Saturday, February 12, 2011


War movies usually propagate some kind of political agenda, to justify the needs of such a war, or to glorify the countries on one side of the war and depict the enemy as ‘heartless monsters’.
The ‘Battle of Iwo Jima’ between the United States and Imperial Japan was a turning point in the World War II. US forces aimed to seize the island of Iwo Jima which was near to the main land of Japan, so that they could use the island as a base camp to start the invasion. The Imperial Japanese Army tried to prevent it from falling into American hands. Finally the strong US forces succeeded in taking over Iwo Jima after a gory battle.
In 2006, well known Hollywood actor and Film maker Clint Eastwood came out with two films telling the story of this violent battle from both US and Japanese perspectives.
‘Flags of Our Fathers’ is an English film which tells the life stories of the three US Marines who raised the US flag on the top of Mount Suribachi, at the end of the Battle. The US government projected the three men as heroes of war to raise funds for WW-II. The film pictures the emotional difficulties faced by this trio to digest the heroic image and to escape from the haunting memories of their mates. The film is narrated through the memories of one of those heroes.
‘Letters from Iwo Jima’ is made in Japanese language with popular Japanese actor Ken Watanabe in lead role. The film opens with a scene in which archeologists excavate a bundle from a cave in Mount Suribachi in 2005. The bundle contain the letters written by a General Kuribayashi and a soldier Saigo to their wives, during the Battle. The film is narrated through these letters, which gives a good glimpse at the lives of the soldiers during the War.
‘Flags of Our Fathers’ got 2 Oscar nominations and ‘Letters from Iwo Jima’ got 4 Oscar nominations including the ‘Nomination for Best Picture’ in 2007. These 2 films honestly portraits the true emotions of a war- courage, honour, fear, pain, horror. Clint Eastwood conveys the message that there’s really no good guys or bad guys when it comes to war. And war is always futile.


Come 17th and all the roads for the cricket fans across the world will lead to Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh where the opening ceremony of cricket’s biggest carnival, the ICC Cricket World Cup, will be held. The tenth edition of the cricket extravaganza co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will kick-start on 19th with the first match being played between India and Bangladesh. A total of 14 countries will battle it out on the cricketing pitch for the cricket’s most coveted cup that consists of a golden globe held by three silver columns and weighs around 11Kg. But only one team that will play hard, gives consistent performance throughout and keeps their nerve under pressure will deservingly lift the trophy on April 2nd.
In India, cricket is nothing less than a religion that is followed by one and all and a cricket world cup is a grand festival for us. The fact that India is co-host of the tournament and will be hosting 29 of the total 49 matches including the final, pulls up the crescendo of the excitement. Every match, especially those involving Indian team, will be followed ball-by-ball. Each stroke played and every ball bowled will be closely analyzed by millions of Indians. Every bowling or fielding change will kick-off wide debates in stadiums, drawing rooms, cafes, and outside TV showrooms. New talents will be unearthed. New heroes will rise. But at end of the day it will be every Indian’s wish that it should be the team India that wins the world champions crown.
Team India’s performance has been noteworthy in the recent past. A number 2 ranking in one day internationals speak volumes of efforts that the current Indian team has been putting in for last few years. Under the leadership of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and watchful eyes of the coach Gary Kirsten Indian team has been growing steadily in all the three departments of the game. As the team starts its world cup campaign, lets us have a sneak preview of our probable playing XI.
Batting has been our strength always. In Sachin Tendulkar and Virendra Sehwag we have one of the best opening pair of the world. Any words about Sachin do not completely represent his cricketing greats. He is above all the available cricketing jargons. Watching him play is a treat in itself and our eyes never get tired of watching him play those drives, cuts and sweeps.
Viru, when on song, is most destructive batsman in the world. His merciless attacks on the bowler dents the confidence of the even best bowlers of opposition. Gautam Ghambir, being actually an opener, is ideal for the number 3 slot. He can continue the momentum if India gets good start and can also step in to provide a good start when one of the openers falters.
India’s middle order is rich comprising of likes of Kohli, Yuvraj and the captain himself. Virat Kohli has been in form of his life hitting runs consistently at home and away. No surprise, he was the only player from the old squad retained by his IPL franchisee. Yuvi is one of the most experienced batsman of the team having played previous two world cups. He is more of an all-rounder having the capability of taking wickets with his slow left-arm spin bowling. He is also one of the cleanest hitters of the game and lofting a ball for six is his favourite shot.
The Indian captain is the core around which the whole team is build. His cricketing acumen is well known. He is appreciated more for keeping his cool even in intense pressure situations. One of the hardest hitters of the game he also keeps the score board ticking by running hard. He has safest hands behind stumps as well.
Yusuf Pathan’s recent heroics had cemented his place as lower middle order batsman. A batsman of caliber of Yusuf is very important for India’s scheme of things both when it is batting first or when chasing a target. He is the another all-rounder in the side with ability to bowl good off-spin.
India’s bowling attack will be comprised of 4 regular bowlers with the Yusuf, Yuvi, Sehwag and Kohli filling the spot of fifth bowler with their part-time spin. In all probability a 3 pacer and a lone specialist spinner will make the bowling attack of the team considering the availability of part time spinners. India’s bowling attack will be led by the gusty Zaheer and fiery Harbhajan. A very few bowlers in the world cricket have the ability to swing both the old and new ball and no one does it better than Zaheer on the Indian wickets. This is one bowler who has been consistently delivering for the team taking wickets regularly and bowling a tight line in death overs. He is a handy batsman as well and can play big shots when required.
Harbhajan will be the automatic choice of the lone specialist spinner. He is most successful off-spinner of India having a good economy rate in ODIs. A leading wicket taker for the team, the ‘doosra’ is his secret weapon. He can also swing his bat to gather few useful runs.
Among the other bowlers, Ashish Nehra will be the preferred choice for the second seamer because of the variation and accuracy in his bowling. Praveen Kumar and Munaf Patel will fight for the third seamer slot and kind of the opposition will decide who gets to bowl in that match. If a second specialist spinner is required Ashwin will be the captain’s choice considering his ability to bowl tight spells giving few runs and also to provide breakthroughs at regular intervals. Suresh Raina and Piyush Chawla may get their chance in case of injuries.
This Indian team looks a formidable side with right mix of youth and experience. They have been beating the best sides of the world for last 2 years and there is no reason they cannot do it this time as well. They will be well supported by the cricket frenzy fans of India throughout the tournament. However, the fans deserves nothing less than a world cup win from the men in blue and achieving this feat on Indian soil will be the perfect tribute to an average Indian. Let us all wish our team the best for the mega event and hope that it will be the team India that will lift the trophy at the Wankhede stadium, Mumbai on April 2nd. Lets us hope that this long cherished dream of Sachin Tendulkar, that has been eluding him for past 5 world cups, comes true this time.

Hubble Space Telescope (HST) confirms the discovery of the permanent Lunar OH atmosphere by the CHACE experiment in Chandrayaan-1

Reported by: Tirtha Pratim Das, Space Physics Laboratory, VSSC
Observations from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) have confirmed the discovery of the water and hydroxyl atmosphere in the lunar environment made by the CHACE payload in Chandrayaan 1/MIP mission. When it is said ‘water atmosphere’ or ‘hydroxyl atmosphere’ in scientific jargon, it really means the presence of water molecules or hydroxyl molecules making their independent (non-interacting) respective atmospheres in the lunar environment without any inter-particle collision.
Moon’s atmosphere is so tenuous that there is hardly any collision between the gaseous species. Such an atmosphere where collisions are very rare is called exosphere. In the absence of any collision, it is said that different types of gaseous species simultaneously occupy the same volume of space without any interaction among themselves. It is described as the interaction-less coexistence of independent atmospheres (like the Argon atmosphere, Helium atmosphere, etc.) which are dictated by individual source and sink processes.
The CHACE (Chandra’s Altitudinal Composition Explorer) experiment onboard the Moon Impact Probe (MIP) in Chandrayaan 1 mission made the first successful measurement on the lunar day-side atmosphere on 14th November, 2008. It also revealed the presence of the lunar H2O and OH (due to dissociation of H2O to OH) atmospheres (say, exospheres). It meant the presence of H2O and OH molecules in gaseous form in the lunar exosphere which condense at the higher lunar latitudes to form polar water-ice. The analysis of CHACE data revealed the presence of H2O and OH molecules in significant amount at all the latitudes maximising near 700S (CHACE observations were more in the Southern hemisphere of the moon).
If such a significant H2O and OH exosphere is there at moon as discovered by CHACE, it must be amenable to detection by other means as well. The Hubble Space Telescope (HST), from Low Earth Orbit, has detected a persistent emission of 283 nm emission from the moon before, during and after the impact of the LCROSS module of the LRO mission. This emission was from the OH, which, researchers believe (Storrs, 2011), may indicate the confirmation of a permanent lunar OH exosphere as reported by Sridharan et al (2010a), rather than OH produced by photolysis of water liberated by the impact event. This observation was published during the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Meeting in January, 2011 and the CHACE observations were referred.
1. R. Sridharan, S.M. Ahmed, Tirtha Pratim Das, P. Sreelatha, P. Pradeepkumar, Neha Naik and Gogulapati Supriya (2010a): “`Direct’ evidence for water (H2O) in the sunlit lunar ambience fromCHACE on MIP of Chandrayaan I”, Planetary and Space Science Volume 58, Issue 6, May 2010, Pages 947-950
2. Storrs, Alex; Guillou, L.; O’Hara, A. (2011): The Impact Of The Lcross Satellite With The Moon As Seen By The Hubble Space Telescope; American Astronomical Society, AAS Meeting #217, #156.07