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SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH IN HIGHER LEARNING INSTITUTIONS: * OPPORTUNITIES, CHALLENGES AND ON THE WAY FORWARD. John S.

Nkoma Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) P.O. Box 474 Dar es Salaam Email: jsnkoma@tcra.go.tz 1. INTRODUCTION The objective of this paper is to discuss the importance of scientific research in higher learning institutions (Ref 1 to 10) by looking at the opportunities, challenges and the way forward. The plan of this paper is as follows. In section 2, we shall look at various aspects of scientific research, the type of research which employs the scientific method, which can be experimental or theoretical, where the experimental method depends on using scientific equipment in a laboratory or field, and theoretical method depends on using mathematics as a tool. In section 3, we discuss about the opportunities of research. One way to discuss the various opportunities is to look at the various science subject areas: Biology, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Mathematics and Physics. In section 4, we shall confine ourselves to challenges which confront our research capacity, and by understanding these challenges we shall be in a better position to mitigate them. We propose strategies and on possible ways forward in section 5. Concluding remarks are made in section 6. 2. Aspects of Science Research 2.1 Experimental or Theoretical/Applied or Basic

Experimental or theoretical research can be applied or basic, where applied research refers to scientific research that seeks to solve practical problems, while basic research aims to get more understanding and knowledge. This is illustrated in Table 1. RESEARCH METHOD EXPERIMENTAL EXPERIMENTAL THEORETICAL THEORETICAL APPLIED OR BASIC APPLIED BASIC APPLIED BASIC

Table 1: Research can be Experimental or Theoretical, and ALSO Applied or Basic. Branches of science subjects are shown in the next Table. *Public Lecture at the Faculty of Science, Technology and Environmental Studies (FSTES)Day, Open University of Tanzania, 1st August 2012

2.2

Science Subjects

Science is quite broad, but the subject of this paper refers to the following subjects: Biology, chemistry, earth sciences, mathematics and physics as illustrated in Table 2. BIOLOGY Botany Zoology Ecology Microbiology Molecular Biolo Biotechnology Biochemistry Anatomy Physiology Cytology Embryology Morphology Genetics CHEMISTRY Inorganic Chem Organic Chem Physical Chem Analytical Chem Natural Products Industrial Chem Polymer Chem Nuclear Chem Geochemistry Biochemistry EARTH SCIENCES Environmental Science Geology Hydrology Oceanography Limonology Glaciology Meteorology MATHEMATICS PHYSICS Algebra Trigonometry Coordinate geometry Calculus Linear Algebra Abstract Algebra Real analysys Complex analysis Vector analysis Tensor analysis Topology Logic Statistics Numerical analysis Computing Mechanics Group theory Mechanics Electromagnetism Optics Acoustics Thermodynamics Electronics Quantum Mech Statistical Mech Relativity Particle Physics Nuclear Physics Atomic Physics Molecular Physics Solid State Phys Geophysics Atmospheric Phys Energy Phys Agricultural phys Biophysics

Table 2: Some branches of science subjects 2.3 Some research areas in science subjects

From the science subjects seen earlier, there can be several research areas as illustrated in Table 3. The choice as to which reasearch is pursued depends on several factors, and the methodology can be experimental or theoretical, and the results can be applied or basic. BIOLOGY
Local plants Ecology Food microbiology Genetics Biochemistry

CHEMISTRY
Medicinal plants Natural products Natural gas Analytical chem Soil chemistry

EARTH SCIENCES
Geology Environment Oceanography Weather Rift Valley

MATHEMATICS PHYSICS
Operations research Economic modelling Traffic flow Fluid dynamics Algebra Communications Solar energy Atmospherics Phys Geophysics Agricultural phys

Seeds Local insects and their control Wildlife Marine plants and animals

Food chemistry Water chemistry Biochemistry Cosmetics New materials Pharmaceuticals Insecticides Fertilizers Detergents Petroleum prod

Industrial phys Medical phys Instrumentation Electronics Solid state phys New materials Acoustics Optics Corrosin Ore analysis Nuclear radiation

Table 3: Some areas where science research can be carried out in science subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Earth sciences, Mathematics, Physics can be carried. 2.4 Basic Sciences, Classical and High Technologies

There is a close relationship between science and technology (S&T). Essentially, science is a know-why, while technology is a know-how. The sciences have contributed a lot to agriculture, engineering and medicine, which are classical technologies. In recent years, basic sciences have contributed a lot to energy, communications, microelectronics, computers, space technology, pharmaceuticals, insecticides, fertilizers, molecular biology, biotechnology, genetics, which are high technologies. This observation is summarised in Table 4. Also, it is worth recalling one of the great physicists (Abdus Salam, 1987) who said:

The science of today is the technology of tomorrow


BASIC SCIENCE Physics CLASSICAL TECHNOLOGY Engineering HIGH TECHNOLOGY Energy Communications/ICTs Microelectronics Computers Space Technology Pharmaceuticals Insecticides Fertilizers Molecular biology Biotechnology Genetics

Chemistry Biology

Medicine Agriculture Medicine Agriculture

Table 4: Relationship between basic sciences, classical technologies and high technologies 3

2.5

Experimental Research

One of the prerequisites for experimental research is a well equipped laboratory. Scientific equipment is expensive, and there is therefore a need for sharing between users from different subjects, faculties or research institutions (See Ref 11-12). Typical examples of scientific equipment are mentioned below. Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) (See Figure 1). In a SEM, a beam of electrons is used to interact with a sample resulting into a pattern that gives information such as surface topography, composition and other properties. The sample can be biological for biological or medical research or material for chemistry, physics, geological or engineering research. X-ray Diffraction (XRD) machine (See Figure 2). In an XRD machine, a beam of x-rays (photons of the order of wavelength 0.1 to 0.2 nm or 1 to 2 ) hits a sample as a function of scattering angle, and the resulting diffraction pattern can be used to obtain information such as cristal structure, chemical composition. Atomic Absorption Spectrometer (AAS) (See Figure 3). In AAS, radiation flux without a sample and with a sample in the atomizer is measured using a detector, and the ratio between the two is used to detect the chemical element of a simple. Mass Spectrometer (MS) (See Figure 4). In an MS, the mass to charge ratio of a charged particle is measured, and thus the structure of a sample can be determined. MS is used to study physical, chemical and biological properties of several varities of compounds, and thus can be used in biology, chemistry, physics and engineering research. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) (See Figure 5). In NMR, a magnetic material is placed in a magnetic field, and resonanc is observed depending on the magnetic field strength and magnetic properties of the atoms of the magnetic material. Use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Devices (See Figure 6) and the internet in Scientific Research has become fashionable in recent years. The applications of ICT devices include e-Government, eLearning, e-Commerce, e-Health, e-Agriculture and others (See Ref. 13). Supercomputer (See Figure 7). A supercomputer is a computer with extremely high processing capacity and high speed of processing capacity.

Library (See Figure 8). A modern library with books, journals and internet facilities is indispensable in scientific reserach.

Figure 1: Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)

Figure 2: X-ray Diffraction (XRD) machine

Figure 3: Atomic Absorption Spectrometer (AAS)

Figure 4: Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GCMS)

Figure 5: Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR)

Convergence of Technologies

Figure 6: ICT Devices

Figure 7: Supercomputer

Figure 8: Library with books, journals and internet facilities.

2.6

Examples from Solid State Physics/Chemistry OR Materials Science

Let us demonstrate what we have seen above to some examples. First, XRD studies orebodies from the Cu-Ni mine in Botswana show that they contain chalcopyrite, CuFeS2 as the source of Cu, pentlandite (Fe, Ni)9S8 as the source of Ni, and pyyyhotite, Fe1-xS as the dominant compound. A typical XRD pattern is shown in Figure 9. The structure of chalcopyrite is illustrated in Figure 10.

Figure 9: After Nkoma and Ekosse (1999)

Figure 10: Chalcopyrite structure, CuFeS2, showing Cu, Fe and S atoms. 9

Secondly, a typical XRD pattern for studies of clays is shown in Figure 7.

Figure 11: XRD patter of clays showing peaks for quartz (Q), montmorillonite (M), Illite (I) and Kaolinite (K) (After Nkoma and Ekosse, 1999). Analysis of the clays by XRD showed that they contain: Monoclinic Kaolinite, Al2Si2O5(OH)4 (See crystal structure in Figure 8), with calculated lattice parameters as a = 5.1587 , b = 8.9414 , c = 7.388 and 103.740 Illite, Al2(Si,Al)410(OH)2 and Orthorhombic Montmorrilonite, (Na,Ca)0.3(Al, Mg)2Si4O10(OH)2.nH2O, with calculated lattice parameters as a = 5.3131 , b = 8.9652 , c = 14.8535

Figure 12: Strucure of a kaolinite layer. 10

2.7

Theoretical Research

2.7.1 Mechanics: Newtonian mechanics and Lagrangian dynamics


ma

=F

2.7.2 Electromagnetism: Maxwells Equations

2.7.3 Thermodynamics: The Laws of Thermodynamics 0. Two bodies in thermal equilibrium are at the same temperature 1. Energy can never be created or destroyed E = Q + W 2. The total entropy of the Universe ( = system plus surroundings) MUST ALWAYS INCREASE in every spontaneous process. STOTAL = Ssystem + Ssurroundings > 0 3. The entropy, S, of a pure perfectly crystalline compound at T = 0 is ZERO (no discorder) ST = 0 = 0

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2.7.4 The Wave Equation 2E +2E + 2E = x2 y2 z2 1 2E c2 t2

2.7.5 Quantum Mechanics: Schrodinger Equation

2.7.6 Statistical Mechanics Distribution Functions Maxwell Boltzmann Distribution F (E) = ______1_______ AE/kBT Bose Einstein Distribution F (E) = ______1_______ (E )/k T -1 e B Fermi Dirac Distribution F (E) = ______1_______ (E E )/k T e F B +1 3 OPPORTUNITIES FOR SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH

An opportunity is a chance or possibility which when taken can lead to a positive outcome. The opportunity offered by scientific research is to do research in the several areas which were summarised in Table 3, for example: In biology, the following are some of the areas: Local plants, Ecology, Food microbiology, Genetics, Biochemistry, Seeds, Local insects and their control, Wildlife, Marine plants and animals In chemistry, the following are some of the areas: Medicinal plants, Natural products, Natural gas, Analytical chemistry, Soil chemistry, Food chemistry, Water chemistry, 12

Biochemistry, Cosmetics, New materials, Pharmaceuticals, Insecticides, Fertilizers, Detergents, Petroleum products In earth sciences, the following are some of the areas: Geology, Environment, Oceanography, Weather, Rift Valley In mathematics, the following are some of the areas: Operations research, Economic modelling, Traffic flow, Fluid dynamics, Algebra In physics, the following are some of the areas: Communications, Solar energy, Atmospherics Phys, Geophysics, Agricultural physics, Industrial physics, Medical physics, Instrumentation, Electronics, Solid state physics, New materials, Acoustics, Optics, Corrosin, Ore analysis, Nuclear radiation 4 CHALLENGE TO SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH

Generally the status of scientific research in higher learning institutions in Tanzania is weak, and by understanding these challenges we shall be in a better position to mitigate them. The main challenges appear to be the following, summarised in ten bullets: Low emphasis on science subjects in the education system Human Resources expertise in science R&D is low (lack of critical mass and capacity) Financial expenditure and investment in science R&D is low Shortage of books and journals Shortage of laboratories and experimental facilities Low numbers of S&T conferences, seminars and workshops Poor organisation of research in science subjects Poor organisation of research in agriculture Lack of research in local industries Lack of research in medicine Lack of properly managed S&T policy 5 ON THE WAY FORWARD

In this section, we discuss the way forward to improve the status of scientific reaserch in higher learning institutions. These are summarised in the following ten bullets: In the education system (Primary, Secondary, Universities and other Higher learning institutions), more emphasis must be put on science subjects Increase the number of Human Resources experts in science subjects Increase Financial resources in science R&D Encourage more authors books in science subjects 13

Increase scientific infrastructure: laboratories and experimental equipment Need for profesional associations in Biology, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Mathematics and Physics, as well as an umbrella association for all of these Increase the numbers of S&T conferences, seminars and workshops Need for better coordination of research in science subjects Need for improved linkage between reserach in science and researches in agriculture, local industries, medicine Need for a better managed S&T policy 6 CONCLUDING REMARKS

In this paper, we have discussed the importance of scientific research in higher learning institutions by examining the various aspects of scientific research, including experimental or theoretical research, applied or basic. The importance of scientific infrastructure, including the need for well equipped laboratories. We have looked at various opportunities offered by science subject areas: Biology, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Mathematics and Physics, as well as challenges which confront our scientific research. Finally, we have looked at some possible ways to improve the status of scientific research. References 1. http://www.udsm.ac.tz 2. http://www.udom.ac.tz 3. http://www.out.ac.tz 4. http://www.dit.ac.tz 5. http://www.sjut.ac.tz 6. http://www.nm-aist.ac.tz 7. http://www.mist.ac.tz 8. http://www.tuc.go.tz 9. http://www.aru.ac.tz 10. http://www.muchs.ac.tz 11. http://www.costech.or.tz

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12. http://www.taec.ac.tz 13. http://www.tcra.go.tz 14. Abdus Salam, Science, High Technologies and Development, ICTP (1987)

15. J.S. Nkoma and G Ekosse, J. Phys. Condens. Matter 11 121 - 128 (1999), Xray Diffraction Study of Chalcopyrite CuFeS2, Pentlandite (Fe,Ni)9S8 and Pyrrhotite Fe1-x S obtained from Cu-Ni orebodies'' 16. J.S. Nkoma and G Ekosse, Botswana Journal of Earth Sciences 4 28 - 33 (1999), X-ray Diffraction Study of Clays used for making bricks at Lobatse, Botswana: Montmorillonite, Illite and Kaolinite''

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