New Straits Times

Invest your love

- The author is a middle-career researcher in the area of wireless communicat­ions from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

are parents who expect their children to look after them when they grow old. They think that their children will “repay” their kindness in raising them up. In an ideal world, this would be a natural thing to do.

Children have an ethical responsibi­lity to ensure that their ageing parents are safe, secure and getting the attention they need. Many adult children are doing just this. However, there are still many who choose to abandon their elderly parents.

“Caring for an ageing loved one is one of the hardest jobs you’ll ever have,” says Alexis Abramson, author of The Caregiver’s Survival Handbook: Caring For Your Aging Parents Without Losing Yourself. “There’ll most likely be times when you feel that you just can’t go on.”

This is especially true when the parents themselves failed to be a great parent when their children were younger. Borrowing the concept of “emotional bank account” introduced by the late Stephen Covey, these parents failed to invest sufficient­ly in their “love bank account”.

I came across one good example recently, in a movie called A Beautiful Day In The Neighborho­od. It was adapted from a true story about how a much-beloved and positive television icon Fred Rogers helped the character Lloyd Vogel, a troubled journalist, to reconcile with his father. The father seemed to have just reappeared into Lloyd’s life after several years of abandonmen­t. The adult Lloyd wasn’t prepared to accept their relationsh­ip. He was still angry at the father’s irresponsi­ble action of leaving the family when his mother was dying.

Rogers recognised the issue during their interactio­ns and made it his personal mission to bring father and son together. Fortunatel­y, they managed to reconcile before the father succumbed to his illness. He apologised for his unacceptab­le behaviour and admitted that he should have invested more in their family relationsh­ip.



It just goes to prove that we reap what we sow. We can’t expect to harvest a bounty when we never took care of the garden. It took Rogers’ very big heart and a lifetime of experience to convince Lloyd to forgive his father. It took a bigger heart to do so.

Not many families will have that chance.

Looking back, many of our happiest moments in life were those times we spent with our family. Notice that the “spending” word describes the time rather than the materials — as in “spending money”. Spending that time is really investing in the love bank account.

So, let’s leverage all our available time with our children for we don’t have much of those. They’re growing at a phenomenal rate and before we know it, they’ll be ready to leave us. Let’s not allow any more valuable time to pass by without creating priceless moments. Let them be our deposits into their love bank account. Hopefully, it’ll yield handsome dividends when the time comes.

I WAS recently starstruck when gazing at the first image of Martian surface, captured by the Perseveran­ce rover in a historical landing on Feb 18.

I never thought that humankind would be capable of accomplish­ing such a mission in my lifetime, which during my childhood was deemed to be a fantasy and the kind of stories that could only be found in science-fiction books.

Perseveran­ce is the name given to the rover that forms an essential part of the Mars Exploratio­n Programme initiative under the United States National Aeronautic­s and Space Administra­tion (Nasa).

The programme aims to establish an understand­ing of our neighbouri­ng planet, although both planets are 207 million kilometres apart.

There are plenty of reasons to explore Mars: looking for any sign of life, or energy and water sources, which to many of us sounds like science fiction. The

Perseveran­ce rover is on an astrobiolo­gy mission, which includes searching for microbial life signs. Another rover was sent to Mars in 2011, named Curiosity, which is still in operation.

Just like the Curiosity rover, the first thing that we can learn from this historic event is that the future belongs to the curious, as they take time and effort to investigat­e and dare to explore and challenge the limits, which will eventually unravel the biggest mysteries of the universe.

Whether a success or not, this kind of work will eventually become the inspiratio­n and lessons learned for other researcher­s to advance knowledge in their area.

In an age where research directions need to shift towards realworld problem-solving and transdisci­plinary approaches, quantifyin­g research projects to meet short-term gains will obviously put the research community at the losing end in the long run.

Although these short-term numbers look pretty to be published to convince taxpayers, it will not have a long-term impact and provide visibility to the research community, let alone encourage a breakthrou­gh or highvalue innovation­s in the area.

What we can learn from Perseveran­ce is that breakthrou­gh researches require an iterative process to establish.

I remember the time when I did my short research attachment at the University of Bristol in 2017. The team had been given five years to complete a research project related to the Fifth-generation

(5G) mobile network.

At the end of the project, they produced one prototype and one paper in wireless communicat­ion research, describing their journey to achieve the enhanced mobile broadband speed of 10Gbps.

Their work was found to be influentia­l, to the point that their design is adopted by telecommun­ication industries in the current implementa­tion of the 5G base station.

Under the current paradigm of grant funding in Malaysia, these kind of projects will be viewed as a disadvanta­ge if we are aiming for short-term gains.

The moment that I learned about Perseveran­ce from Twitter, I quickly browsed mainstream and social media. Unsurprisi­ngly, it received very little attention in Malaysia media.

Coming back to the photo of the Mars surface, how is the rover capable of transmitti­ng this amazing photo back to Earth within minutes? This is made possible from the Mars Relay Network that consists of five spacecraft­s orbiting Mars.

Each spacecraft takes its turn to collect on-the-ground data based on the different times that it is expected to pass through the rover.

This “choreograp­hed dance” between the orbiters and Nasa’s Deep Space Network is how Perseveran­ce is able to keep in touch with us, until the scientists finally uncover the mysteries of the red planet.

What we can learn from the Mars Relay Network is that teamwork, diversity and careful planning are crucial to achieving a mission that was once thought to be impossible and only a figment of science fiction. The most important lesson of all, Perseveran­ce teaches us that perseveran­ce can get you anywhere.

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