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Showing posts from 2011

On why too many fruits may be bad for your stomach

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To answer this question, you need to appreciate that the absorption of the frustose molecules in your body is not straightforward.

To transfer the fructose molecules from your intestine to your bloodstream across the intestinal membrane, you need to use a special vehicle named GLUT5 transporter. You can imagine GLUT5 as a truck specially designed to carry fructose molecules.

The instruction to fabricate the GLUT5 transporter can be found in a program named SLC2A5. The SLC2A5 program is very small program of about 6.5 kilobytes (or 53,371 base-pair). And the location of the SLC2A5 program is in our first chromosome.

Since the number of GLUT5 transporter in your intestine is finite, the amount of fructose transportable across the intestinal membrane is also finite. 

And if you introduce too many fructose molecules in your stomach, there wouldn't be enough GLUT5 transporter to carry the fructose molecules and transport them to the bloodstream. The average absorption threshold for one-t…

Should You Migrate to the New Ujrah Scheme for Your PTPTN Loan?

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My wife recently asked me whether or not she should participate in the new ujrah scheme as announced by PTPTN. First of all, for new contracts, the introduction of the ujrah scheme at 1% per annum would definitely save the student some interest. For example, for a given loan amount to be repaid in 180 months, the ujrah of 1% is approximately equivalent to an compound interest rate of 1.9%. Thus this scheme save the student 1.1% per annum.

However, for the old contracts signed-off before 2008, the situation is a little bit tricky, and PTPTN offers no guide to the graduated students. To close this gap, I developed a simple criterion to assist her in decision making. And the answer can be yes or no, depending on your current debt level and your remaining repayment periods.

First of all, the total amount of monies to be repaid to PTPTN, if you choose to participate in the Ujrah scheme can be calculated as:


where P'' is your reduced balance as of June 1, 2008 (datum), ΔP is differe…

Visual Interpolation and Partially Occluded Nude

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The human brain evolves to perform visual interpolation, visual extrapolation, and visual completion.


The image on the right depicts an Assam tiger occluded in the Kaziranga National Park, India. When confronted with such a situation in the wild, the human brain must be able compute with the electrical signals transmitted by the photosensors in the eyes, distinguish between different shades of yellow and brown colors, interpolate between the color shades, isolate unimportant information (i.e. grass), and generate a group of electrical signals to represent the predator. When these signals are relayed to the amygdala, the emotional CPU of the brain, a "run" signal will be generated and get cascaded to motor control CPU of the brain.

A human brain which failed to perform the above visual interpolation is bound to become the lunch of another species. So, our brain has the natural tendency to do interpolation and enjoy doing so.

Now, let's turn our attention to the image on t…

Puranic Cosmology of the Ancient Indians

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The Judeo-Christian time scale as computed by James Ussher in 1650, that the universe was created single-handedly by Yahweh in October 23, 4004 BC (proleptic Julian calendar), is rather simple if you were to put it side by side with the Puranic model conceived by the ancient Indians. The Puranic model of time assumes that the world goes through a manvantara cycle of four yugas or ages, namely, the Krta yuga, the Tretā yuga, the Dvāpara yuga, and the Kali yuga.

The durations of the four yugas is carefully chosen by the ancient Indians so that (a) they form an arithmetic progression; (b) they sum to a multiple of ten; (c) their arithmetic sum is 4.32 million years.


Furthermore, the model also assumes the following conversion factors for dealing with longer time span,

1. 1,000 manvantara cycles is equivalent to one Brahmā day (approx. 4.32 billion years);
2. The next 1,000 manvantara cycles is equivalent to one Brahma night;
3. One Brahma day and one Brahma night is equivalent to one Kalp…

Why do the words "inflammable" and "flammable" mean the same thing?

I attended an introductory course on the Laws and Regulations on Scheduled Waste in Malaysia recently and I was particularly annoyed when the trainer highlighted a "mistake" in the English version of the Environmental Quality Scheduled Wastes Regulations. She ridiculed the use of the word "inflammable" to mean "easily burst into flame" in the legal document and wondered why such "obvious" mistake can escape the eyes of so many law practioners. I immediately objected to her interpretation and pointed out that the use of the word "inflammable" is correct in its context, but unfortunately she did not believe in me.

First of all, you need to believe that the lawyers are not idiots and the use of correct terms in a legal document is of paramount importance to them. So, the probability of lawyers making such an "obvious" mistake is practically zero. So, if you can accept that lawyers are not stupid, move on to my next paragraph, el…

On the Origin of the Chinese Character Representing the Ancestor (祖): Part One

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Last Tuesday was officially the Day of Qingming (清明). Calendrically, this day is one of the twenty-four seasonal markers in Chinese lunisolar system, but it was later designated as the “day” to perform ancestral worship (祭祖).


In Malaysia, the Chinese will usually pick the nearest weekends before April 5 to perform the act. Several rounds of grave gatherings are usually required because we tend to have many great grandparents, grandparents and/or parents, both patrilinearly or matrilinearly.

About two weeks ago, I went to the graves of my great grandparents (Hong Longwang 洪隆往 and Xie Minniang 谢敏娘) in Bukit Kangkar. Both of my grandparents died on the same year. My great grandfather died on February 10, 1949 (己丑年正月十三日酉时), while his wife died approximately nine months later on October 23 (己丑年九月二日未时). Nobody knows when they were born as the birth dates are not engraved on the tombstones. And possibly neither of them did not know their birthdays. I was told that my great-grandfather was in…