Monday, 31 December 2018

A made-in-Singapore solution to the world's plastic waste problem

These scientists from the National University of Singapore and the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology have converted polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles into a highly insulating and absorbent material called aerogel.

Aerogels, the lightest and most porous materials known to man, have existed since the 1930s – and were used to insulate the Mars Pathfinder rover in the 1990s.

And with an estimated eight million tonnes of plastic waste entering the world’s oceans each year, there is no shortage of material that could be recycled into aerogel products instead.

Their possible real-life applications include:
  • As a lining for fire-retardant coats and carbon dioxide absorption masks that could be used during a fire; 
  • better heat and sound insulation in buildings; and 
  • cleaning oil spills.
Read more @

You may want to read
1) Caterpillar eats plastic
2) Researchers accidentally engineer plastic-eating enzyme
3) A made-in-Singapore solution to the world's plastic waste problem

4) Plastic-eating mealworms could help clean up the environment

Scientists discover prostates can be shrunk with direct injections of alcohol

Injecting alcohol directly into the prostate gland could shrink it and avoid the need for men to get up in the night to urinate, a study has claimed.

Ethanol jabs through the rectum shrink the prostate by more than a third and relieve pressure on the bladder and penis.

Doctors said the development is 'excellent news' and believe it could be as effective as treatments already used by the NHS.


The common mistakes we ALL make when it comes to brushing our teeth

Dr Mark Hughes, a Harley Street dentist and ambassador for FOREO explained how to improve your daily brushing routine.
  • Never rinse after brushing - give time for toothpaste ingredients (like fluoride) to be absorbed
  • Ditch the mouthwash - alcohol from mouthwash will dry the inside of your mouth, causing bacterial growth
  • Clean your tongue too
  • Avoid tooth care fads - like charcoal toothpaste which is extremely abrasive to your teeth
  • Avoid certain food like coffee and white wine, which will stain your teeth.


Are you at risk of 'selfie wrist'?

Taking too many selfies could leave you with a painful nerve condition, a California doctor is warning.

The digital age's latest hazard has been dubbed 'selfie wrist', a numbing and tingling sensation experienced in the wrist and fingers.

Dr Levi Harrison, an orthopedic surgeon based in San Francisco, told KABC News he is seeing a rise in patients with the condition, which he describes as a form of carpal tunnel syndrome.


Simple stretching exercises to treat your numbing and tingling sensations in your wrist and fingers

Press backwards for 20-30 secs to both arms

Press backwards for 20-30 secs to both arms

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Forum: Treat our parents the way we dote on our children

I agree that seniors can feel lonely and suffer from depression even though they are living with family members (Living with family, but still feeling lonely; Dec 27).

However, solving this problem involves more than just having someone to communicate with the seniors.

I have observed that family members do not properly communicate with seniors because they do not consider their physical conditions, such as their hearing and eyesight problems, mental condition and mobility.

There are also instances of familiarity breeding contempt, like when a person shows more care, respect and restraint to his friends or guests than to his parents.

We tend to forget that seniors still have their pride despite their age or state of health.

It is common for people to think that as long as they have provided enough financial and material support, they have fulfilled their duties to their parents.

Filial piety goes beyond just money or material comfort. It involves catering to our parents' psychological and emotional needs as well.

If we treat our parents the way we dote on our children, the issue of loneliness among our elderly will be resolved.

Seah Yam Meng


Sentosa's Sky Tower closes for good after 15 years

After 15 years of operations in Sentosa, the last day of service for the rotating observation tower was midnight on Dec 28, 2018.

Minimum legal age for smoking to be raised to 19 on Jan 1, 2019

The minimum legal age for the purchase, use, possession, sale and supply of tobacco products will be raised from 18 to 19 years old from next Tuesday (Jan 1).

This is part of the Government's plan to progressively raise the minimum legal age to 21 years old over a period of three years.

Retailers who sell any tobacco products to a person below the minimum legal age could be fined up to S$5,000 for a first offence and S$10,000 for subsequent offences.

In addition, their tobacco retail licence will be suspended for the first offence and revoked for subsequent offences.

Read more @

You may want to read Orchard Road No Smoking Zone from Jan 1, 2019

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Lower fees in independent schools for children in low and middle-income families

Primary school pupils

From next April, children from low and middle-income families will receive higher subsidies to attend independent schools, with their fees being slashed by more than half in some cases.

The move, announced by Education Minister Ong Ye Kung on Thursday (Dec 27) at a principals’ appointment ceremony, is aimed at promoting greater diversity in these elite schools, while ensuring youths are not deprived of opportunities due to their financial backgrounds.

The new subsidies apply to these eight independent schools – Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), Hwa Chong Institution, Methodist Girls' School, Nanyang Girls' High School, Raffles Girls' School, Raffles Institution, Singapore Chinese Girls' School and St Joseph's Institution; and two specialised independent schools – NUS High School and the School of Science and Technology .


No time to work out? Try express weight training

An inspiring new study of how much – or little – weight training is needed to improve muscles’ strength and size finds that we may be able to gain almost the same muscular benefits with a single, brief set of each exercise.

The general program was simple and familiar, consisting of seven common exercises, including the bench press, lateral pull-down, machine leg press and others. A set of any of these exercises would require lifting to failure through eight to 12 repetitions.

  • One group to do 5 sets of each exercise, total time 70mins
  • One group to do 3 sets of each exercise, total time 40mins
  • One group to do 1 set of each exercise, total time 13mins

After 2 months, the strength improvements were essentially the same, no matter how many – or few – sets the men completed. Only the size of the men’s muscles differed. Those who had completed five sets per session sported greater muscle mass than those who had done three sets or one.


My photo - water lily

a public domain photo by me

Exceptional people: Off-duty cop nabs thief who dropped own phone and wallet

A suspected thief who ran from Choa Chu Kang Stadium last month left behind some valuables, including his own phone and wallet.

When he returned to the scene later, he got detained by an off-duty police officer, Sgt Muhammad Aizat.

Sgt Muhammad Aizat said: "Always lend a helping hand when you can and look out for others.

"If the community can do this, then we can help prevent crime and keep everyone safe."

Read the full story @

Thailand approves medical marijuana

Thailand approved marijuana for medical use and research on Tuesday, the first legalization of the drug in a region with some of the world’s strictest drug laws.

The junta-appointed parliament in Thailand, a country which until the 1930s had a tradition of using marijuana to relieve pain and fatigue, voted to amend the Narcotic Act of 1979 in an extra parliamentary session handling a rush of bills before the New Year’s holidays.

Marijuana traffickers can be subject to the death penalty in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.


Friday, 28 December 2018

Forum: A kind word or smile can be the best present

A recent article on spending time with ageing parents inspired me to think about the best gift that one could give for Christmas (Best present for your ageing parent? Simply be present; Dec 16).

In our materialistic society, we often forget that the best gift is not one that is the most beautiful, most expensive or most practical, but one that is simply sincere.

Like the article mentioned, the gift of time and presence is the best present we can give to our loved ones.

I believe spending time with my octogenarian grandmother is a heartfelt and priceless gift to her, especially with the busy lifestyle I lead.

However, the best gift does not depend solely on the present itself but also on the receiver.

The best present can also be given by extending the spirit of giving to others in the community.

We can be more mindful of others who may not get the chance to receive presents or celebrate the season with their families.

A small donation to less fortunate families or a gentle word and a smile to foreign workers could also be a great present.

Christmas is not just a season of festivities. It is the permeation of love for our loved ones and greater inclusivity of everyone we meet.

Rachel Loh Si Ning


My 2 cents:

Just like the best present need not be expensive or large, doing a good deed does not mean one has to be very generous or doing a lot of good things. 

A simple thing like picking up a piece of paper or a used bottle and throw it into the waste bin is also a good deed. 

A donation of your unused coins to the buskers is also a good deed. You do not need to donate a large sum of money to be considered as a good deed.

Clearing used plates and papers from a hawker centre table is also a good deed. There is no need to clear all the tables to consider as good deed.

If everyone does a little bit of a small good deed, it will accumulate into a major deed.

Health ministry launches online calculator for CareShield Life premiums

Some members of the public will now be able to get an estimate of how much in premiums they might have to pay under CareShield Life, with the launch of an online calculator by the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on Thursday (Dec 27).

CareShield Life is an enhanced version of ElderShield, the current long-term care insurance scheme for those with severe disability.

The scheme will be compulsory for Singapore residents born in 1980 or later, and will be launched in 2020.

Estimate your careshield life premium here.

Read more @

OCBC Bank launches free online will writing service

Getting a lawyer to prepare a basic will typically costs between S$99 and S$500, though there is no legal requirement in Singapore that it must be prepared or witnessed by a lawyer.

To make will writing more accessible here, OCBC Bank has rolled out a free online service for Singapore citizens and residents aged 21 and above to prepare their wills within 10 minutes on their computers, laptops or mobile devices.

Visit for the free will service


Hangover remedies to the rescue

Source: thenewpaper, 24Dec, 2018, pg 15

Video: Color of urine

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Why running should be a mainstay in your weekly fitness routine

Are you a die-hard yogi who has hit a plateau in your physical training? A weight training enthusiast who wants to advance your fitness goal? A swimmer who wants to go faster and farther?

Chances are, you are loading up on resistance or intensifying your workout frequency.

But here is a better way to kick your fitness up a notch: Replace one of your weekly training sessions with a run. When you pair good old cardio work with efforts to improve strength and flexibility, the results may just surprise you.
Aerobic exercises increase stamina

Regular runs will make it easier to breathe when you do another swim, spin or any similar exercise that gets you panting. Over time, your lungs will be less easily fatigued, reducing the number of times you feel a shortness of breath, such as when catching the bus, or running after your dog or children.


Easy steps to avoid burnout

Source: tnp, 24dec, 2018 page 13

Moderate exercise just three times a week and eating healthy can take 10 years off your brain age

Exercising three times a week and eating healthily could reverse the mental decline of ageing by almost a decade, according to a study.

It found older people who exercised for around 100 minutes a week, coupled with a diet high in wholegrains, fruit and vegetables, scored better in tests measuring planning and organisational skills, which can fall away in older age.

The study recruited 160 sedentary people with an average age of 65 who did not have dementia but had problems with decision-making and planning. A quarter did 35-minute sessions of walking, cycling or jogging three times a week for six months, while eating a healthy diet.

These people started out with an average mental age of 93, determined by a series of thinking-skills tests. But after six months, their mental age had improved to the level of an 84-year-old.


Severely obese people undergoing X-rays face 'DOUBLE the risk of cancer'

Extremely obese people need a far higher dose of radiation during X-rays, which more than doubles their risk of getting cancer from the routine scan, research suggests.

A study of 630 severely obese adults - with BMIs of at least 44 - revealed they all received much higher doses of radiation when having X-rays than people of a healthy weight.

Carrying excessive weight increases the amount of tissue that has to be imaged, which calls for a higher radiation dose, the researchers claim.

They conclude the risk of cancer caused by X-ray radiation is 153% higher among obese people than their slimmer counterparts.


Monday, 24 December 2018

Obesity explains almost 1 in 20 cancer cases globally

Excess body weight is responsible for about 4% of all cancer cases worldwide and an even larger proportion of malignancies diagnosed in developing countries, a recent study suggests.

As of 2012, excess body weight accounted for approximately 544,300 cancers diagnosed annually around the world, researchers report in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. While overweight and obese individuals contributed to just 1 per cent of cancer cases in low-income countries, they accounted for 7 to 8 per cent of cancers diagnosed in some high-income Western countries and in Middle Eastern and North African nations.

"Not many people know about excess body weight and its link to cancer," said lead study author Hyuna Sung of the American Cancer Society in Atlanta.

"Trying to achieve healthy weight and maintaining it is important and may reduce the risk of cancer," Sung said by email.

Read more @

No asbestos in J&J baby powders in Singapore: HSA

No asbestos has been detected in Johnson & Johnson baby powders in Singapore, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said on Friday (Dec 21).

The finding is the result of tests conducted on talcum powders by the authority, its spokesman told Channel NewsAsia.

HSA added that it has not received any reports of "adverse reaction" associated with the use of Johnson & Johnson baby powders.

Read more @

You  may want to read something humorous: Why I was called Johnson's Baby Powder by SM Ong

Organic food could be WORSE for the environment

Organic plants are worse for the environment than conventionally farmed foods, new research from Sweden suggests.

A lack of chemical fertilisers means more land is used to grow crops and as a result 70% more carbon is emitted, the study found.

The authors claim that even organic meat and dairy products are – from a climate point of view – worse than their conventionally produced equivalents.


Do not want your child to have asthma or hayfever? Get a pet!

To protect children from asthma and hayfever, parents may need to fill their house with pets.

Every extra dog or cat in the house reduces a child's chance of getting an allergic disease by a fifth, a study has found.

The danger is lowest for children who grow up with five or more pets, probably because of the bugs the animals carry.

Scientists say a large number of pets may have a 'mini-farm' effect, as children who grow up close to cattle on farms also tend to have a lower risk of allergic conditions.


Sunday, 23 December 2018

Scientists succeed in destroying HIV-infected cells in major breakthrough

Scientists have announced a potentially major breakthrough in the fight against HIV.

Researchers at Paris' Institut Pasteur claim they have successfully destroyed cells infected with the virus, which is typically treated with antiretroviral drugs.

The drugs are unable to remove the virus from the body, but medical journal Cell Metabolism yesterday published findings which announced that scientists had found a way to eliminate infected 'reservoir' cells.


More than 92% of escalator accidents due to unsafe behaviour

More than 92% of accidents on escalators happen because users do not practise safe behaviour, according to Building and Construction Authority (BCA) data.

The most common unsafe habits include not holding the handrails, running up escalators and the use of strollers on escalators, BCA told reporters on Thursday (Dec 20).

Other unsafe habits include the use of mobile devices, and not standing within the yellow box of the escalator step.

Read more @

On a diet? A high-protein one may increase your risk of kidney stones

Protein-rich food. Do not take protein supplement if you are eating more of such food.

There are certain things that you do that are generally accepted as healthy. Like eating your vegetables, going to the gym, or cutting down on soft drinks. But sometimes, in an ironic twist of events, doing what you think is best for your health could backfire on you.

Take kidney stones, for instance. They can be caused by eating too much of certain vegetables.

These hardened accumulations of minerals in your kidneys may be the size of a salt grain or as big as a corn kernel. Larger kidney stones can even be shaped like the horns of a stag, said Dr Tan Yung Khan, an urologist from Urohealth Medical Clinic at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital.

Stones that are still in the kidneys (they can move to other parts of the urinary tract) may not cause any symptoms, and you may not even know of their presence, said Dr Tan. But if a stone moves into the ureter and causes a blockage, that’s when it can cause pain that has been compared to that experienced in childbirth or being stabbed, according to Healthline.


Exceptional people: Indonesian woman honoured for helping to thwart cash theft on Jetstar flight

An Indonesian woman was commended on Friday (Dec 21) for her public-spiritedness after she helped police solve a series of theft cases while on a Jetstar flight in June.

Ms Kanya, who declined to reveal her full name, had been on a plane about to depart Singapore for Jakarta during the Hari Raya weekend when she observed two men behaving suspiciously. They were opening the bags in the overhead compartments.

Not wanting to alert them, she walked to the front of the plane and told the flight crew what she saw.

Ms Kanya was given the Public-Spiritedness Award in assisting the Singapore Police Force to solve theft cases on board an aircraft. Source: channelnewsasia


Friday, 21 December 2018

Orchard Road Xmas lightup 2018

3D character

Be joyful

Building in red

Built-up of traffic and pedestrians at the traffic junction


Locals and tourists enjoy the festival season atmosphere

Disney characters are the main characters in the lightup

Game for children

Korean singers

Love is the message

More crowd

One of the few Santas in the lightup

Photo taking with the mannequins

Decoration outside Plaza Singapura

Street decorations

Cars lined up, bumper to bumper

Choir brings joy to the festive season

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Exceptional people: Temasek Polytechnic student wins Harvard Book Prize

He lost both his parents to illness at a young age, but Mr Selva Raju Arumugam made the best of his struggles and began improving the lives of others.

Now 26, the Temasek Polytechnic (TP) final-year student becomes the first TP student to receive the Harvard Prize Book for his civic-mindedness.

Presented by the Harvard University Association of Alumni in Singapore, the award aims to give recognition to altruistic individuals who have, over a sustained period of time, gone beyond the call of duty to perform acts of kindness.


Swimming, walking or lifting weights in the gym 'treats high blood pressure as well as drugs'

Exercise is as effective as prescription drugs at lowering blood pressure, researchers have found.

Regularly walking or swimming and doing simple weight training treats high blood pressure as well as taking pills such as beta blockers or ACE inhibitors, according to data from 40,000 people.

High blood pressure - known by the medical name of 'hypertension' - affects one in three adults, more than 17million of the British population and 75million Americans.


Want to lose weight? It is all in the MIND

Training people in ‘mindfulness’ techniques to stop comfort eating helps them lose weight, a study has found.

Many people eat as a coping strategy when they are stressed, anxious or emotional.

Experts at the University of Warwick trained obese people to overcome this – with dramatic results.

After just four 90-minute mindfulness sessions people lost an average of 6.6lb in six months, far more than the 0.4lb lost by people who did not undergo the sessions.