Science Cafe #1: Outer Space

3 min read

Last week, Science Centre relaunched its Science Cafe. It tackles different themes every month, this month being Outer Space. This monthly event hopes to create conversations not just in the science industries, but the arts, social sciences, and humanities as well — evident in this instalment’s range of speakers. During the session, the audience can also eat, drink, and get personal with the experts. Here’s a summary of each sharing:


Local space company’s CEO, Zhen Ning, shares with us how he ended up in the space industry through his sense of wonderment. From building hi-fi equipment to designing racecars, the thing that captured his wildest imagination was the space shuttle that went up as a rocket but down as a plane to be reused. It spurred him to found NUSpace (pronounced new space). NUSpace is a play on words for being in the new space industry, and is a spinoff from NUS (National University of Singapore). NUSpace focuses on providing satellite service and IoT connectivity. (We’ve written a previous article on one of their shoe-box satellites!)

LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DEBRIS – Isabella Ong and Yun Teng Seet

Titled is a research and visual art project investigating the visibility of orbital debris (space junk!). Isabella and Yun Teng’s aimed to show different perspectives and create conversations of space debris outside of the astronomy industry.

They highlight that the space debris problem is not as different as Earth’s plastic waste problem. Just because space debris are found in OUTER space, does not mean this problem is outside Earth’s jurisdiction. There are about 32,430 debris objects that have been tracked by Space Surveillance Networks; many more have not been tracked. One calculation is that these debris objects weigh approximately 6000 tons, which is equivalent to 1000 African male adult elephants! The more space debris there is, the more likely satellites get damaged through collision.

Follow their progress on Instagram here.

STELLAR ENTANGLEMENT – Jan Swierkowski, Instytut B61

Jan’s presentation revolved around ‘Art and Science of the invisible world’. The’ invisible world’ is everything that we cannot experience with our senses and yet exists – for example, an electron or a blackhole. The challenge for every scientist is in presenting their observations of the invisible world, which is often hidden behind many equations.

One of the more famous examples would be the creation of partial differential equations showing that the quantum state of a physical system oscillates on a temporal scale – otherwise more commonly understood as Schrodinger’s Cat whereby a cat in a box could be both dead and alive. Very abstract. This transition from equations to a qualitative concept is called conceptual blending (Fauconnier & Turner, 2002).

Instytut B61 aims to focus on conceptual blending by integrating the ‘scientific space’ and ‘artistic space’ to create a ‘meaning space’ in their exhibitions. The image below showcases their take on the planetary nebula.


Catch the next Science Cafe on April 14, 2023, as we bring in experts from quantum pyhsics. Watch our Instagram stories when tickets go out for sale!

Written by Lydia Konig
Photography by Raphael Ng


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