The Sunday Times front page splash was about a 6 year old who won an Encouragement Award in the defence science section of this year's Tan Kah Kee Young Inventors' Award. Her "cooling umbrella" was meant for soldiers to use in hot weather conditions, so "they can keep up a level of high performance". So, besides carrying the backpack, it looks like the maid will have to tote an umbrella into battle as well.
Maybe the adults didn't want to dampen her spirits by pointing out that the combination of the latent heat of vaporisation of water and the relative humidity in our Singapore clime would defeat her system of evaporative cooling through perforated straws which lined her umbrella. They teach Science in kindergarten, don't they? Someone once tried to market a water spray that claimed to cool the insides of a car left in the summer sun in Perth, where windows have actually popped out due to the intense pressure built up by the heat. It quickly lowers the temperature by about 10 degrees, in a place where it can be 44 degrees in the shade, and average humidity at 40 percent. It didn't sell too well.
Jointly organised by the Tan Kah Kee Foundation, Agency for Science, Technology and Research, and the Defence Science and Technology Agency, with the support of Science Centre Singapore, the award event couldn't be a joke, right? The keynote address was delivered by Su Guaning, president of NTU, another serious sounding organisation. But the last paragraph of the write-up has this sneak preview of what's to come. "I have already thought of a lot of inventions," the acclaimed genius volunteered, "Like a circle which, when you look through it, will let you know whether someone is a good or bad person." Just the thing for those tea parties to vet potential members of parliament.
But you stop laughing when you read that a 23 year old man had two good teeth extracted by mistake in May 2007. Dr Debbie Hong, 30, of the Singapore Dental Centre, must have been on auto-pilot, following blindly the instruction of a wrong referral slip inserted in the wrong patient file. She probably didn't even notice it was a human being seated in the dentist chair, and there was nothing wrong with his upper left first premolar and lower left second premolar. The May 2011 statement from the SDC read, "The disciplinary committee was of the opinion that the wrong extraction of the patient's two teeth was a serious matter which could have been avoided." Why are adults so dumb?