(Very Basic) Molecular Gastronomy

*I feel like writing in English today. If you prefer reading my blog in Indonesian, please bear with me this one time 🙂

So, this is IAP. And IAP is always a great time of the year, when I actually feel like at MIT, the place with endless knowledge and quirkiness waiting to be pursued. This year, besides taking several writing classes (2, actually: 1. Because I didn’t pass my Graduate Writing Exam 2. Because there is this cool class about graduate student blog which I am excited about, I also took “Learning Science through Cooking”.

Liquid nitrogen ice cream!
Liquid nitrogen ice cream!

Oh boy, that was an amazing class. I got to taste liquid nitrogen ice cream (again), (so much) chocolate -including chocolate caviar, and vauquelin.

 

Let’s start with something easy, shall we? Continue reading “(Very Basic) Molecular Gastronomy”

IAP: First Time for Everything

Reading time: 3-4 minutes
Language: Bahasa Indonesia

Jika IAP tahun 2014 aku sempat membuat truffle cokelat sendiri, dan ikut training supaya bisa menggunakan mesin mill dan lathe; jika IAP tahun 2013 aku sempat belajar main anggar, belajar programming Python, jalan-jalan ke Worcester, dan kerja sambilan di admission office, IAP tahun ini aku mencoba hal-hal baru! Mungkin kalian sempat membaca satudua entri di blogpost sebelumnya, tentang daily reflection-ku.

Kali ini aku ingin menyajikan laporan lengkap tentang beberapa hal yang kulakukan selama IAP terakhirku sebagai undergraduate, mulai dari bergabung dengan MIT Urban Risk Lab untuk membantu project Emergency Preparedness Hub mereka, mengambil kelas Cross-Cultural Collaboration (demi menjadi kolaborator lebih baik dalam satu tim), bermain ski, ikut workshop Japanese Tea Ceremony, dan ikut workshop Ikebana, atau seni merangkai bunga dari Jepang.

Workshop ikebana pertamaku! Bunga dan alat-alatnya mereka sediakan.

Menjadi undergraduate research assistant di MIT Urban Risk Lab merupakan kesempatan langka bagiku untuk melakukan sesuatu sesuai dengan passion-ku: using engineering to make this world a better place. Karena itu, aku sangat bersemangat selama satu bulan IAP melakukan riset literatur tentang berbagai macam emergency water treatment yang sudah terbukti sukses di masyarakat. Desain water treatment yang aku kerjakan ini, pada akhirnya akan menjadi bagian dari Emergency Preparedness Hub, sebuah hub yang memiliki sistem komunikasi, energy harvesting, cooking, memasak, dan water treatment untuk di-deploy di daerah rawan gempa bumi (ya, maaf terlalu banyak istilah dalam Bahasa Inggris).

Ini pertama kalinya aku bekerja dengan non-engineer, karena lab satu ini berada di bawah MIT School of Architecture and Planning. Pekerjaan research scientist dan professorku di lab ini keren-keren, desain mereka ciamik. Luar biasa.

Normal state dari Urban Risk Lab.

Kemudian, aku juga mengambil kelas Cross-Cultural Collaboration yang benar-benar berguna. Aku sempat menuliskan sedikit tentang bagaimana kelas ini membantu untuk menjadikan keresahanmu sebagai hal yang produktif. Sayangnya, hal ini susah sekali diterapkan, ketika aku menghadapai sesuatu tiga hari terakhir. Haha.

Kemudian, dengan teman-teman dari Singapura (dari kampus SUTD) yang sedang mengambil kelas IAP di sini, aku ikut pergi ski dengan mereka.

Jangan tanya aku jatuh berapa kali. Sampai sekarang pun memarku belum hilang!

Selain itu, aku ikut Japanese Tea Ceremony. Sayang sekali, karena peserta yang membludak, kami hanya bisa duduk dan menonton. Walaupun gitu, kami mendapat kue beras manis sebagai teman untuk matcha (teh hijau) asli pahit yang kami dapatkan juga.

Perangkatnya pun dibawa langsung dari Jepang, katanya.

Kemudian, MISTI-Japan juga mengundang salah satu ikebana master yang tinggal di Boston untuk mengajari kami dasar-dasar seni merangkai bunga. Salah satu prinsipnya adalah bagaimana menempatkan objek (paling tinggi, dalam hal ini, bunga lavender), relatif terhadap objek lain (bunga mawar merah muda yang ada di tengah), yaitu harus membentuk sudut 45 derajat dari samping. Selain itu, seni dari ikebana gaya satu ini adalah keasimetrisan penempatan bunga, namun juga menjaganya tetap cantik dan apik.

Bunga segar yang dipersiapkan untuk kami semua.

Peralatan yang harus dimiliki.

Hasil ikebana milikku! Cantik bukan?

Selain itu, aku dan teman-temanku sempat mencoba tempat makan baru di Boston: restoran Mexico yang kabarnya paling otentik di seantero Boston. Aku memesan ikan, dan kami juga mendapat nachos sebagai appetizer, dan tortilla hangat sebagai pengantar makan. Seperti biasa, pasti ada salsa, nasi, dan refried beans.


Bahkan mejanya pun dibuat dari ubin yang sangat tipikal dari Mexico.

Hari ini adalah hari pertama spring semester, yang merupakan semester terakhirku di MIT. Bulan Juni nanti aku lulus, insya Allah, karena bahkan aku sudah mendaftar untuk masuk June degree list segala, haha. Jika semua lancar, orangtuaku mungkin bisa melihatku jalan di atas stage dan menerima diplomaku. Doakan saja, ya, semuanya berjalan dengan lancar.

Bismillahirrahmanirrahim, semangat memulai semester baru!

Bahaya Arsenik Mengintai di Air Minum Kita

Reading time: 4-5 minutes
Language: Mostly Bahasa Indonesia
Arsenic poisoning from wells is getting worse in India and other parts of Asia, harming millions while scientists scramble to find safer sources. -Katy Daigle

Ketika mencari sumber untuk mengetahui lebih dalam soal kontaminasi di air minum, saya menemukan satu artikel yang menarik, oleh Katy Daigle yang dipublikasikan di Scientific American, 1 Januari 2016 lalu, yang berjudul Death in the Water. Ada bahaya yang mengintai negeri kita, yang mungkin tidak kita perkirakan sebelumnya. Fakta yang tertera di post kali ini berasal dari artikel ini.

Masih ingat kasus Munir yang dibunuh dengan diracun arsenik? Jika elemen kimia satu ini tidak sengaja tertelan di atas batas ambang, sudah dipastikan nyawa melayang. Tak ada cara yang mudah untuk mendeteksi racun satu ini, karena dia tidak berbau, berwarna, atau berasa. Berbeda dengan racun sianida, yang terasa seperti almond pahit, dan bisa terdeteksi dalam jumlah signifikan.

Di India, kontaminasi air oleh arsenik sudah bukan hal yang baru. Ada banyak cara yang dilakukan untuk menghindari meminum air terkontaminasi ini, salah satunya adalah dengan menggunakan filter dan menghindari mengebor sumur di area tertentu. Selain berbahaya jika tertelan, air yang terkontaminasi arsenik juga berbahaya bagi kulit kita jika sering terpapar (misalkan, menggunakannya untuk mandi). Saintis menemukan, berdasarkan hasil mapping, kalau Indonesia merupakan area yang rentan oleh air yang terkontaminasi arsenik. Bagaimana bisa?

Pertama-tama, mari kita melihat bagaimana air di India bisa mengandung kadar arsenik yang tinggi. Daerah di bawah Himalaya, merupakan salah satu daerah dengan kadar arsenik tertinggi. Setelah Pegunungan Himalaya terbentuk dengan tectonic collision, mineral arsenik yang tersimpan di perut bumi terangkat dan terbawa air sungai. Arsenik ini pun bereaksi dengan berbagai macam ion logam berat, dan menjadi sedimen. Karena bentuk sedimen ini menyerupai granula dan berat, dia pun akhirnya tenggelam dan mengendap di sungai. Endapan ini terkumpul selama beribu-ribu tahun, di area yang kini menjadi rumah bagi sekitar 500 juta orang, di dekat delta Sungai Gangga.

Di Asia Tenggara sendiri, tanahnya cenderung memiliki kadar okigen yang rendah dan kaya akan karbon organik. Karakteristik seperti ini sering dijumpai di daerah aliran sungai, dataran banjir, dan delta, di mana permukaan tanahnya tergolong ‘baru’, sehingga bakteri bisa tumbuh. Bakteri ini membantu reaksi kimia yang melepaskan arsenik dari pasangan ion logam beratnya. Sehingga, kadar arsenik di daerah ini cenderung sangat tinggi.

Di Indonesia sendiri, daerah yang rawan adalah di sekitar Sumatera, berdasarkan hasil mapping Berg dan peneliti lain di Eawag pada tahun 2006. Ketika mereka mengetesnya secara langsung, ternyata prediksi mapping mereka terbukti. Berdasarkan Winkel et al., (2008), sekitar 100.000 km persegi area di Sumatera memiliki air tanah yang rawan terkontaminasi arsenik. Berdasarkan hasil tes, kadar arsenik di daerah ini tergolong di atas maksimum yang dianjurkan oleh WHO (sekitar 10 mikrogram/ liter), dan beberapa daerah memiliki kadar arsenik hingga 65 mikrogram/ liter.

Mungkin kamu berpikir, “Bagaimana jika kita menghindari daerah sungai, dan tidak mengebor sumur di situ?” Ternyata, tidak semudah itu kita bisa menghindarinya. Seiring populasi yang terus menerus tumbuh, dan kebutuhan air bersih yang semakin meningkat, semakin banyak orang yang membuat sumur bor. Konsentrasi air di tanah pun menurun, sehingga air dari daerah reservoir terdekat (dalam hal ini dari sungai), akan meresap ke tanah, termasuk air yang terkontaminasi arsenik. Lebih lengkapnya, lihat gambar di bawah ini.

Dalam kasus daerah berpopulasi rendah, air tanah bergerak dari aquifer menuju sungai, sedangkan dalam kasus daerah berpopulasi tinggi, yang terjadi adalah sebaliknya. Sumber dari “Statistical Modeling of Global Geogenic Arsenic Contamination in Groundwater,” by Manouchehr Amini et al., in Environmental Science & Technology, Vol. 42, No. 10; May 15, 2008 (map provided by Michael Berg); “Retardation of Arsenic Transport through a Pleistocene Aquifer,” by Alexander van Geen et al., in Nature, Vol. 501; September 12, 2013 (Hanoi case study)

India dan Bangladesh sendiri sudah mencoba membangun arsenic-removal plant untuk menyaring air ari sungai, tetapi mekanisme filternya kurang efektif karena membutuhkan perawatan yang intensif. Dengan pertumbuhan populasi yang signifikan, air yang terkontaminasi arsenik akan semakin menyebar, dan berefek pada masyarakat banyak.

Meminum air yang terkontaminasi arsenik bisa menyebabgkan penyakit kulit, semacam kusta, yang disebut arsenicosis. Efek dari hal ini sangat signifikan terutama di negara berkembang yang masih mempercayai mitos dan kutukan. Meskipun penyakit arsenicosis ini tidak menular, orang-orang masih sering memberikan sanksi sosial dengan mengucilkan penderita. Sayangnya, hingga saat ini belum ada metode/ obat yang efektif untuk menyembuhkan penyakit ini. Dalam jangka panjang, meminum air yang terkontaminasi arsenik juga bisa mengakibatkan kerusakan otak, penyakit jantung, dan kanker.

Kesadaran masyarakat Indonesia mengenai air minum yang bisa terkontaminasi arsenik ini masih sangat rendah, karena kasus seperti ini memang jarang. Tetapi bukan tidak mungkin, di masa depan, saat populasi semakin meningkat, air yang sarat dengan arsenik akan tersebar dan meluas. Sebelum saat itu tiba dan berubah menjadi tidak terkendali seperti di negara-negara Asia Selatan, bukankah ada baiknya kita mulai mengambil tindakan preventif?

IAP Daily Reflection 2

Reading time: 4-5 minutes 
Language: English
Part 1 can be found here

As a part of our Cross-cultural Collaboration class (which I talked about in previous post), we have to write a daily reflection. For some people, it might be hard to keep in track and not slack off. For me, I was really happy to get this assignment. As you probably know by now, I love writing, but I have been slacking off and finding ‘busy’ as a strong excuse not to write more.

Just a quick recap: this IAP (Independent Activities Period, MIT term for 1-month long winter term), besides taking Cross-cultural Collaboration (CCC), I am also doing a UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunity) with MIT Urban Risk Lab. The rest of the time? I am just learning how to cook, bake, and going to different museums, haha.

So, this is what I have done so far in the second week of January (which is taken from my assignment).


1/11/2016


I was talking to my parents for a few hours today. The last time I talked to them directly was in December, so it has been a while. They were asking me about what I am up to these days, and if the weather is too cold for me. We also went over their plan of coming for my graduation in June. As a middle-income family in Indonesia, we can afford most of basic necessities. However, when I mentioned the options of where to stay during their trip to Boston, they were so surprised that even the cheapest hotel is too expensive for them. This might not be cultural, since this difference comes from a large gap of GDP and average income. This reminds me of the first few weeks when I was in the United States: everything seemed so expensive, and I tried not to spend too much on food. However, after sometime, my perception of how much is considered to be expensive has changed into similar perception that people around me have.

1/12/2016


I really love a dish from a fast-food chain, and I find the recipe online. I think I will try it, but first, I need to find which store has Panko Breadcrumbs. I thought only Asian supermarket would have one, but Trader Joe’s does!


I was interested in the book you recommended: Quiet. So, I got the book yesterday from BLC (Boston Library Consortium) because every copy at MIT Libraries are currently borrowed. It has been a good read. I thought being introvert was wrong, and I would not succeed with that attitude. I have been constantly tried to ‘push myself out there’, even though sometimes I regret it because it makes me uncomfortable. Now, I have the theoretical answer: finding the balance of when I can have a ‘me time’, and when I should go out and socialize.


1/13/2016


This is my second week doing UROP at MIT Urban Risk Lab. It has been great so far, but I am the only undergraduate working there. I always hesitate to start conversation or ask something, but during lunch break, I finally could start talking without being asked first.

I asked my Indian-American friend on the conflict between India and Pakistan. I thought as neighboring countries, they should not have conflicts, and instead, they could have a strong bilateral relation. However, it was not as simple as I thought, and she told me a little bit about the history behind it.


1/14/2016


I was talking (and partly complaining) about money management to my boyfriend. Since I only receive the part of scholarship at the beginning of fall and spring terms, I need to wait until February now. Unfortunately, it is still 3 weeks away. He suggested that I should start to keep track my expenses, which is a good idea.

Last night, six suicide bombs exploded and gunmen were shooting people in the middle of the road in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. All of my social networks were flooded with different information. One of them was about how it was going to affect Indonesian economy. I believed that at first, but then I started questioning it, “Is it really going to be this way?” I asked my friend who is majoring in economics, and she told me that the information was not making any sense.


1/15/2016


I usually prefer to eat dinner with close friends, but today I joined the dinner sponsored by TBP (honors society), with people I have not met before. It was really fun.

I feel annoyed whenever I walk behind a group of people who takes the whole sidewalk. Today, I tried to see it differently: maybe this whole group cannot walk faster? Maybe, few of them have their legs hurt?

Today was my UROP day. I continuously asked something and found the answer by looking through different literatures, papers, or even quick Google searches. One thing that I found to be interesting today: Pentek water filters, can be quite cheap, and they can be combined depending on the source water quality.

1/16/2016


I went to MFA for the first time after 1.5 years, even though the weather was really cold (and it was snowing, for a little bit).

I always thought that the green line always takes a long time to come. However, it is not necessarily the case, if I carefully plan my trip.

I was looking at different exhibitions at MFA, and I am personally not an artistic person. I played a game of ‘guessing what the art piece means’, and looked for the explanation on the side. For instance, I figured out that chairs in colonial periods have different origins which can be known based on the chairs’ features.

1/17/2016


I signed up to be a tutor in my department for this spring. Hopefully, they will accept me! I am excited to help underclassmen with the class I really enjoyed. 

My friend recommended me a movie to watch, but I have been refusing to watch it because it was old. I tried to watch the first 10 minutes, and it was interesting.

I asked the other Indonesians on how much financial aid they receive, and it was surprising how consistent MIT live up its ‘need-based’ financial aid spirit.

IAP Daily Reflection 1

Reading time: 4-5 minutes

Language: English
Part 2 can be found here

As a part of our Cross-cultural Collaboration class (which I talked about in previous post), we have to write a daily reflection. For some people, it might be hard to keep in track and not slack off. For me, I was really happy to get this assignment. As you probably know by now, I love writing, but I have been slacking off and finding ‘busy’ as a strong excuse not to write more.

Just a quick recap: this IAP (Independent Activities Period, MIT term for 1-month long winter term), besides taking Cross-cultural Collaboration (CCC), I am also doing a UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunity) with MIT Urban Risk Lab. The rest of the time? I am just learning how to cook, bake, and going to different museums, haha.

So, this is what I have done so far in the first week of January (which is taken from my assignment).


1/5/2016

Today is the first day of cross-cultural collaboration class. I met some new friends from Singapore, and we got lunch together afterwards. I noticed some differences in how we refer to things, for example, how they said, “I have a lesson now,” while an MIT student would have said, “I have a class now.” I found it strange at first, but it is actually really interesting how different the way we use English is. 

1/6/2016


I watched the video of Cain talking about the power of introverts. As an introvert, I agreed with her opinion regarding group work, and how the society gives more emphasis on being extrovert than being introvert. I sometimes felt that way, too, and felt forced to speak more in a group, participate in a lot of get-togethers, and others. However, being a completely introvert is not necessarily good, sometimes, taking a step out of comfort zone is necessary in certain conditions.


1/7/2016


I talked to an Indian-American who is from Missouri. She was born in New Delhi, India, before she moved to the US when she was 1. After that, she always visits her extended family every now and then, and she always feels a significant difference between both cultures: in India, people value their family a lot more. This includes how the children respect the elders, and how making decision involves consideration of how it will affect the family. She thinks that it is different than how her American friends describe their families. She would describe her culture as a ‘selfless society’, which is a really interesting term for me. It means, individual is less important than community/ family. 


1/8/2016


I talked to a Malaysian who studies at MIT. She finds that calling professors/ mentors by their first names in the US is hard to adjust to. Back in Malaysia, she call professors/ mentors by their honorifics and their last names. In addition to that, she celebrates the diverse holidays from different population groups living in Malaysia, e.g. Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, Diwali, and others. However, in the US, Americans celebrate different sets of holidays with different tradition, like Thanksgiving. 

1/9/2016


I went to a ski trip today, and I learnt how to ski for the first time, along with my Singaporean friends. It was not my first time seeing snow, but it was for them. Some people, during the day, was interested more in playing with the snow and making a snow rather than actually skiing. This is one interesting thing that happens almost every day, but sometimes we ignore it: something that we know and experience every day might not be the same with others’. Even though one thinks that everyone in the same culture knows a basic thing, but this is not the case with people outside the cultural group.


1/10/2016


I talked to an American from Michigan who studies at MIT. She thinks that her most important value, when growing up, was family.  She also thinks that her culture also really values equality and justice (core democratic values).  Her family is also interested in science and education, so she argued a lot with her friends in middle school about the existence of evolution and climate change. In additions, she was taught to think that apologizing and saying “thank you” a lot is polite, but her colleagues have criticized me for apologizing too much because they think she should only apologize when you do something really bad. It is interesting to see how not only the general stereotype in her case seems to be true, but also a specific nurture (apologizing and thanking) can affect her a long way.