The Meteorite That Crashed Into A Car…..

 

The Peekskill meteorite car sitting at a collector’s garage in Peekskill. Photo credit: Ryan Thompson/Flickr 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On October 9, 1992, a brilliant fireball flashed across the evening sky over eastern United States startling thousands of spectators attending the weekly high school football matches being played across the East Coast. The fireball, that witnesses described as being brighter than the full moon, was travelling almost horizontally and heading northeast. In just forty seconds, the meteorite had crossed four states travelling 700 kilometers through the atmosphere. The intense heat and friction broke the space rock into more than 70 pieces, several of which were large and fast enough to produce their own glowing trails. A considerably weighty chunk of the meteorite, about the size of a bowling ball, eventually touched ground at Peekskill, New York, with a loud boom.

17-year-old high-school student Michelle Knapp was watching television in her parents’ living room when she heard a thunderous crash outside. Knapp ran outside to investigate the noise. There she found, standing on the driveway, her 1980 Chevy Malibu. The Malibu’s trunk was twisted and battered with a hole through it. A sizeable rock over 12 kilograms in weight lay under the car, embedded in the asphalt. It was still smoking and smelled of rotten eggs. The rock had narrowly missed the fuel tank.

Understandably, Michelle was not happy; she had recently bought the car for $400 and now it was totaled. Michelle did what anybody else would have done—she called the cops and reported an act of vandalism. It was a neighbor who reasoned that vandals can’t throw rocks through cars and surmised that the rock was from outer space. The suspicion proved correct when the very next day, a curator from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City confirmed that the object was indeed a meteorite, the same one that streaked across the northeastern sky distracting coaches and parents from their kid,s football games.

Michelle Knapp in the driveway with her Malibu taken only days after the historic impact. Photo credit: John Bortle

It was this impeccable timing of the Peekskill meteorite that made it one of the most witnessed and most recorded meteorite events in history. Dozens of spectators to the high school football games had brought camcorders with them, and when the meteorite flashed over their heads many of these cameras turned skywards, towards the brief but more exciting event. As many as 16 different observers from various locations recorded the event on tape—a record that was not broken until 2013 when a meteor exploded over Russia. The sixteen videos of the fireball taken from multiple perspectives made it possible for scientists to determine the exact trajectory of the meteorite. Indeed, Peekskill is one of the few meteorites whose orbit is precisely known.

As for the car, Michelle spent no time securing a deal with a renowned meteorite collector for an amount that was nearly two orders of magnitude more than what Michelle had paid. Since then, the car has been on display in numerous cities throughout the world, including Paris, Tokyo, Munich and more.

Source……Kaushik in http://www.amusing planet .com

Natarajan

 

 

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The Pigeons who took Photos ….

At the turn of the last century, when aviation was still in its infancy, a German named Julius Neubronner submitted a patent for a new invention—a miniature camera that could be strapped to the breast of a pigeon so that the bird could take flight and snap pictures from the air.

Julius Neubronner was an apothecary who employed pigeons to deliver medications to a sanatorium located near his hometown Kronberg, near Frankfurt. An apothecary is one who makes medicines. A pharmacist is a more modern word, but in many German speaking countries, such as Germany, Austria and Switzerland, pharmacies are still called apothecaries.                                                                                                                                   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apothecary was Julius Neubronner’s family profession. His father was an apothecary, and so was his grandfather. In those days, homing pigeons were used extensively to carry messages and small supplies. It was Julius’s father’s idea to use pigeons to receive prescriptions from the sanatorium and send out medicinal supplies in a hurry—a practice that continued for more than half a century until the sanatorium closed.

One day, Neubronner let out a pigeon on an urgent errand but it didn’t return. When several days passed and there was still no sign of the bird, Neubronner assumed the pigeon was lost, or it got caught and killed by predators. A month later, the lost messenger showed up unexpectedly at Neubronner’s place. The bird appeared well fed, which got Neubronner into thinking. Where had he gone? Who had fed him?

Neubronner decided that he would start tracking his pigeons’ future travels.

 

Julius Neubronner with one of his pigeons.

Being a passionate do-it-yourself amateur photographer, it didn’t take long for Neubronner to fashion a miniature wooden camera which he fitted to the pigeon’s breast by means of a harness and an aluminum cuirass. A pneumatic system in the camera opened the shutter at predetermined intervals and the roll of film, which moved along with the shutter, took as many as thirty exposures in a single flight. The entire rig weighed no more than 75 grams—the maximum load the pigeons were trained to carry.

The pictures turned out so good that Neubronner started making different models. One system, for instance, was fitted with two lenses pointing in opposite directions. Another one took stereoscopic images. Eventually, Neubronner applied for a patent, but the patent office threw out his application citing that such a device was impossible as they believed a pigeon could not carry the weight of a camera. But when Neubronner presented photographs taken by his pigeons, the patent was granted in 1908.

 

 

 

 

 

Aerial photograph of Frankfurt.

Neubronner exhibited his photographs in several international photographic exhibition gaining him accolades. In one such exhibition in Dresden, spectators watched as the camera-equipped carrier pigeons arrived at the venue, and the photos were immediately developed and turned into postcards which they could purchase.

The technology was soon adapted for use during the First World War, despite the availability of surveillance aircraft then. Pigeons drew less attention, could photograph enemy locations from a lower height, and were visibly indifferent to explosions on a battlefield.

Neubronner’s avian technology saw use in the Second World War too. The German army developed a pigeon camera capable of taking 200 exposures per flight. The French too claimed they had cameras for pigeons and a method to deploy them behind enemy lines by trained dogs. Around this time, Swiss clockmaker Christian Adrian Michel perfected a panoramic camera and an improved mechanism to control the shutter. Pigeon photography was in use as late as the 1970s, when the CIA developed a battery-powered pigeon camera, though the details of the camera’s use are still classified.

Today, aerial photography has been replaced by aircrafts, satellites, and more recently, by affordable drones. But the legacy of Julius Neubronner’s pigeon photography lives on in these images which are among the very early photos taken of Earth from above.

Bonus fact: So what happened to Neubronner’s pigeon who stayed away from the owner for a month and returned fattened up? It had flown away to Wiesbaden, some twenty kilometers away, and was taken care of by a restaurant chef.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source…..Kaushik in http://www.amusingplanet .com

Natarajan

 

 

 

Green Glory: This Indian State Is Ahead of Denmark and Sweden In Wind Energy!!!

With 14.3% of its energy needs being fulfilled through wind and solar energy, it is also a global leader in renewable energy!

In a recent report, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis(IEEFA), a US-based think tank, ranked Tamil Nadu as one of the top nine markets in the world for acquiring a high percentage of net energy needs from renewable energy sources.

The study was an assessment of the top 15 countries or power markets in the world, where the share of solar and wind energy in proportion to their total energy requirements is high. Denmark leads the way, with 53% of its energy coming from renewable sources in 2017, followed by Southern Australia and Uruguay.

In 2016-17, Tamil Nadu acquired 14.3% of its energy needs from wind and solar energy sources.

“Tamil Nadu also leads India in installed renewable energy capacity. Of the total 30 GW of installed capacity across the state as of March 2017, variable wind and solar power accounted for 9.6 GW or 32% of the total. Firm hydroelectricity added another 2.2 GW or 7%, nuclear 8% and biomass and run of river, 3%. As such, zero emissions capacity represents a leading 50% of Tamil Nadu’s total installed renewable energy. With much of Tamil Nadu’s renewable energy coming from end-of-life wind farms installed 15-25 years ago, average utilisation rates are a low 18%, making the contribution of variable renewables to total generation even more impressive,” says the IEEFA report.

Total installed renewable energy capacity for Tamil Nadu stands at approximately 10,800 megawatts (MW), of which 7870 MW comes from wind and 1,697 MW solar, while the rest comes from biomass and small hydro projects. Although it comes third in solar energy capacity behind Andhra Pradesh (2,010 MW) and Rajasthan (1,961 MW), the state tops the charts in wind power capacity ahead of Gujarat (5429 MW) and Maharashtra (4,752 MW). Tamil Nadu generates more wind energy than Sweden (6.7 GW) and Denmark (5.5 GW), the birthplace of wind energy.

“This rise in renewables is predicted to coincide with a slide in coal’s share in Tamil Nadu’s electricity mix, from 69% in 2017 to 42% 10 years later,” says the World Economic Forum. The state has also diversified into biogas and small hydro plants as well.

“As of March 2017, the state had 1 GW of biomass and run-of-river small-scale hydro, 2.2 GW of conventional hydroelectricity, and 1 GW of gas fired power capacity operational (plus another 1 GW of gas under construction),” reports the IEEFA. In an interesting aside, it also hosts the second largest solar farm (Kamuthi) in the country with a capacity of 648 MW.

This is a heartening development as it comes a time when the Government of India has set a target of sourcing 175 gigawatts of energy from renewable sources by 2022.

When it comes to renewable energy in India, one could consider Tamil Nadu as a pioneer of sorts. Most of its wind farms, for example, were built approximately 25 years back.

The natural conditions in the state favour the growth and development of solar and wind energy. The Tamil Nadu coast receives high wind density and velocity. For six months it receives heavy wind flows, while four months see moderate flows. Also, the state receives 300 or more days of sunshine.

The state’s sojourn into renewable energy began as an emergency attempt to fill the growing deficit between supply and demand of power.

Major industries like automotive parts, textiles, cement and leather-tanning, for example, demanded large amounts of power and consequently, the feed-in tariff (payments to ordinary energy users—people or businesses—for the renewable electricity they generate) for the wind energy sector was encouraging.

The price at which wind energy is sold to the people today is determined at an open auction for power utilities. Earlier, the state power regulators had a stranglehold on determining prices but changed to an auction system in 2016.

With the local textile sector first grabbing the bull by its horns, Tamil Nadu also became one of the first states to allow industrial units to establish their own wind power plants. These 20-year-old wind farms owned by the Tamil Nadu Spinning Mills Association (TASMA) generates a little less than 40% of the state’s total wind energy capacity (3000 MW). The Muppandal wind farm outside Madurai, for example, generates 1.5 GW of energy, making it the largest wind farm outside China.

With favourable tariff conditions, the state also made serious progress in the solar energy arena.

“In recent years, the government has also worked to improve its transmission infrastructure, encouraging firms to expand. Since renewable energy is infirm, managing the fluctuation in power generation is key. Tamil Nadu has begun forecasting the flow so that the grid is ready to handle things,” says this recent report in Quartz India.

Having said that, the IEEFA has argued in its report titled ‘Electricity Transformation in India: A Case Study of Tamil Nadu’, it argued how the state’s growth in wind and solar energy generation isn’t enough.

“Tamil Nadu should double its wind energy capacity to 15GW and increase its solar capacity to 13.8GW by 2026-27 to deliver cheaper electricity to customers,” the report said.

Instead, what the state is doing is looking to build 25,000 MW of thermal power projects. “Despite being a world leader in wind energy, Tamil Nadu’s wind farms have ageing and outdated technology. Upgrading the existing turbines alone could double the state’s leading wind energy capacity,” said Tim Buckley, IEEFA’s director of energy finance studies, Australia.

There are other concerns, as well. “Renewable energy assets in Tamil Nadu are facing significant back down (as state power utilities are buying little power from these plants). This adversely impacts their feasibility,” Kanika Chawla, a renewable energy expert at Delhi-based non-profit Council on Energy, Environment, and Water, told Quartz India.

Primarily, the major concerns stem from state regulation-related issues. For starters, the state-owned power utility Tangedco has proposed an additional imposition of taxes on rooftop solar plants, says this Times of India report.

Last July, Tamil Nadu was unable to use all the solar power it generated. In the wind energy sector, the government could stymie TASMA’s ability to drawing back the excess power it delivers to the power grid in the event of a shortage (wind banking). What one must understand is that TASMA generates and delivers excess wind energy to the power grid.

However, the biggest concern is the dire financial condition of the state power utility. In 2016-17, the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (TANGEDCO) posted a loss of Rs 3,783 crore, besides year-long delays in the payment of dues to power-generating units.

As a result, these power generation units are unable to repay loans they had taken from the banks to install all the necessary equipment. The poor state of regulation in the state’s power sector is a real concern.

Source….  

in http://www.the betterindia.com

Natarajan