Science in the City, Malta 2018 – all you need to know

Science in the City is an annual event taking place not only in Valletta, but in another 320 cities around the world. This will be the seventh anniversary of marriage between the arts and science. Science in the City, the brainchild of Dr. Edward Duca is now fixed in Maltese cultural calendar.

The message of this year’s event is that everyone starts from zero. Even experts started with no knowledge whatsoever. We encourage everyone and anyone to visit and start or continue to understand, admire and discuss the world around them.

The QA with the folks handling the PR for this event was amazing so I’ll leave it as is, and you can see the entirety of it here.

#scicitymalta #MSCAnight

Here’s a small TL;DR for whoever is lazy in his reading.

Words of Osiris Note: The shows featured are those that cropped up in our Question and Answer session, and should only be taken as suggestions. Feel free to wander around the stands and shows, especially those featured as main events! (Use the App)

1. Crowd Favourite: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

2. New Science in the City App:

  • Map with show time schedules and age appropriateness.
  • Listed Transport arrangements, to avoid parking hassles.
  • Interactive Map of all the restaurants offering a Science in the City discount, great for drinkers and foodies.

Words of Osiris Note: After installing the App myself I could only see two fast food chains advertised around the main show area. The only true restaurant is out-of-the-way, at the Valletta Waterfront. Hope they won’t be the only ones. #moreandhealthieroptions

3. Not for Kids only:

  • Talking Science at Palazzo Ferriera (Facebook event) features topics such as blockchain, biohacking, gender assignment and terrorism amongst others.
  • Honourable mention: Ro-Botanicals: mixing plant tech with delicious cocktails + talks about the future of food.

4. Theatrical and Musical spectacles:

Theatrical

Musical:


Once again the full Question and Answer can be found by hitting this link


This blog post is in no way sponsored and has no affiliation with the Malta’s Science and Arts Festival organisers.


Featured Image: European Science Engagement Association

A Story of Loneliness, Depression, Assignments & Threats – My University of Malta story

I spent almost two and a half years at the University of Malta and as you can see from the title they weren’t the best years of my life.


I’m out of Junior College, hating school life and I’m already swept into a class full of blank faces. I started Uni, the so-called last stage before getting a certificate and working your arse off for the rest of your long life.

I was probably in the worst mental state of my life, I couldn’t get myself to do any extra work, and waking up in the morning was a chore in itself. I used to run from the bus stage at times just to make it a minute or two shy of being on time. I was in such a slumber that even my socialising skills were burnt to the ground.

Anyway, no real friends around even though there were some good people who gave me rides home and tried to help. The rest were strangers. Students who would copy off assignments from previous year students or one another. Some even signed off attendance sheets for friends who didn’t attend class.

Meanwhile, lonely me didn’t even have a chance of a humane discussion on our latest assignment with anyone. As time goes by I was giving in and started to spiral down in an even deeper depression. I hid into gaming while trying to forget the misery.

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credit: Pexels: Soumir Kumar

Through all this time of hardship, I don’t think anyone knew how beaten down I really was. I pushed away even the dearest of friends. My parents having marital troubles of their own never took a hard look at me and attributed all this to me just slacking off.

You can imagine I wasn’t the lecturers’ pet, and they made sure to make me feel I shouldn’t be there. One lecturer said:

Only one person failed the last exam. I made sure that whoever deserved to pass, did so” and looked at me straight in the eye.

It was me. I had a mark of 44 out of the pass mark of 45. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. They clearly tampered with the results. I repeated my first year.

In my repeater year, I did better and thankfully I had some friends. I also developed a crush on a girl who was in a relationship, more soul-crushing stuff in that department.

To sum it up, Uni still felt like it wasn’t for me. My brain had always let me down.

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credit: Pexels: Pixabay

The second year starts and I had the head of the Biology department come up to me in his car at the lecturers’ car park:

“You already missed two classes, if you miss another one, I’ll make sure you’ll fail on the next one you miss,” he said

“But I was sick, I have all the required doctor’s certificates,” I muttered shyly.

“Doesn’t matter, those are the rules. Miss another one and you’ll fail, ok?” he replied.

I nodded and he drove off. I knew that I didn’t miss classes out of the blue or posed as sick. At that time, we had a maximum of missing three lectures and I was threatened to fail after losing two with valid reasons.

This was done in the face of clear attendance abuses from my classmates. We had some lecturers calling out the names of people after signing the attendance and five or six people (from around forty) were all magically in the bathroom.

Back to me, I was certainly in the crosshair of my lecturers. After that, I started to crumble and gave up. I was done with studying and all of this crap.

A few weeks later, I applied for a full-time job and got it. Was like breathing pure oxygen into old smoker lungs. My mood changed, my life changed, for the better. I left University on a note of mental health issues but I was sure I wasn’t going back. That was the end of probably the bleakest chapter in my life.


Credits:
Featured picture: Pexels – Pixabay.


The Beast from the East – Explained

A massive cold spur hit Europe and here’s why


We’ve all shivered and made snowmen this past days. And when I say ‘we’ I mean mainland Europe. Malta was only hit by some cold winds for a couple of days. Sad thing is that I had to go to work unlike most Europeans.

Anyhow, why did sudden Siberian cold hit mainland Europe?

To answer this, one has to look at the arctic region (north pole) specifically between 10km and 60km up in the atmosphere or what it is known as the stratosphere.

Due to the inclination of the earth (the same reason why we have seasons), the northern pole doesn’t receive sunlight and the temperature differences creates a vortex. This massive stratospheric storm called the stratospheric polar vortex spans as wide as the north pole itself.

 

Since it is so high up we don’t usually feel its effects, but there are instances where this vortex destabilises causing its doughnut shape to morph into two or more doughnuts.

thirty nine two
So, who’s complaining? (Credit: L0nd0ner -Pexel)

Actually Europe’s complaining since this splitting compresses air, heating up the stratosphere violently. So violent, that it pushes the cold arctic troposphere, or basically our weather portion of the atmosphere, disrupting our usually weather patterns.

Then we end up with something like this:

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Credit: Paul Townsend – Flikr

If you want to know more please take a look at Simon Clark‘s video which has explained it much better than I ever could.

It’s all thanks to Simon Clark (twitter: @simonoxyphys) that I came to know of this so please do support him

Simon is one of the coolest and newest science communicators found on Youtube.

Do subscribe or give him a cheeky thumbs up.


If you love Science and want to read on more science-y things, click here 


Featured photo credits: Snapwire – Pexels.

Studying Part-time

Is part-time studying the future you want?Background

For months now, I’ve been a masochist, spending thousands on an endeavour that also takes up a good chunk off my free-time. An endevour to obtain a degree in science.

Thankfully, I see the light at the end of the tunnel. The last two modules end in September of 2018. After that, I’ll be a free certified man.

Too much doom and gloom? For someone like me who struggles to get something useful done each day, it’s certainly a struggle.

At the end of these 4 and a half years I’ll have a certificate in my hands. I shouldn’t be complaining.

It’s a modern day miracle. Being a university dropout in my early 20s, this was a way to bounce back, through an online correspondence course with The Open University.

Some insightful words:Background

There are two types of people in this world, those who are always upbeat and productive, and those who find every task difficult to manage. Being in the former does help with part-time studies but it’s not the end of the world if you aren’t.

If you are like me and find some days difficult to wake up from bed or have periods were you are in a foul mental state, it does make it  a bit harder to keep a constant work load. Remember that you will be doing your studies after 8 hours or more of work.

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Time management is an important skill to master if you want everything to pass like breeze. Sadly, I’m not the best at it.

The poo hits the fan around the turn of the term, usually around February. You’ve been going at it for four months and you’re bored. The end would be a few months away and you’ll find yourself saying: “I don’t want to do this anymore. I want my life back.”

Having said that, I kept going and passed with great results and so should anyone who perseveres. Even doing a minimal amount of work and procastinating assignments would get you out with a degree. Can vouch for it because I’ve seen some of my colleagues do that.

Another thing that will keep you motivated is choosing topics that arouse your interest. These will keep you engaged and make time reading notes a tad more enjoyable.

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The financial aspect is also important. Course fees, in my case, increased by 10% in the last four years. Be sure you can sustain yourself while also being able to pay your fees easily. The last thing you want is dreading your fees, making it easier for you to quit or take a year or two off.

My tutors were very friendly and helpful so far. Having experienced the scholastic life at the University of Malta, turning to The Open University was a breath of fresh air.

At my old Uni, the lecturers were lacking motivation and I was also threatened to be failed by an important staff member, all the details in some post in the future.

Going back to my current studies, most of the notes are software based, so be ready to stay infront of a monitor for an extended period of time. Not everyone agrees with this, a lot of people prefer books, but in certain modules the notes are full of videos and activities which require an electronic device. A lifesaver for me was a small 6 inch tablet.

Would definitely recommend one of these courses especially with The Open University. Be sure of what you’re doing, plan, stick with it and you’ll definitely succeed in achieving your dream title.

 

P.S. Even though ‘The Open University’ is given credit, this post isn’t sponsered in anyway by said institute. All views are my own. 

Is Malta choosing its university students well?

Are requirements there to select the best in the field?

Education is one of the most valued assets one can have. I believe that a sound education is the pivot of any flourishing society. While not everything is thought inside a classroom, the Maltese Islands mentality gives a lot of importance to academics.

Last weekend I had a discussion on education and someone made a comment that really got pinned in my head. Entry requirement for our public University of Malta forces everyone to have a science subject at Advanced or Intermediate level.

“Whoever wants to pursue an art or language must also be proficient in a science” my friend exclaimed. “You could be proficient in a number of languages and still be denied studying them at university level.” she continued.

It does work both ways, anyone who ‘majors’ science subjects should also be proficient at least one language.

I completely got here point but counter-argued that pure academics have a strong reliance on the king of science, Maths. Statistics, especially when performing studies, are a valuable tool in the arsenal of any kind of researcher.

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Another one of my friends commented, “Sometimes, they lower the bar just so children of privileged people can get in”. Sadly, our nepotism is also prevalent in our independent university.

Criticism over, I do feel that there are many people who are truly passionate at one topic and get denied the ability to prove their worth on the subject.

Entry requirements are needed to keep check of the influx of students, especially in public free for all schools, but it definitely tarnishes any eager stars on specific topics.

Maybe we should have a place where these kinds of one-trick ponies are accepted within the higher order of academia. Everyone should get a shot at reaching for the stars in a budding country like Malta.