When I first found out that nobel laureates were visiting VJC, I was quite amazed, and ecstatic, partly because I was going to get the chance to meet actual nobel award-winners, who were leading scientists in their field, and partly because VJC actually managed to get them to visit. I had always thought this was the domain of a certain establishment in Bishan, but I guess VJ is starting to shine as well. The best part of the whole thing was that Science Society (abbreviated to SS), which happens to be my CCA, was the one in charge of planning and executing the whole event, right down to the nitty gritty details. I also happen to be in the EXCO for SS, so that basically meant I was going to be in the heart of it all.
And so we planned, and planned, and planned some more, everything from head to tail, and I eventually emerged as the ‘chair’, or rather the moderator for the breakout session. The breakout session was meant to cater to a smaller crowd of passionate students wishing to interact more with the scientist involved.
The day finally came, after numerous briefings for the members and intense discussions with the teachers. The visiting scientists were Sir Anthony James Leggett and Sir Richard John Roberts. To quote from the extract sent to us,
“Sir Richard John Roberts was awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine with Professor Phillip Allen Sharp for the discovery of introns in eukaryotic DNA and the mechanism of gene-splicing.”
“Sir Anthony James Leggett was awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physics and is widely recognised as a world leader in the theory of low-temperature physics and his pioneering work on superfluidity.”
And this event, officially considered a ‘dialogue session with eminent scientists’ is “part of a series of events for 2016 Global Young Scientists Summit (GYSS) organised by National Research Foundation (NRF), a department within the Prime Minister’s Office.”
The scientists actually arrived earlier than expected, just when my fellow emcees and moderators were preparing our scripts and getting our blazers ready. We were just outside the SC room when the special GYSS car arrived, and we scrambled to carry out our various responsibilities.
Even though they were early, we had to start late because of a certain event going on in the PT, and our planned flow of events was disrupted. Of course, we had anticipated some kind of stumble along the way, but we could not deal too well with it because of the tight schedule imposed upon us by the higher ups. At least the main event went well, albeit without a Q&A session with the public. Just goes to show that you can’t prepare for everything.
We then provided refreshment for those attending the breakout sessions, as well as the scientists themselves. I was kind of blown away by their presence. Somehow, they just exuded this mystical aura of brilliance and awesomeness. I guess you could say that I was starstruck. That was when my moderators and I started to prepare for the breakout sessions, and luckily, things flowed smoothly from then onwards.
The breakout session was quite an experience, with lots of passionate individuals in the audience, and I could see their eyes burning with passion for physics (which was the breakout session I was in charge of). Sir Anthony Leggett also gave a short lecture on quantum entanglement, which was quite an inspiring one. I was initially worried that there wouldn’t be enough enthusiastic individuals within the audience, but I was proved wrong. After the session, as we were escorting our guests back to their cars, lots of students came running after them to get photos and autographs; and of course we SS members got our own as well.
All in all, the whole event was wonderful to have been a part of. It’s not everyday a world-renowned nobel laureate comes down to a small institution in the east of a little red dot.
(Credits to Photosoc for the photos)
Pye Sone Kyaw