Monday, December 24, 2012

End of the year 2012

2012 is quite a fruitful year and "luckily" the "End of the world" didn't turn out to be true. Even though there is still a year end holiday trip to Vienna and Budapest to follow, I am quite satisfied with the overall performance this year and managed to identify a few sections to be improved.

    Celebrating CNY at home was very rare for me in the past few years due to the crashing dates of CNY and examinations in the Japanese universities. For the first time I went back to Penang together with my GF for CNY taking SQ. It was always happy to be back in your hometown and meeting family, relatives and friends. Visiting each other during the CNY, BBQ at high schoolmate's house, Karaoke, Futsal with old time friends, Birthday party in a hotel restaurant, and more .... all are good memories, considering I would not be going back for good in the near future.

    On my flight back, we have a transit at Paris and we spent several days touring around the city. However, it was damned cold! At the moment we left Zurich, the temperature was around 5'C and we expected it to go up once we returned. Hence all the clothes with us were not so strong against the below zero temperature. Fighting with those crazy cold winds, we managed to go up the Eiffel Tower, only to find ourselves shaking like hell the moment we walk out to take some pictures. Due to the extreme cold, most of the time were being spent in the hotel room or cafes. On the last day we took TGV back to Zurich and felt relieved when we reach home! Paris, see you next time during the summer.

    Perhaps the most encouraging event in terms of academic is the acceptance of my first co-authored paper by PRL. It was not the kind of breakthrough in Physics but still I felt proud of it after putting lots of effort onto it.

    The most "exciting" moment of the year was the trip to QED 2012 international school at Corsica. Started with the delay of flight from Zurich to Paris CDG (well, Air France), then I missed my connection flight from Paris Orly to Ajaccio. I had to wait in the airport for 8 hours and I fall asleep for at least 3 times during the wait time. Luckily all my belongings were still with me. It was already 12 am in the night by the time I reached Ajaccio and had no choice but to take a taxi to the Institute of Scientific Research Cargese. Fortunately the arrangement was being made by the organiser and I just had to wait for the taxi driver to pick me up at the airport. There was another Hungarian woman sharing the taxi and thanked god she could speak some French and communicate with the driver. Imagine 90 mins of drive in the completely dark island roads without any conversation! Despite all these bad starts, the QED school turned out to be a great one and I managed to learn a lot and made some geek friends. And for the first time I have prepared both oral and poster presentations.

    Soon after I came back from the school, I started my football training for the MSA 4 nation football competition. After weeks of exercising with a group of African football teams, I managed to contribute a bit to the 2nd place won by MSA.

    I attended Swiss Physics Society Meeting this year which was held in my university, ETH. I gave a talk this time (last year at EPF Lausanne which was poster)
and it was not bad I guess. 2 months later I gave another one during the Zurich Particle Physics PhD seminar after I came back from another school at Zuoz. This was the one organised by PSI biennially, and I managed to met up my junior in Tokyo during the school. In fact he spent some days at my place and I brought him to some places in Chur and Zurich. I guessed he was quite shocked with the living cost here.

    At the same time, I was busy on the EM field simulation for the beam time at MuSR, PSI. After working most of the time on COMSOL and GEANT4, finally I got to identify some mistakes in the simulations done by others last year and did some corrections to the data analysis last year as well. The beam time turned out to be successful as well as there was no serious problem during the run and the data looks okay. The analysis is still on the way but should be finalised soon.

    In September, I re-visited London again to renew my passport. It was a kind of coincidence as my last trip here ended on 5th Sep (2010) and this time I arrived on 5th Sep (2012). The process of passport renewal was quite simple and the nasi lemak sold at the Embassy of Malaysia was very nice as well. This time I managed to visit some of the places that was missed last time, such as Hyde Park, Oxford Road (don't come here unless you want to have an empty pocket or wallet), and more. Also I have visited my physicist friend at Cambridge and joined a punting trip around the river.
He had given me the wrong number but somehow we managed to meet each other on the street (Penang lang faces, haha.) thanks to a time window discussed beforehand. Did a lot of shoppings and eatings (Dim sum, Rahmen, Fish n Chips, etc) Gonna come here again next year when my GF has to renew her passport. :)

   This autumn marked my first participation in the Swiss Badminton League, 3th league. Even though it is quite expensive to get a license, I like the system here where they record all your played matches and even has a ranking system just like the one of Badminton World Federation. The classes are from D3 to A1 (D3,D2,D1,C3,... until A1), and you get points by beating the players ranked above you. Points gained through tournament and interclub are being calculated together. Throughout the autumn and winter, I managed to win a few matches in the tournaments but however I lost all my 8 matches (singles and doubles and mixed) so far. There are still 8 league matches next year and I need to put in more effort in my training. Even though I have joined a training course at the beginning of December, it will take some time to fully utilised what I have learnt there.

    So, bye bye 2012 and hope that you are a good one, 2013!

Friday, June 29, 2012


Almost every student from my high school (it is an all-male high school and hence Shao Lin temple) has played football before. I am not sure if it is a good thing or what, it is the only sports activity that we have for "Pendidikan Jasmani" (Physical Education) throughout five years of secondary school.

It sounds like we are well equipped with all the attires and accessories. Actually the opposite! There are many restrictions on our attire during the match; only school shoes (white!) and house T-shirt ( R,G,B and Y colors). Some even wear that duck-shit-green school short, orz. However, the football is even worst; it does not look like football, but like a volleyball. When you kick it, it feels like a balloon. Until now, I have no idea it was actually what ball. The sad case is when the field is muddy, our parents had hard times washing our shoes.
(To be continued......)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

QED International School 2012 @ Corsica

Time elapsed really fast as I have now headed in to the second year of my Ph. D. studies. Life is of course, as interesting as usual. From mid to end of April, I had the chance to participate in an international school and workshop on quantum electrodynamics (QED 2012) at Corsica, France. It is a beautiful island situated in the Mediterranean sea and also the place where Napoleon was born. The school took place at Cargese, a small village near the seaside with mesmerizing views.

I have booked the flight two months in advance from Zurich to Paris CDG and then from Paris Orly to Ajaccio airport. However, no matter how well you have prepared, there are dozens of ways to screw up your plan. I woke up earlier in the morning (5:30 I guess) and arrived more than one hour before my flight. Everything went well and I was on board punctually waiting for it to take off. Only then I was told that the flight has some technical problems and it could not be operated. After a while they announced that the computer system hanged and they need to start it and redo all the necessary procedures. By the time the problem was solved almost two hours has passed and I told myself I am gonna miss the next flight.

Arrived at the Paris CDG airport, quickly I rushed to the counter to ask for the direction to the Orly airport. Since I have checked the bus option beforehand, so I took it but found myself stuck in the hectic Paris traffic. OMG ....... As expected, I arrived at the Orly airport one minute before departure. Needless to say, I missed my flight and the person at the counter even laughed and said "oh! you flight has just taken off ~". Experienced this for the first time in my life, I had no idea what to do, other than to think that I need to buy another air ticket to fly myself to the destination. Luckily the airport staff suggested me to go to the Air France customer service counter to seek for assistance. I made myself look very sad and explained everything to the "big boss" in the office and after calling several phones he decided to issue me with a boarding pass at the night to Corsica! Phew!!! I was lucky but then needed to wait for eight hours at the airport (after rushing here and there I had no more energy to walk around Paris anymore of course). Even worse, it was just a small airport and within 20 minutes I have went through every corner of it. Finally I sat down at a place where there is a clear view of all the airplanes taking off and even fell asleep a couple of times before this damn long 480 minutes has passed.

(to be continued ......)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My first ever publication!

My first paper in Physical Review Letters (PRL)

After working in Physics for so many years, finally my name appears in one of the most prestigious journals in Physics, Physical Review Letters (PRL) and its title is "Muonium Emission into Vacuum from Mesoporous Thin Films at Cryogenic Temperatures".

This research topic was actually not mentioned when I applied for the PhD, but I started to work on it since February last year for about half a year. Then most of the time was spent improving the data analysis and polishing up the paper. Everything is explained in the paper but for non-Physicist, I would explain it as below;

The main idea of this work is to test a material which could be used for next generation precision experiments that allow Physicists to extract even more precise values of particle masses, and to test the charge ratio between particles.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask me. :)