Electromagnetic forces are created by the physical interaction that occurs between electrically charged particles. At the expo, this was evident as we moved between each other’s stands and also interacted physically with the interested and curious public. We noticed a growing momentum in the desire for excellence in our nation.
“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
Our organisation, Carisma4U Educational Foundation, a social innovation outfit, just concluded our participation in the first Science Technology Innovation exhibition in Abuja, Nigeria. There were several objectives of the exhibition, including the bringing to the forefront of the capabilities of Nigerian scientists, engineers and innovators in contributing to the economic diversification of Nigeria. Also, the promotion of collaborations amongst research institutions and researchers/inventors, and facilitation of the growth of indigenous manufacturing hinged on Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI). Equally, the promotion of the STI culture in Nigeria.
It was a week of enthusiasm, revelation and resolve. We saw and interacted with a lot of scientists, inventors and engineers; and also rejoiced that the spirit of discovery hasn’t been totally stifled by the present non-enabling environment in the country, which hasn’t been encouraging to these people.
In physics, the fundamental interactions, also known as fundamental forces, are the interactions that do not appear to be reducible to further basic interactions. There are four conventionally accepted fundamental interactions — gravitational, electromagnetic, strong, and weak.
We saw these forces at work last week.
Starting with gravitational interactions: Gravity or gravitation force is a natural phenomenon by which all things with mass are brought toward (or gravitate toward) one another, including planets, stars and galaxies. In the exhibition, there was a pull between all of the scientists and engineers. To support each other and lift each other up. We shared stories of resilience and determination to ensure that we contributed to society using our gifts. There were students who created a magnetic generator — depicting what they had been taught in physics class. Another parent revealed research about the conversion of biomass waste to methane gas for energy usuage. She incorporated her children’s skills and efforts into this project. It was a laudable one.
Electromagnetic forces are created by the physical interaction that occurs between electrically charged particles. At the expo, this was evident as we moved between each other’s stands and also interacted physically with the interested and curious public. We noticed a growing momentum in the desire for excellence in our nation. People asked about the ability of our people to manufacture our consumer products, and we discussed collaborations across different spheres. Children opened up to us about their dreams of being innovators, and creating inventions that would bring about dramatic changes in the nation and the world. Watching the light in the eyes of those children shine was illuminating, as it reminded us that there is a lot that needs to be done for our children in order for us not to dim this light within them.
The strong interaction is the mechanism responsible for the strong nuclear force. The strong force is approximately 137 times as strong as electromagnetism, a million times as strong as the weak interaction, and 1038 times as strong as gravitation. The strong nuclear force holds most ordinary matter together and the strong force binds neutrons and protons to create atomic nuclei.
This was depicted by the massive turnout that we saw at the event, with research institutions, inventors, scientists and engineers coming to display their ideas, products and services from far and wide. To hear the different accents, the different state logos and languages was a thing of joy. To see everyone desire innovation across the board was a marvel. As we spoke about the need for more innovative strategies in education, we got a resounding assent to this. Everyone agreed that education is the bedrock of the aims of the expo, hence before we can promote science, technology and innovation, we need to cultivate things from the foundation.
…we are in our present situation in Nigeria because a lot of us haven’t come together to brainstorm and collaborate our way out of the rut that we are in.
This brings us to the last force: All weak interactions ultimately are between elementary particles. The force is in fact termed weak because its field strength over a given distance is typically several orders of magnitude less than that of the strong nuclear force or electromagnetic force. When we are working alone or just distancing ourselves from others, our strength is less. There was a researcher we saw who had a great interest in astrophysics and astronomy in the Nigerian context. We expected him to reach out to the Nigerian Defence Academy representatives who were there, as well as those from other institutions who had similar interests for collaborative ideas and prospective projects that they could all mull on together. We need to stop working as lone rangers in the educational sphere – as Dr. John Maxwell states, there is shared thinking, and this is the ninth kind of thinking. This is the ability to include others who can help you think “overhead” and achieve great results in your projects.
I like this sort of thinking a lot. Two heads are truly better than one, but why is this such a problem in Nigeria or Africa as a whole? Why have we lost the ability to work together collectively for our mutual good?
Last December, PHCN (still well known as NEPA) switched off electricity supply on our street because some people living in apartment complexes have owed them money, by refusing to pay their power consumption bills, going back for years. I did not owe on electricity because I have been using a prepaid meter since 2010. PHCN (or NEPA) then expected that folks living in these complexes would come together as a group to collect and pay their electricity bills, however a lot of these people stubbornly refused to come up with their debts and pay these. As such, one week without public electricity transitioned into two, and then three weeks. Suddenly, Christmas was close by and the situation had grown more dire. Generators got tired of being overworked, with its attendant high costs of running these generators, and the ensuing darkness began to strain all our nerves.
I got mad! This was because, first of all, I didn’t owe on electricity and was being unfairly made to suffer a collective sanction. Also, I reasoned that if we had all collectively bargained with the public provider, we would be enjoying power everyday, and could have avoided the huge sums being spent on generator fuel.
Unfortunately, I found out that a lot of our folks think more individually, and do not see things the collective way. This was an eye opener in deciphering the roots of the mess we are in as a country.
Bringing this analogy to the educational terrain, we are in our present situation in Nigeria because a lot of us haven’t come together to brainstorm and collaborate our way out of the rut that we are in.
Image credit: Exhibitionaffairs.com.