My Projects

A little background

Since retirement, in between the writing of the textbooks, I have had time to think about things and to write a number of articles, primarily to clarify my thinking but also for others to refer to. I have included these writings on this web page. More will be added later when - or if - they are written.

To view an article, click on the associated picture. The article will open in a new tab. After viewing, you can click on the left arrow to return to this page. If you prefer to see the article in one of the viewers at the bottom of the screen rather than in a separate tab, click on the link under the description of the article.

Note: Some of the articles are large and may take some time to open. Please be patient.

Some History of Syria and Palestine

The full title of the article is actually "History of Syria and Palestine from the Palaeolithic Age to 100 AD". As this part of the world has always fascinated me, I decided to learn something about it. I have prepared it in the form of a timeline. It stops at about about 100 AD as I wanted to focus more on distant times and also because that was a convenient time to end the current discussion. The article is subject to change as and when I get round to modifying it. For example, I am now rather skeptical that there was an exodus from Egypt to Israel (as described in the Bible) so comments referring to this will need to be edited.

Click on the image to view the article in a separate tab. Or, if you prefer to read the article in a viewer at the bottom of the screen, click on the following link:

View the timeline in the (landscape) viewer

neolithic

The Ancient Near East, Canaan and Israel

As I state in the article (bottom of page 2), the main purpose of the article is to describe the origins and development of ancient Israel. This was mainly because of the controversy of Israel's origins. Were they for example, the result of an exodus from Egypt as described in the Bible, or did they arise from an indigenous Canaanite population following the massive upheavals of about 1200 BC when many older civilisations collapsed and others were created and took their place? As other states/empires in the Ancient Middle East had significant effects on the (possible) origins and developments of Israel, details relating to these other regions are also discussed. The article covers a time span of 4000 years from 4000 BC. This article also overlaps with the the above article on the history of Syria and Palestine.

The image on the right shows a relief of Sargon II of Assyria with a dignitary. Click on the image to view the article in a separate tab. Or, to read the article in a viewer at the bottom of the screen, click on the following link:

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View the article of possible origins of Israel in the (landscape) viewer

SargonII

Some of the Origins History and Future of Religion

The article begins by defining religion and stating some prerequisites for religious belief in humans. It then attempts to trace the origins of a primitive religion in tandem with the evolution of humans from early hominids from about 5 million years ago to homo sapiens (us!) to the possible roots of a more sophisticated religion and its functions about 70 thousand years ago. Then follows a discussion of the evolution of religion over time and the question as to whether or not there is a true religion. The article concludes with some speculation as to the future of religion. Again, click the image to view the article in a separate tab.

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religionicons

A Guide to Cognitive and Social Development

This article, as the title states, covers aspects of the cognitive and social development of children from birth to adulthood. It deals with both theoretical and practical issues and so should be of interest to students of psychology, parents of children at various stages of development as well as to the general reader.

The picture on the right shows a young boy doing a test for understanding of numbers. Many children of his age, while being able to count objects, show that they do not actually understand what a number means. The article includes links to videos of this and other key ideas. Click on the picture to view the article in a separate tab.

Note: The original article contains a number of 'Sticky Notes'. These may not appear when the article opens on-line. If this is the case, you will have to download the article and view it with Adobe Reader or another pdf viewer.

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conservation

Psychology of Learning and Teaching

This project is based on the course notes used in the course of the same title taught by me at CUHK. The students were training to be secondary school teachers in Hong Kong.

The project follows on from the previous one "A Guide to Cognitive and Social Development" though it focuses on learning and teaching and not with development.

The picture shows the main emphases: the behavioural approach to learning and teaching, the cognitive view, and classroom application for effective learning and teaching. Click on the picture to view the article in a separate tab.

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conservation

The Ascent of Man

From running around the African Savannah to landing on the moon is a giant step in man's achievement. This essay looks at some of the key steps in the ascent of man that have made him the dominant creature on Earth today. The idea of came after reading the book "The Ascent of Man" by Jacob Bronowski. I have also taken ideas from other sources and included some of my own.

For the picture (right), I chose the printing press, perfected in 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg. In the ascent of man. this is one of the most important inventions ever.

Note: As with the previous article, the 'Sticky Notes' may not open on-line. If so, download the article and view it with Adobe Reader or another pdf viewer.

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gutenberg

Organic Chemistry: Natural product research

This project is actually my M.Sc. chemistry thesis carried out many years ago, but some viewers may just be interested in it. It involved one year of hard work (calendar year, not academic year). The research involves natural products, that is, compounds found in animals or plants; in my case the Alaska-cedar tree (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis) (shown at the top right).

An important part of natural product research is to determine the chemical structure of naturally-occurring compounds. The basic approach is to do tests and analyse the compound and use the data obtained to infer its structure. The next part is to try to synthesise (make) a substance with the structure inferred. If the properties of this substance correspond with those of the original substance, one can be reasonably certain that the inferred structure is correct. The synthesis involves starting with a simple substance, whose structure is known, and converting this step-by-step into other substances that lead to the substance you want to make. The diagram on the right, taken from my thesis, shows such a pathway beginning with a simple substance (in this case benzoic acid).

The work was hard, being in the laboratory nearly every week day. At one point, I was carrying out a process called hydrogenation, which involves adding hydrogen to a compound under high pressure and temperature. Unfortunately, the machine exploded and I lost all my valuable product and had to start the preparation again from scratch. In addition, the whole building smelled of the product for about a week; at least it wasn't an unpleasant smell.

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thesis

Dissertation

My PhD required the writing of a dissertation. It involved Educational Psychology, which I was specialising in, combined with the learning and teaching of a topic in secondary school Chemistry. The study contributed to our theoretical understanding of learning and teaching and at the same time had implications for the enhancement of the teaching and learning in the Chemistry classroom. Hence the title of the dissertation, which was:

Mental representation of knowledge for a topic in high school Chemistry

The research for the dissertation was done in Hong Kong after the course-work requirements had been completed at Stanford. The subjects for the research came from a Form 4 Chemistry class at a local secondary school in Shatin, Hong Kong. The study investigated students' understanding of acid-alkali volumetric analysis involving titrations, concentration and related ideas, together with their approaches to solving quantitative calculations in this topic.

The study itself included both qualitative and quantitative research methodology. The final published dissertation was over 500 pages in length, which necessitated two volumes!

Click on the Stanford logo to view the complete dissertation.

To view just the abstract, click on the cartoon.

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logo

cat

The Brain and Body Movement: Level I

My original plan was to investigate how the brain is involved in memory and learning, but somehow I got sidetracked into how the brain and body movements and decided to continue with this. I soon became aware of just how complex and difficult the topic is and how much is not yet understood.

The topic is split into two levels of difficulty. This is the Level I article which gives an overview and more-integrated account of how the brain and movements, primarily voluntary movements. Because of the complexity of the subject and my relative lack of knowledge, it took many months to complete this Level I article.

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The Brain and Body Movement: Level II

The Level II article covers many of the same topics introduced at Level I but provides a more in-depth treatment. As you read through the article, you will appreciate further just how complex the subject is. Again, because of this, it took a total time for the two articles of about eight months of effort!

The diagram illustrates this complexity. It shows the part of the brain known as the Basal Ganglia and the pathway through it that must be taken before the motor parts of the brain that execute movements can actually do so.

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basal ganglia

Transmission of Nerve Impulses

The human brain contains billions of neurons (nerve cells) arranged in a gigantic network (artist's impression, right). The neurons in this network communicate with each other by transmitting nerve impulses (signals) from one neuron to another. The process by which this is done is very complicated but surprisingly well understood.

This project discusses how this transmission is carried out.

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neural network

Pure, White and Deadly: Part I

The last 40 years have seen a dramatic worldwide increase in many diseases, such as obesity and heart disease. What is the casue of this? A lot of attention has been focussed on diet. Initially fat was blamed and people were encouraged to decrease or eliminate fat from their diets. They did, but these diseases did not decrease. Today, there is substantial evidence that the fat hypothesis is wrong and that sugar, and especially one kind of sugar - fructose - might be the potential villain. Hence the title of the article which is taken from the book, the cover of which is shown in the picture.

This article introduces the reader to how the shift in blame from fat to sugar has occurred together with some background science as well as the role of scientists and the sugar industry.

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PWD

Pure, White and Deadly: Part II

[Still being written!! .................................................. ........................ ........................ ................... .............. ...............]

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PWD2

The Republic of Plato

Have you ever wondered what the perfect society would be like? What it would be like to live in such a society? There are been many attempts to describe such a society. Perhaps the earliest was about 2400 years ago in the days of ancient Greece by the philosopher Plato. In his book called the Republic, he describes this state.

The ideas in the Republic have had a great influence over the centuries and are still relevant today.

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plato

Alzheimer's Disease

Auguste Deter, the lady in the picture, was under the care of Dr. Alois Alzheimer until her death in 1906. He then did an autopsy, examined her brain and described the typical abnormalities of what would later be called Alzheimer's Disease.

After many years of research, the causes of the disease are still not well understood. And despite the expenditure of billions of dollars, there is still no cure for the disease.

This project is an introduction to Alzheimer's Disease.

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Deter

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