The Antikythera mechanism is more valuable than Mona Lisa !
says professor Michael Edmunds from Cardiff University, who led a 2006 study of the mechanism !
Honestly, this is one of the most mysterious, extraordinary, fascinating & interesting machine I’ve ever seen in my life ! The Antikythera mechanism is one of the most remarkable inventions of the ancient world came to light in 1900 when a Greek Sponge diver discovered the wreck of an ancient Greek or Roman cargo ship that had sunk off the Greek island of Antikythera around 80 B.C.E ! more “Antikythera mechanism – The most ancient & mysterious Greek machine !”
I mean seriously what do these engineers & scientists at NASA are made of ? How do they come up with such awesome cool stuff every time ! This time, it’s something you would not have even thought of. Yea… we are talking about NASA’s Starshade ! (watch the video below)
The project, also referred as New Worlds Mission comprises of sending a large occulter in space to block the sunlight of nearby stars(bright stars like sun) in order to observe other exoplanets(planets that orbit star other than Sun) & their orbits. The deployable structure called the Starshade is being developed by NASA’s JPL (JET PROPULSION LABORATORY) in Pasadena, California. The hunt is on for planets that resemble Earth in size, composition and temperature. Rocky planets with just the right temperature for liquid water — not too hot, not too cold — could be possible home for life outside our solar system.
Picking out the dim light of a planet from a star billions of times brighter is similar to finding a needle in a desert. In order to achieve this feat, researchers are developing techniques to block out the starlight while preserving the light emitted by the planet. This is called starlight suppression.With the starlight supressed, astronomers would be able to take actual pictures of the planets. Unlike the other space instruments, it’s one part is the starshade which will block the light while the other one – the space telescope will capture photos.
Jeremy Kasdin, a reseacher in Princeton is the principal investigator of the Starshade project. “Our current task is figuring out how to unfurl the starshade in space so that all the petals end up in the right place, with millimeter accuracy,” said Kasdin.
The flower-shaped petals are part of what makes the starshade so effective. “The shape of the petals, when seen from far away, creates a softer edge that causes less bending of light waves,” said Dr. Stuart Shaklan, JPL’s lead engineer on the starshade project. “Less light bending means that the starshade shadow is very dark, so the telescope can take images of the planets without being overwhelmed by starlight .”
“One of the starshade’s strengths is simplicity. Light from the star never reaches the telescope because it’s blocked by the starshade, which allows the telescope system to be simpler.” said Kasdin. The starshade has thrusters that will allow it to move around in order to block the light from different stars.
The starshade idea isn’t new: Lyman Spitzer, the Princeton University astronomer who lobbied for the creation of what became the Hubble Space Telescope back in the 1960s and 1970s, also suggested using such a screen in a 1962 paper. But it wasn’t until recent years that technological advances made it feasible to build one and operate it in space according to the extremely precise specifications necessary.
A video showing complete animation of the Starshade splitting of with the telescope & then moving to a position to block the sunlight !
NASA’s starshade team of engineers strongly believe that this mission is gonna be a huge success & it will lead to major exoplanet discoveries in the future. Kasdin ends up by saying,
We’ll be able to show people a picture of a dot and explain that that’s another Earth.
Designing a car & making it is not as easy as sitting & watching a movie on a couch. Making a car doesn’t just mean to join the parts we bought; it needs to have deep knowledge of thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, dynamics & must also be able to do calculations which fits the rules & which doesn’t damage the car. One cannot do this being a book worm; it requires lot of creativity, ‘engineering expertise and motor racing skills. Team Ashwa has proved that they have all these qualities.
While the students in BCom colleges in Bangalore were having fun, some engineering students – the Ashwa team of RV college of Engineering; were working hard to make their super car.
Ashwa Racing is India’s premier Formula SAE (FSAE) team. The FSAE (Formula Society of Engineers) event is one in which SAE student members conceive, design, fabricate and compete with other similar formula-style student racing cars in a race organized by SAEin a different country every year.
R S Kulkarni who advises the team says:
The team is the number one formula racing university team in the country. It competes with teams from US and Europe who have vast financial and other resources at their disposal. We have to work with what we can afford. They are also competing against teams which have more than two decades experience in automotive racing. Yet the team has bagged the best Asian team award and is in the top rankings
The body of the car is made from glass fibre. Also the engine is taken from an crashed bike to reduce the expenses. They say that the engine capacity is 600 cc & can hit a top speed of 100 km/hr or a few more. It cost them around 15 lakh Rs to make it. Total 7 prototypes were made; the last one made in 2011.
Kulkarni says that this amount may seem high at first, but when compared to foreign teams who spend around whooping Rs 2 crore to design and build their own cars. “One thing we have been appreciated for is the cost-effectiveness of our car and yet its very good performance.”
The car model name was earlier RVIANZ, to commemorate student life at RVCE. Later, it was shortened to RZ.
Ashwa team has been participating in the competitions of FSAE since 2005. This is because they completed their first prototype(out of 7, as I mentioned earlier) in 2005. They participated in the competition in 2005 & 2006 in Australia followed by 2007 & 2008 in Germany & 2009-10 in Italy.
The team’s last prototype, RZ X, successfully completed the Formula ATA Italy event in 2010 winning The Best Asian Team award.
If anyone is wondering – why the word Ashwa ? what does it mean ? Well, I should tell you that Sanskrit is most ancient & philosophical language of India. According to Sanskrit, Ashwa means Stallion. Hence, the name was chosen for the team.
We Humans, being a couple of feet high, weighing barely a quintal are capable of making & building things million times bigger & heavier than us & we have proved it. Hats off to those engineers who have built them ! So lets have a look at the top 10 biggest machines of all time which we’ve never imagined of !
Rotary/gnome engines were used to power aircrafts during WW-I & radial engines during WW-II. Then came the era of jet engines which completely revolutionized the aviation technology ! Jet engines were very much efficient & powerful than those used during World wars ! The power jet engines deliver is so high that an airplane weighing hundreds of tons lifts off the ground with such ease. How are they capable of producing so much of power/thrust ? So lets not waste our time & have a look on how do jet engines work ?more “How do Gas turbines/Jet propulsion engines work ?”
Human being started using animals to carry load when it exceeded his carrying capacity. Then he started building machines to carry even more load & to transport faster. Today huge trucks carry massive amounts of load & the best example is the biggest truck in the world – The BelAZ 75710 which can carry 450 tons of dirt. Still, there was something left, something to be made to carry these massive rockets & space shuttles. So how are they transported ? The answer is – CRAWLER !
Crawlers are a pair of tracked vehicles used by NASA to transport rockets & space shuttles from NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to the Launch Complex 39 ! where,
Launch Complex 39 (LC-39) is a rocket launch site at the John F. Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island in Florida, USA. Launch Complex 39 is composed of three launch pads—39A, 39B and 39C. The Crawlerway is a 40 m double pathway at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It runs between the Vehicle Assembly Building and the two launch pads at Launch Complex 39.
The crawler-transporter is the largest self-powered land vehicle in the world.
The crawler has a mass of 2,721,000 kilograms (5,999,000 lb) and has eight tracks, two on each corner.
The vehicle measures 40 by 35 metres (131 by 114 ft). The height from ground level to the platform is adjustable from 6.1 to 7.9 m (20 to 26 ft), and each side can be raised and lowered independently.
As of 2003, each crawler had 16 traction motors, powered by four 1,000 kW (1,341 hp) generators, in turn driven by two 2,050 kW (2,750 hp) V16 ALCO 251C diesel engines.
The crawler’s tanks holds 19,000 liters (5,000 U.S. gal) of diesel fuel, and it roughly burns 296 liters per kilometer (125.7 U.S. gal/mi).
The new upgrade to one of the crawlers increased it’s capacity from 5,400,000 to 8,200,000 kg.
The crawler is controlled from two control cabs located at either end of the vehicle, and travels along the 5.6 km (3.5 mi) crawlerway.
The maximum speed of crawler is 1.6 km/h (1 mph) loaded, or 3.2 km/h (2 mph) unloaded.
The average trip time from the VAB along the Crawlerway to Launch Complex 39 is about five hours.
Kennedy Space Center has been using the same two crawlers, nicknamed “Hans” and “Franz”.
Each of the two crawlers cost about US $14 million !!!
In their lifetime, they have traveled more than 5,500 km (3,400 mi), about the same driving distance as from Miami to Seattle.