Tuesday, August 31, 2010

They are monstrously HUGE and COMPLICATED…

There are few things which make me feel scary just with their sizes and complexity. Their use is indispensible these days and I am compelled to wonder about them and admire their inventors and designers.
Air planes
Every now and then we travel by flights simply to save our time. They can transport me from one place to another in a matter of few hours which otherwise would have taken days to cover by road or rail. In the cockpit, the pilots are surrounded with more than 50 dials to adjust altitude, speed, direction, to know the status of the fuel, the engines, each part of the plane and the sky. One mistake by them and atleast 150 lives can be lost. I always wonder how much precision is required at each micro second level. We have seen incidents where a small mistake has resulted in disaster. The entire design is so complicated. There was a series on plane crashes on Nat Geo- Seconds to Disaster. I remember one of the episodes in which a small tiny part of steel fell on the runway from nowhere and while taking off, it hit the fuel tank of the plane and the plane blasted within 30 seconds after take off. The investigating team could not point this out for months together. On looking closely on the take off clip only they realized this small piece flying from the runway and hitting the tank causing instant blasting.
Heavy Earth Moving equipments
These days Bangalore roads are up for complete makeover with construction of so many flyovers. Every day I see those huge earth moving machines, drillers and all. The height of the blades of these drillers only is as high as my height. They drill down the concrete road in a matter of few hours. Imagine someone commits a small mistake and the consequences of the mistake or if the machine handler is not careful with the direction of the blades. God forbid, any of these fall on anyone, that can be the last moment of that person's life. 
Space shuttles
I toss a stone and it falls down on the floor. Reason? The gravitational pull. So scientists decided to make a machine which will be released with such a speed that it beats the earth's gravitational force. A space station itself has been constructed and placed in the space. The astronauts walk in space, repair these huge complicated architectures in space. Something which I see from earth every night, moon, these machines have been there. I cannot imagine to even see a rocket (I mean an actual rocket, not a dummy one) in my life. On one of the sites, I found answer to one of my endless questions about rockets and space shuttles. Every time a rocket launch is shown on TV, two parts are shown to fall down. I always wondered, what parts are they, why do they detach themselves from the rocket and what happens to them, they might fall somewhere on earth. It might hurt someone (though this last part was a stupid question, since scientists are not such fools to let a heavy part fall on someone's head).
I found the answer on one of the sites: "Rockets normally come in parts or stages, to save fuel. Once a stage burns all its fuel, it is released to burn up in the earth's atmosphere, or, occasionally, fall in the ocean.  On the shuttle, the external solid rocket boosters are reusable, so they are dropped into the ocean with a parachute, and recovered, while the external liquid fuel tank is used for a longer time, and, when released, burns up in the atmosphere.  On some of the rockets to the moon or other planets, a stage may orbit the earth/moon/sun/etc. or, as in the Apollo program, crash into the moon"- By Amateur Astronomer- Kenneth Renshaw.
Space shuttles and space as a whole is always going to amaze me. Salute to the inventors of such huge and complicated machines.
For more amazing Q and A on space, you may try this site: http://en.allexperts.com/q/Space-Exploration-2540/

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