Reading opens up minds


BACK in my first year when I was asked to read cases by my professor, my immediate reaction was to ask how many pages were there to read.

My professor replied: “There’s no harm reading more.”

I also remember attending a scholarship interview where I was asked to give an account of the books I had read.

Proudly I answered: “I did not read any books besides the academic textbooks.”

It is really depressing and shameful that I took pride of my disinterest towards the habit of reading.

This may appear unusual for a law student like me to recount such a disinterest but I am afraid to say that many of my fellow Malaysian friends share such a disinterest, too.

Reading with Rover

Many students read for the sake of passing their examinations. Many spend time on computer games and working adults may find it tiring to read outside working hours.

As for myself, I turned impatient, disappointed, annoyed and even regretted choosing law as I later found out that I had to read hundreds of pages of cases every week (putting aside the textbooks, commentaries and other journal articles).

Over the years while in law school, I cultivated the habit of reading.

It was hard at the beginning when I had to flip through the dictionary to check the meaning of the words I did not understand, that I lost patience reading the countless pages of books and needless to say I shed many tears in my struggle to finish my law studies.

However, one thing I can assure you is that the sufferings bore fruit. Indeed, they were rewarding. I am no longer sheltered and ignorant.

My general knowledge and vocabulary have increased and with it, my ability to communicate. With the increased knowledge, I can voice an opinion if needed.

The habit of reading opened up my mind that I am now able to see things more objectively than before.

The treasure of knowledge also taught me to keep an open mind and not to accept another’s views blindly.

Reading news and non-fiction illuminates the world for us and reading fiction gives us what non-fiction cannot.

Through reading we travel and through books we find treasures. In those wanderings we find humanity, through the characters we find knowledge.

As how human beings need to be fed, knowledge serves as nourishment for our minds.

Reading opens up the door of knowledge, an important treasure for our country to achieve the 2020 Vision.
So, I urge all of you to cultivate the habit of reading, for yourselves and our country.

JUNE LOH Kulim, Kedah

A strategic game-changer, the Crude dynamics a new economic ‘golden age’ for USA likely?

A SEISMIC shift is under way in global affairs. At its most potent, this dynamic could conceivably upset the accepted wisdom of where the ‘centre of gravity’ of the world economy will lie two decades from now.

A recent report from the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that by as early as 2020, the US could surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer — and achieve complete energy independence by 2030.

The IEA forecasts that the US will increase its production to 23 million barrels a day (MMbd) in 10 years from total available supplies of around 10.3 MMbd currently. Oil and natural gas production in the US is increasing at its fastest pace in 50 years.

The IEA’s outlook on world energy has underscored what recent data have been pointing to: a perceptible decline in the dependence on energy imports for the US.

The US, currently the world’s largest oil consumer using 18.8 MMbd (roughly 22 per cent of global production), imported about 45 per cent of its petroleum (crude as well as products) in 2011. After peaking in 2005, the share of imports in US energy consumption has declined a full 10 percentage points (from over 55 to 45 per cent currently).

Contrary to popular perception, 52 per cent of these imports were sourced from the western hemisphere, with Canada, Venezuela and Mexico supplying 29 per cent, 11 per cent and eight per cent of the US petroleum needs.

Saudi Arabia, the second-largest supplier of oil to the US after Canada, accounted for 14 per cent of US petroleum imports in 2011. The wider Middle East/Persian Gulf accounted for 22 per cent of US petroleum imports in 2011, down by around 25 per cent since 2005.

The US has benefited from large domestic production gains, particularly in shale oil.

This has been made possible by technological innovation in oil drilling such as ‘hydraulic fracturing’ (or ‘fracking’) as well as the opening of hitherto off-limit geologically rich production areas such as Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico (drilling activity in the latter was temporarily halted by President Obama following the oil spill caused from BP’s rig).

What will this trend mean for the global economy? The virtual elimination of the US’s dependence on imported energy in the next one or two decades is being dubbed as a “strategic game-changer”. (The Wall Street Journal carried a piece with the headline ‘Saudi America’ in its Nov 12, 2012 Asian edition.)

According to influential commentators like Niall Ferguson, the celebrated financial historian and Harvard University professor, the abundant availability of indigenous energy could spark a new economic “golden age” for the US.

Uninterrupted supplies of relatively cheaper, and less price-volatile, fossil fuel could galvanise the US manufacturing sector into creating millions of new jobs.

With its productivity advantages, coupled with a gradual convergence of manufacturing wages between developed and fast-growing developing economies, the US could also start becoming attractive once again as a global manufacturing hub, according to Mr Ferguson.

Hence, rather than write off the US economy as a spent force, commentators such as Mr Ferguson believe quite the opposite: that the US will continue to economically rival, and possibly dominate, competitors such as China and India well into the supposedly ‘Asian’ century.

The replacement of imported fuel and the infusion of domestic energy in the US economy will have implications for the US dollar as well, according to this line of reasoning.

According to forecasts by Deutsche Bank, reduced energy dependence would cause the US current account deficit to fall 30 per cent by 2016.

By virtue of these developments, the value of the greenback will appreciate, which will provide an added impetus to declining world oil prices.

The possible reduction of geopolitical risk in global energy markets as a result of America’s energy ‘independence’ resulting in a weaning away from the volatile Middle East, could trigger a sharp reversal in the international oil price. (This scenario assumes, however, that Saudi oil production has not ‘peaked’ between now and then).

By some expert reckoning, the geopolitical risk in current oil prices ranges anywhere from $20 to $30 a barrel.

Such a large reduction in the oil price, should it occur, will exact a heavy toll on the budgets and economies of Middle Eastern oil producers.

Given their demographics, most of these countries will need to continue ‘pump-priming’ their economies for the next decade at least to create jobs and provide social safety nets.

The potential loss of oil income could be a devastating blow to their economies — and for millions of migrant workers who send billions of dollars in remittances to their respective countries.

The other major implication of these potential developments in global energy markets would be on food prices. If world oil prices do indeed trend down for the long run, it will remove the economic incentive for the push into bio-fuels.

This in turn will be welcome news for the world’s poor, as both the stopping of food diversion for bio-fuels combined with lower transport costs will make a significant dent in food prices.

However, if the US economy does not decline into irrelevance by 2030, and is in fact rejuvenated, the global competition for resources will be even more intense — pressuring not only the environment but also prices for non-oil, non-food commodities.

A fascinating global energy landscape is unfolding. Whatever final shape it takes, our continued dependence on energy from fossil fuels will ensure that oil will continue to play a major role in our lives for the foreseeable future.- Dawn/Asia News Network

 By Sakib Sherani
The writer is a former economic adviser to government, and currently heads a macroeconomic consultancy based in Islamabad.

Related posts:
U.S. to Overtake Saudi Arabia, Russia as World’s Top Energy Producer.
South-East Asia in the frontline of US containing China rise?

Building an innovative society

Bad intellectual property image clouds the country’s real progress in encouraging inventors and building an innovation-based society.

Chinese InnovatorsCHINA has been an easy prey worldwide as it is labelled as a country with one of the worst environments for intellectual property (IP) development.

But little has been known about the nation’s steady progress in raising a greater awareness of IP rights protection and significance to build a more innovation-based society.

Chinese State Intellectual Property Office commissioner Tian Lipu admitted that China is still full of pirated goods and copycats but he also pointed out that many more individuals and companies are turning innovators instead.

“I think the Western media has painted a wrong picture of China on its efforts to protect IP rights. China’s image has been quite bad in other countries,” he said in a recent interview in Beijing.

He acknowledged that one would be able to find pirated goods in places like Beijing’s Sanlitun and Luohu district in Shenzhen but many had overseen the fact that China had developed a comprehensive system and legal structure to protect local and foreign patents and trademarks.

“Last year, we received 526,000 applications for invention patents, accounting for 25% of the world’s total. About 110,000 local applicants were granted patents. While the number of applications reflects the level of awareness of IP protection among the public, the figures of patents granted indicate how good is the quality of the inventions.

“However, the intellectual property office is more concerned about the valid patents and to see whether these patented creations are well received by the market and how well the patent is maintained by its owner. To date, there are about 350,000 valid patents owned by locals,” he said.

In China, applicants can register patents for invention, patents for utility model and patents for design. The office processed 1.63 million applications for these three types of patents last year.

As for trademarks, China received a total of 9.71 million applications as of the end of last year, with 6.65 million of them successfully registered. Besides, some 110,000 software copyrights were registered last year.

“Not many people know that China is one the countries which pay the most royalties for patents, trademarks, copyrights and franchises and one of the world’s largest genuine software buyers.

“Government departments, banks, insurance firms and many companies are using original softwares. Many firms buy books, music, movies and TV shows through copyright trade,” Tian said.

He said foreign companies had gained huge profits in overseas markets after the production of their original equipment manufacturer (OEM) goods in China.

“I think because of the conducive environment for IP protection in China, foreign investors would have a peace of mind to entrust Chinese manufacturers to produce their OEM goods.”

Last week, the office’s patents administration department announ-ced that as of June, all the departments of the 31 provincial and municipal governments had installed genuine softwares.

By the end of next year, it said, all city and county-level governments would do the same. As of the end of October, all levels of government spent some 1.48 billion yuan (RM725mil) on 2.3 million licences for operating system, office and anti-virus softwares.

It is learnt that most of the state-owned enterprises have been equipped with proper softwares while 50% of smaller companies would be given until next year to follow suit.

Tian said China might not have a society priding itself on IP like in the United States but it would not take too long for the Chinese to catch up with the rest of the world.

“China used to be a country with the highest number of inventions during the Song dynasty – and 50% of the world’s total inventions came from China. China then laid dormant for centuries until we started educating our people on the value of IP 20 years ago. I think it may take one or two more generations for us to build a society that lives by the IP culture,” he said.

He revealed that his office, the Trademark Office under the State Administration of Industry and Commerce and the National Copy-right Administration were amending the Patent Law, Trademark Law and Copyright Law to give more tooth to enforcement and judiciary agencies to carry out their duty.

Under the amended patent law, damages will be calculated based on the illegal gains of the party which infringes the owner’s right rather than the owner’s actual loss. This is because the act of infringing one’s right is relatively easy compared to the act of protecting and maintaining it, he said.

He warned that as Chinese companies reinforce their IP development, they should be on guard to face the so-called “patent trolls” which tend to buy patents at low prices and go around taking action against those infringing their rights.

“These ‘patent trolls’ did not involve in any R&D and innovation. They are a byproduct of IP development sidetracking its real spirit.

“Piracy and IP infringement exist everywhere in the world and cannot be totally wiped out. But investors should be confident about doing business in China as its government is resolute in addressing the problem.”


Why Is Creativity More Important Than Capitalism?

Haydn Shaughnessy, ForbesContributor

Creativity (Photo credit: Mediocre2010)

Do you know your creativity quotient?  Creativity sounds a little weak, a touchy-feely topic, but it turns to be one of the most important memes of the past 100 years, and very definitely ranks alongside concepts (or ideologies) like capitalism in the pantheon of big ideas.

I admit to being a creativity sceptic. When it came into vogue thirty years ago I cringed. Creative? What’s wrong with busy? Or dedicated. Or hard working. But creativity’s rise – measured by the use of terms “creative” and “creativity” in Google‘s nGram database – has been relentless for over a century. It is NO fad.

For those that don’t know it the nGram database contains roughly 4% of all books ever published, in the case of this data in the USA and Britain.

The problem of creativity – how to manifest it in disciplined environments – hasn’t changed much during that period.

But if you look at the chart below you can get a sense of its importance.  The use of “creative” dwarfs terms like technological progress and scientific progress.

In fact digging a little deeper I found out:

The use of the language of creativity is increasing when people write about scientific progress. Progress itself is a term in declining use, seemingly replaced by the idea of creativity, at least in the sciences. You can’s see that from the chart – to get to that data I examined the use of a variety of terms over the period 1960 – 2010.

The best Google nGram data goes up to 2000 but I checked search interest in these terms, post 2000, and the patterns continue.

The use of creativity is increasing in business and management literature, declining where people write about religion and education, and of course rising when people write about cities.

Jonah Leher’s book Imagine underlines the slacker nature of creativity but also it’s importance. Let’s face it the quest to be more creative as a society is as old as (modern) business.

Creativity is big in entertainment too, naturally, if entertainment is taken to include art and music but surprise, surprise the use of the term in entertainment declined in the period 1981 – 2000, while it increased in association with business and management.

Is all this just a reflection of publishers pumping more books out? No, all data is normalised.

Is there anything to conclude from the data?  The themes of creativity have been pretty consistent down the years – how organizations stifle it, how necessary it is, and how it creates risk.

The one lacking ingredient seems to be a creative answer to those problems, though I think we may be on the cusp of one (more of that later in the week).

Newscribe : get free news in real time

War for Talent! How to win it for Malaysia?

Winning the war for talent


Are hefty paychecks and good career prospects the only aspects talents look for in a base country? The answers may be the key to a country’s success in bringing its best brains home.

THERE is a global war being waged as companies and countries struggle to keep their best within their borders while they try to woo the world’s brightest.

And if salary perks and benefits offered by countries like Qatar, China, Singapore and Malaysia for returning experts and expatriates are anything to go by, the “War for Talent”, a term coined by research giant McKinsey & Company in 1997, is still going strong despite the global economic slowdown.

But 13 years after the term was coined, the landscape of the war has greatly changed. Most notably, the “weapons” used to attract talents have changed.

While salary packages and fringe benefits used to be one of the most powerful magnets for talent, it may not be enough in the current human resource climate.

Dr Tan: ‘When you have the brains or energy, you want to go to the best place to learn from the best’

David Lee, author of the Insights: The Journal of the Northeast HR Association article titled “Becoming a Talent Magnet: How to Attract and Retain Great Employees”, says that competitive pay and a good benefits package although important are not enough to attract and retain “the best of the best”.

Quoting a study by another US consulting firm Kepner-Tregoe of Princeton, Lee, an executive coach and founder of US consulting and training firm HumanNature@Work, points out that 40% of the employees surveyed felt that increased salaries and financial rewards were ineffective in reducing turnover.

Hence, the vital question for most human resource managers and national talent development organisations is “What are the world’s best looking for?”

Lee says the proverbial carrot lies in the intangible, such as pride in where they work and what they do, appreciation from their managers, opportunities to learn and grow as well as respect.

Interviews with Malaysian diasporas and experts who have returned seem to support the trend.

Although many of them acknowledge that salary packages and career prospects matter, it is often not a deal breaker when it comes to their decision to remain abroad or return home.

Wong: ‘If Malaysia wants to attract talents, it must be able to provide a conducive environment’

One of the main attractions for talents is the environment for them to develop and excel in their fields of interest.

When Kuala Lumpur-born consultant psychiatrist and analytic psychotherapist Dr Tan Eng-Kong left for a sabbatical in Australia in 1976, he knew he would get to work with some of the best psychiatrists in the world.

“At that time, Australia invited the best of American and British psychiatrists to its country, and I was lucky to be able to take a sabbatical from lecturing in Sydney,” says Dr Tan, who was in Kuala Lumpur recently.

As he found greater opportunities to practise his field of interest psychotherapy in Australia, he chose to stay there and build his career.

“In those days, the field of psychotherapy was not developed yet in Malaysia. So, I had to stay back in Australia just to practise,” says Dr Tan, who has now spent over 30 years building a successful career in Sydney.

While psychotherapy is currently gaining popularity among local mental health professionals, Dr Tan still feels it is more popular and better received in the West.

“When you have the brains or energy, you want to go to the best place to learn from the best,” says Dr Tan, who still visits Malaysia regularly to share his expertise with local mental health professionals.

Dr Lam Wei-Haur, who has just come back under the returning experts programme (REP) after spending six years in Britain and two years in China doing research in ocean renewable energy, shares a similar experience.

“Funding for research at a post-graduate level was limited when I finished my undergraduate studies in 2001. I was lucky to obtain a scholarship to further my studies in the UK,” says Lam, who is now an associate professor in Universiti Malaya’s department of civil engineering.

Although the tax cuts and benefits made the transition back to Malaysia easier, I came back because I felt I could contribute more to my field of research back home. – DR LAM WEI-HAUR

“However, after six years of research in the UK, I wanted to learn about the system of research and development in China,” he adds.

Lam, who is in his 30s, says he came back because he felt he would be able to contribute more to the field of ocean energy in Malaysia.

“Although the tax cuts and benefits such as a permanent residentship offer for my spouse made the transition back to Malaysia easier, the reason I came back is because I felt that I could contribute more to my field of research here, back home,” he explains.

There may be more established research institutions and teams overseas but having the opportunity to work with researchers in a developing nation such as Malaysia is like “sketching on a white piece of paper” for him.

On worries that Malaysia may not have sufficient funding and infrastructure for research, Dr Lam says researchers have to look for opportunities themselves.

“Our Government is now very supportive of scientific research and there are a number of sources researchers can go to for grants. We must understand that opportunities do not come to us if we do not make an effort to ask or look for it,” he stresses.

While Dr Hood Azlan Mohd Thabit, 35, is determined to return to Malaysia to continue his research in endocrinology (specifically in diabetes) after his post-graduate research in Cambridge, he agrees that the base country of a scientist or researcher is of marginally less importance compared to the research network and collaborations he could forge with other researchers around the world.

“It is very difficult for an individual or group to do research on its own, not just because the world is more globalised now, but because it is so easy to collaborate through the Internet, they have no excuse not to,” he says.

While certain countries have established infrastructure for research, others have the human resource and expertise, he adds.

“Personally, it is really for the satisfaction of doing what you do. And coming home, for most people, is about whether they can continue their work in a meaningful way,” says Dr Hood.

For corporate social responsibility (CSR) consultant Wong Lai Yong, who hails from Penang, the location of her base country does not matter as long as she is able to contribute to society from where she is.

Since she first volunteered to read to the blind in primary school, community service has been in her blood. Today, she continues to serve the people around her by spreading her knowledge on childcare development and social entrepreneurship based on her experiences in Japan.

“I’ve always realised that education is the best way to bring people out of poverty, so I think about the ways I can help bring education to people who have no access to primary education. That is why I have never confined my contributions to Malaysia alone,” says the cheerful 39-year-old.

She does not plan to return to Malaysia in the near future but even so, she visits regularly to share her knowledge.

“If Malaysia wants to attract talents, it must be able to provide a supportive and conducive environment for these talents to perform and contribute,” she says.

“We might not be able to compete with many developed nations in terms of salary and benefits, but we can offer Malaysian diasporas the comfort of home and the company of their family members.”

Malaysian transplant

Carol Lamb calls herself a transplanted Malaysian, having settled down in the United States in the 1980s. Lamb, who now runs communication firm Fantastic International Inc in Atlanta, says she is often asked in social circles where she is from.

“How do I convey that I am from a country surrounded by glistening islands with white sandy beaches, tropical rainforests with unique animal and plant life, cool mountain ranges with quaint villages, tall skyscrapers with world-class shopping, a fusion of Asia and British rule? I decided to build my own website and affiliate with one of the biggest online travel booking engines on the Internet,,” she tells.

With the help of Tourism Malaysia and its New York office, she travelled back to Malaysia and wrote about exciting tourist attractions and sites. The concept of medical tourism caught her attention and she is now helping to promote Malaysia as a health tourism destination among Americans.

“The number of Americans going to Malaysia is small. This is the reason why I created the Global Marketing Network’. I promote medical facilities that are in Malaysia at exhibitions around the US.

“Malaysian medical facilities need to be seen. Malaysia also needs to be on the lips and minds of people thinking about having surgery abroad. What better way to do this than participating in exhibitions?

“Additionally, most Americans do not know that Malaysia used to be a British colony. They are also unaware that English is widely spoken, the country has great infrastructure, fantastic beaches, awesome hotels, scrumptious food and is multi-racial and multi-cultural.

“Who better to explain all this face-to-face than a Malaysian who knows the country well?”

 Weaving a win-win web

BUILDING a global Malaysian diaspora network might seem like a colossal task but after the encouraging response entrepreneur Winston Choe received for the first diaspora meetup he planned in Silicon Valley, he is convinced that it may not be as difficult as it seems.

He had put out the word on the meetup he planned to link Malaysian technology companies with professionals and investors in the US in December, and was pleasantly surprised when he found over 80 Malaysians in the San Fransisco Bay Area, many of whom he had not met during the years he lived there.

“What I did was send the word out over the Internet through Facebook pages, LinkedIn groups and e-mail lists about the meetup. Within two weeks, we had to increase our initial cap of 30 people to 50,” said Choe, a Petaling-Jaya born CEO of his own business networking software company in Silicon Valley.

In fact, the meetup sponsored by Talent Corporation Malaysia (TalentCorp) that features the topic “Malaysian Tech Sector Opportunities” has attracted 80 interested participants, but Choe had to limit his audience to ensure quality interaction.

“I am greatly encouraged by the initial feedback and am confident that the next one will easily attract at least 100 people,” he said via Skype.

The idea of a meetup in Silicon Valley came up when Choe was in Malaysia in October for a workshop organised by TalentCorp.

“This meetup is a follow-up to the workshop we did in Kuala Lumpur in October,” said Choe, who is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs build their businesses.

“My goal is to allow professionals (in Silicon Valley) to explore cross border opportunities between the United States and Asia,” he added.

Before the meetup, held at the Intel Santa Clara campus, Choe had selected four MSC companies and coached them to make a 15-minute business presentation to Silicon Valley professionals and investors. At the meetup, he also presented a win-win model for Malaysian diasporas to contribute to various sectors in Malaysia.

“After the workshop in Kuala Lumpur, we realised that what Malaysian start-ups need most are funding, market access and global partners,” said Choe.

The win-win model he suggested is focused on enhancing these three aspects for Malaysian companies as well as professionals and investors abroad.

In terms of funding, Malaysian diaspora with successful business ventures can introduce Malaysian companies to investors in the West, and Malaysian companies can reciprocate by introducing them to investors in Asia.

“While Malaysian diaspora can help Malaysian companies access the US market, Malaysian companies can serve as a gateway for them to access the Asian market.

“What we are trying to do now is to build a global (Malaysian) diaspora network with physical meetups, workshops and also online social tools, and our objective is to accelerate various sectors in Malaysia, starting with infotech,” he said.

As a result of the meetup, Choe made eight qualified introductions between professionals at the workshop and three MSC companies that presented that day.

A LinkedIn group has also been set up to connect participants of the workshop.

“A few participants have expressed interest in helping me organise more of such meetups,” said Choe.

With their help, Choe’s goal in 2012 is to organise similar meetups across the world in cities such as New York, Toronto, London, Sydney, Melbourne and even Singapore.

“This represents about 80% of the Malaysian diaspora population, and we hope that they can take this platform and replicate it,” said Choe.

Related Stories:

More professionals return home

Related Posts:

Innovation can start from home 

Diversity Vital For Innovation!

Recipe for innovation

How To Kick Innovation Up a Notch to Nanovation?

Innovation management

America’s Entrepreneurial Innovation Needs Help

Innovation Takes Real Effort, Even For Startups

Whither finance for innovation?

China to lead world in innovation by 2020: survey

Immigration Can Fuel U.S. Innovation—and Job Growth

SP Setia Boss Liew is Malaysian Ernst & Young

Malaysia Toray Science Foundation (MTSF) – Winning

Milky Way home to billions of planets

Milky Way teeming with ‘billions’ of planets: Study

Billions of Alien PlanetsNew methods have allowed the Kepler space telescopeto discover billions more planets in the galaxy.

WASHINGTON: The Milky Way is home to far more planets than previously thought, boosting the odds that at least one of them may harbour life, according to a study released on Wednesday.

Not long ago, astronomers counted the number of “exoplanets” detected outside our own solar system in the teens, then in the hundreds. Today the tally stands at just over 700.

But the new study, published in Nature, provides evidence that there are more planets than stars in our own stellar neighbourhood.

“We used to think that Earth might be unique in our galaxy,” said Daniel Kubas, a professor at the Institute of Astrophysics in Paris, and co-leader of the study.

“Now it seems that there are literally billions of planets with masses similar to Earth orbiting stars in the Milky Way.”

Two methods have dominated the hunt over the past two decades for exoplanets too distant and feint to perceive directly.

One measures the effect of a planet’s gravitational pull on its host star, while the other detects a slight dimming of the star as the orbiting planet passes in front of it.

Both of these techniques are better at finding planets that are massive in size, close to their stars, or both, leaving large “blind spots”.

An international team of astronomers led by Kubas and colleague Arnaud Cassan used a different method called gravitational microlensing, which looks at how the combined gravitational fields of a host star and the planet itself act like a lens, magnifying the light of another star in the background.

If the star that acts as a lens has a planet, the orbiting sphere will appear to slightly brighten the background star.

One advantage of microlensing compared to other methods is that it can detect smaller planets closer in size to our own, and further from their hot-burning stars.

The survey picked up on planets between 75 million and 1.5 billion kilometres from their stars — a range equivalent in the Solar System to Venus at one end and Saturn at the other — and with masses at least five times greater than Earth.

Over six years, the team surveyed millions of stars with a round-the-world network of telescopes located in the southern hemisphere, from Australia to South Africa to Chile.

Besides finding three new exoplanets themselves — no minor feat — they calculated that there are, on average, 1.6 planets in the Milky Way for every star, Cassan told AFP.

Whether this may be true in other galaxies is unknown.

“Remarkably, these data show that planets are more common than stars in our galaxy — they are the rule rather than the exception,” Cassan said. “We also found lighter planets … would be more common than heavier ones.”

One in six of the stars studied was calculated to host a planet similar in mass to Jupiter, half had planets closer in mass to Neptune, and nearly two-thirds had so-called super-Earths up to 10 times the mass of the rock we call home.

Another study published the same day in Nature, meanwhile, showed that planets simultaneously orbiting two stars — known as circumbinary planet systems — are also far more common that once supposed.

There are probably millions of planets with two suns, concluded the study, led by William Welsh of San Diego State University in California.

Make Mandarin a compulsory exam subject

Chua: Make Mandarin a compulsory exam subject

KUALA LUMPUR: The MCA will push for Mandarin to be made a compulsory Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) paper for students in Sekolah Menengah Jenis Kebangsaan (SMJK).

Party president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said making the subject compulsory was important because there should be a minimum level of language proficiency for those wishing to teach in Chinese schools.

He added that the boards of SMJK nationwide were unanimous in their decision to request that the language be made a compulsory subject.

Dr Chua, however, said there would be a shortage of Mandarin teachers to teach the subject.

The party has directed its Youth chief Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong, who is also Deputy Education Minister, to look into the matter.

Dr Chua hopes to see more students from independent Chinese schools joining teacher training colleges once the institutes begin accepting Unified Examination Certificate students.

He said this at a press conference after a meeting with representatives from the 78 SMJK school boards yesterday.

Dr Chua also urged the Education Ministry to look into reintroducing English Literature in schools to strengthen the command of English.

“Learning Science and Mathematics in English is good but as far as MCA is concerned, there is a need for literature to be reintroduced.”

On the criticism levelled against MCA’s forum on hudud on Dec 4, Dr Chua said: “There is nothing wrong in educating my own members. We don’t believe hudud will not affect the non-Muslims and we are holding this to educate them.”

He added that there were many educated people asking for more space for discussion.

“Why are they upset when we do a closed door forum? Does DAP or PAS have something to hide which makes them want to prevent MCA from holding its own forum within its own premises?” Dr Chua asked.

The forum will be held at Wisma MCA and is open to the public, although it is organised for party members.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,261 other followers

%d bloggers like this: