Health & Environment

Virtual Healing

Researchers at the University of Barcelona have found virtual reality to be a useful tool in psychology   Virtual reality may be the buzzword in journalism and entertainment. But for a team of psychologists and computer scientists at the University of Barcelona, these are just new applications for tools that they have been researching on for some time. The Experimental Virtual Environments Lab (EVENT Lab) at the Department of Psychobiology of the University of Barcelona focuses on immersive and embodiment experiences. Researchers from the University of Barcelona, the University College London and the University of Derby help participants learn through compassion. They use avatars and computer science gaming technology to teach empathy. For example, a user can be embodied in a black avatar to experience racial discrimination, or an adult in the body of a child to empathise how it feels when parents are harsh. "We found that adults who experience the kind mother gain trust," Mel Slater, the director of EVENTS Lab explained, "but when they meet the harsh mother first followed by the kind one a week later, they tend not to trust her." To experience embodiment, the participant has to put on a black bodysuit. Sensor pompoms on the garment allow the computer to track the person's movement so that the programme can react accordingly. The signals are picked up by sensors mounted on the walls of the pitch black lab. A virtual reality headset then allows the user to immerse in the altered world. "Parents who go through the experience tend to become more empathetic toward their children afterwards," said Domna Banakou, a researcher at the lab. "Racial discrimination also tends to decrease after white people experience what it is like to be black," added Banakou. These virtual reality experiments have taken Mel Slater and his …

A 10-min mobile experience to online dating

  • 2018-06-02

More than 50 million people on earth are Tinder users. In a hustling city like Hong Kong, single millennials found it hard to look for partners because of gender imbalance, high expectation and busy schedules. LGBT communities actively use online dating apps because it is difficult for them to look for partners, while they are constantly worried that their identity and personal data will be exposed.

Death in the afternoon in Madrid

  • 2018-05-24
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Nadia Lam、Erin ChanEdited by: Holly Chik、Angie Chan、Michelle Ng
  • 2018-05-24

There are many styles of bullfighting around the world, but in Spain, death is inevitable for the beast. At around 6:30 p.m on a Sunday evening, about 20,000 people packed into Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas, a bullfighting ring in Madrid. Music started blaring from speakers around the circular spectator stands. A lone bull entered the arena. It stood quietly at the centre, seemingly at a loss. Several men then joined the beast in the ring, waving pieces of red cape known as muleta. The waving enraged the animal and soon it charged and rushed at the moving fabric. In came the matador, mounted on the back of a white horse. With a lance in his right hand, the matador started to irritate the bull by chasing it around the arena. The horse galloped to avoid being jabbed by the bull's fierce horns and after minutes of this teasing and dancing, the matador then stabbed the bull with the spear. This was just the start of the bull's suffering. The process continued until five of six lances had pierced the back of the bull's neck. It continued to charge as blood oozed from its wounds. The agony came with one sharp jab of a sword vertically into the top of its spine. The bull fell. The audience cheered and waved pieces of white cloth to show their appreciation towards the bullfighter. That was round one. The next bull, equally confused as the first then came into the ring. Its only defence against the matador's provocation was its horns. During one of the rounds, the bull simply would not be provoked. It escaped and ran into the aisle between the spectators' area and the arena, which raised a clamour among the audience. The matadors didn't give up and after the …

The United Nations headquarters of pickpocketing victims

  • 2018-05-23

It is a place where you can meet friends from around the world, who share a truly memorable experience on your journey – it is a place you definitely do NOT want to visit in Spain. At the National Police, district Madrid-Centro, a red sign reads "SATE" near the entrance. "SATE" means "Foreign Tourist Assistance Service". Follow it and you enter a  room full of people sitting in front of a blank wall. They are all victims of pickpocketing in Spain. I found myself a seat. There were 20 people this particular afternoon in May. The tourist season in Madrid has only just started. Everybody in the room looked blank and empty, just like their wallets. Five minutes later, an officer invited me to another room. He handed me a phone. There was a police officer on the line. "Tell me what happened," he said. "This afternoon I was going around Plaza Mayor with my friends. My wallet got stolen," I explained. The wallet was in a zipped up bag by my side. I had no idea how it got stolen. Perhaps just one lapsed moment was enough for a skilful thief to open my bag, spot the wallet, and snap it way – just a matter of seconds. It was day one of our trip. I had 250 Euros ($2,300) in my wallet, along with my bank card, credit card, and the key for my hotel room. Fortunately, there was no suspicious spending record on my credit card before I called to cut the service. After my account of what happened, I was told to return to the room of victims to wait for the official statement report. I asked how long would it take. "Hmm... usually a while," the officer muttered. Everyone in the room had a ticket …

Witness testifies that he heard one defendant said he murdered someone over the phone

  • 2018-04-18

The trial of three men who are charged with murder and preventing lawful burial of Cheung Man-li, a 28-year-old man whose body was buried in cement, continued. The witness heard the defendant said he had murdered someone. Witness Tong King-shing, a friend of Mr. Tsang Cheung-yan "Ah T", one of the defendants, said there were conversations that they had murdered a person in Hong Kong over the phone. Mr. Tong, when questioned whether he had asked why Mr. Tsang was in Taiwan, said Mr. Tsang mentioned that he was travelling. In March 2016, he began to continuously ask Mr. Tong to lend him a couple thousand Hong Kong dollars. When Mr. Tsang called Mr. Tong in Taiwan again to ask for money, he heard clearly that there were people in the background. "I heard three male voices, including Ah Ho, the second defendant Lau Shek-ho and KK, the third defendant Cheung Sin-hang. Furthermore, he said that someone in the background of the conversation said "the dead body was buried in cement. Even the hydraulic, air fresheners and perfumes cannot cover the smell." After being questioned by the defendant's representative whether he was absolutely sure that it was Ah Ho talking, Mr. Tong replied that he was sure that Ah Ho called Ah T ‘dumb fuck’, while he was unsure who mentioned about the smell and the burial. Mr. Tong mentioned that Ah T told him that they "powed" a person in Hong Kong. "From my understanding, "powed" means murder but because they said it in a light-hearted matter, I did not think they were serious," explained Mr. Tong. Mr. Tong said that Mr. Tsang kept pestering him about lending money. In one instance, he asked him to borrow $6,000 from someone named "Papa" in Mong Kok, then wire the money …

Filipino President makes move to improve relations with China

  • 2018-04-13
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Katherine Li、Rachel YeoEdited by: Raphael Blet、Michelle Ng
  • 2018-04-13

More than 2,000 members of the Filipino community in Hong Kong gathered in Kai Tak Cruise Terminal to meet the Filipino President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on the evening of April 12th, where he expressed his intentions on strengthening Filipino-Chinese relations and continuing to combat criminal activities. "Just like my grandfather, we are of Chinese descent. In Hong Kong especially there is a lot of Chinese descent Filipinos, so this is part of destiny." said Duterte. According to the Census and Statistics Department, there are around 222,000 Filipinos in Hong Kong, with more than 355 Filipino community organizations registered with the Philippine Consulate General, the ties run deep between the Philippines and Hong Kong. "China has being very good to us. As a matter of fact, among other things amounting to billions, I got a grant of 500 million yuan (around $625 billion) which would be about 4 billion pesos." said Duterte. He revealed that the grant from China will be used on hospitals and improving the situation in Marawi, an Islamic city in Mindanao province which was occupied by terrorists in 2017. After battling the terrorists and implementing martial law, the government besieged the city. He assured the Filipinos in Hong Kong not to worry about their country because it is doing well, while he pledges to create more work opportunities for them so that they no longer have to become domestic helpers in the future, but professionals with careers. He also made the first official apology over the Manila hostage incident in 2010 which caused eight people from Hong Kong to lose their lives, although the incident did not occur under his presidency. "There has been no official apologies regarding the August 2010 incident. May I address myself to the Chinese people. From the bottom of my heart, in behalf of …

Mong Kok Riot Trial: witness admitted to be father of two policemen

  • 2018-03-29

The witness who reported the fifth defendant, Lam Lun-hing, in the Mong Kok riot in 2016, Yip Chi-shing, admitted that both of his sons are serving in the police force. He also said his elder son garrisoned in Mong Kok but claimed to be not sure whether his sons participated in the suppression. The defence barrister Jon Wong Kwok-ho suggested that Yip once liked a Facebook page called "Salute to Hong Kong Police". Yip admitted that but denied having registered in that group. Yip claimed that he was harassed by Lam in August 2015 during his patrol in a comic fair. He recognised him in a news video of the Mong Kok riot in February 2016 and then called the Police. Although it was hard to see people's faces clearly in the videos, Yip insisted that he could correctly recognise Lam through the height and profile of him. "It's impossible for me to recognise the wrong person," Yip said. The defence showed various screenshots from videos which focused on the man whom Yip believed to be Lam and asked Yip to describe them. In Yip's description, the colour of the jackets the man wore changes with the photos, but Yip explained that it’s only because of the difference of light condition. "The jacket was not important, I recognised him because of his height," Yip stated repeatedly. The defence pointed out that the information which the witness provided in court, such as the suspect's body shape and age, was different from his testimony. Yip explained that he might not have had the correct concept of the body size. In Yip's second testimony on April 8, 2016, Yip provided detailed information on Lam’s appearance such as hairstyle and deep eye socket. Yip also agreed that he went through plenty of videos and …

Defence suspected induction and insufficient evidence in cement-coffin murder

  • 2018-03-29

At the body-in-cement case trial at The Court of First Instance yesterday, defence barrister Steve Tsui attempted to prove that the defendants were induced by the police as the court awaits possible new evidence. "Did you ever say (to the defendant) 'I heard you are a fighter, do you want to fight me now'?" Mr. Tsui asked a police officer who investigated this case and is called upon as witness, "and when the defendant asked to see a lawyer, did you ever hear your fellow investigator say 'don't play games with me, you are in a police station, no lawyer can help you now'?" The officer denied that the above conversation took place, and said that he never heard his fellow investigator make such statement as far as he knows. Mr. Tsui went on to ask him if he ever punched the forearm of the defendant and heard his fellow investigator suggest that the defendant should "perform well" in a videotaped interview to alleviate his sentence, but Mr. Lee still denied the claims. The barrister also questioned chief inspector Wesly Tse Tan-sang on the same topic which Mr. Tse said, "I wanted to find out the identity of those involved as soon as possible. It is the duty of the police." Tse was also interrogated on the process of how he "accompanied" the suspects back to Hong Kong from Taiwan and the procedures of their arrests, which he replied everything strictly abode to the rules and regulations of the police department and suspects were treated fairly. However, Mr.Tse confirmed that there is no eyewitness to this case, and only circumstantial evidence was present at the initial stage of their arrest. So far, the three suspects had admitted to "part-taking" the murder of Cheung Man-Li, but none confessed to the deed. The barrister …

Local schools getting bogged down with teaching STEM

  • 2018-03-14

As the government continues a push towards investing in STEM education, local school teachers can only equip themselves with more appropriate trainings. STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, is a curriculum emphasises on creativity and critical thinking instead of technical skills. Lucas Luk Chi-hang, a chief information officer at Pak Kau College, said that they need to spend more time preparing for lessons and designing courses around research-based approaches. He said the school holds mandatory STEM-related activities almost every Tuesday after school for all Form 1 and 2 students while IT and science related teachers have to tailor the curriculum for students’ needs. "My colleagues and I have to apply for additional training courses by ourselves and we have been busy with our own preparation, especially when we need to redesign what we’ve learnt via outside training," he continued, "because we cannot copy from others directly." "There are always difficulties in the teaching STEM," he added. "We have no option but to voluntarily join a STEM exchange outside of Hong Kong to sharpen our skills and widen our horizons so that we can figure out the most effective and efficient way to teach our students." His anecdotal account is borne out by the latest study by the Youth Research Centre of the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Group. Conducted between November and December last year, the survey polled 105 local secondary schools. 78.8% of the schools said that they started STEM education after the one-off grant from the Education Bureau. Schools that responded gave an average of 5.6 points on a scale of zero to ten, with ten denoting "very effective". Five major obstacles encountered by the secondary schools while implementing STEM education were also discussed in the research. Those include insufficient lesson time for STEM education, …

Hundreds protest against suspension of Baptist University student duo

  • 2018-01-26
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Elly Wu、Raphael Blet、Yoyo Chow、Katherine Li、Rob McGainEdited by: Angie Chan、Ezra Cheung、Michael Shum、Michelle Ng、Wing Li
  • 2018-01-26

  More than 200 people participated in a protest at Hong Kong Baptist University at 1.30 pm following the suspension of two students, according to the University's Students' Union. After being accused of threatening the staff and using abusive language during an eight-hour stand-off at the University's Language Centre, president of Hong Kong Baptist University Students' Union, Lau Tsz-kei, and a Chinese medicine student, Andrew Chan Lok-hang, were suspended pending disciplinary procedures. The University's decision to suspend the pair prompted mixed reactions with some praising the University's decision and others criticising the University for not awaiting the verdict of the disciplinary committee. A group of counter-protesters who were seen brandishing banners labelling the student union "a gang" and accused some professors of supporting the students. "We are proud of being Chinese citizens and right now, it's a Putonghua-speaking world," wrote a banner. Both parties could be seen hurling vulgarities at each other, but they were quickly separated by the security personnel. John Tse Wing-ling, former Legislative Councillor and Associate Professor of City University's Department of Applied Sciences, marched with the HKBU students in support for elimination to the compulsory Putonghua policy. "If Putonghua is really going to be a fixed standard, then this standard should also apply to all university staff members, including professors," he said, referring to the controversial requirement. Tse did not believe that a certain language should be a parameter of whether students could graduate. "If you judge everyone on the same standard, which is their Putonghua proficiency, then the Chief Executive of Macau won't even get his job," said Tse. The former lawmaker criticised the university for making the suspension of involved students public. "It's the first time in 30 years of teaching that I see a Vice-Chancellor announcing student suspension in front of the press," …