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25 Jun 2022, Edition - 2538, Saturday

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Columns

You and I are all astronauts

Dr. C. Sylendra Babu, IPS

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STUDENTS CORNER

Soviet Russian pilot Yuri Gagarin was the first human being to travel in space. His orbit of the earth lasted for an hour and 48 minutes. This was on April 12, 1961. Gagarin became an international celebrity and Soviet Russia became the first country to send a man to space.

But that episode had contributed to worsening the cold war between the US and the then USSR and had historic consequences; the US launched the Apollo programme for landing man on the moon. Apollo 11 became the first successful mission and Neil Armstrong landed on the moon on July 21, 1969, witnessed by 500 million people on television. Between 1969 and 1972 six such missions hovered round the moon, and 12 people landed, the last in December 1972.

Much later in 2007, Sunitha Williams, an American of Indian origin spent 321 days 17 hours and 15 minutes in space in which there was the spacewalk for 50 hours and 40 minutes. Sunitha is a celebrity since she had travelled in space.

Even as we marvel at the great achievement of space travel, we may not have realised that we too are space travellers. Astronauts have travelled in artificial spaceships and hence they could stay in space for a brief while. Whereas we are travelling on the most wondrous natural spacecraft called ‘earth’. Standing on the earth which rotates at a speed of 1675 km an hour, we are travelling through the sun’s orbit at a speed of 1,00,720 km an hour (30 km per second).

As a student, one should have the curiosity to know the evolution of the earth, the reasons for it to support life, its safe travel in space without colliding with any celestial objects like meteors. One should learn these facts through research. Otherwise, one should try to discover. But the fact remains that we are travelling in the space on the 4.6-billion year old miraculous planet called earth.

Alas, our luxury of space travel can last for about 27,000 to 30,000 days only. In the meanwhile let it be the mission to make this space walk memorable and purposeful. Space scientists savour every moment of their stay in the space to tell the story when they are back in the base. Let’s have our own mission and vision for each and every day. Let each and every one of us be a person of action.

Let us try to understand greatness of the universe by studying the stars, planets and their moon; rediscover the facts that the great scientists like Issac Newton and Albert Einstein already made. We are the great product of evolution with our genes in our cells that had evolved over 3.6 billions of years. And these genes in will be passed on to our children. In that sense, we can certainly claim immortality, living through our children. Also, our body will return to the earth as atoms and molecules like any living organism.

So do not compare yourself with anyone in the world; if you do so, you are insulting yourself was what Bill Gates said.

The author can be reached at www.sylendrababu.com

( The author is the ADGP of Tamil Nadu Coastal Security Group )

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own

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