Tuesday, October 29, 2013

South Pole students on penguin patrol

Qi Luo Monday, October 28, 2013

Twenty-three students at the City University of Hong Kong will celebrate Christmas with penguins in an unusual expedition to Antarctica that mixes science and the arts.

The expedition will last from December 14 to January 3. Its members will fly to Argentina and take a boat to the South Pole.

This is the world's first Antarctic expedition to combine science and creative arts, said expedition leader Scott Hessels, associate professor at the CityU School of Creative Media.

Thirteen teams will carry out their research to create media art and design projects that offer new approaches to understanding climate change and sustainable solutions.

One team will use thermal vision cameras and wind-velocity indicators to track and measure changes of penguin body temperatures, and learn how the creatures adapt to their environment, said Chak Gan- cheong, who studies manufacturing systems engineering. The project will use a model to consider energy conservation and sustainability in urban planning.

It is similar to Hong Kong's "wall effect," created when a dense row of skyscrapers blocks the cooling air outside and the central building clusters become hotter, computer engineering student Chan Yik-hong said.

"Our team will also study the behavior of the penguin leaders, which we will use to develop a mobile game application that identifies the leaders in a crowd," marketing student Wong Chun-kit said.
The other teams will cover wind, microorganisms, lichen, icebergs and light.

Two international students, Anantika Mehra who studies electronics and communication engineering, and Mubarak Marafa, who is with the School of Creative Media, will recreate the experience of an aurora australis - southern lights - in 3D projection.

In preparation for the trip, the students are receiving physical and first aid training, obtaining equipment and modifying their research proposals.

The students are each responsible for their travel costs of HK$30,000.


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