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Summer 2014 Blog - Jie Ma

Jie Ma is spending the summer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong

July 31, 2014

What is Hong Kong looks like?

Which is your favorite part in Hong Kong?

Many of my friends have asked me those questions. It is hard to answer because that Hong Kong gives me surprise everyday.

When I landed in Hong Kong, I certainly believed that this place is the acme of urbanization and cosmopolitan. It is the heaven for shopping. One shopping center is connected with another one, and it is very easily to find different brand of cloth and different flavor food from all over the world. As a result, the first expression Hong Kong gives to me is that it is a giant shopping mall.

A few weeks ago, I went to see a contemporary dance show, the Buying Game 2.0, which presented to audients a question: when we buying things at shopping malls, are we buying our dreams or are we being trapped by our lust. If Hong Kong were only the word shopping center and the international finance center, I would be like the character in the dance show being trapped and eager to escape the high-pressure city life.

Luckily, I found place to escape without living Hong Kong, which are the amazing geoparks. I went to high land reservoir and Ma Chi Chau. Volcanic rock composes neat arrys of giant polygonal joint columnar along the shore. The length of the hexagonal side is about 1.2 meter and it is one of the world’s largest examples of hexagonal columnar jointing.  There are also many wild-living bulls lives in the Sai Kung Country Park, which is next to the reservoir.

Ma Chi Chau looks like the jungle where Richard Parker (the tiger) runs into in the movie named life of pi.  However, if you turn around and look towards the sea, you can see the skyscrapers lies in front of the mountains. The busting metropolis has more than 40 per cent of its land designated as protected green area.

The real magic of Hong Kong is how close the countryside lies to the city. My favorite part for Hong Kong is its art of balancing eastern and western culture as well as of wildlife in nature and city life in skyscrapers.


Upper left: Tsim Sha TsuiClock tower
Upper right: Sir Alexander Grantham
Middle: Sha Tin New Town Plaza
Lower left: victoria Harbour Lower
Right: Kwai Tsing Theatre


Upper left: Ma Chi Cha (look into the island)
Upper right: High land reservoir
Middle: High land reservoir
Lower left: High land reservoir (hexagonal columnar)
Lower right: Ma Chi Cha

July 15th, 2014

Time goes so fast that I have been arrived Hong Kong for about a month.  I have tried to use Cantonese to order food and helped many new students to find the way to their classes.  Meanwhile, my view toward research started to change.

I used to think that researcher always feel lonely and isolated. They could work alone for days, for months or even for years. Not many people could understand them and not many people they could talk with.  Also, not many people could benefit from their research. However, it is wrong. From my own experience and observations from my teammates, I learnt that researchers are not work alone, and their works could help the society a lot.

In order to find the right numerical model for solar radiation calculation for the high building density city, Hong Kong, I spent at least 4 hours a day reading papers and books about solar radiation everyday. The key challenge is how to quantify the metrological data based on the limited field measurement and what statistical analysis I can do to generate an aggregate model that could show the effect of urban geometry on solar radiation received in Hong Kong’s street canyons. I started communicate with other researchers through reading papers. Sometime, I got a little upset when it skips some calculation detail, which makes it to hard to justify their model’s accuracy. Sometime, I felt delighted when obstacle presented in the order paper was solved in the newer papers. Those papers are my teachers and they guild me step by step. Besides reading papers, my teammates help me a lot. They provide me some relevant source data they have used   and they give me a lot of advice on how to do the statistical analyses. I want to thank my mentor Alan and Dr. He, they are very knowledgeable and always available to help me.  I almost finished the step of data quantification for my research.

Besides doing my own research, I also participate other academy event. I went to the Opening Ceremony of Science News Corner Exhibition for Monitoring Hong Kong’s Urban Heat Island at Hong Kong Science Museum on June 27. The research achievement should not only stay at University, and researchers have the responsibility to educate and inspire the public. I also went to the first seminar on Urban Greening in Hong Kong with many city-planning professionals at CUHK on July 12. I heart a lot on the principles and direction on urban greening by government, urban tree transplantations, highway beautification and vertical greening.

Outside those manfully academic works, I really enjoy talking with my teammates at lunchtime. We went to lunch at CUHK canteens together everyday and would normally discuss about some popular social issue such as “ Hong Kong protest, raising house price, Different education systems between US and China”. They even blog their discussion online called “Greek lunch time”.

Yesterday, I went to see the World Cup Final with other the summer school students at the University Mall. School Principles and about 2000 students were watching the game at midnight together. When the game was over, I saw the sunrise over the sea.

watch world cup with friend

watch world cup with school principle

Watching the World Cup

I felt so lucky that I could not only have the unique independent research experience and spend my last college summer break with friends all over the world at the most incredible city.

June 25, 2014

I have been in Hong Kong for just over a week and have already gotten use to my research life at Chinese University of Hong Kong. I deeply believe Hong Kong is the cities everyone should visit in their lifetime. The skyscrapers’ density is extremely high. The average building height in Hong Kong is about 40 meter, about the height of 12 floors building. In addition, it is very easy to get lost around those tall buildings. In the daytime, I could not tell the direction based on my shadow because the skyscrapers have blocked sunlight. At night, it is hard to see the sky, because the billboard of the right side of the building is almost connected to the left side building’s billboards. Hundreds or even thousands of people are surrounding around hundreds of people at shopping mall, MTR train station, even at crossroads. There is no place call downtown in Hong Kong because almost everywhere is downtown.

Tsim Sha Tsui

Tsim Sha Tsui

Perhaps one of the only area, which is not belongs to downtown, is the school I am working now, Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). CUHK is located in northeast New Territories of Hong Kong. The campus is very beautiful and I can see 30 floor tall buildings and steep mountains as the same time when I am eating at campus canteens.

view from morning side college canteen

View from Morning Side College canteen at CUHK

The research team that I am working with is from School of Architecture, and the research topic is about sustainable and environmental Design. My teammates are very hard working, they normally arrived office around 9 am and leave around 9 pm. In addition, most of them work at office in the weekend. My mentor is Alan Lai; he helps me a lot and gave me a tour to Hong Kong Island last weekend.

Professor Ng research team

Professor Ng research team

I met professor Ng last Sunday, and he gave me a very interesting research question. Currently, Google map could generate the closet route from one point to another. Could we design a map, which could generate a most comfort route from one point to another? Hong Kong is in the tropic region and it is very hot in the summer. Currently, I am focus on generate a map could show the coolest route from one place to another. Last week I was meanly focus on learning the physics of solar radiation. I started using Arcgis to modeling the solar radiation this week. The figure below is the 3D map solar radiation for Tsim Sha Tsui area. The red area received higher solar radiation within a day, while the blue area received less solar radiation.

Tsim Sha Tsui solar radiation map

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