Mail Delivery By Rockets…..

The history of the postal system is inextricably tied to the history of transport. Advances in transportation technology have not only allowed people to travel farther and explore more territory, it also allowed the postal system to expand their influence over a larger area. As new inventions and discoveries shortened the time of travel, messages and letters began to reach distant recipients in lesser time, and the postal system became more efficient. By the time the first trans-pacific airmail was delivered, the postal service had tried every mode of transport available to man, including rockets.

The cover of a rocket mail delivered in the state of Sikkim, India, on 28 September, 1935. Photo credit:regencystamps.com 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The earliest type of missile mail was one which you’ve probably seen in historical movies where a parchment is wrapped around the shaft of an arrow and shot through the air into a castle or enemy territory. A more modern version of the idea was presented to an astonished audience by a German poet and dramatist, Heinrich von Kleist, through a newspaper article in 1810. At that time rocketry was still in its infancy. Rockets of that age were gunpowder powered and were primarily used as artillery in battlefields. Kleist amused himself by calculating that a rocket could deliver a letter from Berlin to Breslau, a distance of 180 miles, in half a day or one-tenth of the time required by a horse mounted carrier.

Kleist’s theory was put into practice on the small Polynesian island of Tonga, halfway around the world, by a British inventor, Sir William Congreve, using rockets he designed. But the rockets were so unreliable that the idea of using them in mail delivery was summarily dismissed, and no further thought was put into it until nearly a century later, when Hermann Julius Oberth, a German physicist and engineer and one of the founding fathers of rocketry, revisited the topic in 1927.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hermann Oberth (center, in profile) demonstrates his tiny liquid-fuel rocket engine in Berlin in 1930. Photo credit: National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

In June 1928, Professor Oberth delivered a convincing lecture on the occasion of the annual meeting of the Scientific Society of Aeronautics in Danzig, where he proposed the development of small rockets with automatic guidance that could carry urgent mail over distances of 600 to 1,200 miles. Professor Oberth’s lecture generated a great deal of interest throughout the world, and even the American ambassador to Germany took note. But it was a young Austrian engineer that became a pioneer in this field.

Living in the Austrian Alps, the young engineer Friedrich Schmiedl was well aware of the fact that mail delivery was extremely painful between mountain villages. What could be an eight hour walk between two villages could be only two miles apart as the rocket flies. Friedrich Schmiedl was already experimenting with solid-fuel rockets, and in 1928 undertook experiments with stratospheric balloons. After several unsuccessful attempts, Schmiedl launched the first rocket mail in 1931 and delivered 102 letters to a place five kilometers away. The rocket was remotely controlled and landed using a parachute. His second rocket delivered 333 letters.

Schmiedl’s rocket mails inspired several other countries such as Germany, England, the Netherlands, USA, India and Australia to conduct similar experiments with varying degree of success. In 1934, in an attempt to demonstrate to the British the viability of his rocket delivery system, a German businessman named Gerhard Zucker loaded a rocket with 4,800 pieces of mail and launched it from an island in Scotland. Government officials watched as the rocket soared into the sky and exploded, scattering scorched letters all over the beach like confetti. After his failed demonstration, Zucker was deported back to Germany where he was immediately arrested on suspicion of espionage or collaboration with Britain.

Experiments on rocket mail were largely successful in India, where a pioneering aerospace engineer named Stephen Smith perfected the techniques of delivering mail by rocket. Between 1934 and 1944, Smith made 270 launches, at least 80 of which contained mail. Smith created history when he delivered by rocket the first food package containing rice, grains, spices and locally-made cigarettes to the earthquake wracked region of Quetta, now in Pakistan, across a river. Later, Smith tied a cock and a hen together to one of his rockets and launched the frightened birds across another river. Both birds survived the trip and were donated to a private zoo in Calcutta after their ordeal. His next parcel contained a snake and an apple.

Despite his quirky nature and questionable choice of payload, Stephen Smith was wholeheartedly supported by the Maharaja of Sikkim, a British Protectorate in the eastern Himalayas, where he carried most of his rocket experiments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A 1934 Indian Rocket Mail. Photo credit: www.stampcircuit.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Indian Rocket Mail from 1934. Photo credit: www.stampcircuit.com

Things didn’t really took off in the US until 1959, when the Post Office Department fired a Regulus cruise missile with its nuclear warhead replaced by two mail containers, towards a Naval Station in Mayport, Florida. The 13,000-pound missile lifted off with 3,000 letters and twenty-two minutes later struck the target at Mayport, 700 miles away. The letters were retrieved, stamped and circulated as usual.

All 3,000 letters were copies of the same written by the Postmaster General. Each crew member of the submarine that launched the missile received a copy of the letter, so did President Eisenhower and other US leaders as well as postmasters from around the world.

“The great progress being made in guided missilery will be utilized in every practical way in the delivery of the United States mail,” the letter read. “You can be certain that the Post Office Department will continue to cooperate with the Defense Department to achieve this objective.”

The successful delivery of the mails prompted Postmaster Summerfield to enthusiastically declare that “before man reaches the moon, mail will be delivered within hours from New York to California, to Britain, to India or Australia by guided missiles.”

But it was not to be. The cost of rocket mail was too high—that little experiment with the Regulus cruise missile cost the US government $1 million, but generated only $240 in revenue by sale of postage stamps. Neither the Post Office nor the Department of Defense could justify the cost of using missile mail, especially when airplanes were already making mail deliveries across the world in a single night at the fraction of a cost.

And that was the end of the program. No further attempts to deliver mail by rockets have been made since then.

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

Natarajan

 

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This image of a migrant child went viral. Here’s the story behind it……

Photographer John Moore, who took the picture that has come to symbolise the horror of the new family-separation policy in the United States, reveals what happened that night.

MCALLEN, TX – JUNE 12: A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The asylum seekers had rafted across the Rio Grande from Mexico and were detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents before being sent to a processing center for possible separation. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is executing the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy towards undocumented immigrants. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also said that domestic and gang violence in immigrants’ country of origin would no longer qualify them for political asylum status. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A two-year-old girl in a bright pink shirt is crying. It’s the middle of the night, and she’s only visible thanks to bright lights, likely from cars and cameras. She’s sobbing, her head tilted back in fear as she looks up at a strange man touching her mother. But nobody can soothe her.

This image of a Honduran girl crying as United States Border Patrol agents search her mother has come to represent the heartbreak being experienced by illegal immigrants separated from their children.

Pulitzer prize-winning photographer John Moore has been documenting the immigrant experience for a decade, riding along with both Border Patrol agents and immigrant trains in order to get the story.

Speaking of the image, he speaks about the June 12 ride-along that resulted in the emblematic picture — not to mention the other heartbreaking photos he captured of this mother and child.

That fateful night                                                                                                                                   

On June 12, after seeking access, he accompanied Border Patrol agents to the banks of the Rio GrandeRiver on the outskirts of McAllen, Texas.

Waiting with the guards for hours, he finally heard rafts coming across the river. They waited a little longer and then suddenly moved in to see nearly dozen of them – mostly women and children.

Describing that moment itself, Moore says, “Most of these families were scared, to various degrees. “I doubt any of them had ever done anything like this before — flee their home countries with their children, travelling thousands of miles through dangerous conditions to seek political asylum in the United States, many arriving in the dead of night.”

While the agents were trying to get the families into buses, he finally spoke to one woman who identified herself as a Honduran. She was travelling with her two-year-old. “The mother told me they had been travelling for a full month and were exhausted,” says Moore, who speaks Spanish. “They were taken into custody with a group of about 20 immigrants, mostly women and children, at about 11 pm,” he was quoted as saying to Getty Images FOTO.

Describing what happened next, Moore says, “Before transporting them to a processing center, transportation officers body searched everyone and the mother was one of the last. She was told to set the child down, while she was searched. The little girl immediately started crying. While it’s not uncommon for toddlers to feel separation anxiety, this would have been stressful for any child. I took only a few photographs and was almost overcome with emotion myself. Then very quickly, they were in the van, and I stopped to take a few deep breaths.”

Moore says he doesn’t know what became of the 2-year-old Honduran girl, adding that the asylum seekers he photographed likely had no idea of the new “zero tolerance” policy that has led to families being separated from their children, since they had been travelling for a month under harsh circumstances.

Source….www.rediffmail.com

Natarajan

MCALLEN, TX – JUNE 12: A U.S. Border Patrol vehicle illuminates a group of Central American asylum seekers before taking them into custody near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The group of women and children had rafted across the Rio Grande from Mexico and were detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents before being sent to a processing center for possible separation. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is executing the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy towards undocumented immigrants. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also said that domestic and gang violence in immigrants’ country of origin would no longer qualify them for political asylum status. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Meet the Ex-IAS Officer Who Left America to Head the Swachh Bharat Mission…

 

The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) promised to bring open defecation in India down to zero, and the government had also guaranteed that it would build enough toilets in every village and city to completely eradicate the problem of open defecation.

Many of us will agree that open defecation leads to the proliferation of diseases, and it is thus, advisable, to make India completely open-defecation free.

However, one man working for the Swachh Bharat Mission knows that the subject of open-defecation is not as black and white as it seems. For many, it is a part of their lifestyle, that they cannot change overnight. The problem of maintaining toilets that were built by the authorities also keeps people outside the washroom walls.

Meet Parameswaran Iyer, a former IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officer who currently leads the Swachh Bharat Mission  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Iyer had worked with World Bank from April 1998 to September 2007 in Hanoi, Vietnam. From 2012 onwards he was the lead water and sanitation specialist for the World Bank and was instrumental in bringing two leading programmes on the ground there.

Before taking up a specialisation in Vietnam, Mr Iyer had also worked in Washington on Egypt and Lebanon and in the Bank’s Water Anchor.

When he realised that he had to accept that many people prefer to defecate in the open rather than in toilets, Mr Iyer brought his experience in Vietnam to practical use. In 2014, he had written about the need for behaviour change before a lifestyle change, on the World Bank’s site.

“The biggest lesson learned so far in Vietnam, and other countries is that eliminating open defecation is not driven by the construction of toilets.

It is driven by changing the behaviour at the community level based on quality, evidence-based interventions. What is also clear is that approaches must be tailored to be the specific context with careful consideration of local factors such as ethnicity,” he wrote.

Mr Iyer’s experience with the World Bank, across several countries, will certainly help India, to go a step further in the cleanliness mission.

This is a rare case of the Indian government appointing an IAS officer working with the World Bank for their initiative, and Mr Iyer has certainly upped the hopes of Indian citizens. He was appointed as Union Secretary for the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation in 2017 on a two-year contract basis.

A senior government official told Livemint, “It is clear from the two-year fixed contract, that the government has decided to give him a free hand to steer the programme. It also gives a clear signal that if the government does not get the desired results from the internal talent pool, it will not hesitate in getting them from outside.”

With a combined experience of about two decades in this sector, Parameswaran is sure to be a beaming light of hope for the dream of a clean India!

Featured image source: Twitter.

Source….Tanvi Patel  in http://www.the betterindia.com

Natarajan

 

A Tribute to a Genius – Stephen Hawking…

Stephen Hawking, the world-renowned theoretical physicist and cosmologist, has passed away at the age of 76, leaving a scientific legacy behind him that will undoubtedly be remembered for many centuries to come.

Stephen Hawking

Hawking was born on January 8th, 1942 in Oxford, the United Kingdom to two Oxford University graduates, Frank and Isobel. He had two younger sisters, Philippa and Mary, as well as an adopted brother named Edward.

The family moved to St. Alban’s, Hertfordshire, where they were considered to be both highly intelligent and somewhat eccentric by the locals. They lived frugally in a large, messy house and got around in a converted London taxi cab.

Following his primary and secondary school education, Hawking began his university education as an undergraduate at University College, Oxford in 1959. He was just 17 years old. Although the world only pictures him as a man confined to a wheelchair due to debilitating motor neuron disease that he was diagnosed with aged just 22, Hawking actually gained a reputation as being something of a daredevil during his university years.

He was the coxswain of a rowing crew at the University College Boat Club, and became notorious for steering his crew on risky courses, inevitably leading to a string of damaged rowing boats. He left University College with a Bachelor of Arts in natural science in 1962 prior to starting to work on his doctorate.

Stephen Hawking

His diagnosis with a rare form of motor neuron disease occurred at that time, and it led to him becoming deeply depressed. Nevertheless, he was encouraged to continue his studies by his supervisor, Dennis William Sciama, and was eventually able to demonstrate that Einstein’s general theory of relativity implies space and time would have a beginning in the Big Bang and end in black holes.

During his graduate years at Cambridge, Hawking fell in love with his first wife, Jane Wilde, with whom he had three children. The marriage would end some 30 years later after the marriage succumbed to the pressures of Hawking’s fame, ideological differences and the difficulties surrounding caring for him in light of his disability.

Despite beginning to use crutches in the early 1960s, he long fought off having to use a wheelchair, but when he finally couldn’t do so any longer, he gained notoriety for wild driving on the streets of Cambridge. He also used to run over students’ toes intentionally and would even spin himself on the dancefloor at college parties.

Together with Roger Penrose, Hawking had his first major breakthrough in 1970. They were able to use mathematics to show that a singularity, a region of infinite curvature in space-time, was the point from which the big bang emanated.

Stephen Hawking

After he realized that he was wrong in his argument about black holes being able to radiate, Hawking was in a Cambridge pub with his students when he suddenly turned up his voice synthesizer to full volume and bellowed that he was conceding defeat. Anyone who studied under his tuition or knew him personally knew him for his wicked sense of humor.

Hawking was elected to the Royal Society in 1974 aged just 32 after the series of radical discoveries he made during his early career, and would become the Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge. The latter is often thought as the UK’s most distinguished academic chair and was once held by Isaac Newton.

His 1988 book, A Brief History of Time, catapulted Hawking to international stardom. It sold over 10 million copies and was translated into no less than 40 different languages. It was around that time that his marriage would begin to break down, but he would go on to remarry in the mid-1990s.

During his lifetime, he won the Albert Einstein Award, the Wolf Prize, the Copley Medal and the Fundamental Physics Prize, however, the Nobel Prize for Physics eluded him. He also returned to the White House (he had also visited during the Clinton administration) to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama.

Stephen Hawking

His life has also been immortalized on screen, not least thanks to the multiple award-winning movie, the Theory of Everything. He also lent his voice and know-how to various documentaries over the years.

Perhaps it’s not surprising to know that Hawking was not a religious man, and dismissed the comforts of religious belief. With that being said, he had once told an interviewee that he wasn’t afraid of death, but he added that he wasn’t in any hurry to die due to how much work he had left to do. The great cosmologist is survived by his three children from his first marriage, together with his three grandchildren.

Watch Stephen Hawking being interviewed by Charlie Rose:

Source……..www.ba-ba mail.com

natarajan

Her Small Act Of Kindness Went Viral. Now, She Has A College Scholarship…!

Her Small Act Of Kindness Went Viral. Now, She Has A College Scholarship

A young restaurant worker in Texas who spent the past year saving up for college is now one step closer to her dream – all thanks to a small act of kindness she performed. Evoni Williams, 18, went viral earlier this month for helping an elderly customer at the Waffle House Texas eat his food. A picture of Evoni, an employee of the Waffle House, cutting up food for a customer who was unable to do so himself, was clicked by another customer and shared on Facebook. The picture went viral with thousands of shares and even earned Evoni a scholarship to the Texas Southern University.

The incident took place on March 3 at La Marque in Texas, USA, when Adrian Charpentier came into the restaurant. He had recently undergone surgery, which made it difficult for him to cut his food, reports the Daily Mail. Evoni cut up his food for him, and her small act of kindness was captured on camera:

I don’t know her name but I heard this elderly man tell her his hands don’t work too good. He was also on oxygen and struggling to breathe. 😔 Without hesitation, she took his plate and began cutting up his ham. This may seem small but to him, I’m sure it was huge. I’m thankful to have seen this act of kindness and caring at the start of my day while everything in this world seems so negative. If we could all be like this waitress & take time to offer a helping hand….🤝 #wafflehouse#kindness #givingback #offerlove #bekind #goodnews 

As the post gained attention, praise started pouring in for the teenager. “She’s an angel,” wrote one person. “That was very kind and sweet,” said another.

It eventually caught the eye of Texas Southern University, and they decided to present Evoni with a $16,000 scholarship. “Her act of kindness went viral on social media, and today Texas Southern University returned that act of kindness by surprising Evoni Williams with a scholarship,” they said.

Not only this, she was also honoured by the mayor of La Marque, Bobby Hocking.

It just came from the heart,” Evoni said to ABC 7 about her now-famous act.

Source….www.ndtv.com

Natarajan