Electrowetting actuation of gold nanofluid droplets: a physics dissertation defense by Crismar Patacsil

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The Department of Physics of Ateneo de Manila University cordially invites you to a Physics Dissertation Defense:

  • PhD candidate: Crismar P. Patacsil
  • Date and Venue: April 8, 2017, 1:00 PM at Faura Hall F-106

Panel members:

  • Raphael A. Guerrero, Ph.D., Dissertation Supervisor
  • Benjamin O. Chan, Ph.D., Dissertation Examiner
  • Gil Nonato C. Santos, Ph.D., Dissertation Examiner
  • Erwin P. Enriquez, Ph.D., Dissertation Reader
  • Joel T. Maquiling, Ph.D., Dissertation Reader

Nanoparticles exhibit completely different properties (physical, chemical, electronic, magnetic and optical) from their bulk material counterparts. This study explores the interaction of gold nanoparticle (AuNP) suspensions in a liquid droplet with an applied electric field. A basic planar electrowetting set-up is employed, consisting of a bottom copper electrode coated with a thin insulating layer of uncured polydimethysiloxane (PDMS) silicone oil mounted on an adjustable stage and a platinum wire upper electrode in contact with the sessile gold nanofluid droplet sitting on the dielectric layer. A voltage source is connected across the top and bottom electrodes. Changes in the contact angle of the droplet, as voltage is varied, is captured using a USB microscope camera. The contact angles of the images are determined using ImageJ software. The electrowetting on dielectric (EWOD) experiment is done with varying concentrations (in µM) of gold nanofluid (deionized water containing gold nanoparticles with an average size of 10 nm): 0.5, 0.33, 0.25, 0.05 and deionized water (no gold nanoparticles) as a control fluid. Results show a different electrowetting response for each concentration. The contact angle is found to decrease with increasing nanoparticle concentration, indicating a decrease in the liquid-gas surface tension as concentration increases. Increasing the nanoparticle content also lowers the required voltage for effective actuation. Contact angle saturation is observed with nanofluid droplets, with the threshold voltage decreasing as nanoparticle concentration rises. Maximum droplet actuation before contact angle saturation is achieved at only 10 V for a concentration of 0.5 μM. To explain the mechanism for the observed enhanced electrowetting actuation, the specific capacitance C is calculated from the voltage versus contact angle data for each concentration. For the control fluid, the calculated specific capacitance is 0.0012 F/m^2. Specific capacitances are C = 0.0097 F/m^2, C = 0.0049 F/m^2, and C = 0.0015 F/m^2 for 0.5µM, 0.33µM, and 0.05µM gold nanofluid concentrations, respectively. The presence of gold nanoparticles affects electrowetting response by increasing the capacitance with increasing concentration of the nanoparticles. Higher specific capacitance results in increased induced charges at the solid-liquid interface which would result in increased electro-mechanical force on the droplet as voltage is applied.

Ateneo Physics alumnus Jude Salinas is now a PhD student in Earth Systems Science at National Central University, Taiwan

Jude Salinas, PhD Student, Taiwan International Graduate Program - Earth Systems Science Program, Academia Sinica, National Central University, Taiwan

After finishing his BS Applied Physics degree at Ateneo de Manila University in 2012 , Cornelius Csar Jude H. Salinas went on to take his PhD studies at the Taiwan International Graduate Program-Academia Sinica of the National Central University, Taiwan.  Last December 2016, his paper entitled, “Impacts of SABER CO2-based eddy diffusion coefficients in the lower thermosphere on the ionosphere/thermosphere,” was published at the Journal of Geophysical Research-Space Physics. SABER stands for Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry (SABER) instrument is one of four instruments on NASA’s Thermosphere-Ionosphere-Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics (TIMED) satellite. To scan the atmosphere, SABER uses a 10-channel broadband limb-scanning infrared radiometer with spectral range of 1.27 µm to 17 µm. Different gases–O3, CO2, H2O, [O], [H], NO, OH, O2, and CO2–have different absorption properties at different electromagnetic wavelengths. This allows the bulk properties of these gases to be measured, such as kinetic temperature, pressure, geopotential height, volume mixing, volume emission rates, and cooling and heating rates–all across different atmospheric heights.

The atmosphere is the layer of the gas molecules surrounding a planet–or even a star like the sun. For the earth, the dominant atmospheric gases are Nitrogen (N2) at 78%, Oxygen (O2) at 21%, and Argon at 0.9%. Different gases have different masses, and the way these gases mix result to different layers of the atmosphere: troposphere (6-20 km), stratosphere (20-50 km), Mesosphere (50-85 km), thermosphere (85-590 km), and exosphere (590-10,000 km). At the thermosphere, the molecules become very hot due to absorption of ultraviolet rays from the sun, with temperatures reaching 2,500 deg Celsius, though it would still feel cold below O deg Celsius since the gases are sparse. Some of these hot molecules gets ionized, i.e. they shed off electrons, transforming the molecules into positive ions. These electrons and ions define the ionosphere. The density of the ionosphere may be determined by the frequency of radio waves that they reflect, which are usually from 2 to 25 MHz. The ionosphere is essentially a plasma, which is affected by the earth’s magnetic field and by the internal electric fields generated by the separation of positive and negative charges. Thus, the motion of the ionosphere is coupled with that of the thermosphere–and even with the lower parts of the atmosphere through wave motion, which makes the problem difficult to observe and model, except through satellite measurements and computational methods, such as those used in Jude Salinas’ work.

Below is an interview with Jude Salinas by Ateneo Physics News.


Jude Salinas with a snowman during an extremely rare event of snow in Taipei in 2016. The last time that it snowed in Taipei was almost 50 years ago.

1. What made you choose to take BS physics in AdMU? 

I chose to take BS Applied Physics with Applied Computer Systems in Ateneo because my particular fascination for airplanes inspired me to understand the physics behind our atmosphere especially turbulence. It definitely helped that I enjoyed my physics class during my highschool, PAREF Westbridge School for Boys in Iloilo City.

2. How were you able to enter the doctoral program at Academia Sinica? Was it through connections or did you pass some tests?

The application procedures didn’t require any tests but it did require recommendation letters and proof of research skills. In my case, I believe showing that I had at least 5 conference presentations (4 international) helped. Indeed, the skills that I learned from my undergraduate research helped me a lot in both course-work and research.

3. What research you currently working on? 

My PhD research specialty is under the fields of atmospheric and space physics. I do research on the coupling of our lower atmosphere (less than 15 km) and our upper atmosphere (greater than 110 km) via the interaction of numerous atmospheric waves (e.g. Rossby/planetary-scale waves, gravity waves, etc.) with the background atmosphere occurring in our middle atmosphere (15 to 110 km). Our middle atmosphere is not in a state of radiative equilibrium everywhere and at all times. For example, in the mesopause (at roughly 90 km), the summer hemisphere is much colder than the winter hemisphere. In fact, the summer mesopause is the coldest point in our atmosphere. The interaction of atmospheric waves with our background atmosphere drives this. This is actually pushed further in that these waves which originated in the neutral atmosphere also affect our ionosphere, a region of our atmosphere that is dominated by charged plasma. Understanding the physics behind the coupling of our atmospheric regions is important in satellite operations, communications and space exploration. My research utilizes physical models to understand and consequently simulate observational data from satellites.

My current research is specifically about understanding the physics and chemistry behind the coupling of our lower atmosphere and our upper atmosphere by looking and explaining the variabilities of CO2 in the middle atmosphere. My JGR Space Physics paper lays the foundation for the rest of my PhD work. It aimed to calculate eddy diffusion coefficient profiles in the Mesosphere and Lower Thermosphere region (80 – 110 km) using satellite observations of CO2 and a one-dimensional photochemical and transport model. Eddy diffusion coefficients are a model parameterization for sub-grid scale motions like mixing due to breaking gravity waves. Calculating this is difficult because it is like calculating the diffusion that occurs when a wave crashes on a sea-shore or the diffusion due to turbulence. Only a few ground-stations have done this but of course, ground-stations don’t give a global coverage which is important. So far, no satellite-derived temperature nor wind dataset can be used to calculate this. Chemical species profiles and a one-dimensional model can also be used to calculate this but the chemistry of the utilized tracer must be well-known or it should be chemically inert. Our work used a CO2 as tracer because it is chemically inert in the Mesosphere and Lower Thermosphere region. We utilized recently retrieved CO2 profiles from the Thermosphere-Ionosphere-Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics (TIMED) satellite’s Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry (SABER) instrument. Our work provides the longest dataset on satellite-based eddy diffusion coefficient profiles derived from CO2. We hope to start an effort to calculate these coefficients using other satellite-derived chemical species. After calculating these profiles, we saw that they were very similar to eddy diffusion coefficients calculated by certain models that explicitly parameterizes breaking gravity waves with eddy diffusion coefficients. This led us to think that we may have just indirectly derived eddy diffusion coefficients that could parameterize breaking gravity waves. We are still doing more work to more robustly show this. Noting this though, we set these coefficients as a lower boundary condition in our electrodynamics general circulation model. This checked a recent suggestion that breaking gravity waves was the missing forcing that could completely drive the seasonal variations in thermospheric neutral density and ionospheric electron density. Similar to the aforementioned cold summer mesopause, the ionosphere and thermosphere is also not solely controlled by solar activity (Chapman mechanism) and in this case, geomagnetic activity. There are a lot of phenomena in our upper atmosphere that is found to require additional forcings from lower and middle atmospheric waves. Our work finally showed that our derived eddy diffusion coefficients cannot simulate the seasonal variations in the ionosphere and thermosphere. The first paper to cite our work further supported our suggestions by presenting a different dynamical mechanism centered on first-principles that they showed simulated the seasonal variations in the ionosphere and thermosphere.

4. How is your work in Academia Sinica related to your work at Manila Observatory and the Department of Physics in Ateneo de Manila University?

My current work is related to my undergraduate work at MO and Ateneo in that I utilized satellite data and did a lot of time-series analysis in both works. Interestingly though, I found out that the rainfall data from TRMM (Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission of NASA) that I used for my undergraduate work was an instrumental observational evidence to the theory that ionospheric plasma bubbles are caused by convective activity in the troposphere via the vertical propagation of convectively-driven atmospheric waves through the middle atmosphere.

5. What is your normal day or week like? Are you a member of a Laboratory? Do you work alone or with a group?

I am a member of a laboratory under the Graduate Institute of Space Science in National Central University and also a laboratory under the Research Center for Environmental Change in Academia Sinica but we all do our research alone. It is our program’s policy that we should belong to two labs. In a normal week, I have one day for our lab meeting. The rest of the week is spent in the lab. On a normal day, I go to the lab and do the most important work from 9 am till 6 pm. It really depends, sometimes this could mean spending an entire day doing observational data analysis or modeling calculations or just reading and writing.

6. Can you describe the physical models and data sets that you use? How much computational power do you need for your models or to analyze your data? What is the computational infrastructure that allows you do such kind of research?

For my work, the data sets that I mostly use are satellite observations. I work with satellite-observations on temperature, CO2, electron density and neutral density. I also work with reanalysis datasets. Reanalysis datasets are datasets formed via complicated interpolation of numerous observations from ground-based stations to satellites. However, for my work, my methodology dictates I prioritize satellite data.

The physical models that I use include one-dimensional models and three-dimensional models. For the one-dimensional model, it is a photochemical and transport model that solves the continuity equation. The model includes the chemistry of the major non-nitrogen chemical species in the altitude range 0 – 130 km.

For the three-dimensional models, they are electrodynamics general circulation models developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in the US that solve the fully coupled, nonlinear, hydrodynamic, thermodynamic and continuity equations of neutral gas with the energy, momentum and continuity equations of ions in the thermosphere and ionosphere (from ~97 km to ~500 km). The external forcings accounted for are solar irradiance; geomagnetic energy; ionospheric convection; a specified upward and downward plasma flux at the upper boundary representing the interaction of the system with the plasmasphere; and perturbations at the lower boundary of the model by waves representing the interaction between the ionosphere-thermosphere region and the lower atmosphere.

The datasets that I have are all stored on our lab’s servers because of their massive sizes. The models that I use are also all ran on these servers. While my data-processing work are all done in either MATLAB or IDL, the models are all coded in FORTRAN for efficiency. An entire year’s worth of model run requires two days to finish. I also do decade-long model runs that require roughly a month to finish. In order to do this kind of research, one needs a powerful Linux cluster-system.

7. What are your five-year plans? Are you coming back to the country, pursue postdoctorate, or work in the industry?

My five-year plans include, of course, finishing my PhD and then, I’ll look for opportunities that can allow me to practice my training on atmospheric and space physics.

8. Any parting words for our Physics majors?

Whether you guys immediately opt to work or go to graduate school, understand that you guys will be starting your lives when you graduate. This is particularly difficult to understand for those considering graduate school. Some make the terrible mistake of thinking that graduate school postpones the reality that they are already starting their lives. This hinders them from always keeping in mind the more important things in life like being professional, being disciplined, being humble and thoroughly figuring out what they want in their lives. They’ve become blinded by the pleasure of finding things out (c.f. Richard Feynman). Doing advanced physics is cool but don’t ever lose sight that you have to juggle this with the advanced responsibilities of life. I’ve met numerous top-gun scientists and I’ve seen how their successes were founded not on how amazing they did their calculations and experiments but on how happily they lived their lives with their families. I credit my undergraduate adviser, Dr. Nofel Lagrosas, for constantly reminding me of these things when I was still in Ateneo.


Left: Jude Salinas with his lab-mates and boss (left-most) on their way to an observatory in Taiwan’s Mt. Lulin. They were are setting up a telescope system for observing airglow emissions in the upper atmosphere. Right: Jude Salinas with his poster that won second place under the Mesosphere-Lower Thermosphere division of the Student Poster Competition during the Coupling, Energetics, Dynamics of Atmospheric Regions Workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.

Satellite systems and space development programs: a talk by Prof. Motoi Wada of Doshisha University


The Department of Physics of Ateneo de Manila University cordially invites you to

Art of Science and Engineering III: A Talk on Satellite Systems and Space Development Programs

by Prof. Motoi Wada (Applied Physics Laborary, Doshisha University)

  • Date: 16 January 2017
  • Time: 1:00-3:00 p.m.
  • Venue: SOM 211 (John Gokongwei School of Management)

Abstract: The previous talk covered a story of gravitational wave detection. It is a science supported by an advanced technology. We go out to interstellar space this time. There, sophisticated control systems determine trajectories of explorer satellites solving Newtonian mechanics problems that you learn in your classroom. Mathematical formulations visualize images of photon signals in invisible wavelength range from dark deep space. This talk will cover status of space development programs at both USA and Japan


Related Posts:

AMBER magnetometer installation at MO Davao station and NAMRIA Magnetic Observatory


Dr. James Simpas, Clint Bennett, and Dr. Endawoke Yizengaw at Manila Observatory (MO). Top right: AMBER sensor surrounded by bamboo fence at MO Davao Station. Bottom right: AMBER box being carried inside MO Solar Research Building.

Two AMBER (African Meridian B-field Education and Research)  magnetometers were installed in the Philippines. The first was installed at Manila Observatory’s Davao station in Matina Hills in 12 February 2016 and the other at the Magnetic Observatory of the Philippine National Mapping and Resource Information Agency (NAMRIA), Muntinlupa in 13 June 2016. The principal investigator of the AMBER project is Dr. Mark Moldwin from the University of Michigan, while the principal investigator of the AMBER expansion project is Dr. Endawoke Yizengaw from the Institute of Scientific Research of Boston College. The installations in the Philippines were led by Dr. James Simpas and Clint Bennett. Dr. James Simpas is an Assistant Professor of the Department of Physics of Ateneo de Manila University and head of Urban Air Quality / Instrumentation Technology Development and   programs (UAQ/ITD) at Manila Observatory. Clint Bennett is an Instructor at the Department of Physics of Ateneo de Manila University, Coordinator of the Philippine MAGDAS (Magnetic Data Acquisition System) Network, and research staff of the Upper Dynamics Program of Manila Observatory.

The AMBER magnetometer network was built by Boston College to gain a more complete global understanding of equatorial ionospheric motions. AMBER magnetometer stations are used to connect the European IMAGE-SAMNET-SEGMA magnetometer arrays to low and dip-equator latitudes, and link up with South African Intermagnet and Antarctic magnetometers in the southern hemisphere. Amber aims to provide complete meridian observation in the region and filling the largest land-based gap in global magnetometer coverage.  The two AMBER installations in the Philippines at Davao and Muntinlupa were funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR).

AMBER (African Meridian B-field Education and Research) Magnetometer Network

Global Equatorial AMBER ()Magnetometer Network

A. Installation in MO-Davao Station

Last 12 February 2016, Dr. Endawoke Yizengaw of Boston College was accompanied by Dr. James B. Simpas, the head of the Instrumentation Technology Division of Manila Observatory, in the installation of an AMBER magnetometer in MO-Davao station at Matina Hills, with the help of MO-Davao staff Efren Morales and Ruel Narisma.

Davao is an important location since through it passes the magnetic dip equator where the geomagnetic field is nearly horizontal and not tilted from the vertical unlike at the poles. Along the magnetic dip equator flows the Equatorial Electrojet (EEJ), which is a narrow ribbon of eastward current that peaks around 1:00 pm local time. During geomagnetic storms, ring currents are also formed in the equatorial region at 3 to 5 times the radius of the earth (about 6,378 km). The EEJ and ring currents generate magnetic fields around them which can be measured by the magnetometers near the equator.

B. Failed Installation at Manila Observatory

Last 9 February 2016, a few days before the AMBER magnetometer was installed at MO-Davao station, Dr. Endawoke Yizengaw met with Clint Bennett, Dr. Quirino Sugon Jr, and Dr. James Simpas at Manila Observatory. Dr. Yizengaw brought with him the box containing the AMBER magnetometer sensor, cable, and logger. But after some tests, the magnetometer data received was too noisy.

Clint Bennett and Dr. James Simpas also tested the magnetometer readings at the Jesuit Residence near the High School area of the Ateneo de Manila University Campus last 24 February 2016. The data was still noisy. They tried to test again 4 days later for about 30 min. The same noise problem. A new location is needed.

C. Installation at Magnetic Observatory of NAMRIA in Muntinlupa


Clint Bennett and CPO Alex Algaba in front of the MAGDAS magnetometer data logger at the Magnetic Observatory of NAMRIA in Muntinlupa. Top right: Clint Bennett and Ezequiel Manalac of MO unloads the AMBER cables. Bottom right: Henry Nayve and Clint Bennett of MO sets up the internet connection of the AMBER sensor in NAMRIA office.

Last 5 March 2016, Clint Bennett contacted CPO Alex Algaba of the Magnetic Observatory of NAMRIA (National Mapping and Resource Information Authority), and asked permission to install the magnetometer at the observatory in Muntinlupa. A month later, CPO Algaba informed Mr. Bennett that Commodore Jacinto M. Cablayan, Director of the Hydrography Branch of NAMRIA, had obtained the permission from NAMRIA for the installation of the AMBER magnetometer.

NAMRIA was created in 1988 by DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) to “provide the public with mapmaking services and to act as the central mapping agency, depository, and distribution facility for natural resources data in the form of maps, charts, texts, and statistics.” NAMRIA’s Director is Dr. Peter Tiangco who manages four technical branches: (1) Mapping and Geodesy, (2) Hydrography, (3) Resource Data Analysis, and (4) Geospatial Systems Management.

The Hydrography Branch acquires and analyzes hydrographic and oceanographic data for promoting navigational safety and oceanographic research. The outputs are nautical charts, navigational warnings, and tide and current predictions. The hydrography branch also collects 12-month geomagnetic data from magnetometers hosted by NAMRIA, which are part of OHP (Ocean Hemisphere network Project) of the University of Tokyo and the MAGDAS/CPMN (Magnetic Data Acquisition System / Circum-pan Pacific Magnetometer Network) Project of Kyushu University. Now, the hydrography branch also collects 12-month geomagnetic data from the AMBER Netowrk. These data are used together with those from 18 repeat stations all over the country to construct data products such as geomagnetic maps.

Last 14 April 2016, Clint Bennett together with Exequiel Manalac and Dr. Quirino Sugon Jr. visited the NAMRIA Magnetic Observatory in Muntinlupa, bringing with them the AMBER magnetometer set. They were welcomed by CPO Alex Algaba. Because of the length of the magnetometer cable is not long enough, the magnetometer was buried only a few meters from the iron gate, such that whenever the gate is opened or closed, the magnetometer readings jump.

On 13 May 2016, Clint Bennett returned to NAMRIA together with and Henry Nayve and Dr. Quirino Sugon Jr to adjust internet settings of AMBER’s BeagleBone, so that the data would show up in the AMBER website. The set-up was finished about noon.  Then the MO team, together with CPO Alex Algaba, traveled to NAMRIA headquarters in Manila. There they were received by Commodore Jacinto M. Cablayan, Director of the Hydrology Branch of NAMRIA. Clint Bennett and Dr. Quirino Sugon Jr discussed with Commodore Cablayan and his staff the AMBER network, the Manila Observatory, and NAMRIA’s interest in geomagnetic field data. The action step agreed in the meeting was the creation of an MOU between MO and NAMRIA regarding the AMBER installation.

On 13 June 2016, the magnetometer was transferred to its final location, more than 200 m from the iron gate. It’s now in the woods behind magnetometer house, far from vehicular or human traffic.


Meeting at the NAMRIA Hydroglogy Branch office at Manila. From left to right: CPO Alex Algaba, Eng’r. Dennis Arsenio B. Bringas, Commodore Jacinto M. Cablayan, Clint Bennett, and Dr. Quirino Sugon Jr.

Ateneo Physics faculty Dr. Quirino Sugon Jr receives faculty fellowship at ICSWSE, Kyushu University


Dr. Akimasa Yoshikawa, Ms. Kayo Goto, Dr. Quirino Sugon Jr, and Prof. Kiyohumi Yumoto at the International Center for Space Weather Science and Education, Kyushu University, Ito Campus

Upon the invitation of Dr. Tohru Hada, Director of the International Center for Space Weather Science and Education (ICSWSE) at Kyushu University, Dr. Quirino Sugon  Jr. took a leave of absence from Upper Atmosphere Dynamics program of Manila Observatory and the Department of Physics of Ateneo de Manila University from 1 August 2016 to 30 April 2017 to work as Associate Professor at ICSWSE. Dr. Sugon’s stay at ICSWSE was made possible through the efforts of Dr. Akimasa Yoshikawa, the Principal Investigator of the MAGDAS (Magnetic Data Acquisition System) project, who serve as Dr. Sugon’s research supervisor.

Dr. Sugon’s research topic at Kyushu University is seismo-electromagnetics, the study of electromagnetic phenomena associated with earthquakes. This is essentially the same topic which Dr. Sugon, Dr. Felix Muga II, Fr. Daniel J. McNamara, SJ, and Fr. Sergio Su, SJ were awarded the  Loyola Schools Scholarly Research Grant this year: “Seismoelectromagnetics: Finding magnetic precursors of the 2010 Moro Gulf Quake using MAGDAS data.” The grant’s duration is from January 1 to December 2016. The grant funding of Php 300,000 was used for the 6-unit research deloading of Dr. Felix Muga II and the hiring of Christine Chan as Research Assistant.

Below is an interview with Dr. Quirino Sugon Jr. by Ateneo Physics News:

1. Did you have problems with getting out of the country?

Yes. I should have left last 1 July 2016 instead of 1 August 2016, but I got stopped at the Immigration Office at the Airport: I ticked off that I am an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), but I could not show an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) from the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA). What I only have is the Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from the Japanese Embassy. OEC and COE sounds the same, so I thought they’re the same. So the Immigration officer sent me to POEA to get my OEC.

After informing the Secretary of ICSWSE, Ms. Goto Kayo, that I can’t leave because of Immigration problems, I went to POEA on the same day and asked for the requirements. There’s a list of about 10 documents to obtain. Essentially, all these requirements are meant to assure POEA the following: (1) I was really invited to work and not a TNT (Tago-ng-Tago), (2) the place where I plan to go is a legitimate business, (3) I am qualified for the position, (4) I am medically fit to work, and (5) I am documented as an OFW. The tough one to get was the labor contract certified by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) at Tokyo. Our secretary Goto-san took care of it. So I got all my documents and attended the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) at POEA. I am now a certified OFW. According to Evaluation Office at POEA, Postdoctorates are not classified as students but as workers, so those who plan to take postdoctorates abroad should really go through the same pre-departure process at POEA.

When I went back to the Immigration office at the end of July 2016, my name was removed from the blacklist and I finally boarded the plane.


Rurouni Sugon uses a Ryukansen technique of Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu style to defeat a Ninja in Saga, Japan

2. Did you travel around Japan?

Not much. I once went to the Amazon Exhibit in the Fukuoka Museum with the family of my friend. The Museum is only a walking distance from my apartment in Fujisaki. During Sundays, I go to Daimyomachi Church at Tenjin station for the English mass at 4:00 p.m. or to the Japanese mass at 9:30 a.m. On weekdays, I go to Kyudai Gakkentoshi Station and ride a bus to the Kyushu University, Ito Campus. During weekends, I stay at home to write some research reports. If I’m free, I write in one of my personal blogs: Quirino Sugon Jr and Monk’s Hobbit. The former is a blog on the art of blogging and its related crafts–content marketing, social media, graphic design, creative writing, etc, while the latter is more on politics, religion, and literature. Blogging is my favorite past-time. I can spend hours tinkering with my blog fonts and colors. I also like to read and write long-form content not only for the sake of search engine optimization (SEO), but also to hone my writing craft. Writing is an art, but is also also a science that can be studied with a box of writing tools from Poynter Institute.

I go around Fukuoka City via subway trains. Japanese trains are amazing: they really come on the scheduled time, so you can plan your travel really well, especially if you are transferring from one train to another. To travel outside of Fukuoka, you can take the fast Shinkansen trains.

I first took the Shinkansen when I joined my colleagues at ICSWSE in going to the Ninja Village in Ureshino, Saga Prefecture. I got to wear a Ninja black costume with red sash. One of the Ninja masters lent me his sword and asked me to act as if I am chopping off his head. I was Naruto for a day: walking along a dusty street, throwing shurikens at walls, and visiting old Japanese houses. There is also a flat portrait of Our Lady carved in stone. Our secretary told me that it’s Maria. Perhaps it was carved centuries ago when Christianity was still persecuted in Japan. I have seen a similar portrait before in the Shimabara arc of Rurouni Kenshin (Samurai X).

The second time I took the Shinkansen was last week. I took a 5-hour trip to Tokyo, starting at 9:00 a.m. I arrived in Tokyo about 2 pm and I got lost in the train station. I went to the information booth and asked for the Nijubashimae station. The lady there gave me a map and marked the directions. I thought the blocks in the map are the stalls inside the station. it turns out that I have to go out of the station, walk 3 blocks, and take a subway via Chiyoda line. I was scheduled to give a research at at 3:30 pm at the Asian Office of Aerospace Research and Development (AOARD) , a US funding agency that supports basic research.  I arrived there at 3:45 pm and gave my presentation at 4:00-5:00 pm. It was the same presentation I made in Kyushu University in 1 Nov 2016 on the measurement of the height of Equatorial Electrojet using MAGDAS magnetometers. After my presentation, I took the same subway line as before and rode the Shinkansen at 6:00 pm. I checked the train schedules in the Shinkansen website and realized that I took the wrong train! it was bound for Okayama and not Hakata in Fukuoka. So I went off the train at the first station and changed train for Hakata. I arrived about 11:20 pm in Hakata and took another subway back to Fujisaki. I arrived before 12 midnight, just like Cinderella.

The Tokyo trip was life-changing for me. Terrifying would be a better word. After my Tokyo trip, I felt that I can already travel around Japan, even as far as Sapporo and Hokkaido in the North. Maybe someday, but not yet.

3. What’s your favorite dish?

I don’t know most of the names of what I am eating. I usually eat in the cafeteria and I survive by just pointing my fingers on pictures. I like boiled pork strips, fried flat fish, and miso soup. At home, I cook my own food. I have a rice cooker. One of my favorite recipes are chicken liver, heart, and gizzard boiled with onions in sushi vinegar and toyo–something like Filipino adobo, but I add mushrooms. Other recipes are essentially based on boiling fish, pork, or beef with onions, then add leafy vegetables. I finish cooking in 10 to 15 minutes. I avoid preserved foods because I’m already an old man.


Daimyomachi church in Tenjin, Fukuoka

4. How’s your Japanese?

Sumimasen, my Japanese is terrible. I can’t even talk with a 6 year-old who already knows how to ask me “How are you?” in English. During our lunch at the office, I only try to guess what my colleagues are talking about based on a few familiar words accompanied by their hand gestures. Sometimes our secretary would explain to me what they are talking about. I really need to learn Japanese, because my boss, Prof. Yoshikawa challenged me by saying, “Sugon san, I will only speak to you in Japanese.” Also, the doctor of Kyushu University who interviewed me during my medical tests told me, “Next time, when you come back, you should speak Nihonggo.” Hopefully, I can focus learning Japanese this Christmas break. If Nodame can learn French by watching anime with Japanese translations, maybe I can learn Japanese, too.

Recently, I bought a Japanese Hymnal for the mass so that I can learn to read Hiragana and Katakana while plucking the notes in my guitar.I also bought an Order of the Mass in 6 languages: Japanese, Romaji, English, Portuguese, Spanish, and Filipino. I attended the Japanese mass last Sunday and noted the Hymn numbers they use. Next Sunday, hopefully I can already join the singing and participate more in the Japanese mass.

5. Have you published your research?

Not yet. I spent the whole of August doing a literature survey, reading on magnetic measurements of space weather activity, and building my library of pdfs that I store in my Google Drive. I may not be able to access these pdfs in the Philippines, so it is best to store them now. I’m using a name_year_title filing convention. The Google Scholar Chrome extension has been a great tool for me for building up my bibliography.

In September and October, I did my computations while writing my manuscript in LATEX, a programming language for typesetting mathematical paper which is based on the principle, “What you see is what you want.” LATEX does the hard work for you in creating the bibliography, numbering the equations, positioning the figures, and formatting the document, so you concentrate on writing the content. For my computations, I’m still a paper and pen guy, though recently I discovered that I can perform complicated triple integrals using MATHEMATICA, a computer algebra system from Wolfram Research that my research supervisor, Yoshikawa sensei, gave me a license to use. Most of theoretical physics research is essentially accounting for the variables and signs as you go from one computational step to another. If a software like Mathematica can do this faster, then so much the better. I can then focus on checking out whether the equations make sense, by checking the assumptions used in the computation or finding the limits as one variable goes to zero or infinity.

In November, I wrote some reports for the ISWI Newsletter. ISWI is the International Space Weather Initiative, “a program of international cooperation to advance the space weather science by a combination of instrument deployment, analysis and interpretation of space weather data from the deployed instruments in conjunction with space data, and communicate the results to the public and students.” The Manila Observatory manages several ISWI stations: 6 MAGDAS magnetometers, 3 SCINDA receivers, and 2 AMBER magnetometers.

This December, I made a research presentation at the AOARD office in Tokyo. The LS Scholarly Grant report on our Seismo-electromagnetics work on the Moro Gulf Quake will be submitted this week. It has some promising results, but we still need a few more months to finish the article, which is the primary reason why I came here in Kyushu University. Making a claim that we can predict earthquakes from magnetic field measurements is audacious, so we need to be very prudent and exhaust all sources of errors using all statistical techniques that we can think of. We are now extending the scope of the project from 23 July 2010 to the whole of 23-30 July 2010 when 31 earthquakes occurred in Moro Gulf. After this, we’ll extend further to the remaining 10 earthquakes in 2010 in the same area. Hopefully, this would give us more sample events to test our theories.

6. How big is the data that you are working on?

Big data is now the buzzword in business and technology:

Big data is a term for data sets that are so large or complex that traditional data processing applications are inadequate to deal with them. Challenges include analysis, capture, data curation, search, sharing, storage, transfer, visualization, querying, updating and information privacy. The term “big data” often refers simply to the use of predictive analytics, user behavior analytics, or certain other advanced data analytics methods that extract value from data, and seldom to a particular size of data set.[2] “There is little doubt that the quantities of data now available are indeed large, but that’s not the most relevant characteristic of this new data ecosystem.” (Wikipedia: Big Data)


Dr. Quirino Sugon Jr before an Maple tree in Autumn at Kyushu University

In seismo-electromagnetics research, we are also processing big data: we have a database of 1-second resolution 3-dimensional magnetic data from 5-6 stations for 5 years, which can run to a total of about 3 GB. Well, the size may be small compared to terabytes (1,024 GB) of business data for consumer analytics, but 3 GB cannot anymore be handled by MS Excel or Google Spreadsheets. We also have no clear cut idea on what type of magnetic anomalies we are looking for, so we try out different anomaly detection techniques for different variables and see if the anomalies can be explained by the physics that we know.

We store our data in terabyte data storage discs. Then we use PANDAS (Python Data Analysis Library)PANDAS (Python Data Analysis Library) to extract the information that we need. I don’t know much about Python programming, except the basics of what it can do, so that I can talk with Dr. Muga and Christine Chan on how the algorithm may be implemented in PANDAS. We usually meet every Wednesday for one hour of audio call in Skype starting at 12:00 noon, Philippine time. Sometimes I got confused since Japan is one hour ahead. But I am glad that modern technology has made research collaboration easier for scientists working at different countries, so that it does not really matter much whether I am at Manila Observatory or in Kyushu University.

There’s a Python meeting in Ateneo de Manila University this January 2017. Christine and Dr. Muga are helping out in the logistics for this event. The Upper Atmosphere Dynamics Program of Manila Observatory, for its part, made a commitment to use Python. Python has clean syntax, powerful string operators, and extensive libraries. It’s open-source. We don’t pay anything for using it. Hopefully, next year, we can begin using the Python module pyglow for space weather research:

pyglow is a Python module that wraps several upper atmosphere climatoglogical models written in FORTRAN, such as the Horizontal Wind Model (HWM), the International Geomagnetic Reference Field (IGRF), the International Reference Ionosphere (IRI), and the Mass Spectrometer and Incoherent Scatter Radar (MSIS).

7. Any parting words?

Seismo-electromagnetics is an emerging field and scientists are looking for anomalies not only beneath the earth, but high above in the ionosphere, so that tools for studying the ionosphere–magnetometers, ionosondes, GPS receivers, and satellites–are also used for finding electromagnetic precursors of earthquakes hours or days before the quake. Next year, China National Space Administration and the Italian Space Agency shall launch the China Seismo-electromagnetic Satellite:

CSES (China Seismo-Electromagnetic Satellite) is a scientific mission dedicated: to monitoring electromagnetic field and waves, plasma and particles perturbations of the atmosphere, ionosphere and magnetosphere induced by natural sources and anthropocentric emitters; and to study their correlations with the occurrence of seismic events. More in general, CSES mission will investigate the structure and the dynamic of the topside ionosphere, the coupling mechanisms with the lower and higher plasma layers and the temporal variations of the geomagnetic field, in quiet and disturbed conditions. Data collected by the mission will also allow studying solar-terrestrial interactions and phenomena of solar physics, namely Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), solar flares and cosmic ray solar modulation.

So what we are doing is not a far-fetched idea. Others have invested more time and resources on seismo-electromagnetics research. The race is on.


Top left: International Center for Space Weather Science and Education (ICSWSE). Top right: Administration Office and West Wing Building. Bottom left: Library. Bottom right: Campus map of Kyushu University, Ito Campus.