Floating Entries

I haven’t blogged for a real long time and in this long time there’s quite a few entries which should have been written but was ‘lost’ somehow through my sheer laziness, reluctance to do something unexciting on my computer and conscious economic decision that playing computer games would grant me a higher marginal benefit. There’s one on ‘Meritocratic Nature of Free Markets’, inspired by the experience of getting rejected for the EDB scholarship; another on ‘Nasty Cities’, looking into the problems plaguing developing cities from a primary perspective, inspired by my trip to the various coastal cities of China (Shanghai, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Wuxi and Nanjing); also a rant on life titled ‘Scammed’ which documents the scams I was subjected to when I was in various places (Pu-er Tea Leaves of Kunming, Yunnan; Long-jing Tea Leaves of Hangzhou; Silk Blankets of Suzhou; Teapots of Wuxi; Yahoo! 2007 Mail Alert Sham in my mobile phone when in Singapore).

I don’t think I’m going to write any of these entries. In fact, there’s a long overdue entry on meritocracy but I decided to just dump that. The fate of these ‘floating entries’ (floating in my mind) will be rather similar, my mind has wandered to other things. When I went to Building & Construction Authority’s Scholarship & Career Talk I suddenly became endowed with a designer-engineer mind. On my way back from Suntec City, as I was taking the ‘Down’ escalator (a misnomer because it does not ‘escalate’ you) into Citylink, it dawned on me that the moment we step on the escalator from a higher position we are holding on to a hell lot of potential energy and there shouldn’t be a need to expend external energy source to ‘carry’ us down – what we need is merely a system to slow the release of this potential energy that we have. It is the same idea as for an elevator going down – getting it to move down based on the weight of those people inside the elevator. This should theoretically reduce energy consumption quite substantially. Unfortunately, in both cases, the main obstacle is the inability to design a system that can handle variable weights. I suspect one means is to use friction, because the higher the weight, the more the potential energy but also the higher the friction – I do not have any quantitative relations but I am rather positive that holds. As a result, I think modifying the existing Down escalators would be easier than the elevator thing. I have not come up with any designs but I think this is a nice problem to think about for any hard-core engineers.

Such experiences leaves me rather disturbed because I can no longer be sure if Economics is something I want to place my future in. I have such varied interests, which I once thought could be contained in the multi-disciplinary, all-pervading nature of Economics – now I am aware that is not possible, especially when it comes to career. Organizations in the real world are looking for flexibility and versatility but not someone who wants to mix everything up. For a person like me, keen on studying application of river studies on traffic management strategies (or hoping to create an experimental advance community living so greenly that it contributes to negative carbon output to study its economy), the real world offers little room for me. This is not supposed to be a rant; I am going to make some room for myself somehow.


  1. The problem occured to me before, but after a bit of thought I realised escalators were made to travel in both directions, i.e. it bring people up, and the conveyor belt can also move in reverse to bring people down. And I believe that when the escalator is going, the described mechanism in your entry is exactly what’s in place in the escalator.

  2. But that’s within a single escalator, the part that is going down is within the up and the converse is true for the ‘down’ side so there’s a duplicate. If only we can utilize the system such that those pieces of stuff are transported down by a system that also carries people down – that’ll be energy-saving as well.

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