: Modelling and Simulation in the Real World
Scientific laws govern the workings of our world. From the requirement of friction to walk properly without slipping to the simple mechanics of hot air rising and cold air sinking, these laws determine life on earth. With this set of laws comes a set of limitations. We know that a handphone makes use of electromagnetic waves to make a phone call, but we are unable to see these waves with our naked eyes. We are aware that blood is pumped from the heart, but this process cannot be viewed without special facilities. Enter another world – the virtual world, where computational capabilities can surpass these limitations and effectively model and simulate the real world with precise accuracy.
This scenario was put forth to the audience, comprising of 450 students and 30 teachers, who attended the IHPC Seminar Series on Modelling and Simulation in the Real World on 27 May 2009. The event was kicked off by Mr Harold Soh, a senior research officer with the Advanced Computing (AC) programme, who gave a comprehensive introduction to modelling and simulation. Using an interactive experiment of throwing tennis balls to the members of the audience, Mr Soh posed questions on how the students would build a ball-catching robot from scratch and more importantly, how mathematics, which is the fundamentals of modelling and simulation, is imperative to the basic functions of such a robot.
Following that, Dr Freda Lim of the Computational Materials Science and Engineering (CMS) programme took to the stage with her presentation on another perspective of Chemistry. In her presentation, Dr Lim used the example of dandruff and how the chemicals found within shampoos interact with fatty acids found in hair to keep the human scalp clean and oil-free. Highlighting her work as a research engineer with the programme, Dr Lim placed emphasis on how modelling and simulation enhances her understanding of the composite structures of atoms and molecules.
Dr Adrian Mak, another research engineer of the CMS programme, was the third speaker who touched on his research work on Particles and Waves. Citing the example of food, particularly burgers, Dr Mak illustrated the point that as a burger is a sandwich that contains multiple ingredients, all matter is made up of atoms and electrons and these in turn, have a dual nature as particles and waves. Dr Mak demonstrated that atoms do not only behave as particles, but are equally capable of wave behaviour as well. These ideas form the foundation of quantum mechanical methods which many members of the CMS programme rely on to accurately model, describe and predict the properties of materials.
Last but not least, Mr Law Gim Han, another research officer from the AC programme took the audience on a virtual walkthrough of the human heart in four dimensions. He identified the fourth dimension as time and was able to demonstrate how the use of modelling and simulation can effectively show the process of blood flowing out and back into a virtual heart, as well as identify problems and complications that may arise from this process.
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