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NUS students navigate the physics of sailing

24 October 2012

USP students had an enjoyable hands-on learning trip about the physics of sailing

Going beyond the classroom, students from the NUS University Scholars Programme (USP) had a hands-on field trip filled with sun, sea and wind, learning the ropes about the physics of sailing. The trip was led by Associate Professor Martin Henz, USP Deputy Director (Residential Life), and organised under the "Random Walks in Science" student interest group. The programme allows science enthusiasts in USP (from all disciplines) to come together weekly to discuss about science-related issues.

Kick-starting the day on 25 September was a tour of the Changi Sailing Club where the five participating students appreciated the physical dynamics of the various types of boats such as dinghies, catamarans and keel boats with different types of hulls and sails. Together with Assoc Prof Henz, Visiting Research Associate Professor at the Centre for Quantum Technologies Dr Cord Axel Muller shared about the theories of physics related to boat movement such as Newton's laws and conservation of momentum and basic fluid mechanics.

"More than just the physics of sailing, many of us learnt a lot about sailing in general that day. It was the first exposure to sailing for many and it only highlighted that curiosity need not be restricted to academia; it can also be applicable while sailing, for example," said Varun Soni, a second-year Engineering Science Programme and USP student.

Once onboard, the students had the rare opportunity to guide the boat. "All of us even got the chance to be at the helm, guiding the boat along. The thunderstorm that came next just made things more exciting and gave us a better feel of the forces of nature," declared a thrilled Varun.

Besides the "Random Walks in Science", USP students can also join the expanded Random series such as "Random Looks at Art", "Random Places in Singapore" as well as the "Random Flights of Thought".