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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

India's first spacecraft to Mars

ISRO to launch India's first spacecraft to Mars
The Indian Space Research Organisation will send the satellite into Earth's orbit to gain the momentum needed to reach Mars

The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle that will carry the orbiter awaits launch at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. Photograph: Arun Sankar K/AP
By: Jason Burke in Delhi
The Guardian, Tuesday 5 November 2013

The cyclone season is almost over, the planets are in alignment, the countdown has started. On Tuesday at 2.46pm local time, a rocket will blast off from the Indian space port on a small island in the Bay of Bengal, heading for Mars.

Its course will be closely followed. The $70m (£45m) mission –India's first attempt to reach the red planet – aims not just to gather information that might indicate if life has ever existed or could exist there, nor simply to showcase Indian technology, but to steal an interplanetary march on its regional rival, China.

"In the last century the space race meant the US against the Soviets. In the 21st century it means India against China," said Pallava Bagla, one of India's best known science commentators. "There is a lot of national pride involved in this."

That the mission was about national pride was never in doubt. It was announced last year by prime minister Manmohan Singh in his annual address from the battlements of Delhi's famous Red Fort, the bastion of the Mughal emperors. Its success would mean the Indians would join the Russians, the US and the European space agency which have all also reached Mars.

A plunging currency, ailing economy and the state's seeming inability to deliver basic services have led many Indians to question whether their nation is quite as close to becoming a global superpower as it seemed in the heady years of the last decade when economic growth pushed the 10%. For a government beset by charges of corruption and mismanagement, the Mars mission is one way to repair its battered image. It was announced in the week more than 600 million people were hit by the world's worst power cut.

Such expenditure is, however, controversial, with some questioning whether India, where more than 40% of children are malnourished and half the population have no toilets, can afford the mission. One development economist called it a symptom of "the Indian elite's delusional quest for superpower status".

Critics of Britain's aid programme in the country have also been angered by the mission. The UK gives India around £300m each year.

But Pallava said such criticism befuddled him. "Really the money involved is tiny compared to other expenditures," he said.
Successive Indian governments have invested heavily in the country's space programme, making it one of the most capable in the developing world. The task of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) team is extraordinarily technical, involving huge numbers of complex calculations of the trajectory and speed of the rocket, the satellite and planets.

Indian scientists say they are optimistic that it will be successful.
"This is a very complicated mission but we have the capability to do it. We have developed new knowledge and we are very confident that we can achieve the navigation from earth to Mars accurately and properly," said ISRO chairman Dr K Radhakrishnan.

So far success in the race against the Chinese has proved elusive, with Beijing's scientists achieving a manned space mission in 2003 and beating India by placing a satellite in the moon's orbit in 2007. The mission to launch the Mangalyaan, or vehicle to Mars, has not been without its problems. The failure of India's most powerful rocket, the first choice to hoist the heavy satellite into space, has necessitated the full deployment of what is arguably India's greatest talent – improvisation, or jugaad, as it is known locally.

Instead of sending their mission directly to Mars, the ISRO plans to place its satellite in the earth's orbit first, and then use the momentum generated through a series of complex manoeuvres to send the device towards its final destination. If all goes well, it will reach the planet sometime next summer.

The scientists will also have to hit a five-minute window for the launch. If they miss it, they will have to wait another two years – or possibly five – for another chance.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Urashima Tarō Time Travel

Image source: Wikipedia

Urashima Tarō (浦島 太郎) is a Japanese legend about a fisherman who rescues a turtle and is rewarded for this with a visit to Ryūgū-jō, the palace of Ryūjin, the Dragon God, under the sea. He stays there for three days and, upon his return to his village, finds himself 300 years in the future.

The name Urashima Tarō first appears in the 15th century (the Muromachi period), in a genre of illustrated popular fiction known as otogizōshi; however, the story itself is much older, dating back to the 8th century (the Nara Period). Older sources such as Nihon Shoki, Man'yōshū and Tango no Kuni Fudoki (丹後国風土記) refer to Urashima Tarō as Urashimako. The change from Urashimako to Urashima Tarō reflects a shift in Japanese naming customs; while the suffix -ko ("child") was originally used in both male and female names, in medieval times it was largely restricted to female names, and replaced by -tarō ("great youth") in male names. The story bears a striking similarity to folktales from other cultures, including the Irish legend of Oisín and the earlier Chinese legend of Ranka.

Image Source:

One day a young fisherman named Urashima Tarō is fishing when he notices a group of children torturing a small turtle. Tarō saves it and lets it to go back to the sea. The next day, a huge turtle approaches him and tells him that the small turtle he had saved is the daughter of the Emperor of the Sea, Ryūjin, who wants to see him to thank him. The turtle magically gives Tarō gills and brings him to the bottom of the sea, to the Palace of the Dragon God (Ryūgū-jō). There he meets the Emperor and the small turtle, who was now a lovely princess, Otohime.

Tarō stays there with her for a few days, but soon wants to go back to his village and see his aging mother, so he requests Otohime's permission to leave. The princess says she is sorry to see him go, but wishes him well and gives him a mysterious box called tamatebako which will protect him from harm but which she tells him never to open. Tarō grabs the box, jumps on the back of the same turtle that had brought him there, and soon is at the seashore.

When he goes home, everything has changed. His home is gone, his mother has vanished, and the people he knew are nowhere to be seen. He asks if anybody knows a man called Urashima Tarō. They answer that they had heard someone of that name had vanished at sea long ago. He discovers that 300 years have passed since the day he left for the bottom of the sea. Struck by grief, he absent-mindedly opens the box the princess had given him, from which bursts forth a cloud of white smoke. He is suddenly aged, his beard long and white, and his back bent. From the sea comes the sad, sweet voice of the princess: "I told you not to open that box. In it was your old age ..."

As always with folklore, there are many different versions of this extremely famous story. In one, for example, there were three drawers in the box. After he turned into an old man he found a mirror, then took the body of a crane when touched by a crane feather from the last box, in another he ate a magic pill that gave him the ability to breathe underwater. In another version, he is swept away by a storm before he can rescue the turtle. Also, there is a version in which he dies in the process of aging (his body turns into dust), as no one can live 300 years.

Image Source: wikipedia

A shrine on the western coast of the Tango Peninsula in northern Kyoto Prefecture, named Urashima Jinja, contains an old document describing a man, Urashimako, who left his land in 478 A.D. and visited a land where people never die. He returned in 825 A.D. with a Tamatebako. Ten days later he opened the box, and a cloud of white smoke was released, turning Urashimako into an old man. Later that year, after hearing the story, Emperor Junna ordered Ono no Takamura to build a shrine to commemorate Urashimako's strange voyage, and to house the Tamatebako and the spirit of Urashimako.

In popular culture
The story influenced various works of fiction and a number of films. Among them are manga and anime such as Dr. Slump, Dragonball Z, Detective Conan, YuYu Hakusho, Urusei Yatsura, Love Hina (whose lead male character is called Urashima Keitaro, and with a girl named Otohime Mutsumi), Doraemon, Gintama, Kamen Rider Den-O (the namesake of the Imagin Urataros, given by Naomi), Cowboy Bebop, Gravitation, Ōkami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi, Ghost Sweeper Mikami, RahXephon and Space Pirate Captain Harlock. The oldest known animated adaptation Urashima Tarō of the tale premiered in 1918.

Image Source

It is retold in and used as the basis for the short story "Another Story" by Ursula K. Le Guin, published in her story collection A Fisherman of the Inland Sea, named for the character of this story. The story is also used to explain an aspect of Relativity in The Manga Guide to Relativity. The anime series Real Drive partly reflects the story of Urashima Tarō. In 1945, Japanese writer Osamu Dazai published Otogizōshi ("fairy tale book"), which includes a much expanded version of the story. Urashima's tale, as the other three included in the Otogizōshi, is used mostly as a starting point to espose Dazai's own thoughts and musings.

Urashima Tarō is often referenced in Hideo Kojima's adventure video game Policenauts, and much of the game's plot elements were also inspired by the tale. In Clover Studio's action-adventure video game Okami, the protagonist Amaterasu chases away a group of children bullying a fisherman named Urashima, setting up a major sub-plot in the game very similar to the tale of Urashima Tarō. In the video game Skies of Arcadia one of the games discoveries (called Ryuguu Turtle) is inspired by Urashima Tarō. In the video game Ape Escape 2 one of the unlockable monkey fables is called "Apeshima Taro" and is a parody of the tale, featuring monkeys. Also, in the game Disgaea 4, the Fishermen Pirate that appears in the Item World references the story as he enters upon a giant turtle shell stating "I'm sorry princess, I didn't mean to open the box". Urashima Tarō is the basis for Sweet Basil's visual novel Little My Maid.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Enormous 4 Mile Wide UFO Sighting In Simon's Town, South Africa

Enormous 4 Mile Wide UFO Sighting In Simon's Town, South Africa

A 4 mile wide UFO sighting in the small Naval village called Simon's Town has the Counter Intelligence Agency of South Africa's attention and are currently investigating the incident.
Worldnews Tomorrow reports that on April 6, 2013 an estimated 4 mile wide UFO hovered over the naval base for about 40 minutes, about 1 mile off shore. A local resident captured the event on infrared camera because it was not visible to the naked eye. 

Worldnews reports that the naval base welcomed the gigantic UFO with 100's of rounds of what seems to be flares. The video was shot about 40 miles away across False Bay. In the beginning of the video you can see what looks like the naval base firing at the UFO. 

Exactly what they are firing I cannot tell, whether they are flares or anti aircraft shells it seems to take no effect on the UFO. In this part of the video you cannot see the presence of a UFO until he switches to the infrared video. You cannot make out any conclusive shape of the UFO but you can definitely tell there is something above the naval base. You can certainly see there is a large dark mass with several rows of lights steadily hovering in the night sky. The naval base initially denied any activity going on in the bay area but soon gave another statement saying that they was performing some drills that particular evening between 8 and 9 pm. Just for the record this video was shot between 9 and 10 pm. Local residents say they have never seen the naval base partake in any such drills in the past. Some are claiming there are 2 UFOs in this video and the smaller one is firing upon the larger one, but from what I can see there is only one and the shots are being fired from the ground. Take a look at this enormous 4 mile wide UFO in the video below.

Can you see 2 UFOs in this video? What is the naval base shooting at the UFO? Are they flares, anti aircraft shells? Why would the naval base fire upon the UFO when it doesn't seem to be performing any aggressive maneuvers towards the base? Why would the naval base initially say there was no events that took place that evening and come back and say there were drills going on?

South Africa's Counter Intelligence Agency confirms that they are currently analysing the original video and claims that it is legit. The agency also states the person who shot the video is a credible law enforcement personnel.