Issue 10 Special Feature: Best of Scientific Malaysian Articles

To celebrate the milestone of the 10th Issue of the Scientific Malaysian Magazine, we conducted a poll among our readers and supporters to help us pick the best of Scientific Malaysian Magazine articles. 

Over the past three years (9 issues) we have published over a hundred articles, written by both Malaysian and international scientists, as well as science enthusiasts around the globe. We love many of them, but here are five of our readers’ most liked articles and why we think they are important.

1. Fundamental Research: What is the Use?

by Hwong Yi Ling
Full article: http://magazine.scientificmalaysian.com/issue-6-2013/fundamental-research-what-is-the-use 

Photo: Kong Yink Heay

Photo: Kong Yink Heay

With the havoc wrecked by the Global Financial Crisis still fresh in our memory and the economy of most of the world’s biggest developmental powerhouses barely limping along, investing in fundamental research may seem foolish and untimely. After all, what is the practical use? With this compelling article, the author sets out to break-down the perception that fundamental research is a frivolous pursuit and argues that throughout history, big leaps in human innovation is often the result of curiosity-driven research, e.g., the unintentional development of World Wide Web by the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Why is this article important? It dispels the notion that fundamental research is often viewed as a ‘useless’ subject, too difficult to comprehend and thus reserved for the ultra-intelligent. At its most basic, fundamental research is the manifestation of the quintessential part of being human – curiosity and wonder. It gives us the power to dream, and lies at the heart of innovation.

Originally published in Issue 6/2013.  P

2. The Night Watch: Working the night shift at CERN

by Dr. Khoo Teng Jian
Full article: 
http://magazine.scientificmalaysian.com/issue-8-2014/working-the-night-shift-at-cern

Photo: Charis Loke

Photo: Charis Loke

The ATLAS detector is one of the two largest particle detectors buried 100 metres deep under the Swiss-Franco terrain at CERN. The detector is most well-known for its discovery of the Higgs Boson in 2012. The detector’s vital signs are kept under round-the-clock surveillance by an army of over-caffeinated CERN staffers (mostly PhD students and Post-Docs). In this lively article, the author paints a vivid picture of what goes on in the ATLAS control room during an 8 hour night shift, offering readers a peek into the complex yet highly invigorating world of particle physics and the engineering behind that helps scientists make sense of the most minute building blocks and origin of our universe.

Why is this article important? 21st-century science is often a collective endeavour. This article shatters the image of the lone-scientist working in solitude by offering an insight into the lesser-known (and less glamorous) side of science – the teamwork that goes on in operating the biggest machine ever built by human kind.

Originally published in Issue 8/2014. 

3. Why don’t We Scan and Test Everyone to Detect Cancer?

by Dr. Chang Yang Yew
Full article: 
http://magazine.scientificmalaysian.com/issue-8-2014/cancer-diagnosis

Photo: Charis Loke

Photo: Charis Loke

Given the survival rate of a cancer patient is much higher if the cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, wouldn’t it be better if we scan and test everyone to detect cancer?. The surprising answer is, in fact, no. The reality of cancer diagnosis is much more nuanced than simply ‘doing the appropriate blood test’. The author uses the example of the ground-breaking invention of a 15 year old boy from the United States to detect pancreatic cancer (which turns out to be not that ground-breaking afterall) to illustrate his arguments and debunk popular misconceptions behind the science of cancer tests.

Why is this article important? In a time when anyone can go on the internet to look for answers to their health problems, it is more important than ever to be able to distinguish between evidence-based, science-grounded medicine and many so-called ‘alternative’ diagnosis methods which often crumble upon closer scrutiny. Cancer detection is one good example and this article clearly explains why.

Originally published in Issue 8/2014. 

4. Why consumption of dietary antioxidant supplements may not work

by Chang Sui Kiat
Full article: 
http://magazine.scientificmalaysian.com/issue-9-2014/consumption-dietary-antioxidant-supplements-work

Photo: Yumanuma/Flickr

Photo: Yumanuma/Flickr

With the rising popularity of dietary antioxidant supplements, one couldn’t help but wonder, are they really as beneficial as purported? In this informative article, the author takes a critical look at the science and research that have been conducted to examine the effectiveness of these supplements. Delving into the workings of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and other free radicals—whose effects the supplements are suppose to counteract—the author points to the accumulating evidence that suggest that, contrary to popular belief, the radicals are not all bad and consumption of large doses of dietary antioxidant supplements does not have significant medicinal effect and may even be harmful in some cases.

Why is this article important? With a myriad of dietary antioxidant supplements flooding the market, each claiming its own unique health benefit from diminishing aging effects to good skin, it is high time we take a critical look at the effectiveness of these magic pills.

Originally published in Issue 9/2014. 

5. Malaysian-Dutch Expedition Unveils the Mysteries of Mount Kinabalu

by Prof. Menno Schilthuizen
Full article: http://magazine.scientificmalaysian.com/issue-8-2014/malaysian-dutch-expedition-unveils-mysteries-mount-kinabalu

Photo: Darren Pearce/Flickr

Photo: Darren Pearce/Flickr

Standing at 4095 metres, Mount Kinabalu is one of the tallest mountains in South-East Asia. The rich biodiversity of this magnificent mountain drove the author, who hails from the Netherlands, to set up a joint Malaysian-Dutch expedition with a mission to uncover the evolutionary mysteries of some of the oldest organisms residing in this mountain. The author tells a striking story of how the research was conducted while painting an animated picture of the mountain as a treasure trove of organisms waiting to be discovered (there are 109 different species of land snails living in the mountain!). By analysing the DNA sequences of various organisms, the author and his multi-disciplinary team were able to get a handle on their evolutionary scenarios and conclude their origins.

Why is this article important? Many of the species of plants and animals that live on Mount Kinabalu are endemic: they live only there and nowhere else on Earth. It is only through the research of people such as Prof. Schilthuizen and his team that the world will ever get to know them and hopefully, step up conservation efforts to preserve the mountain’s rich but fragile biodiversity.

Originally published in Issue 8/2014. 

This article first appeared in the Scientific Malaysian Magazine Issue 10. Check out other articles in Issue 10 by downloading the PDF version for free here: Scientific Malaysian Magazine Issue 10 (PDF version)