SCIENCE is a global field and around the world, scientists take different approaches to push barriers to create solutions that are relevant and can contribute to the betterment of society.
Collaboration between scientists from various parts of the world would give a better insight of what is being done in the field of science and further possibilities that can take place.
Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) Petroleum Engineering student Yuharajan Baskaran, 20, had a peek of just that when representing Malaysia at the London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF) recently.
The two-week residential event in London attracts over 475 young scientists aged between 16 to 21 from more than 70 participating countries annually. The event aimed to provide all students with a broad, engaging learning environment with a variety of lectures and specialists seminars.
Over the two week duration, students embarked on a world-class programme of lectures, with access to research centres, laboratories and leading education institutions. And while the students were in London, they were also given the opportunity to enjoy visits to historic locations such as The Tower of London and Buckingham Palace.
“Overwhelming would be the word to describe my LIYSF experience. Being a kid from Tanjung Malim, Perak, it was simply overwhelming to be exposed to so many young people with a passion for science, each bringing their own experiences and viewpoints to the forum. It’s the combination of this diversity with the high level of interaction between the participants and the lecturers and researchers that sets the LIYSF apart from anything else in the world for me,” said Yuharajan.
“I discovered an even greater passion for science, not only in my engineering field, but also in other areas which are equally interesting. And I realised that science makes our lives more exciting and more fun — using the scientific method to satiate our curiosity,” he added.
One of the most memorable moments for Yuharajan was the LIYSF opening ceremony at Ondaatje Theatre-Royal Geography Society where UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Professor Hayat Sindi delivered her keynote address. Yuharajan said her speech was an inspirational and thought-provoking address, describing her upbringing and the challenges she faced as a child in a family with eight children living in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Overcoming the odds to pursue her passion for science, she convinced her parents to allow her to travel to London to continue her studies. Following years of study, she became the first female from the Gulf to earn a PhD in Biotechnology at Cambridge University.
She said, “It’s very important to remain who you are. To retain your identity and your own culture, while admiring and respecting the cultures of others. Having the confidence to try is the root of all innovation.”
Another favourite among LIYSF attendees was a specialist lecture given by Dr James Grime about ‘Bits and Pieces: Secrets of a Digital World’.
“He highlighted that the world sends more messages today than ever before. Through the internet, we email, tweet and Instagram with these messages being in code. This may not be surprising, but even those codes contain more secrets than you realise. Dr James Grime revealed how film studios know if you are sharing movies illegally, how to hide a secret message on the internet in plain sight and the ingenious maths within a CD that allows it to keep playing. He also revealed a World War II code machine that was even more secretive and difficult than the famous Enigma, and how that code was broken,” said Yuharajan.
Grime is a mathematician and public speaker. Formerly of the Millennium Mathematics Project for the University of Cambridge, he now runs The Enigma Project and travels the world giving public talks on the history and mathematics of codes and code breaking. He is also a presenter of the YouTube channel ‘numberphile’.
The LIYSF group visited the National Oceanography Centre which is one of the world’s top five oceanographic research institution as well as the Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge. The department have interconnections in new fields with other academic disciplines while maintaining a good presence in the basic core fields of chemistry.
To find out more about London and South Kensington where LIYSF was held, attendees had to participate in an activity called the Great Crossword Treasure Hunt.
“We were given a variety of tasks to complete in our own groups such as having to walk to areas of South Kensington to answer some brain-teasing questions. From discovering the number of pillars there are at the Victoria & Albert Museum, to finding out what statue can be found at a certain location around Imperial College, everyone teamed up to get the answers first! We were encouraged to talk to staff and find out the answers to some intriguing questions about our staff team too. This activity was a fantastic way for participants to socialise in their groups. Of course, an obligatory group selfie was needed to finish the Treasure Hunt!”
“LIYSF was an amazing experience, and I would highly recommend it to other students, as I can only hope future students are as fortunate as I am to experience the absolute privilege of attending the London International Youth Science Forum. It has made a huge impact upon me, and the lessons that I learnt will undoubtedly be something that I carry with me not only in my studies at the university, but also in life after the forum,” he said.