches, jewelry and clothes, all of good quality (or at the very least, and more likely, good quality knock offs).