Wednesday, January 19, 2011

From the moon to the sun

           Calangute (Goa):  From the moon to the sun.

          For ``Beyond Moon and Mars (BMM),'' it was indeed quite a change having made the moon literally its second `home'' thanks to the Chandrayaan-1 mission!.

          BMM's journey to the sun began on the morning of January 18.2011, in a conference room of the posh Neelam's Grand hotel in Calangute. Incidentally, the hotel staff need to be complemented for helping with such wonderful arrangements. Thank you.

        The visa to the sun was handed over to BMM at a well attended International Space Climate 4 conference. As BMM entered the beautiful and picturesque seaside resort of Calangute, it recalled that it last visited this place with wife, Usha, and daughter, Rimanika, to celebrate New Year's eve in December 1999 and usher in the new decade.

         Now 11 years later BMM was back to Calangute, this time to celebrate and delibrate about the power of the sun! Next time perhaps it could be the moon and then Mars and other planets!

         The five-day meet, held in an informal atmosphere, focussed on the critical issue of climate change because of the rise in temperature. As the main driving force behind this space conference, the highly amiable Dibyendu Nandi, told BMM in an earlier 1-2-1: ``The question is why should the temperature rise? How do changes in space affect the climate on earth? Space science plays an important role in studying changes in the sun. Changes in the sun will undoubtedly impact on our day-to-day lives and on society,'' he said, while pointing that it was in this context that such a conference assumed significance.

         For five days high profile space scientists gave ppts with graphs and figures mainly relating to solar activity which honestly were a bit incomprehensible to BMM. Hats off to Madhulika Guhathakurta of the science mission directorate at Nasa HQ in Washington whose presentation was simple and clear.

       The Indian participants included the director of Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Siraj Hasan, who told BMM about the world's largest solar telescope coming up in the JK region, and Bhatnagar prize winner, Gufran Baig, of the Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology. Baig spoke to BMM about how the cooling of the upper atmospher can degrade the performance of satellites.

        There were reps from Nasa and other international space and astronomical organisations. BMM found it a rewarding experience interacting with them.

        But, let us not forget that a conference is a conference. What does this mean?  BMM noticed that though most of the participants were serious and actively participated in the discussions, a few tended to get bored!!!! As the sessions were drawing to a close, the number of empty chairs increased! A foreign delegate on the second day sitting next to BMM was replying to a message about his medical bill which he received on his laptop!

       `Since the PPTs were not easy to comprehend. BMM interacted with some of the scientists on an 1-2-1 basis and did reports for The Times of India. The challenging task was to communicate to the common man in layman's terms and attempt to trigger an excitement and understanding about the importance of solar activity and climate change. BMM's emphasis was on highlighting the achievements and developments in India.

        My good friend Dibyandu explained that the advantage of selecting Goa as the venue was because it was the only place in India which effectively combined work and fun. ``Hard working scientists like to have fun too,'' he said.

        The joke is that if a rocket is launched from Goa what will be its propellant? Conventional rocket fuel or beer.

        Do not be surprised it it is beer!

        It will be a real lift off!   





1 comment:

  1. A really interesting post by an equally interesting person. But just one suggestion don't use beer as propellant.