Excellence is a continuous process and not an accident – APJ Abdul Kalam.
Our Former President APJ Abdul Kalam was among the great leaders India had and the world needs. Simplicity and Integrity defined him. Kalam loved interacting with students, his Birth anniversary is fondly marked as Student’s Day.
Kalam dreamt to be a fighter pilot in Indian Air Force but was merit out as only 8 slots were available and he secured the 9th position, he was shattered. He said in his book,“It is only when we are faced with failure do we realise that these resources were always there within us. We only need to find them and move on with our lives”. He didn’t make it to IAF, but this failure turned out quite well as we got a leader who was respected beyond political boundaries. He played a pivotal technical and political role in strengthening India’s position globally. He was a key member of the civilian space and military missile programme.
Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was born on October 15, 1931, in a poor Tamil Muslim family in Rameswaram.
After completing his graduation from Madras Institute of Technology in 1960, he joined DRDO and worked as a scientist. Kalam was groomed by Vikram Sarabhai and Satish Dhawan, they were his mentors. In 1969, Kalam was transferred to ISRO where he was the project director of India’s first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV III) which successfully deployed the Rohini satellite orbit. He made an effort to develop the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), which turned out to be successful.
In the 1970s, Kalam also directed two projects, Project Devil and Valiant, which sought to develop ballistic missiles from the technology of the successful SLV programme.
During the same period powerful countries amalgamate to prevent the spread of technologies and disarmament of other countries, signed treaties like Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty(CTBT) and to combat these Missile Technology Control Regime(MCTR) India started its advance Indigenous missile programme.
He was the chief executive of this Integrated Guided Missile Programme which developed missiles like Prithvi, Trishul, Akash, Nag and technological demonstrator Agni. He is the brainchild behind India’s current ambitious missile programme.
Kalam believed in Made in India and to be strong India needs to design, develop and protect itself. He profusely said this programme was a step towards a self reliant India.
He led the weaponization of strategic Nuclear tests in Pokhran under the Bajpayee Government and made India a Nuclear weapon state. India’s nuclear era emerged on 11th May, 1988 also celebrated as National Technology Day.
He worked towards societal upliftment in the defence sector which led to a number of developments in the medical field. In 1998, along with cardiologist Soma Raju, Kalam developed a low cost coronary stent, named the “Kalam-Raju Stent”. He introduced the lightweight fro and calipers for polio affected, made of glass filled polypropylene reducing weight from 4kg to 400gms, this carbon composite material was the brainchild of Kalam when he was director at DRDL also used at the tip of Agni missile.
He served as 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007. He secured backing from all political parties, a people’s leader in true sense.
After his term ended he returned to a life of education and public service. He was served with many honorary degrees and awards including India’s highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna(1997), Padma Vibhushan(1990) and Padma Bhushan (1981).
He was a scientist and our beloved politician, he also liked to write poetry in Tamil, learnt playing Veena, listening to Carnatic music and writing books, including Wings of fire, Ignited minds, India: Vision 2020 and many more.
Kalam’s vision for development of our country was something he worked on till his last moments. He left us doing what he was most admired for – teaching. On 27th july, 2015 a magnificent presence was withdrawn, he collapsed while delivering a lecture in IIM Shillong, followed by an apparent cardiac arrest.
Neuralink: a deeper introspection
6th sense of Human beings the Neuralink- Neuralink is a medical device developed in order to track and enhance brain activity. Moreover, it is like a Fitbit that tracks brain activities like neuron spike. Elon Musk said that the device will also be able to help regain someone’s eyesight even if they’ve lost their optic nerve. He said that this technology will be able to fix everything that’s wrong with the brain. With complete symbiosis of the tech, humans will be able to interact with each other without the need to talk.
It will be surgically implanted into the brain and with it, one will be able to communicate with machines and control them. For now, human trials are not yet begun but would start at the end of 2020. Furthermore, it will also help study the electrical signals in the brain and help cure various medical problems. Before testing on humans, Neuralink prototypes have been tested on rodents, monkeys, pigs, etc.
Before peeping deeper into Neuralink let’s understand the human brain first.
There are 86 billion Neurons in our Brain. These neurons consist of 3 parts: a dendrite that receives the signal, a cell body that computes the received signal, and an axon that sends the signal out.
Neurons are connected through Synapses. The neurons of your brain connect each other to send and receive signals through axon-dendrite connections called synapses. Neurons communicate through Electric Signals. These signals can be recorded in the brain. Recordings from many neurons allow us to decode the information and it represents intended movements.
To understand how Neuralink works, we must understand how our brain sends information to different parts of our body using neurons. These neurons in our brain connect to form a large network and communicate using chemical signals called neurotransmitters.
This reaction generates an electric field to record the reactions. These electrodes translate electrical signals into an algorithm that a machine can read. This is how Neuralink will be able to read what one is thinking and find a way to talk to machines without uttering a single word. It’s all your thoughts and link’s action.
The neural implant will let you control a computer or mobile device anywhere you go. Micron-scale threads are inserted into areas of the brain that control movement. Each thread contains many electrodes and connects them to an implant, the Link.
It’s a sealed, implanted device that processes and stimulates, and transmits neural signals.
Each small and flexible thread contains many electrodes for detecting neural signals.
A compact inductive charger that connects to the implant wirelessly to charge the battery; same as a smart-watch or fit bit.
Precision Automated Neurosurgery.
The threads on the Link are extremely fragile and flexible that they can’t be inserted by a human hand. Hence neurosurgeons would be provided with a robotic system that can reliably and efficiently insert these threads. The robot would be able to insert the link within an hour without general anesthesia and the patient would be able to leave the hospital on the same day.
Robots will do everything from the incision, removing the skull, inserting electrodes, placing the device, and then closing it up. These robotic systems were tested on numerous pigs used to test the device. This system has no room for errors. The Head of the machine holds and guides the needle that performs the operation and contains a large number of cameras to capture the whole brain.
How Neuralink will help to overcome mental disorders?
The Neuralink aims to fight neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and epilepsy, spinal cord injuries, and other medical problems. The link is expected to even fight with common anxiety and depression yet that’s not proven. By taking primitive measures of implementing the Neuralink slowly and gradually we can hope best for it. There are high abilities and possibilities that Link could help fight a large number of medical illnesses and aims to create an affordable solution for people who lack the essential needs of medical treatment. At its level best, it will help to control the number of suicides that end lives before help can be received.
For now, those goals are very much out of reach. Scientists need to learn far more about the brain and how it works for any of those ideas to become reality. The brain is still mysterious and the neurological causes of addiction and anxiety are still unclear.
Why is Elon Musk testing his implant on Pigs?
In August 2020, Elon Musk’s 3 pig trial got rearing spotlight. The Neuralink implant was tested on 3 pigs; on 1st with no implant, on 2nd with an implant for some days and later it was removed and the 3rd pig still has the implant in her brain. The experiment of 2nd pig was done to show that if someone wanted to remove the link, they should be able to live a happy and healthy life after that. 3rd pig’s implant is active to track down all neural movements and to list down moments of snout and sniffs.
Hiring engineers for neurotechnology firm Neuralink
Neuralink is almost done dealing with a neuroscience background. The chip is an electrical device that requires mechanical/software engineers to deal with. It would be easier for these engineers to sort out problems like processing, indictive charging, power mgmt, etc. Most importantly, great problem-solving skills, solving high-volume, high-reliability, low-cost production problems are especially valued.
In the end, let’s hope best for the future of brain interfaces and inventing new technologies that will expand our abilities, our community, and our world.
Scientists spot a sign of possible Life on Venus
VENUS- Earth’s evil twin it’s clouds are made of battery acids. At 900 degrees its surface heat enough to melt lead, Venus is pretty much like the biblical vision of hell today. This may be the hostile real estate in the solar system yet billions of years ago Venus looked alike Earth but to the near of sun Venus was doomed and Earth blossomed. Venus burned yet even here life may thrive.
An international team of astronomers has detected a rare molecule in the atmosphere of Venus that could be produced by living organisms. The discovery instantly puts the brightest planet in the night sky back into the conversation about where to search for extraterrestrial life.
The surface of Venus is a more like a hell. However, some layers of its clouds spot surprisingly hospitable temperatures and pressures. Phosphine is a poisonous gas however, the organizers of the study and other experts agree that the presence of phosphine is not proof of life on another planet.
As astronomers look for signs of life outside our solar system, one method is to look for chemicals that result only from biological processes. These processes are known as bio-signatures.
Phosphine can form only in two ways on Earth. It can be created by an industrial process, or it can come from a biological process in animals and microbes that is not well understood. Some scientists consider it as a waste product.
It’s said that phosphine can be found in the bottom of ponds, the insides of animals like badgers and in the waste of penguins. The astronomers carefully looked at all the possibilities for production of the phosphine: volcanoes, lightning strikes or meteorites falling into the atmosphere. Not a single process we looked at could produce phosphine in high enough quantities to explain the team’s findings.
Furthermore, it is noticed that 50 kilometers above the planet’s surface, in Venus’ thick carbon dioxide clouds, it is about room temperature. The clouds are mostly made up of sulfuric acid. But they also contain droplets with very small amounts of water.
The scientists asked themselves if the phosphine could be coming from microbes living inside the sulfuric acid droplets. Than when the droplets fall to the ground, they might dry out but could collect in other droplets and reanimate.
Venus is one of the most beautiful objects in Earth’s sky. But at a closer glance, the less lovely it becomes. Venus is roughly the same mass as Earth. Many scientists think that Venus was once covered in water and possessed an atmosphere where life as we know it could have flourished.
In earlier days of the solar system, Earth was not so hospitable to the desires we have. Even an entire biosphere that did not survive in the oxygen-rich environment that later developed. And much as Earth over time became a home for jellyfish, ferns, dinosaurs and Homo sapiens, Venus was transformed by something into a hell.
Today, the second planet from the sun has an atmosphere stifled by carbon dioxide gas, and surface temperatures that average more than 800 degrees Fahrenheit. The dense atmosphere of Venus exerts a pressure of more than 1,300 pounds per square inch on anything at the surface. That is more than 90 times the 14.7 pounds per square inch at sea level on Earth, or the equivalent to being 3,000 feet underwater in the ocean.
For the last two decades, scientists keep making new discoveries that collectively imply a significant increase of the likelihood to find life elsewhere. Many scientists would not have guessed that Venus would be a significant part of this discussion. But, just like an increasing number of planetary bodies, Venus is proving to be an exciting place of discovery.
If there really is phosphine on Venus, its believed there could be no other obvious explanation than anaerobic life.
Chandrayaan: A successful series
Chandrayaan as its name suggests the vehicle for the moon. All the series of Chandrayaan have been very successful and have been sending very valuable and unique pictures of the moon. The Chandrayaan-2 has completed one whole year on 7th September 2020. It has shown good progress up in the orbit of the moon. We have been trying to reach the moon and find out the valuable resources up there. An atmosphere like Earth, maybe we can create it there. Water was also found by the previous versions of Chandrayaan. Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has been trying to reach the south pole of the moon and find the water existence.
Talking about Chandrayaan-3 it will be launched in March 2021 and will be slightly different from its predecessor Chandrayaan-2. Chandrayaan-3 will not have an orbiter but it will only consist of a lander and a rover. Due to the Corona pandemic situation, there has been a delay in launching Chandrayaan-3. The target area will be the South Pole of the moon and the rocket used in this is the most powerful rocket of ISRO till date is the GSLV Mark 3. The launch site will at Satish Dhawan space center.
Moon is the closest we can explore. Moon may have some of the properties of the Earth because of the close distance. Chandrayaan-1 sent some images of rusting on the poles of the moon that show that there is the existence of water and oxygen because if these two elements are there then only the iron-rich rocks that are present there can react and rusting can happen. Because of the hard landing, Chandrayaan-2 ‘s Vikram lander had some problems but it is there in the lunar orbit and has enough fuel to survive till 7 long years. Chandrayaan-3 is a repeat mission of version 2 and it has an only lander and lunar rover and it is planned that this time there will be a soft landing. So hoping for the good and Chandrayaan-3 will be at its new heights soon.
Following this timeline Ministry also announced the first crewed orbiter namely Gaganyaan. This project will be launched in December 2021. An extent to 400km in the Earth’s orbit and the rocket used here is also GSLV mark 3. The maximum space for the crew is 3. Hope this would be a success.
Interview: Sanika Gadgil.
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