Thursday, October 4, 2007

Sputnik First mammade satellite and man's opening of a new quest

Sputnik at 50: An improvised triumph

By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, Associated Press Writer Sun Sep 30, 1:01 PM ET

MOSCOW - When Sputnik took off 50 years ago, the world gazed at the heavens in awe and apprehension, watching what seemed like the unveiling of a sustained Soviet effort to conquer space and score a stunning Cold War triumph.

But 50 years later, it emerges that the momentous launch was far from being part of a well-planned strategy to demonstrate communist superiority over the West. Instead, the first artificial satellite in space was a spur-of-the-moment gamble driven by the dream of one scientist, whose team scrounged a rocket, slapped together a satellite and persuaded a dubious Kremlin to open the space age.

And that winking light that crowds around the globe gathered to watch in the night sky? Not Sputnik at all, as it turns out, but just the second stage of its booster rocket, according to Boris Chertok, one of the founders of the Soviet space program.

In a series of interviews in recent days with The Associated Press, Chertok and other veterans told the little-known story of how Sputnik was launched, and what an unlikely achievement it turned out to be.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

College Time memories

It was the eight semester and most of our batch mates decided to go IIT Mumbai for Final year projects. Lucky chaps, i decided to enjoy the classes or no classes in Chandigarh.

Well In IIT Mumbai you can imagine the situation with half PEC aero 2004 batch (The most notorious and one of worst as per our HOD). Our guys decided to go for some fun.

There was one guy lets call him Sunny the brave one or brave for one night. In IIT Mumbai it was quite different and advanced compared to our rickety PEC. There was a public announcement system available in the campus during emergencies.

Our sunnyji after landing in the campus came to know of it and decided to use it get some help or rather misuse it. Just to get some directions he decided to call up one of our friends at around 3 in the night. You can just imagine the condition of the kind. Poor fella.

On one fine night there was a public announcement that a Cheetah was spotted in the campus loitering around. As usual most of the Aerobians were either in their labs (workalohic kind) or in the hostel(bindas type). Then our Sunny paaji had a brilliant idea, why not catch the cheetah and get to the hall of fame in IIT Mumbai. (Aise bhi apne bande har jagah badnam kar ke aate hain PEC ka naam)

So our Sunny calls up the workaholic kid (wrong to call him a kid seeing his huge size) and gives him a offer to join him in catching the cheetah. As usual the workaholic kid is busy and refuses.

So our Sunny starts up the mission single handed armed with just the Nokia searchlight. He scans the campus or a part of it and fails to find the cheetah. After a while he stops for some rest (Not used to walking much).

And in a flash of second this kid is attacked. In a sudden reflex action he uses his arm as last desperate move for defence and in this process the mobile is thrown a distance away. A big folly, to throw away the only weapon you possess. After regaining his senses he awaits for the next move from the attacker buts there's none for next some minutes. He is finally convinced and searches for his beloved weapon Nokia 1100. It was couple of meters away.

After a while Sunny realizes his mistake it was a aerial attack or just some flight by some bird. Now just imagine what would have been the effects if there was a real cheetah.

The most surprising thing of all is that i knew nothing about this incident. I came to know of this only after passing out of college and after the big guy (workalohic kind) told me of this incident and sunnyji confirmed this incident.

Tarapur Nuclear Reactor India and NPT

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), opened for signing in 1968 and in force since 1970, established a nuclear regime intended as temporary until decision could be reached on eliminating nuclear weapons altogether. While the treaty has proven remarkably enduring, its failure to address the ultimate goal and its inability to cope with the nuclear ambitions of North Korea, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and India prove the need for revision.

The story of India’s weapons program provides insights for the new nuclear age. Despite international pressure, including sanctions and the dispatch of US aircraft carriers into the Bay of Bengal during a period of tension in the 1970s, India managed to create four successful reactors and test nuclear devices, demonstrating that a country dedicated to developing such weapons can evade the institutions of the current non-proliferation regime. Current trends toward global warming and uncertain energy supplies will increase the number of countries relying on nuclear energy for power. This will tempt many states to emulate India in developing their own enriched uranium and perhaps atomic weapons. India’s case shows that a non-proliferation regime is fundamentally based on trust and mutual benefit. As long as developing powers view the NPT as unjust, it will remain ineffective.

TARAPUR, INDIA: Behind the heightened tension with Iran lies a wider problem that world leaders must swiftly and substantively grasp. The Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), drawn up in 1968, needs to be re-written to make it both workable and acceptable to
nations who view it as outdated and unfair.

Over the next generation, as the scramble for energy gathers pace, many more governments will announce plans to build uranium-enrichment facilities. Some will be friendly to US interests, some hostile. Some may switch alliances with time.

In recent years, India and the deeply unstable Pakistan have both declared their nuclear-weapons programs. Neither was a signatory to the NPT. North Korea joined, but left. Iran is a member, but stands accused of breaking the rules. Israel is not, and remains secretive and undeclared. Iraq signed back in 1969, then totally ignored it.

So, if the present version of the NPT is proving too hit and miss to survive the next half century of nuclear aspirations, what will replace it?

Into this conundrum comes an agreement between India and the US that, if used properly, could show us the way ahead. After more than 30 years of sanctions because of its nuclear program, India is now being allowed into that select club of declared and accepted nuclear powers.

On the technical side, India will be able to sell and buy civilian-use nuclear products on the international market. On the political side, the agreement heals a wound between two huge democracies by giving India some recognition of national dignity – which is, in part, also what Iran is seeking.

Thirty-seven years ago, when Iran was an ally of the US, American warships were confronting not an autocratic Islamic state in the Gulf, but a young socialist democracy in the Bay of Bengal. India, then viewed by Washington as over-friendly with the Soviet Union, was defeating Pakistan over Bangladesh and needed to be brought into line.

The hostile insertion in 1971 of the USS Enterprise carrier group into India’s backyard failed to turn the tide in Pakistan’s favor. But it did create an anti-American sentiment in India that is only healing today.

It also gave India added grit to develop its own nuclear weapons. In 1974, having bought technology under the guise of using it solely for peaceful purposes, India carried out a nuclear test and was put under sanctions.

India’s Tarapur nuclear complex, three hours drive outside of Mumbai, tells what has happened in the interim. Tarapur comprises a weapons-research center; a Soviet-style closed-city with schools, shops and sporting facilities for the scientists, engineers and their families; and four reactors, two designed in the 1960s and two this century.

The first two, known as Taps 1 & 2, were opened in 1969 and built by the American multinational General Electric (GE) in a turn-key operation that included parts, maintenance, training and uranium-fuel supply. Four years later, after the test, the US government instructed GE to withdraw all support.

Far from being deterred, India pushed its nuclear program with even more urgency. It fuelled the reactors by buying uranium first from France, then Russia and, according to some engineers at Tarapur, even briefly from China.

India bypassed sanctions and created a world-class nuclear program. The control room of Taps 1 & 2 looks like an immaculately preserved example of 1960s technology, while the ultra-modern Taps 3 & 4 that opened in 2005 are evidence of what a determined nation can do if it decides to go it alone.

Visitors wear anti-dust cotton coverings over their shoes, and once inside they watch screens monitoring movements deep inside the radioactive area of the plant. Even under its new agreement, this will remain a place closed to inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

At present, India has 17 reactors with five under construction. Of those, 14 will be “safeguarded,” or open to IAEA inspections. Eight will remain closed so they can be used for weapons and other research.

With its billion-plus population and booming economy, India’s plan for the next 20 years reflects much of the developing world’s appetite for secure energy. To meet its galloping demand for power India expects to buy 25 more reactors from Russia, the US and France, as well as build several itself.

That alone is about 5 percent of the more than 400 power-generating reactors in the world today and evidence of boom years ahead, not only for India, but also for the whole global nuclear industry.

China’s nuclear plans mirror those of India, and nuclear energy is due to dramatically increase in Europe, where it makes up 30 percent of power, and America, where it comprises 20 percent. Developing nations in Asia, Africa and Latin America are all looking to create their own nuclear programs to provide energy – and there lies the problem.

Egypt, for example, currently a champion of non-proliferation, has two research reactors aimed at creating an independent nuclear-fuel cycle. It could prove to be a matter of Western concern. Like Iran before, the Egyptian regime risks falling to extreme Islamic anti-American forces.

Both Brazil and Argentina once pursued covert-weapons programs. Some years from now, the increasingly left-leaning Latin America might
produce a hostile leader, who would expel IAEA inspectors and send us
once again into frighteningly familiar territory.

It is doubtful that global diplomacy can survive scenarios whereby every time a government is accused of stepping out of line, the UN Security Council is called upon to implement sanctions and US carrier groups steam toward hostile coastlines.

More than any other nation, India has the credentials to immerse itself
completely in this dangerous conundrum and put forward fresh guidelines to extract us from it. India has persistently condemned the NPT for being discriminatory, arguing that the nuclear-armed UN permanent five cannot forever dictate what other nations do. This view is shared throughout much of the developing world, and as that sentiment grows, it will be more and more difficult to keep a lid on it.

A solution may be many years away, and getting there will be difficult. It will have to include both technical elements, such as guarantees of fuel supplies, and political ones involving perceptions of national dignity and fairness.

India’s elevation to nuclear acceptability comes with a price. It cannot simply accept its new privileges and stay quiet. India went against all odds to create its nuclear program. It must now take up a new challenge to create a nuclear roadmap for the next century.