Looking at life with a scientific lens

Uncovering the scientific themes and principles in things around us

Wenfa Ng

Citizen scientist
Email: ngwenfa771@hotmail.com

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Colored raindrops falling from the sky? From another perspective? These are microbe colonies on a colorless agar medium. We learn so much more about life if we take a different angle at analyzing the same issue. Similarly, there are scientific themes and knowledge to be learned in many mundane things in life. I endevor to highlight the underlying scientific themes and viewpoints in common things around us through this blog. In addition, scientific advances of relevance to the public such as those in medicine, science and engineering would also be discussed here. Finally, I will also discuss specific papers of value to the community here to help the public understand how science works and why science can be described as a evidence based discussion of natural phenomena. Please feel free to send me your comments and thoughts through the contact form in this page or email to Wenfa Ng at ngwenfa771@hotmail.com

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One plus one equals two. That is true in understanding how one wave crest interact with another wave crest of the same phase, which in common terms is in sync. When out of sync, such as one wave crest meeting a wave trough, one plus negative one equal zero. This is the essence of constructive and destructive interference in wave dynamics. Understandable when presented as in above, what is difficult is in understanding how two or more wave propagations interact at specific points of space in their interference zone. The tool to do this is Huygens’ construction, but although graphical in nature, it is a major bugbear of most students in understanding wave dynamics. Because students could not visualize the cross interaction lines on their Huygens’ construction, and determine which nodes are constructive interference and where are the destructive ones. The intellectual leap needed to overcome the last point is crucial to understanding wave dynamics and using it to solve problems in hydraulics, design of breakwater location, and how earthquake waves move through earth. The four videos in this series features waves associated with high tide coming to shore at Labrador Park, Singapore that manifest in clear constructive and destructive interference zones. Waves breaking up into foamy water as it nears shallow land can also be observed. Hopefully, the videos would be useful for students to visualize wave dynamics and researchers seeking to understand the hydrology of Labrador Park in Singapore. A preprint accompanying this video can be found at figshare.