- Flood barriers for MRT stations
- Experts looking at way to push cancer cells to 'suicide'
- NTU scientists find way to bend ceramic
With storms likely to occur more often in future, the authorities have started equipping MRT stations with flood barriers.
The first six have been retrofitted at a cost of S$2.2mil (RM5.5mil), with barriers similar to those used in Hong Kong's MTR stations. Design works for another 11 stations are ongoing, said a Land Transport Authority (LTA) spokesman.
The first batch of stations – Tan-jong Pagar, Orchard, Raffles Place, City Hall, Novena and Little India – were selected as they are more vulnerable to flooding, said SMRT director for media and marketing communications Alina Boey.
In its Code of Practice on surface water drainage, national water agency PUB states that the underground rapid transit system must be "stringently protected against flood risks".
Aside from minimising the storm catchments of underground MRT stations, it said integrated watertight barriers at least 1m above flood and ground levels should be used to protect underground stations and tunnels.
MRT stations already have elevated entrances to guard against flooding, but the barriers add another layer of protection.
While no MRT station has ever been flooded, Singapore has been seeing more flash floods over the past few years, caused by heavy, intense bouts of rainfall.
The National Environment Agency said last month that very heavy storms in Singapore are likely to become more frequent and intense if global temperatures rise.
The flood barriers at the six stations range from 1m to 1.5m in height, and have been tested to ensure they are watertight. It takes two people up to 15 minutes to install them.
Smaller, swing-type barriers have been installed at station plant rooms that house equipment such as condenser units, and vent shafts, glass panels and other openings have also been sealed. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
Scientists have found that the difference between life and death for some cancer cells hinges on a tiny molecular change – which could one day be harnessed to drive cancer cells to suicide.
Researchers from Oxford University, the University of Texas, and the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star), found that E2F, a protein which helps control cell growth, can be affected by a process called methylation, where a cluster of carbon and hydrogen atoms latches on to the outside of a gene and makes it harder or easier for that gene to be active.
Depending on where E2F is methylated, it can either cause cells to die off or to proliferate, with what researchers termed "an exquisite level of precision".
Professor Nick La Thangue of the department of oncology at Oxford University, who supervised the project explained: "It's like there's an angel and a devil competing to get on each shoulder of the protein. Which one gets the upper hand is able to whisper in the ear of the protein and tell it what it should do. With the molecular flag on one shoulder, E2F goes into cell kill mode. With the flag on the other, it goes into cell growth mode."
The team suggested that this mechanism could be used for new cancer treatments to push cancer cells to die off.
A*STAR chief scientist Sir David Lane said: "The detailed study of protein modifications is proving to be a very fertile area for the discovery of effective new targets for cancer drug discovery." — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
Ceramic is famously strong, yet brittle. No one can bend a ceramic bowl like one might a metal spoon or a disposable plastic cup – it would simply crack.
But Singaporean researchers are challenging this notion and seeing surprising results.
Scientists at Nanyang Technological University's Temasek Laboratories, which specialises in defence science research, have found a way to make ceramic flexible.
This could pave the way for strong yet pliable ceramic for use in body or even vehicular armour.
Ceramic is stronger than many metals and able to withstand much higher temperatures of up to 1,200 deg C.
Working with ceramic filaments with a thickness of just a micrometre – one millionth of a metre –Temasek Laboratories director Gan Chee Lip succeeded in bending them repeatedly by up to 8% of their size.
He did so by making each crystal grain in the ceramic as wide as the filament, reducing the number of boundaries between grains where cracks usually occur.
Professor Gan and his team, who worked with researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States for more than a year, published their findings last month in the leading scientific journal, Science.
The filaments also showed "shape memory", meaning they could return to their original shapes once heated.
"Our focus now is to really see whether what we have demonstrated can be extended to larger sized materials," said Prof Gan.
"That is the key." — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
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