The Best Place in Singapore

I was fortunate enough to go to Singapore in October of last year. We arrived in Changi airport about lunch time and it was raining. I was expecting it as some of my friends told me it rains every now and then in Singapore. I was immediately impressed by the airport. Although I have several big airports before when I was in San Franciso, USA and Dubai, this airport was refreshing. We took a cab from the airport to our hotel (Peninsula Excelsior). The scenery was really beautiful as we drove from the airport to the city. The city itself was nothing compared to anything in the Philippines. The streets were so clean and it was very hard for us to find any cigarette butt.

Our first destination was the Zoo. I’m not good with remembering names so I can’t remember the name of the Zoo. But it was the first time I entered a zoo where I saw many animals for the first time. Well, I don’t really go to the zoo, even here in the Philippines. It’s one of those places that are low in my priority. However, I was not disappointed when I went to Singapore zoo.

Our hotel was very near the place of our conference so we just walk it on the way home, utilizing the underground mall that connects Suntec to a train station near our hotel. I can’t remember the name of that underground mall, or if there is a name to it. It was just a pleasant walk. You can shop as you go to the hotel.

We stayed in Singapore for 6 days. Before we left for the Philippines, my wife and I went to Sentosa. It was the place in the top of her list to go. The place was really great. We went to this underwater museum where you can see esoteric fishes and crustaceans. There is already one here in the Philippines but I haven’t gone there yet. We went to Sentosa by train and went out of it by cable car. The view was really great!

On the first day, my wife asked me if I would consider going to Singapore next time for vacation. I told her the city was beautiful, very modern and clean but that there was really no compelling reason to go there. I can live with what we have in the Philippines.

However, all that changed when I went to Borders bookstore and Kinokuniya. There is nothing of such beauty and magnitude in the Philippines as those bookstores. I can spend my entire day just browsing through all the books. And that would be just one row of bookshelves! So the best place in Singapore for me are the bookstores and if I have my way, then the reason I will return to Singapore is to visit the bookstores.

Browsing Books at Borders
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John Wheeler, A great physicist!

John Archibald Wheeler is one of my most admired physicist. He just died recently and I want to make a small tribute to him to did so much in General Relativity. Wheeler is the person who coined the word “black hole”, a concept which captivated my imagination when I was yet a kid and a concept which I eventually studied on my own in the University. He wrote one of the best books in General Relativity entitled “Gravitation”. This is a thick and heavy book full of physics and mathematics. It introduces advanced mathematical concepts as you progress in your study of Relativity in a very geometric way. This book has full of illustrations that really whets your appetite for studying advanced physics.

John Archibald Wheeleer

I have bought many books authored by Wheeler. One of them is “Exploring Black Holes“, with Taylor as co-author. I bought this book in Borders bookstore in Singapore. Unfortunately, we don’t have these kinds of books in the Philippines. A friend of mine also lent me a layman’s book written by Wheeler entitled “Geons, Black Holes & Quantum Foam”. This book gave accounts on Wheeler’s contribution to the Manhattan Project and the other great people whom he worked with.

I have a professor before who took his PhD in US who told me that whenever Wheeler gives a lecture at 7 am in the morning, he will always attend it no matter how cold it is in New York. That’s how big an impact Wheeler had on him.

To the great man Wheeler, thank you for inspiring us to study one of the greatest theories in the 20th century!

Robots and Emotions

I just came across this article entitled “The rise of the Emotional Robot” which talks about owners of Roomba robot dressing them up and even giving them names and gender. People are now getting attached to their robots as if they were part of the family. What I find funny is that we put a lot of value to these human creations forgetting that there are real humans out there who are of greater value by virtue of being human and are living in wretched conditions. I don’t mean to say that attaching ourselves to our robot is a bad thing but that when we do these things we should also be aware of real people out there who also need the same care and attention.

On Innovation

I found this very interesting paragraph from the book “The Myths Of Innovation” by Scott Berkun:

What advice would typical executives give Stephen Hawking, one of the brightest living minds, if he worked for them? Would they ask him to write daily status reports? Defend his action items from PowerPoint slides at team debrief meetings? Of similar curiosity is whether Steve Wozniak, Albert Einstein, or Isaac Newton ever filled out time cards, wrote performance reviews, or had their ideas ranked on scorecards by committees of middle managers. Could you imagine Mozart, da Vinci, or Marie Curie sitting next to each other, taking notes, at an all day company-wide event? It’s hard to see any of these commonplace situations working out well for the prospect of innovation.

This is related to my previous post.