By Christopher Teh Boon Sung

I am a lecturer at Universiti Putra Malaysia.

Revamping Malaysia’s education system: Should our schools be boring?

Let’s begin by stating the obvious: schools must be fun, and schools must be lively and dynamic. Heaven forbid that schools should become boring. This is because we believe boring schools means inefficient use of school time and resources and that learning has failed. We believe boredom is bad because it brings mental stagnation, and…

The many ways to kill a communist: Indonesia’s communist purge 1965-66

Joshua Oppenheimer’s “The Act of Killing” is the most unsettling documentary I have ever watched. This documentary focused on a group of men in North Sumatra who were involved in Indonesia’s purge of communists in 1965-66. Like Malaysia, Indonesia has a history of violence in dealing with communists in the country. But unlike Malaysia, Indonesia’s…

Rise of the Undead: The science of zombies

What is it about zombies that fascinate people? The latest zombie movie, “World War Z” (WWZ), opened to nearly USD 112 million in total ticket sales worldwide. WWZ is another addition to the long list of zombie movies that includes the first zombie movie in 1919. What is a common feature in perhaps all zombie…

Manipulating the net: How much can we trust what we read on the net?

Evgeny Morozov’s “The Net Delusions: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom” is one of the most important books I have read. Having read it two years ago, I now often treat web news, in particular those coming from social media (e.g., Facebook and Twitter), with plenty pinches of salt. Recently, another important book “Trust Me,…

Unscientific Malaysia: How declining science literacy endangers our nation

Two international assessments paint a disturbing picture on Malaysia’s level of science literacy. In 2009, PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) revealed that Malaysia’s science literacy among 15-16 year old students ranked 52 out of 74 countries. Malaysia scored 422 points, which was below the international average of 463. At this score, Malaysia was ranked…

How effective are window tints in cooling our cars?

Update (Dec. 11, 2013): I wrote a series of two articles on the science of car window films: Part 1 discusses why our car cabin warms up so rapidly and what methods we can use to cool the car cabin temperature. Part 2 discusses how window films work and how to choose the right window…

A tale of a Malaysian lecturer teaching in a Kazakhstan university

Recently I was working in S. Seifullin Kazakh Agro Technical University (KATU) in Astana, Kazakhstan from Oct 14-31, 2012. I was invited to give a two-week lecture on “Soil Conservation” to KATU’s undergraduates and postgraduate students. This was a unique invitation too valuable of an experience to pass up. Rarely are foreign guest lecturers invited…

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