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Friday, November 24, 2006

A Malaysian astronaut

"An American in space is called astronaut, a Russian in space is called cosmonaut, but a Malaysian in space will be called can-or-not?"

Author unknown. If you are Malaysian and knows what the Malaysian astronaut was told to attempt to do when he is catapulted into space, you will appreciate the "quote" or "joke" better.

Well, maybe I will add a little background. Dr Mahathir, the former Prime Minister coined this phrase "Malaysia Boleh" (Malaysia Can) to encourage Malaysian to reach for the sky. Russia agreed to sending a Malaysian astronaut to the space in a deal to sell some aircrafts to Malaysia. Among other tasks, what Malaysia has proposed for their astronaut is to make teh tarik (tea cooled down by pouring boiling hot tea from one container to another in a long spout), toss roti canai (a kind of "pancake") and spin the traditional Malay top in space. (as a scientist, I will question the viability of the first task as it will depend on gravity to be achievable.

Recently also, there were some controversy over the Malays' share of the corporate sector. One of the policies of Malaysia is to assist Malays to reach 30% share of the corporate sector via an affirmative program. Malaysia is a multi-racial country with 3 major races - Malay (majority), Chinese, Indians and others. An Australian columnist had commented that instead of fighting over the share of the pie, Malaysia should instead concentrate on increasing the wealth to be shared. He has changed that slogan from "Malaysia Boleh" to "Malaysia Bodoh" (Malaysia stupid).

UPDATE 18 December 2006: No making teh tarik or tossing roti canai for the angkasawan (new Malaysian term for astronaut). Instead, it is proposed that the angkasawan do scientific experiments proposed by various local universities.

Among the experiments proposed are:

  • to study the effect of microgravity and space radiation on normal and cancer cells from bones and livers

  • to study the effects of microgravity and space radiation on the mechanisms and rate of bacterial growth, drug resistance and the genetic mechanism controlling them

  • to grow 2 types of crystallised lipases (enzymes widely used in industrial applications and domestic products) in space

  • to monitor the bio-medical and physiological performance of the Angkasawan

  • to monitor the effects of microgravity and space radiation on the Angkasawan

  • psychological monitoring of the Angkasawan

  • pre and post monitoring of the Angakasawan's health

  • to take certain Malaysian fruits and herbs to space for consumption (objective: to develop some favourite Malaysian food in a form suitable for transportation storage and consumption in space)

  • live class in Space (to demonstrate to Malaysian students on earth on the effects of space on selected physical phenomena

1 comment:

Lex said...

Ouchh... Painful... =(
We're not THAT bad... =P